Can the Philadelphia Eagles' 2009 Draft Class Contribute in 2010?
As the Philadelphia Eagles executives, head coach, and coaching staff review their options for the 2010 NFL Draft, which is a mere one week away, I got to thinking:
What players on the Philadelphia Eagles roster who were 2009 draft picks could possibly see some playing time and help this team move forward in 2010?
Allow me to introduce a few players that were drafted in 2009.
Some have already started making names for themselves in the NFL, while others are forced to wait for an opportunity to emerge.
WR Jeremy Maclin: First Round
Jeremy Maclin was selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft after he slipped in the draft when the Oakland Raiders took Darrius Heyward-Bey instead of either Michael Crabtree or Maclin.
The Eagles made the move to slide up a few spots in order to acquire Maclin, and it was a very smart move to do so.
Jeremy is a very explosive and versatile WR who established himself throughout the league as a offensive weapon in 2009. He did arrive to training camp late due to contract reasons, but that did not stop him from having a productive rookie campaign.
He finished his rookie season in third place among the top receiving rookies in the league in receptions (56), yards (773), and touchdowns (four).
Everyone associated with the Eagles hopes this young man can continue to contribute alongside fellow wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant.
Both he and Jackson are now young veterans of the squad and were both standout players at their respective colleges. Now it's time to see what many Eagles fans have been screaming for in a WR tandem can do.
Maclin's Career Highs
In the 2009 playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, Maclin contributed seven receptions for 146 yards, which included his 76-yard TD—all three are career highs!
He also notched two touchdowns in a single game, which came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 11, 2009, and also reeled in a 56-yard touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons.
Both his 76-yard and 56-yard TDs are career bests.
RB LeSean McCoy: Second Round
When the Philadelphia Eagles selected RB LeSean McCoy in the second round of the 2009 draft, the front office and Eagles fans immediately starting seeing images of a double-threat split backfield.
Fans knew why he was drafted: Brian Westbrook was coming off an injury-plagued 2008 season, and the grooming process needed to begin sooner rather than later.
Regardless of who you ask throughout the league, Westbrook's series of concussions are unfortunate injuries.
Both his skill set and his leadership were missed on the Eagles offense!
McCoy's 637 rushing yards are the most rushing yards for a rookie running back in Eagles history, while his 945 scrimmage yards are second on the list, sitting behind WR DeSean Jackson's rookie season, where he set the Eagles' all-time record at 1,008 total scrimmage yards.
Compared to the other running backs who were drafted in 2009, McCoy is third on the list for rushing (637 yards) and second for total scrimmage yards (945).
In this past offseason the Eagles signed RB Mike Bell to come in and take some of the load off McCoy, and they now have a very heavy and speedy backfield if you throw FB Leonard Weaver in the mix.
Third and short should no longer be an issue for the Eagles!
Eagles fans saw quite a few instances of "Shady's" skill sets. His career-long rushing attempt came in the Eagles-Giants game on Nov. 1, 2009 when he ran the ball 66 yards for a TD.
Then the next week against the Dallas Cowboys, LeSean made a reception and took it 45 yards—again for six!
LeSean is another player the Eagles not only hope but expect to improve in his second season.
Both he and Maclin both saw their fair share of playing time in 2009, and they should both know the playbook a lot more with an full offseason under their belts.
DB Macho Harris: Fifth Round
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Virginia Tech product Macho Harris, and instead of using him for his CB abilities, they decided to try him as a free safety after the departure of Brian Dawkins.
The Eagles had two playmakers who were in the wrong positions.
Had the Eagles decided to play Macho at CB, his natural position, and move Sheldon Brown to safety, the Eagles' secondary woes in 2009 might not have been such a sore spot for the team.
Shoulda coulda woulda—and now it's too late to try!
Now that Sheldon has been traded to the Cleveland Browns, the second CB spot is open competition in training camp, even though it is believed Ellis Hobbs will take the cake.
In Macho's rookie season in the NFL and his rookie season as a safety, under a rookie defensive coordinator, he filled in nicely, contributing 46 total tackles (31 solo/15 asst) and started in eight games.
He could still see time as a nickel or dime corner, or hey, for all we know he could show up this summer and just blow everyone away, and we could see him and Asante Samuel as the starting CBs.
The opportunity is there. Will he grab it by the horns and run with it, or is he a backup on the roster?
OL Fenuki Tupou: Fifth Round
Even though Winston Justice just signed a contract extension after a doing a 180 in his NFL career in 2009, and Stacy Andrews is expected to make a full recovery and become a vital part of the offensive line, Fenuki could push for playing time in 2010.
Tupou was a fifth-round draft pick (159th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. He is a solid body at 6'5", 314 lbs. who is a bulldozer of a run blocker. His natural position is at tackle, but he is capable of securing the guard position as well.
During his time at Oregon, Tupou was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, starting 22 of 24 games, resulting in 159 knockdowns, 25 blocks that ended with a touchdown, and 11 blocks down the field. He was also only called on two penalties in two full seasons as a starter at Oregon.
Let's get to know Mr. Tupou a bit better, shall we, because he could end up being a very legitimate starter for the Eagles—maybe not in 2010, but sometime down the road!
In 786 passing plays Fenuki allowed only two QB pressures and a very impressive 2.5 sacks.
That stat right there might be what earns him playing time in 2010 and if he can take full advantage of such an opportunity, Fenuki could very well become a dominating offensive lineman in the NFL.
Can he show up this summer and show the coaching staff he is a true force as an O-lineman, or will he too be just a backup player?
TE Cornelius Ingram: Fifth Round
When training camp opened for the 2009 season, Cornelius Ingram stepped onto the field, and from the very start TE Brent Celek knew he needed to perform if he wanted to be the starting tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ingram was making veteran CBs look weak, as they either couldn't cover him or had extreme difficulty bringing him down.
The sky was the limit for Ingram, as he opened eyes wide through the Eagles front office. Could Ingram be the "diamond in the rough" of the 2009 NFL Draft?
It looked that way until Cornelius suffered a torn ACL in training camp, and all the dreams of having two red-zone threat TEs was flushed away in just seconds.
2009 is over, and Ingram is right on schedule with his rehab to attend training camp this summer at Lehigh Valley.
If he can stay healthy, he would give the Eagles two different skill sets.
Ingram became a tight end during his junior year of college in 2005, where he was a standout in the Gators' system, but Ingram was actually a QB when he entered college.
Imagine this scenario: Kevin Kolb is under center, Michael Vick (left) in the slot, with Ingram as the TE. Before the hike Kolb motions Ingram to the left side, then hikes it and pitches it to Vick, who then fakes a run but then tosses it to Ingram, who then passes it to Maclin or Jackson for a TD! (Insert flight song here.)
SHEER MADNESS—but not impossible!
If Cornelius can come back 100 percent healthy, and stay healthy, the Eagles would have arguably the best tandem at TE in the league.
The question is, can the Eagles count on Ingram?
LB Moise Fokou: Seventh Round
When the Eagles drafted LB Moise Fokou in the last round of the 2009 draft, I figured that player would not have an impact on the team—let alone in the 2009 season.
However, Fokou's name was called to start after LB Chris Gocong went down with an injury.
In his first NFL start against the Dallas Cowboys, Fokou posted only four tackles, but the very next week he showed signs of progress, notching a career-high nine tackles against the San Diego Chargers.
Moise was called for multiple penalties, being too eager to get a good jump on the snap or pass, and he also needs to work on both his coverage and run phases.
Nobody expected much though, as he was a seventh round pick and actually played better than I thought he would.
If the rumors are true and the Eagles draft a LB in the earlier rounds, Fokou could end up with some very stiff competition for a starting job.
Also, with Omar Gaither returning from injury and Akeem Jordan playing with purpose in 2009, Moise will have to play the best game of his life every game in order to stay a starter.
I believe the Eagles will draft a LB with either the 23rd or 70th pick (late second/early third), and Fokou will become a backup at weakside and a special teams playmaker!