Philadelphia Eagles Having the Best Training Camp, Ranked 1-80

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Philadelphia Eagles Having the Best Training Camp, Ranked 1-80

While board-operating a Yankees game at my local ESPN radio affiliate, I had some downtime, so I decided to rank the 80 players in camp that I've watched every day.

(Note: This is how the players are performing at camp, not overall skill.)

 

1. WR Hank Baskett: The biggest receiver in camp went from undrafted two years ago to having a secure spot on the Eagles' roster. He is going to help fix the Eagles' red-zone problems.

Donovan McNabb talked to the media about how he wants to incorporate fades into the playbook. Baskett has caught everything thrown his way, especially along the sideline or end zone, where he can use his size to go get the ball.

Of all the veteran wide receivers, Hank Baskett is the player the young wide receivers go to for advice the most. That says a lot about the third-year wide receiver.

 

2. RB Lorenzo Booker: He's burst onto the scene at training camp. The Eagles got him for a draft pick from the Dolphins. He can really, really catch a ball out of the backfield and has great agility. On one of the first days of camp, Booker had one of the best runs I've ever seen in person.

He basically, at some point, made every defender miss on one play, while scampering to a 70-yard touchdown.

 

3. DE Darren Howard: It was thought Howard might start to slip down the depth charts and not see a lot of playing time in 2008, but Howard has been great in camp so far, really getting after the quarterback. He had two fumble recoveries in one practice so far and has led a strong defensive pass rush.

 

4. RB Correll Buckhalter: The second-string running back, according to the Eagles' depth chart, is running as good as he has in five years. He also says his knees are as healthy as they've ever been. He's running through tackles and embracing hard hits.

A member of the team media the Eagles planted says his numbers would project into a 1,400 yard season over 16 games if he was a starter.

 

5. G Max Jean-Gilles: He's replaced Shawn Andrews, who's missed all of camp while battling depression. He's filled in really well and even has Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg hinting Andrews' job may be up for grabs when he reports to camp.

 

6. LB Stewart Bradly: He's really been swarming to the ball and looks like he could be a future leader and star of this defense. According to Coach Jim Johnson, he'll be wearing one of the defensive headsets during the regular season.

 

7. K David Akers: Yes, I'm ranking a kicker this high. But Akers has been nearly perfect during camp, even drilling a 60-yard field goal the other day. Plus, he's friends with NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr., who came the camp the other day.

 

8. QB Donovan McNabb: No. 5 is looking really athletic and accurate so far. There's been a few days where he's been the old McNabb, throwing at the feet of receivers, but overall, he's been really on target.

Today, he was putting balls 40 yards downfield in double coverage right where only the receiver could catch them. Plus he's looking nimble, which means he might still be able to scramble occasionally and make linebackers look like third graders.

 

9. WR DeSean Jackson: He's going to make a real impact on this offense in 2008. It's a matter of when Andy Reid figures out how to use him effectively. He gets up over the field almost any play he's asked to go there and he's been frequently out-gunning defensive backs down the sideline.

 

10. DT Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson: It's hard to really judge these two separately, so I'm going to group them together. The defensive line has looked really strong all summer, and the coaching staff has been raving about the two of them after practice.

 

12. DE Jerome McDougle: The former first-round pick hasn't made much of an impact during his time with the Eagles. Getting shot during a robbery a few years ago didn't help his cause, but McDougle is back. It seemed like his time might be running out, but McDougle has put together a great camp and has the coaches speaking highly of him.

 

13. WR Kevin Curtis: He's a professional wide receiver. It's as simple as that. He goes out, gets open, and catches the ball every time. He's going to be the No. 1 wide receiver on this team without question.

 

14. OL Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan: These two are just like Curtis; they are professional offensive linemen. They are two, seasoned veterans that just go out and get the job done each camp. The young offensive linemen on this team have two great role-models to look up to.

 

16. S Sean Considine: He's doing everything to get his starting spot back. He's hitting really hard and providing decent coverage. His biggest bright spot this summer is his willingness to accept a smaller role as the backup and special-teams extraordinaire. Considine also sticks up for teammates during feuds and fights.

 

17. LB Omar Gaither: The linebackers have looked solid all camp long, and Gaither has been the better of the two remaining starters. He sits one spot higher than the other starter, Chris Gocong, because of Gaither's concern for teammate Shawn Andrews.

After practice yesterday, when the team knew of Andrews' condition for the first time, I talked to Gaither about Andrews. Gaither was the most sincere of all the Eagles and was the only Eagle that I talked to that was truly upbeat about the situation.

He repeatedly said the Eagles would welcome Andrews back with open arms and that Andrews will be in his prayers until he's back. That's a stand up guy.

 

18. LB Chris Gocong: The Eagles' young linebackers have been solid and should be a productive unit for this team. Gocong rounds out the starting linebacking corp. He's going to be the victim of the Eagles' 4-2-5 defense that will see a lot of playing time, due to the three Pro-Bowl-caliber corners.

 

19. DB Sheldon Brown: Speaking of the Pro-Bowl-caliber corners, Brown has been a leader on the field and has been one of the few corners that has shown an ability to shut down the Eagles' wide receivers. Overall, the defensive backs have been a little disappointing.

 

20. DT Dan Klecko: The Eagles don't have a ton of DTs in camp, so Klecko has gotten a lot of reps and is taking advantage of it. The Eagles originally brought him in to play fullback, but he didn't have great hands.

The Temple grad has a great motor, which is going to earn him a spot on this team.

 

21. WR Jason Avant: He emerged as the leading candidate for the third wide-receiver spot with a great start to camp. Avant hasn't done anything notable lately, but he's been solid. Avant is also the backup holder, which makes for some good laughs when he's on the sideline with long-snapper John Dorenbos.

 

22. LS John Dorenbos: I have no clue where to rank him, but I figured this would be a good spot to place him after just mentioning him. Dorenbos is the funniest guy on this team. He always has great enthusiasm and really never shuts up. He's also an amateur magician, which spurs some great one-liners from the crowd.

 

23. WR Jamal Jones and Shaheer McBride: These two WR are fighting for spots with the Eagles as the fifth WR and special teamer. They've had very good camps, catching a lot of tough balls. They both have solid size and pretty good hands.

 

25. OL Todd Herremans and Jamal Jackson: The two remaining starters on the offensive line have looked solid thus far. The problems the O-line has had during camp come when these two aren't on the field.

 

27. DE Trent Cole: If he performs like has in camp during the regular season, he'll have double digit sacks. He's been showing great speed off the ends and has gotten to the QB numerous times during camp.

 

28. LB Joe Mays and Justin Roland: Mays has looked slightly better of the two, but they've both done enough to get noticed in my book. They've both showed they wouldn't kill the defense if they had to spell for one of the starters for a series.

 

30. LB Rocky Bolman: I commented to an intern I know for Comcast that Bolman looks like he should have been in the movie Rudy. He's tall, lanky, has red hair and is pretty fast. Then I discovered he went to Notre Dame. The parallels couldn't be any better. Anyways, on the field, he's shown good speed and could be pretty decent if he has to drop back into coverage on passing downs.

 

31. QB Kevin Kolb: The second-year QB started camp really well, as he was named the second-string quarterback. Lately though, he's been struggling to hit receivers in stride or on correct shoulder. He had a good preseason last year, so we'll know more about Kolb's progression after Friday.

 

32. S Quintin Mikell: He hasn't been great, but at the same time, he hasn't endangered his starting spot opposite future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins. He's also willing to see some special-teams times when the Eagles play a team with a dangerous kick returner.

 

33. FB Jason Davis: Again, we are in the land of players that haven't been spectacular, but have been better than advertised. Davis has shown solid hands and also has been picking up defenders pretty well.

 

34. TE L.J. Smith: The former Scarlet Knight TE has battled injuries the past couple years and has missed several days of camp with a calf strain. When he's been healthy, he's showed great hands, pretty good blocking, and has been running out of tackles.

 

35. DE Juqua Parker: The veteran defensive end is, right now, listed as a starter. He's gotten solid pressure on the QB all camp. He hasn't done anything outstanding, but has simply been a part of a pretty dominating defensive line.

 

36. CB Lito Sheppard: Leeee-to, as his agent Drew Rosenhaus calls him, has broken up a decent number of passes and hasn't been beaten badly too many times in one-on-one drills.

 

37. TE Brent Celek: The second-year TE out of Cincinnati has struggled catching the ball at times, but has been running pretty crisp routes when matched up against linebackers in one-on-one drills.

 

38. WR Bam Childress and Frantz Hardy: They both have great names and solid games. They are long-shots to make the team, but will prove to be solid practice-squad wide receivers. Both have shown enough to potential to maybe land them on a team some day.

 

40. OL Winston Justice: We hit the midway point here with Justice, a member of the second-team offense. Overall, the second-team offensive line has been really bad, but Justice has shown some promise.

 

41. DL Bryan Smith and Trevor Laws: Both are rookies and both entered camp injured. Both haven't shown me anything special, but at the same time, they haven't made any blatant mistakes.

 

43. P Sav Rocca: I'm usually under the media tent enjoying some free Gatorade during the final period of morning practice: special teams. But from what I've seen, Rocca has been booting the ball pretty well.

 

44. S Quintin Demps: He opened camp really well. Physically, he's pretty impressive. He's a decent size for a safety, great size for a corner; the Eagles have worked him out at both positions. He's showed he can handle both positions, but in simple one-on-one drills, he's had his issues covering the wide receiver.

 

45. The remaining linebackers: Pago Togafu, Andy Studebaker, and Akeem Jordan: The only notes have on any of these three is a joke a fan made about Togafu. He almost picked off an A.J. Feeley pass, which prompted a fan to yell, "Hey Feeley, you remember Lofa Tatupu." Tatupu ate Feeley alive a few years ago in a Monday Night Seahawks blow out.

 

48. DBs Joselio Hanson, J.R. Reed, Therrian Fontenot, Marcus Paschal, Nick Graham, and Kyle Arrington: These six have been terribly un-impressive after several of them had great camps last year. At most, two of these players make the team. My money is on Hanson and Reed.

 

54. DE Chris Clemons: He hasn't been that impressive and seems like he isn't as good as advertised. The battles with dehydration he's had haven't helped.

 

55. QB A.J. Feeley: To sum up his camp: He had a wide receiver streaking downfield along the sideline after the DB tripped and fell. He threw the ball to the far shoulder instead of throwing it towards the center of the field.

The wide receiver wasn't able to adjust his body and the ball landed out of bounds. There's a reason he's the third-string quarterback.

 

56. WR Greg Lewis: He makes enough plays to make you think the Eagles are going to keep him, even though he doesn't really doing anything real well.

 

57. FB Luke Lawton and Jed Collins: Again, I've got very little in my book about these two. I don't think they'll be overtaking Jason Davis for the No. 1 FB spot anytime soon.

 

59. RB Ryan Moats: He's playing hard but not seeing a lot of results. He missed a few days with a bum ankle. The Eagles tried working him out in the slot early in the camp, but that quickly ended. The former La. Tech back probably won't make this team.

 

60. RB Brian Westbrook: He hasn't really done anything outstanding for his level of talent. He hasn't really been a distraction, like it was thought he might originally be, but I have to think the players don't appreciate him hinting at holding out.

 

61. WR Reggie Brown: Another big name here. Brown has dropped a lot of balls and has really only had a day or two of great practices. He's going to have to really step it up in the preseason and in the early part of the season, or he's going to lose touches to Jason Avant and Hank Baskett.

 

62. TE Kris Wilson: The former Chief has struggled a bit with this offense and has gotten beaten numerous times in one-on-one blocking drills.

 

63. OL Scott Young, Nick Cole, Mike Gibson, Stefan Rodgers, and Mike McGlynn: The second-team offensive line has been pretty awful so far. They are making the defensive line look like the Steel Curtain.

 

68. OL King Dunlap: He's 6'8'' and a former four-year starter for Auburn. I was very high on him entering camp, but so far he's really disappointed. Defensive ends are running around him and defensive tackles have also had no problem getting by him.

 

69. TE Matt Schobel: He needs a big camp to make this team, which is something he hasn't done. He's been pretty mediocre so far.

 

70. DE Montae Reagor: I have nothing on him in my reporters notebook. I'm not sure if he's even been on the field.

 

71. WR Michael Gasperson: Really nice guy, but not a great wide receiver. He's got really nice size, which makes me think he could be a decent AFL guy, but I don't know if he's ever going to land a spot on an NFL roster.

 

72. OL Franklin Dunbar: He's been out with a bad back for a lot of camp, so he's getting ranked low by default.

 

73. RB Tony Hunt: He's a fan favorite since he's a PSU guy, but Hunt just hasn't been running with passion. His hardest, most impressive run was after a swing pass where he broken two tackles and gained about five yards. 

 

74. DT Kimo Van Oelhoffen: Another member of the all-name team. He's had knee problems and missed most of camp. He's a pretty solid veteran that can make some noise when healthy.

 

75. P/K Richmond McGee: He's shanked a ton of field-goal attempts and doesn't look like he'll be challenging David Akers or Sav Rocca for their roster spots anytime soon.

 

76. CB Asante Samuel: He's practiced for less than a week, but should be on the field soon. We'll see how he fits into this three-CB system pretty soon.

 

77. DE Victor Abiamiri: He's going to be good some day, but for now, he's sitting out with a torn wrist ligament.

 

78. CB Jack Ikegwuonu: He could be the steal of the 2008 draft if he returns completely healthy when his knee heals. He was a projected first rounder, but injured his knee. The Eagles got him in the fourth round.

 

79. OL Shawn Andrews: Not trying to harp on Andrews, but he's been a distraction with his depression problems. I'm wishing you better health Shawn, get better, get to camp, and show Philadelphia why you are Pro Bowler. 

 

I missed a player at some point, and I cannot for the life of me figure out who it was. If I numbered wrong, or you figured out whom I'm missing, I'll write an article about anything sports related you want.

Editor's Note: Thanks to editor Ryan Droege, he pointed out Brian Dawkins was missing. I meant to rank Brian towards the middle of the pack. He hasn't done anything outstanding, but at the same time he's been a leader out on the field. He's battled some knee problems and camp, but will be good to go Friday.

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