It seems like we've been asking this question for a few years now. However, with the current injury status of Brandon Graham, there would be no better time for Victor Abiamiri to step up than now.
When projecting his starting defense for 2011, CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank put Abiamiri as the opening day starter opposite Trent Cole. Here's his reasoning:
"Abiamiri? Really? Have we lost our mind? OK, bear with us for a second. We know Abiamiri hasn’t done anything since the Eagles took him in the second round back in 2007. Maybe we’re delusional here, but Abiamiri is the one defensive end the Eagles have with good size (6'4," 275) and the ability to play the run at a consistently high level on first down. Most of the Eagles’ defensive ends are smallish third-down specialists, so let’s let them play on passing downs and get the bulkier Abiamiri on the field in running situations. Plus, heck, if none of these guys can get sacks, why not go with the guy who can at least stop the run?
Can he stay healthy? Well, he’s never been able to do that in his career. But we’ll give him one more chance. He was once a pretty highly-regarded player —the 57th player taken in 2007. He’s still only 25. Out of all the options, he’s the best one right now."
As you can see, Frank has plenty of positive things to say about Abiamiri. The kid is talented, he has just struggled to stay healthy. We've seen plenty of players like this in the past. Many just can't seem to stay away from the injury bug. They recover from one thing, but then something else happens.
However, look at a guy like Correll Buckhalter. He struggled to stay healthy while with the Eagles, but the team kept him around. Eventually, he was able to find some production in the Eagles' offense.
This is the same kind of thing the Eagles are hoping for with Abiamiri. He's been with the franchise for a while, and now it's time to prove why he was drafted.
I have to agree with Frank that Abiamiri has a lot of upside. Cole plays well against the run for his size, but it's always nice to have a bigger body in there. Abiamiri has the physical tools to dictate where plays go which should make it easy for the Eagles' speedy linebackers to make plays.
I've wanted the Eagles to have a young, big-bodied end opposite Cole for some time now. I was hoping Ricky Sapp could step in last year, but like Abiamiri, he seems like one of those guys who could battle injuries his whole career.
The Eagles wouldn't have drafted Abiamiri when they did if they didn't believe he was extremely talented. I'm hoping those talents can attribute to a full and productive 2011 season.