Philadelphia Eagles Rookies: How Each Player Could Fit on 2011 Team
Last year the Eagles picked up two seventh rounders, Kurt Coleman and Jamar Chaney, that become starters by the end of 2010 and should be starters in 2011. The Eagles drafted 13 players in the 2010 NFL Draft and 10 of those players are still on the team including three starters.
Last April the Eagles picked up 11 more players in the draft including three players, Danny Watkins, Casey Matthews and Alex Henery, who will be starters right away.
It looks like Andy Reid and crew have had themselves another outstanding draft. With over 40 players on the Eagles roster that were drafted by the Eagles, we shouldn't expect anything less.
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Right guard was clearly a weakness last season for the Eagles. Whether it was Nick Cole or Max Jean-Gilles, right guard was a major liability in 2010.
The Eagles came into the 2011 draft needing a cornerback, a right guard and a right tackle. No one expected a franchise that refuses to get old to draft a 26 year old rookie, but they did just that.
Danny Watkins, an offensive tackle at Baylor who is making the switch to guard, appears to be the right choice. He is already practicing with the first team and staying late at practice to work on his technique with position coach Howard Mudd.
Watkins continues to get better everyday in practice and it would be an upset if he wasn't starting at right guard in Week 1.
Jaiquawn Jarrett was the Eagles second pick from Temple. Jarrett is a hard hitting safety who has good coverage ability as well. He is listed as a backup on the depth chart and will probably stay there unless either Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman get hurt.
The Eagles don't really employ a strong safety or free safety in their defense. Juan Castillo will put both safeties all over the field, which would make Jaiquawn Jarrett the backup safety, not just the backup strong safety.
Curtis Marsh may be the steal of the draft in a couple years. Marsh, the Eagles third round pick out of Utah State, is a project player at cornerback who looks pretty polished already in training camp.
Marsh has great size at 6'1, 195 pounds, but also possesses good speed as well, he was a converted running back in college.
Marsh won't be much of an impact player in 2011 with the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Asante Samuel, Joselio Hanson and Trevard Lindley. If the Eagles keep all their corners, Marsh could dominate in preseason and still be fifth or sixth on the depth chart. Marsh is still a lock to make the team and will eventually be a start for the Eagles, but for right now he is just a student.
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Casey Matthews, a linebacker out of Oregon, was the Eagles first of two fourth round picks. Matthews was supposed to be a special teams player and a backup in 2011, Juan Castillo has other ideas.
Currently Matthews is first on the depth chart at middle linebacker. With last year's starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley in Arizona and Jamar Chaney moved to outside linebacker, Matthews is the only starting caliber player at his position. The fact that the Eagles didn't sign someone like Stephen Tulloch should tell you all you need to know about the coaching staff's confidence in Matthews.
Barring an injury or any other setback, Matthews will be the opening week starter at middle linebacker.
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David Akers had been the Eagles' kicker since the 1999 season. With the Eagles second fourth round pick, all that changed. The Eagles used their fourth round pick on Alex Henery, kicker and punter out of Nebraska.
Henery has been a very accurate college kicker with a big leg to boot. Henery will be kicking for a team that will expect greatness from Henery. That's what they received from their kicker for 12 seasons.
Akers two missed field goals in the Eagles' only playoff game in the 2010 season. That along with his declining play likely lead to the change.
Henery will have to improve he can make all the big kicks for a Superbowl contender. We all know how quickly a player can be replaced in this league, especially a kicker.
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Dion Lewis, like teammate LeSean McCoy, had a great two year career at the University of Pittsburgh. Lewis had 3,000 total yards and 31 touchdowns in his college career.
With the signing of Ronnie Brown, Lewis is now fighting for the third spot on the depth chart at running back.
Expect Lewis to earn a spot on the team at running back but won't receive many touches behind McCoy and Brown.
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Julian Vandervelde, the Eagles' fifth round draft pick, was the start of a whole new era of Eagles' offensive line. In the past, the Eagles had drafted the biggest offensive linemen like Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles. New offensive line coach Howard Mudd has a different philosophy. Mudd likes his linemen more athletic. Julian Vandervelde was the first of many line changes.
Vandervelde is a 300 pound guard from Iowa who moves very well for a interior lineman. He has gotten some reps with the first team offense, mostly while Danny Watkins' contract was still being worked out, and will be a key backup in 2011.
Todd Herremans is the Eagles current left guard and is signed through the 2013 season. Vandervelde could be groomed to replace him in the 2014 season, otherwise he just projects to be a key backup and nothing more down the road.
The Eagles continued their makeover of the offensive line by drafting a 280 pound center, Jason Kelce. Kelce is a nasty, athletic interior lineman who fell to the sixth round mainly due to his lack of size.
Kelce has already gotten a lot of reps with the first team offense, most likely due to the injury concerns of starting center Jamaal Jackson. Last year's starting center, who filled in when Jackson went down with a torn triceps muscle, Mike McGlynn has already been moved to guard on the depth chart.
Kelce has already gone from a player fighting for a spot on the team to a guy that is a lock to be at least a backup.
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The Eagles other sixth round draft pick is undersized to say the least. Brian Rolle, at just five feet 10 inches, got passed over by several teams in need at outside linebacker.
Rolle has great speed and plays a lot bigger than he really is. Rolle projects to be a great special teams player that could develop into a good outside linebacker down the road.
The Eagles have plenty of competition at outside linebacker and Rolle is no lock to make the team with guys like Keenan Clayton, Akeem Jordan, and Rashad Jeanty all fighting to make the team as backups.
A good showing, especially on special teams, would greatly help Rolle make the team. As of now, Rolle is on the outside looking in.
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Greg Lloyd Jr, son of former Steelers great of the same name, was one of two Eagles seventh round draft picks. Lloyd came into camp with injury concerns stemming from a torn ACL suffered while at the University of Connecticut. Now Lloyd is listed on the Eagles depth chart as the backup middle linebacker.
The backup middle linebacker spot is Lloyd's job to lose. If he can stay healthy, he should hold it down easily and could develop into a very solid linebacker.
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Stanley Havili was the 240th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft and the final pick of the Eagles. Havili played fullback for the USC Trojans, but was more of a combo back.
Havili hasn't shown much blocking ability and unless he can prove he can learn to block better than current Eagles fullback Owen Schmitt, he is fighting for the number three running back spot.
Havili is very unlikely to make the team and will probably stashed away on the practice squad unless someone makes an offer for Havili or he is signed by someone else off the practice squad.