Monday, April 22, 2013
Hot Button: Eagles a 2013 contender?
By Dan Graziano
With three days left until the NFL draft, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay are having a "Hot Button" debate about which team picking in the top five Thursday night has the best chance to contend in 2013. Mel picked Andy Reid's new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, who hold the No. 1 pick. Todd picked Reid's former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, who pick fourth:
The Eagles added pieces for their new 3-4 defense in OLB Connor Barwin and NT Isaac Sopoaga, and new FB James Casey can be a versatile contributor on offense that could provide plenty of fireworks.
If QB Michael Vick stays healthy and buys in to the up-tempo system of new coach Chip Kelly, he could team with RB LeSean McCoy and WRs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson to give Philly plenty of weapons. And with OTs Jason Peters and Todd Herremans returning from injury, and WR Arrelious Benn also added in the offseason, there's a lot to be excited about on offense.
With all of those pieces already in place, plus the high draft picks the Eagles have with the ability to use them to truly draft best-player-available instead of drafting for need make Todd think the chance exists for the Eagles to turn things around quickly.
Personally, I think the Eagles could go either way. I agree with Todd about the good pieces in place, especially if the offensive linemen can all recover from their injuries and play the way they played in 2011. But I have major concerns about Vick and about the ability of all of the defensive players to learn a whole new defense in time for the start of the season. A major shift in defensive schemes can take two years to fully implement, and it might be that the Eagles need more than just the next several months to be as good as they can be in Kelly's and Bill Davis' system.
It appears as though Kelly is viewing his project as a long-term one in Philadelphia, which is good for the Eagles. And this is the NFL, where there are surprise contenders every year who went 4-12 or worse the year before, so you can't rule the Eagles out as a 2013 factor. But I think the potential exists for serious growing pains, especially while they figure out quarterback.