Sunday, August 8, 2010
Brandon Graham, others proving worth
By Adam Schefter
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Some years it's obvious when a team whiffs on its draft picks. Other years, it's obvious it connected.
Though training camp is only a week old, the early indications are that the Philadelphia Eagles' 2010 draft class was a Ryan Howard-like home run.
Not only did the Eagles have a high quantity of picks -- 13 in all, including four in the fourth round -- but it appears they landed just as much quality. From their first pick to their last, it seems Philadelphia hit paydirt. Here's a glance:
• Round 1 (13th overall), Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham: Eagles players are raving about Graham's burst, technique, handwork. Before the draft, one NFL executive predicted Graham would have a better NFL career than Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney. Graham already is the early favorite to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
• Round 2 (37th overall), South Florida safety Nate Allen: With the pick the Eagles acquired from Washington for Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia found a ballhawking defensive quarterback.
• Round 3 (86th overall), Washington defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim: The all-time sack leader at Washington, Te'o-Nesheim is a brawler who never stops going full tilt.
• Round 4 (105th overall) Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley: With the pick acquired from the Cleveland Browns for linebacker Chris Gocong and cornerback Sheldon Brown, the Eagles found a potential successor at cornerback. Had Lindley come out after his junior season, he would have been a first-day pick; a high ankle sprain marred his senior season.
• Round 4 (121st overall), Oklahoma linebacker Keenan Clayton: Teams love speed and linebackers who can race from sideline to sideline. Clayton can.
• Round 4 (122nd overall), Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka: Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on Kafka's ability to pick up the playbook and deliver the football: "I think he could be the best rookie that I've ever had in 15, 16, 17 years. Kafka is really sharp. Now, he's sharp book-wise, but he's also very intelligent in a football sense. He's really picked it up very quickly. He's had just terrific minicamps. He started hot and stayed hot."
• Round 4 (125th overall), Missouri State tight end Clay Harbor: Every day at training camp, Harbor makes a play. Every day.
• Round 5 (134th overall), Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp: Through the early part of camp, Sapp is the one pick who has yet to distinguish himself.
• Round 5 (159th overall), Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper: One of the camp's stars, Cooper has made his mark with his hands, speed and strength. Fair to say, Eagles cornerbacks have not enjoyed covering him. Even on a roster with wide receiver depth, the Eagles will have to make room for Cooper.
• Round 6 (200th overall), LSU running back Charles Scott: He could wind up as the Eagles' backup fullback.
• Round 7 (220th overall), Mississippi State linebacker Jamar Chaney: He's cut from the same mold as fourth-round pick Clayton. The Eagles suddenly have speed at linebacker.
• Round 7 (243rd selection), Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens: He's competing for the Eagles' fourth or fifth defensive tackle position.
•Round 7 (244th selection): Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman: What he lacks in size and speed, Coleman makes up for with smarts and character.
Other observations from Eagles camp:
|Eagles rookie Brandon Graham is drawing high praise.|
• The Eagles might have more young offensive firepower than any other team in the league. Quarterback Kevin Kolb and tight end Brent Celek are entering their fourth years in the league, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is going into his third, and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy are going into their second seasons. This is a nucleus that could be together for the next half-dozen years.
• Linebacker Ernie Sims was a Detroit Lions' top-10 pick. Now he will be a three-down player in Philadelphia. The Eagles believe Sims can defend the run, pass and even be used as a blitzer. With Sims and the return of a healthy Stewart Bradley, the Eagles already appear stronger at linebacker than they did all of last season.
• Philadelphia's regular-season opener shapes up as one of the top matchups that weekend. The Eagles play host to the Green Bay Packers. In his counterpart Aaron Rodgers, Kolb will get an up-close look at the type of quarterback who has succeeded a legend in his city only to go on to achieve his own excellence.
Monday is a doubleheader, with stops at the Baltimore Ravens in the morning and the Washington Redskins in the afternoon.
|Kevin Kolb (4) is the starting quarterback, but rookie Mike Kafka (3) is impressing the Eagles.|
Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.