Assessing the Eagles: skill positions


QB: The Eagles have their starter in Michael Vick. He’s an unbelievable runner and can spin it with remarkable velocity and accuracy. Those are the three things you can’t teach a quarterback his age. He does have flaws, including recognizing the blitz, his height, his reckless style of play, and ball security. However, another offseason with some of the best quarterback coaches in the world will help him improve in this area. I am confident that he will only improve for next year. He does need a solid backup though. If the Eagles trade Kolb, which I think is a good idea considering I believe other teams are overvaluing him and that his contract expires after next season, they will need to find a new solution. To me, Alex Smith is the man for the job. He is very talented, but never had a good offensive coach or very many weapons to help him realize his potential. I think he can develop into a starting caliber quarterback very quickly in the Eagles’ system. Behind him, it sounds as though Mike Kafka is progressing very nicely. He is big, smart, and athletic, and the organization is very, very high on him. I am extremely eager to watch him in preseason.

Verdict: If the Eagles trade Kolb, bring in a veteran such as Billy Volek or Alex Smith, but if Kolb is not dealt, no changes are necessary.

RB: LeSean McCoy exceeded my expectations in 2010 and then some. I wasn’t thrilled when he was drafted in the second round, and didn’t impress me in 2009. However, he really blossomed into a feature back last season. I don’t expect him to get much better, but not a lot of teams can say they have a back as complete and as explosive as McCoy. Behind him, I really like Jerome Harrison. He’s a similar type of player who has thrived when given playing time in this league. He’s an unrestricted free agent, and must be retained. The third running back, Eldra Buckley, is absolutely a waste of a roster spot and no effort whatsoever should be made to retain him. At least he was good on special teams in 2009, but he even struggled in that department more recently. At fullback, Leonard Weaver will start the season on the PUP list, and his knee injury remains career-threatening. However, while Owen Schmitt is not as athletic or as good of a runner as Weaver, he is tough, a reliable receiver, and is a pretty good blocker. He could easily be a full-time starter. I believe the Eagles will take a runner in the middle rounds to complement McCoy and Harrison. A tough goal line back could be the missing piece in a talented backfield.

Verdict: Re-sign Jerome Harrison, release Eldra Buckley, and draft a bigger back in towards the fourth or fifth round such as Syracuse’s Delone Carter, LSU’s Stevan Ridley, Hawaii’s Alex Green, or Louisville’s Bilal Powell.

WR: With the most exciting receiving corps in the league and no impending UFAs, the Eagles seem to be set here. I believe that Jeremy Maclin is one of the better receivers in the league. He’s fast, a good route runner, has reliable hands, and is a willing blocker. He’s not as flashy as DeSean Jackson, but I’d much rather have him on my team. I see Jackson more as an x-factor. I would use him on special teams and line him up all over the field. He’s far from a complete receiver, and I don’t like how he can be shut down and that he’s afraid to go over the middle. The solution is to make a unique position for him, not to force him into a traditional flanker role. I would be very open to the possibility of trading him if a team would give up the farm for him (I would be looking for a top 10 pick). I was very disappointed in Jason Avant in 2010, as he dropped an uncharacteristic amount of passes. Hopefully he rebounds because he is one of the tougher receivers in the league, and the Eagles need somebody like him if they want to start DeSean Jackson. Riley Cooper has shown a ton of promise as the fourth option, and he will develop into a real player. For the final spot, Chad Hall, Sinorice Moss, and Jeremy Williams should be involved in a very, very competitive battle.

Verdict: The Eagles do not need to add another receiver, but if one they like would be a cheap add in free agency, they should jump on the opportunity.

TE: Brent Celek dropped more passes than you would like, but he understands how to play the position and gives great effort. It’s not worth trying to upgrade him. Behind him, there are question marks with unproven young players Clay Harbor and Cornelius Ingram on the team. Ingram is extremely athletic but just as injury prone, and Harbor needs a good preseason before I he can buy his talent. I wouldn’t mind adding a veteran for depth like Chris Baker, David Thomas, or Daniel Graham. Some draft prospects deserve a look in the later rounds of the draft.

Verdict: Bring in a low profile player (through either FA or the draft) for depth such as David Thomas in FA or Portland State’s Julius Thomas, Michigan State’s Charlie Gantt, or Marshall’s Lee Smith through the draft.

Overall, the Eagles are in very good shape in this area of the roster. It is the only set of positions where the Eagles do not have any pressing needs.

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