OT Demetress Bell, ILB DeMeco Ryans, S O.J. Atogwe.
Early Draft Picks:
DT Fletcher Cox, ILB Mychal Kendricks, DE Vinny Curry, QB Nick Foles, CB Brandon Boykin.
QB Vince Young, FB Owen Schmitt, WR Steve Smith, OT Winston Justice, C Jamaal Jackson, DE Juqua Thomas-Parker, DT Trevor Laws, CB Asante Samuel.
2012 Philadelphia Eagles Offense:
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Philadelphia's quarterback struggled last year. His completion percentage and YPA dropped from 62.6 and 8.1 in 2010 to 59.8 and 7.8 in 2011. He threw 21 touchdowns to just nine turnovers in 2010, but saw that ratio worsen to 18 and 18 in 2011. More importantly, he carried the ball just 76 times; that's the first time in his career that he didn't rush at least 100 times in a season in which he played at least 12 games.
Members of the biased media will never admit it, but Philadelphia's quarterback is pretty much done as a starting signal-caller in the NFL. He's 32, so he's lost the superior athleticism that made him special. Plus, it doesn't help that he's been hesitant to scramble ever since signing a $100 million contract last August. If he doesn't run the ball, he's just a sub-par player. He has great arm strength, but his accuracy is mediocre, and he can't read blitzes and coverages. The Eagles can get out of his contract next year without much of a cap penalty, so they'll probably do that unless he surprises and has a fantastic 2012 campaign.
Another major problem concerning the quarterback is that he's expected to miss at least a quarter of the season because that's what always happens. When he's out of the lineup, who's going to play? Mike Kafka? Trent Edwards? Nick Foles?
It'll really help the quarterback's cause - when he's on the field - that he has a great supporting cast to work with. His best player is running back LeSean McCoy, who is capable of shouldering a full workload and going the distance whenever he touches the football. McCoy rushed for 1,309 yards on a 4.8 yards-per-carry average, caught 48 balls for 315 receiving yards and scored 20 touchdowns in 2011. He only lost one fumble. Andy Reid hinted that McCoy will see fewer touches in 2012 to preserve him long-term, so fellow Pitt running back Dion Lewis will see carries. Lewis is a skilled runner; he should have been getting touches instead of the decrepit Ronnie Brown last year.
As for the receiving corps, DeSean Jackson is more well known than Jeremy Maclin, but the latter will likely be the quarterback's top target. Maclin dealt with a mysterious illness last summer, but fortunately has recovered from that. Now completely healthy, Maclin is poised for a huge 2012 campaign. Jackson, meanwhile, quit on his team at times last season, blaming it on the contract dispute he had with the front office. Jackson has only had three 100-yard performances since taking a hard hit in a Thursday contest versus the Texans late in 2010. He's afraid to go over the middle and was tied for seventh in drops (9) last year. Jackson, Eric Decker and Jerome Simpson were the only players to have at least nine drops and fewer than 60 receptions.
Jackson will probably disappoint again, but Brent Celek should be able to step up. Celek struggled statistically in 2010 and the first half of last season, but he finished the year strong. The difference? The Eagles shored up their offensive line, thanks to Howard Mudd, which allowed Celek to run more routes. Celek consequently had 60 or more receiving yards in six of his final 10 games after failing to reach that mark in Weeks 1-7.
Speaking of the offensive front, Philadelphia suffered a huge blow when Jason Peters tore his Achilles in the spring. Peters had lethargy issues earlier in his career but recently emerged as one of the premier left tackles in the NFL. Peters' injury prompted the Eagles to obtain Demetress Bell, a talented, but oft-injured tackle who started just six games for Buffalo last year. Bell is penciled into the lineup across from right tackle Todd Herremans, a former guard who really excelled in his new position as the blind-side protector. Herremans surrendered only four sacks in 2011.
The interior of the front is questionable, save for left guard Evan Mathis, who was incredible last season in every facet. Right guard Danny Watkins, a controversial first-round selection because of his age (28 in November) was inserted into the lineup late in the year as a rookie but did not perform well. Center Jason Kelce, another 2011 rookie, also struggled. Both he and Watkins should be able to improve now that they have experience, however.
2012 Philadelphia Eagles Defense:
How do you ruin a defense comprised of Pro Bowlers and highly priced offseason acquisitions? Ask the offensive line coach to run things. It was so laughable that Andy Reid was arrogant enough to shift Juan Castillo from the offensive line coach to the defensive coordinator. Castillo was outmatched for most of the year and couldn't figure out how to use Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel at the same time. Philadelphia, consequently, surrendered 23.5 points per game between Weeks 1 and 13.
But something changed at the end of last year. The Eagles permitted just 11.5 points per contest in the final four weeks of the season. Did Castillo finally figure things out? Maybe. But it's more likely that Philadelphia simply feasted on four incredibly inept quarterbacks (Matt Moore, Mark Sanchez, Stephen McGee, Rex Grossman) to close out the 2011 campaign.
Samuel is gone, and the Eagles will go with more press-man coverage after their disastrous experiment with a zone scheme failed. This will greatly benefit Nnamdi Asomugha, who is still talented and young enough (31) to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. The problem is that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be starting on the other side. The initials for Rodgers-Cromartie's name could stand for "Doesn't Really Care." He's talented, but seldom puts forth any effort.
Asomugha was one of the major signings last summer. Another was Jason Babin. He definitely did not disappoint, racking up a whopping 18 sacks. He and Trent Cole (11 sacks) were a great pass-rushing duo, drawing attention from the opposing offenses, which allowed Cullen Jenkins (5.5 sacks) to generate pressure from the interior.
The Eagles lost situational pass-rusher Juqua Thomas-Parker to the Browns, but they still have Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt and second-round rookie Vinny Curry, all of whom can get to the quarterback. Graham, a first-rounder in 2010, should be 100 percent, now two years removed from a torn ACL. It should be interesting to see what he is capable of; he's reportedly in great shape as of this writing.
Reid loves spending early selections on defensive linemen, and he did so again in April, picking Fletcher Cox No. 12 overall. He could break into the starting lineup this year; Mike Patterson, currently penciled in next to Jenkins, often struggles to get to the quarterback.
Two major problem areas that the Eagles had to address on defense were at linebacker and safety. The former group seems to be fixed. Philadelphia obtained stud inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans for a mere fourth-round pick and a swap of third-rounders. Ryans was available at a cheap price because he didn't really fit into Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense. He thrived when Houston ran a 4-3, so he should be able to fit right in.
Ryans will be flanked by weakside linebacker Brian Rolle, who played well as a rookie, and strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Kendricks was a highly productive player at Cal, winning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award. He also showed off his superior athleticism at the Combine. The concern is that he's a natural inside linebacker; it remains to be seen if he can succeed on the strong side.
Meanwhile, the strong safety position is still in flux. Jaiquawn Jarrett will ideally beat out Kurt Coleman and show signs of progression in 2012, but the ineffective Coleman is slated to start as of this writing. Nate Allen, stationed at free safety, struggled early in 2011, but really looked great down the stretch. Eagle fans will hope that's permanent, and not a product of the inept quarterbacks he was facing. Newly signed O.J. Atogwe can step in if either safety disappoints.
2012 Philadelphia Eagles Schedule and Intangibles:
The Eagles weren't very good on kickoff returns last year, being outgained by 2.2 yards. They did manage to best their opponents on punt returns by 2.4 yards. No touchdowns were scored on either side. Perhaps fourth-round rookie Brandon Boykin will change that.
Andy Reid really made himself look bad by blaming David Akers for a playoff loss to the Packers in January 2011. He made amends for it by drafting Alex Henery, who drilled 16 consecutive kicks beginning in Week 5, though Akers just had a career year.
Punter Chas Henry, who was also a rookie last season, averaged just 42.9 yards per punt with 19-of-66 of them placed inside the 20.
The Eagles have a tough schedule. They play the Ravens (home), Steelers (road), Lions (home), Falcons (home), Saints (road) and Panthers (home) in addition to battling the Giants and Cowboys twice each.
2012 Philadelphia Eagles Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2012 Philadelphia Eagles Analysis: The Eagles will be better than they were last year, but they don't have much of a chance to win the Super Bowl. Even if they get to the playoffs - a tough challenge, considering they'll have to start Mike Kafka or Nick Foles for at least four contests - they won't be able to beat the elite teams because their declining quarterback doesn't understand the mental part of the game.
Goals Entering the 2012 NFL Draft: The Eagles don't really have many needs, so they can afford to take the best player available at almost every pick. Areas that still need to be upgraded are strongside linebacker, strong safety and cornerback depth. A big receiver and a successor for the current starting quarterback should also be considered.
2012 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Philadelphia addressed every single position listed above (save for strong safety) and selected great value prospects with nearly every choice. Eagle fans should be very pleased with this class.
Fletcher Cox was considered to be the top pass-rusher in the 2012 NFL Draft despite being an interior defensive lineman. The Eagles did well to move up three spots for him, merely giving up fourth- and sixth-round picks in the process. Andy Reid had so many selections to work with, so it was a deal he could afford to make.
I like both prospects Philadelphia secured in the second round. Vinny Curry is an avid Eagle fan and was projected by some to be a late first-round pick. Mychal Kendricks, meanwhile, was highly productive at Cal, winning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. However, I have some concern that he won't be able to play strongside linebacker, where's he'll be stationed. There's no denying his talent though, so it wouldn't surprise me if he succeeded in his new position.
Elsewhere, the Eagles found corner depth (Brandon Boykin) and a big receiver (Marvin McNutt). Strong safety wasn't addressed, but I don't see why Reid would give up on Jaiquwan Jarrett so quickly. Still, it wouldn't have been a bad idea to find competition there instead of Nick Foles. I'm not a fan of the inaccurate and checkdown-happy Foles whatsoever, so I see that as a wasted pick.
2012 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
12. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: A Grade
I normally don't like it when teams trade up, but Fletcher Cox is talented and could have gone as high as No. 6 or 7, so the Eagles are getting great value here for a mere fourth- and sixth-rounder. Cox is a perfect fit for Jim Washburn's scheme.
46. Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California: B+ Grade
I'm going to need an explanation for this because both Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans are inside linebackers. Perhaps the Eagles think Kendricks can play SAM. We'll see. What I do know is that Kendricks is incredibly talented. He might fill a need at one of the linebacker positions and he fits the range.
59. Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: A Grade
A few mocks had Vinny Curry going in the very end of the first round. He was No. 44 on the consensus big board, so the Eagles are obviously obtaining some value with this selection. Curry doesn't fill an immediate need, but I can't blame Andy Reid, who loves bolstering the defensive front, for providing some insurance for Brandon Graham, who is coming off a nasty knee injury.
88. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: D Grade
I mocked Nick "checkdown" Foles to the Eagles - but in the fourth round. This is a bit of a reach, and I'll be shocked if Foles pans out. There's too much Blaine Gabbert with Foles. They even have the same hair style.
123. Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: A+ Grade
Awesome pick. Brandon Boykin was ranked No. 61 on Mike Mayock's board. Scouts Inc. slotted him at No. 52. We had him at No. 63. I mocked him in the second. He's a steal at No. 123. He also fills a need because Asante Samuel was traded.
153. Dennis Kelly, OT, Purdue: D Grade
This pick surprises me for two reasons. First, no major big board had Dennis Kelly ranked in the top 225. Second, I don't think he is a good fit for Philadelphia's blocking scheme.
194. Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: A+ Grade
Here's the big receiver that Eagle fans have been coveting. Marvin McNutt (6-3, 216) is a great value selection; he's No. 109 on the consensus board. If some team picked him in the third round, it would have been acceptable. Philadelphia's offense will be much better in the red zone if McNutt pans out.
200. Brandon Washington, G/OT, Miami: A+ Grade
The Eagles are collecting sixth-round steals. Brandon Washington is No. 121 on the consensus board. In addition to providing great value this late in the 2012 NFL Draft, he also fills a need. Philadelphia needed to find tackle depth in the wake of Jason Peters' unfortunate Achilles injury.
229. Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State: B+ Grade
Bryce Brown is either going to make the team play well or get cut right away. But these are the type of boom-or-bust picks you're supposed to make in Round 7. Brown was highly recruited coming out of high school, but flamed out at both Tennessee and Kansas State. Maybe Andy Reid can turn his football career around.
"Dream Team, huh? Heh, heh, heh..." There are many who want to blame Vince Young entirely for the Dream Team's nightmarish season because he put too much pressure on everyone. But you can't ignore the quarterback's regression and turnover issues, the top receiver's lack of effort and a defense that struggled for most of the year because it was being led by the offensive line coach. The Eagles were far from dreamy; everyone wanted to focus on the stars rather than all of the glaring holes on the roster.
Eagles sign S O.J. Atogwe
Raiders sign FB Owen Schmitt
Eagles announce retirement of C Jamaal Jackson
Bills sign QB Vince Young
Falcons acquire CB Asante Samuel from Eagles for late-round pick
Rams sign DT Trevor Laws
Eagles re-sign DT Derek Landri
Eagles sign OT Demetress Bell
Eagles re-sign OT King Dunlap
Rams sign WR Steve Smith
Eagles acquire ILB DeMeco Ryans for 4th-round pick; swap of 3rd-rounders
Eagles sign G Steve Vallos
Eagles re-sign G Evan Mathis
Browns sign DE Juqua Thomas-Parker
Eagles re-sign WR DeSean Jackson
Eagles cut C Jamaal Jackson
Colts acquire OT Winston Justice and 6th-round pick from Eagles for 6th-round pick
Eagles re-sign DT Antonio Dixon
Left Tackle: Jason Peters suffered a torn Achilles on March 27. He'll be out for the year (at least), so the Eagles need a new left tackle. They'll consider Jonathan Martin at No. 15 or possibly trade up for Riley Reiff - maybe to No. 7 because the Jaguars really want to move down. Demetrius Bell and Marcus McNeill are options in free agency. Signed Demetress Bell; re-signed King Dunlap
Two Linebackers: Brian Rolle showed promise at weakside linebacker, so Philadelphia will probably keep him there as the starter in 2012. It's the other two positions that need to be fixed. Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews were awful last year. If Luke Kuechly falls to the Eagles at No. 15 in the 2012 NFL Draft, they'd be crazy not to take him. Traded for DeMeco Ryans; drafted Mychal Kendricks
Wide Receiver: DeSean Jackson probably won't be back next year; the consensus around Philadelphia is that he'll be part of some tag-and-trade deal. If Jackson leaves, the Eagles will need a deep threat at receiver. Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright will be looked at with the No. 15 pick this April. Re-signed DeSean Jackson
Cornerback: Asante Samuel most likely will not be in an Eagle uniform in 2012. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a lazy bum. The Eagles once again have to address the cornerback position. Drafted Brandon Boykin
Strong Safety: Poor linebacker and safety play haunted the Dream Team this past season. Nate Allen finished up the year well, but Jaiquawn Jarrett was a big disappointment as a rookie. Philadelphia might want to think about bringing in a veteran to hold down the fort until Jarrett is ready. Signed O.J. Atogwe
Defensive Tackle: The Eagles have some free-agent defensive tackles they have to re-sign. Even still, Mike Patterson is no sure thing because of the seizure he suffered this past August. Drafted Fletcher Cox; re-signed Derek Landri
Offensive Line Depth: Philadelphia is really thin at tackle and guard. As it stands right now, King Dunlap, if re-signed, would have to play if Jason Peters or Todd Herremans gets hurt. That's not good. The Eagles will also need a new guard if Evan Mathis isn't re-signed. Re-signed Evan Mathis; signed Steve Vallos
Backup Quarterback: The Eagles need a reliable veteran behind their injury-prone starting quarterback unless they think Mike Kafka is ready to take on that role. Drafted Nick Foles; signed Trent Edwards
Punter: Rookie Chas Henry stunk up the joint. Andy Reid may want to give him another year, but Henry really has to improve.
2012 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Demetress Bell, OT, Bills. Age: 28. Signed with Eagles (5 years, $35 million)
Demetress (formerly Demetrius) Bell, base-born in Philadelphia, surrendered just one sack in six starts last year. Bell has had knee issues throughout his career, so while the Bills should re-sign him, they should also be careful.
O.J. Atogwe, FS, Redskins. Age: 31. Signed with Eagles (1 year)
O.J. Atogwe still would be a decent safety if he could stay healthy, but that has been really difficult for him over the past couple of years.
Steve Vallos, G, Browns. Age: 28. -- Signed with Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Evan Mathis, G, Eagles. Age: 30. Re-signed with Eagles (5 years, $25 million; $7 million guaranteed)
Evan Mathis didn't allow a single sack last year and opened up huge running lanes for LeSean McCoy. He was great in Howard Mudd's system. Mathis would be would be ranked higher than this if he weren't so injury-prone.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. Age: 25. Re-signed with Eagles (5 years, $51 million)
DeSean Jackson was pretty overrated until he started dropping passes and running half-hearted routes in the middle of the season. The threat of Jackson burning teams deep still has an impact on the game, but if lazy coaches would realize that the quick wideout has been pretty mediocre since suffering a second concussion against the Texans last year, they wouldn't respect him as much.
Derek Landri thrived as a reserve defensive tackle in 2011, getting good pressure on the quarterback and helping shut down the run. Not bad for a guy who was among the final cuts prior to the season.
Antonio Dixon (RFA), DT, Eagles. Age: 27. Re-signed with Eagles (1 year)
Antonio Dixon functioned as an excellent run-stuffer in 2010, but he missed most of this past year with torn triceps. He's a poor fit in Jim Washburn's scheme anyway, so the Eagles might just put a really low tender on him.
King Dunlap, OT, Eagles. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Eagles
Juqua Thomas-Parker, DE, Eagles. Age: 34. -- Signed with Browns (1 year)
Jamaal Jackson, C, Eagles. Age: 32. -- Announced retirement
Vince Young, QB, Eagles. Age: 29. -- Signed with Bills (1 year, $2 million)
Trevor Laws, DT, Eagles. Age: 27. -- Signed with Rams
Owen Schmitt, FB, Eagles. Age: 27. -- Signed with Raiders
Steve Smith, WR, Eagles. Age: 27. -- Signed with Rams
Ronnie Brown, RB, Eagles. Age: 30. -- Signed with Chargers
Victor Abiamiri, DE, Eagles. Age: 26.
Divisional Rival History: Dallas Cowboys: Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have won the past three matchups against their arch rival. New York Giants: The Eagles have taken seven of the past eight matchups, including the Miracle at the New Meadowlands. Washington Redskins: Philadelphia has claimed the past three matchups.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2012 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)