Andy Reid says Brian Westbrook will be "out of his mind ready to go" for the 2009 season and I believe that. But he’s still going to be 30 in September, and he’s still got a chronically wounded knee that’s only got so many Pro Bowl-calibre carries left in it.
So, no matter how upbeat the Eagles coach is about Westbrook, I’m here to tell you they absolutely, positively will be taking a running back with one of their two first-round picks next month’s draft.
The only question is, which one? Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno? UConn’s Donald Brown? Ohio State’s Chris "Beanie" Wells? Pitt’s LeSean McCoy?
Moreno is considered the best of the four and probably won’t make it down to the Eagles’ first pick at No. 21. But with 12 draft picks, they have more than enough ammo to move up 6 or 7 spots and get him without losing their other first-round pick.
"I’m intrigued with him just because he’s so tough," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of the 5-10 ½, 198-pound Moreno. "He’ll do whatever they ask him to do. He’s shown me on tape that he’ll block people. He’ll run. He can catch the ball."
A lot of Eagles fans like the 6-1 ½, 237-pound Wells because of his size. He’s easily the biggest of the four first-round-worthy backs. But Reid has made it clear he doesn’t care about size. And their recent signing of fullback Leonard Weaver has made him care about it even less. Plus, the jury’s still out on Wells’ hands.
"He’s big enough to block," Mayock said. "He’s tough enough (to block). But you’re probably looking at him more as a first and second down guy. It’s hard to tell about his hands because they didn’t use him much (as a receiver) except for checkdowns. And that doesn’t tell you much."
McCoy? Probably is the fastest of the group and is a terrific pass-catcher. But there are questions about his willingness to block.
"I put the tape on of LeSean McCoy and he doesn’t want to block on anybody on third down," Mayock said. "Doesn’t mean he can’t, because I’ve seen him a couple of times do it. The question is will he do it consistently."
Then there’s the 5-10 ½, 210-pound Brown. The Eagles like him. He’s fast. He can catch the ball. And he’s a willing, if not accomplished, blocker.
"I like him a lot," Mayock said. "He’s not a real good pass protector today. But I think he’ll try. He’ll cut people. I’ve seen him go after people. With him, it’s just a matter of teaching him how to do it."
My gut feeling right now? Probably not Wells and probably not McCoy. Maybe they trade up for Moreno. Or maybe they stay put and take Brown with one of their two picks. But they will take one of them.
Some other random thoughts from the NFL meetings in Dana Point, Calif.:
* Have I mentioned before how despicable I think it is that the NFL, which has eliminated more than 300 jobs league-wide through layoffs and buyouts and has forced other employees to take unpaid furloughs, is holding these meetings at the $600-a-night St. Regis Resort? I have? Well, the NFL owners are in good company. A few weeks ago, AIG executives slept in the same beds they are sleeping in this week during one of their junkets.
* The league will announce the prime-time games for its Kickoff Weekend Monday.
* The Eagles aren’t expected to be awarded any compensatory draft picks by the league this week for free agent losses last year. They currently have 12 picks in next month’s draft, including two in the first round.
To read our earlier post on Eagles cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu and his comeback from knee surgery, click here.