The Eagles drafted 13 rookies in April, the largest draft class here in more than 20 years. Sixth-round fullback Charles Scott has been traded, fifth-round defensive end Ricky Sapp is on IR. That leaves 11 draftees, plus undrafted offensive tackle Austin Howard, who seems likely to make the team, as the Eagles prepare to whittle down to 53.
A dozen rookies would be a huge group. The roster for last season's Eagles opener featured six rookies. In this crowded linebacking corps, keeping both fourth-rounder Keenan Clayton and seventh-rounder Jamar Chaney might be a luxury; you'd have to think special teams coordinator Bobby April would rather have a polished vet, like Tracy White, among the reserves.
Right now, if White isn't in the mix, the top six linebackers are Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, Clayton, and Chaney, but tomorrow night might switch that sixth spot. Moise Fokou obviously remains a contender, along with White.
One rookie who definitely is going to make the the team is quarterback Mike Kafka. The fourth-round pick from Northwestern led a final-series touchdown drive for last week's victory at Kansas City, which didn't have much to do with the Eagles' 2010 fortunes, but showed Kafka's potential.
Kafka is scheduled to play the second half tomorrow night against the Jets. After that, barring calamity, he'll be lucky to get a half-dozen mopup snaps all season.
Guys tend to make friendships on teams based on their rookie class, assuming more than one or two guys from a class stick around several years. The 2010 rookies have the potential to become a really large, influential subgroup in the locker room, a sort of football version of the "baby boom" generation.
Another member of that rookie class, fifth-round wideout Riley Cooper, was asked about the perception that he has exceeded expectations. Cooper would seem to be slotted right behind the Birds' three standouts, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. In a preseason of opportunity for youngsters, Cooper has made the most of his.
"I'm playing football, man, this is what I love to do," Cooper said. "I'm confident in my ability to play. I'm a very humble guy, but I'm also confident in my ability … You don't have to make it too complicated."
To read our earlier post, click here.