Monday morning at the NFL meetings:
Ran into Ron Jaworski and talked to the former Eagles QB and current ESPN Monday Night Football analyst about what he thinks the Eagles need to do in the draft. He shares my opinion that running back needs to be their top priority, and that they don’t need to come away with an offensive tackle in the first round.
``I don’t think they’re in as bad a shape at the tackle position as everybody thinks,’’ Jaws said. ``I really think Shawn (Andrews) can move outside, if he’s right. And Stacy (Andrews) was a really good pickup for them. When the Eagles got him, I talked to some of my friends on the coaching staff in Cincinnati and they raved about him. He got high grades from them.’’
With Brian Westbrook turning 30 soon and playing on a degenerative knee with a lot of NFL mileage, Jaworski feels getting a top-of-the-line running back right here, right now, is imperative.
What should be the Eagles' top draft priority?
``It’s not an indictment of Brian (that the Eagles will draft a running back high),’’ he said. ``He’s been one of the greatest running backs in the history of the Eagles. But it’s the wear and tear on the body. This is a physical, demanding game.
``I remember talking to (Dick) Vermeil when he first came back (to coaching in the late ‘90s). He had tracked running backs. What he found was that after the 48th-49th game, their performance started to decline. When you consider the number of touches Brian’s had. . . and people forget, he’s a helluva blocker. He’s a terrific blocker, especially for a guy his size.
``In fact, that was the one thing I noticed with his knee last year. I thought that his blocking slipped. I could almost see him favoring (the knee). When you’re taking on a 300-pound guy, that’s where. . . he just wasn’t able to drive block. I think (the knee injury) affected him more there than as a running back. I know they cleaned it up. But you’ve got to start getting a complimentary back. A guy who can some day be the guy.’’
Like me, like the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, Jaworski feels Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno and UConn’s Donald Brown are the best first-round ``fits’’ for the Eagles out of the top running back group that also includes Ohio State’s Chris Wells and Pitt’s LeSean McCoy.
``As a package for the Eagles, the top guy would be Moreno,’’ he said. ``He’s a really good receiver. He’s a natural route-runner coming out of the backfield, which, if you’re talking about fits, which is what the draft is about, he’d be a guy that would project as a good fit for the Eagles’ offense. He could come out of the backfield and catch the football.’’
On Brown: ``I really like him. He’s the most consistent guy as far as projecting to the NFL. He’s a tough, tough guy. Plays every down like it’s the last play of the game.’’
Some other morning thoughts:
* In the messages under my previous blog post, I noticed a couple of people were confused why the Eagles probably won’t be getting any compensatory picks from the league this week considering the loss of safety Brian Dawkins, Tra Thomas, et al. But the compensatories that will be awarded for next month’s draft are determined by the free agents teams lost THE PREVIOUS YEAR (after the ’07 season) and their production level with their new teams (in ’08). The Eagles didn’t lose any free agents of consequence last year.
* Commissioner Roger Goodell will be announcing the prime-time games for Kickoff Weekend in a few hours. No word on whether the Eagles will be playing in either the Thursday night opener (not likely) or any of the Week 1 Sunday and Monday night games.
* Jaworski on the whole Jay Cutler affair: ``Coaches like guys that they’re familiar with. Josh (McDaniel) coached Matt (Cassel). He knew he was a guy he could trust. He knew everything about him. Knew his strengths, his weaknesses. I think Jay overreacted to the whole thing. This goes on all the time in the league. GMs talk (about trading players). Personnel guys talk. Maybe not to the level this got to. I think Jay is a tremendous talent. Maybe one of the most physically gifted guys in this league. But now his immaturity jumps out. He faces a little adversity and now he wants to be traded? Grow up.’’