The beat guys over at Eagletarian and Birds' Eye View did an outstanding job of providing updates from New Orleans today as Andy Reid and other NFL coaches addressed the media.
Here are three thoughts on some of the newsier items that were uncovered.
1. Reid said Brandon Graham is a "real stretch" to make the opener. Not altogether surprising, but still concerning at this point in the offseason. I wrote about this back in January, but Graham probably had a better rookie season than the sack numbers indicated. The crew over at Pro Football Focus went as far as to call him the most productive rookie pass rusher last season. It would have been interesting to see what kind of impact new defensive line coach Jim Washburn would have had on Graham, but we might have to wait to see those results until 2012 when they have a full offseason together.
So the obvious question is: Who will get Graham's snaps?
In his discussion with reporters, Reid mentioned three guys: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp and Darryl Tapp. The most attractive option out of the three is Tapp. He came on towards the end of last season, and it's reasonable to expect he'd improve from Year 1 to Year 2 in this system, especially with the help of Washburn. Of course, Tapp backed up Trent Cole at RDE last season and also was used mostly as an inside pass rusher, so someone would have to step up in those roles.
Te'o-Nesheim and Sapp are complete unknowns. Te'o-Nesheim got on the field in limited action last year, but didn't do much, and Sapp spent the year on IR.
The Eagles could add a defensive end in free agency, through a trade (once those are allowed) or in the draft. But if not, the most likely scenario would be a Juqua Parker/Tapp combination.
2. When Reid was asked about right tackle and right guard, he surprisingly mentioned King Dunlap as a guy who could get a shot inside. I have a tough time buying that one. Dunlap towers over his teammates at 6-9. Forget Vick getting balls batted down by opposing defenders. He'd probably have several throws go right into the back of Dunlap's helmet. The two right guards the Eagles employed last year - Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole stood at 6-3 and 6-0, respectively. Then again, Todd Herremans is 6-6 on the left side. But remember, Vick is not a tall quarterback. The Eagles' Web site lists him at 6-0.
As for right tackle, I'm not buying Dunlap as the answer. I think he showed last year that maybe he can be a serviceable backup, but I'd need to see a lot more to believe he can be trusted to protect Vick's blind side on a weekly basis. Winston Justice was up and down, but we don't know how much the knee injury might have been affecting him, especially late in the season. If we're going to judge Dunlap and Justice by the same criteria, there's no way Dunlap handles Clay Matthews for an entire game either.
Don't rule out Justice being back as the starter at right tackle. Like I've said before, he'll be judged on his body of work over the past two seasons, not just his game against the Packers.
I'm intrigued by Mike McGlynn as a possibility at right guard. It has to count for something to have a guard who has previous experience making the calls at center. That position is really wide open. So much depends on the health of Jamaal Jackson and to a lesser degree, Justice.
3. Given the events and reports of the last few days, I'm convinced that Kevin Kolb has played his last game as an Eagle. I'm at the point where I still think it's likely he gets moved even if the Eagles have to settle for 2012 draft picks in return. It's possible they might be able to get more from a team in 2012 picks than they would with 2011 picks. Obviously, they'd prefer to get something in return this year; a couple defensive playmakers could really help this team. But the Eagles have traded out of the first round in the past for future picks. Why would this situation be so different?
As for the team most likely to show interest, I'm not ready to rule anyone out. Remember when the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Redskins? Or when they acquired Michael Vick? They caught everyone by surprise. As I wrote yesterday, there are 14 QB-needy teams in the NFL, and by my count, nine of the teams that pick in the top 10 could use a quarterback. That means the Eagles are really in prime position to get a good offer.
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