Do Eagles have NFL's best young talent?

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson turns 24 in December. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)

The theme of the 2010 Eagles season is pretty simple.

The franchise has turned the keys over to Kevin Kolb and his group of young, talented playmakers as the Birds transition from the Donovan McNabb era.

Kolb, who turns 26 in August, is surrounded by DeSean Jackson (23), Jeremy Maclin (22), Brent Celek (25) and LeSean McCoy (22).

So when I stumbled upon an ESPN Insider piece that ranked all 32 NFL franchises in terms of young talent (players who are 25 or younger as of Sept. 1, 2010), I expected the Birds to be near the top.

But instead, friend of the blog Bill Barnwell and his Football Outsiders crew has the Eagles at No. 13:

The league's most aggressive organization is always happy to churn talent and bring new players into the lineup, but this year will be a make-or-break season for a lot of the organization's young talent. No one doubts wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but there are plenty of question marks surrounding guys like Kevin Kolb, LeSean McCoy and Winston Justice, each of whom will have far more expected of them than ever before. There are three young players competing for a spot across from defensive end Trent Cole. The injury-riddled Victor Abiamiri appears to finally be out of favor, which could open up a hole for former Seahawks end Darryl Tapp or first-round pick Brandon Graham. The team would love for one of the three to unseat veteran Juqua Parker.

The top three teams in Barnwell's rankings are the Texans (1), Panthers (2) and Chiefs (3). The Eagles rank ahead of the rest of the NFC East, with the Redskins finishing 32nd, the Cowboys 20th and the Giants 17th.

Barnwell also put together a list of the league's top 25 prospects, but he has specific guidelines. The player must be in the second, third or fourth year of their pro career; must have been drafted in Rounds 3 to 7 or signed as an undrafted free agent; must have started fewer than five career games in the NFL; and must still be on their rookie contract. No Eagles were on the list, but that makes sense considering guys like Jackson, Maclin, McCoy, Celek and Kolb would not fit the criteria.

Meanwhile, Mike Sando of compiled a list with the average ages of all 32 NFL teams. According to his research, the Eagles have the fourth-youngest roster in the league. But keep in mind, that includes all the players currently on the roster, which will look different by the end of August.

Other links:

* Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports takes a look at Kolb's performance last year and says don't be so quick to assume he'll find more success in the short and intermediate routes. Kolb could still air it out:

Short routes may sound simpler, but if receivers can make more happen on longer plays that take more time to develop, young quarterbacks can find more opportunities to be productive.

* Some of you have asked me about possible backup options if the Eagles were to cut ties with Michael Vick. Matt Bowen of the National Football Post says not a lot of guys are available right now. The names he throws out are Jeff Garcia, Todd Collins and Mark Brunell.

* Steve Wyche of lists the Vick situation as one of the league's offseason issues that is still looming as training camps get ready to open. He mentions Sage Rosenfels as a possible option for the Eagles if they cut Vick:

If they are wise, they better keep Jeff Garcia on speed dial and save some chips to possibly deal for Minnesota's Sage Rosenfels. This Vick brushfire is similar to several minor flare-ups he had in Atlanta before the dogfighting catastrophe. The Eagles' support seems unwavering, which could prod Vick to capitalize on this chance to remain in the NFL. However, Andy Reid and Joe Banner better have a backup plan.

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