Thursday, February 11, 2016

Graham, Baldinger and the secondary

What are Brandon Graham's chances of being the best defensive rookie in the league this season? Plus analyst Brian Baldinger's thoughts on the 2010 Eagles, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.

Graham, Baldinger and the secondary

Six defensive players were taken before Brandon Graham in April´s draft. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)
Six defensive players were taken before Brandon Graham in April's draft. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)

Six defensive players went off the board before the Eagles traded up and selected Brandon Graham with the 13th pick in last year's draft:

No. 2: Ndamukong Suh (Lions)
No. 3: Gerald McCoy (Bucs)
No. 5: Eric Berry (Chiefs)
No. 7: Joe Haden (Browns)
No. 8: Rolando McClain (Raiders)
No. 10: Tyson Alualu (Jaguars)

So what are the odds that Graham wins Defensive Rookie of the Year? Not great, according to (via Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post). Thirteen players have better odds of winning the award than Graham, who comes in at +1500.

Back in March, I spelled out the difficulty rookie defensive ends generally have in their first seasons. Defensive linemen taken in the first round over the past five years have averaged just 2.69 sacks as rookies.

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Is Andy Reid one of the five best coaches in the NFL? Analyst Brian Baldinger thinks so. Baldinger has Reid No. 3 overall. He's got Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs fifth; Rex Ryan fourth; Sean Payton second; and Bill Belichick first.

Baldinger, who ripped McNabb just about as harshly as any analyst in the country back in April, also had some interesting things to say during an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic last week. He thinks DeSean Jackson has a chance to be the MVP of the league and said to expect an especially tough training camp at Lehigh.

"This should be the most tortuous camp in the NFL in the last 10 years. I mean this is Andy Reid's dream," Baldinger said. "It's time to whip 'em into shape. And I think he's going to crack the whip harder than any team in the league this summer. With that, I think he's going to toughen up a lot of these young kids that think that the league is easy and anybody can walk into the playoffs... so I think he's going to whip 'em really hard. And that's where it's all going to start with this team."

Baldinger said the Eagles have a good chance to be a 10-win team and added that they shouldn't lower expectations just because it's the first year of the Kevin Kolb era.

"I think the expectations should be high," he said. "I mean, why would you get rid of McNabb if you didn't think the guy behind him was going to be as good, if not better? It wouldn't make any sense."

As for McNabb, Baldinger stands by his previous comments.

"I said he was a flawed quarterback. I think he's got flaws in reading coverage and accuracy. I don't know how you could dispute that, actually," he said. "Obviously the Eagles think he's the same thing. Otherwise you wouldn't trade him to the Washington Redskins."


I mentioned yesterday that the Eagles' secondary is my biggest concern on defense going into training camp. But where does the unit rank league-wide? Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports ranks the league's defensive backfields. He's got the Eagles 13th:

In 2008, a lot of people thought the Eagles overspent on CB Asante Samuel. Well, he had nine picks last year, has 13 in two years with Philly and 35 in his seven-year career. Those are impressive numbers. Sure, he has flaws, but hardly anything you would call an exploitable weakness. With Ellis Hobbs on the other side, the Eagles are OK, not great. The safety play of Quintin Mikell is solid and Macho Harris was OK for a rookie, but hardly a lock to hold the job long-term.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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