Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Eagles shocked the draftniks and used their top pick on Houston's Kevin Kolb

Originally published on Sunday, April 29, 2007.

It might have been the most shocking quarterback development of the NFL draft, which was saying something on this day.

As Brady Quinn slipped into the latter stages of the first round and was whisked out of sight by league officials in New York, it was only natural to wonder whether the Eagles would consider taking the Notre Dame quarterback with their first pick.

The outrageous notion of drafting a quarterback first seemed to have disappeared when the Cleveland Browns pulled off a trade with Dallas to select Quinn 22d, and the Eagles traded out of the first round in another deal with the Cowboys. 

Surprise.

With the fourth pick of the second round - 36th overall - the Eagles selected a quarterback.

Bigger surprise.

The quarterback was Kevin Kolb from the University of Houston, whom few of the world's one billion draft experts had rated as the third-best college signal caller behind Quinn and first overall pick JaMarcus Russell.

Immediate public reaction popped up on ESPN, where the cameras caught a guy dressed in an Eagles jersey waving his arms in disgust inside Radio City Music Hall. No, it wasn't Sam McNabb, although the eventual reaction from quarterback Donovan McNabb should be interesting.

McNabb, according to head coach Andy Reid, has no reason to be concerned about his job security. But the Eagles' head coach did feel the need to call his five-time Pro Bowl quarterback before selecting Kolb.

"I tried to call him," Reid said. "I left him a message. "

The message?

"Not to worry," Reid said. "I'm partial to Donovan. I think he's the best in the National Football League. I don't think he has anything to worry about. This is strictly how the board fell. This is not something about sending a message or that Donovan is hurt. That's not what this is all about. "

Reid, in fact, said McNabb's rehabilitation from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that prematurely ended his 2006 season was ahead of schedule.

Reid said he was sure that McNabb would be ready for the Sept. 9 season opener in Green Bay.

In the weeks before the draft, the anticipation was that the Eagles would try to add depth in the secondary with the 26th overall pick. Much of the speculation focused upon Florida safety Reggie Nelson and Miami safety Brandon Meriweather.

Both were gone by the time the 26th pick came around, and the Eagles decided to trade down into the second round.

"There were a handful of players we liked, and the board started moving pretty fast," Reid said.

In a deal consummated by a phone call between the two owners - Jeffrey Lurie and the Cowboys' Jerry Jones - the Eagles picked up an extra selection in the third round - 87th overall - from Dallas, giving them four first-day selections.

Reid said the Eagles used the first of those four selections on Kolb because he was the best player left on the board and because Reid was happy with the roster he had before the draft. The Eagles, by the way, had Kolb rated higher than Quinn.

"With quarterbacks, if you have a good one that you feel good about, you don't really care what anybody else thinks," Reid said. "If he comes across your board, and you feel he's the best, then you take him. Then you just let things happen.

"If he gets an opportunity to play, then he plays. If Donovan continues to play at the level he's been playing at, then more power to it. It keeps you on top of the NFL and gives you a chance to win championships. "

Kolb, a native of Stephenville, Texas, admitted being just as surprised as everybody else to hear the Eagles call his name. He did say he felt a strong rapport with the coaching staff during pre-draft interviews.

"It was a shock," Kolb said. "Obviously, as an athlete, you feel you are as capable as anyone else on the board, but in the draft it has to be the right team, the right selection at the right time, and God was on my side today. " 

Kolb, 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, had some eye-popping statistics during his senior season at Houston as he led the Cougars to a 10-4 record. He completed 292 of 432 passes for 3,809 yards while throwing 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. 

That Kolb, 22, played in a run-and-shoot offense that had him handle the football out of a shotgun formation did not concern Reid.

"What I saw in Kevin was somebody that was in complete control of his offensive scheme," Reid said. "I didn't care as much about the offensive scheme he was running other than he did it very well. I liked the way he was wired, his mobility and his movement in the pocket. I think he's a good, solid person, and I think you can see he has good, solid leadership qualities. "

McNabb's job as the Eagles' starter for the foreseeable future may still be safe, but the quarterback picture is crowded. The Eagles signed backup A.J. Feeley to a three-year extension earlier this off-season and acquired veteran Kelly Holcomb in a trade with Buffalo last month. Kolb gives them a fourth quarterback. 

"I'm not worried about that right now," Reid said.

Bob Brookover Inquirer Staff Writer
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