STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The Eagles won 11 games last season and made the playoffs for the second straight year, but a loss in the Wild Card Round ultimately resulted in some major changes within the organization. Notably, Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins, as the team is moving forward with Kevin Kolb at quarterback. Moreover, Brian Westbrook was also released, so the teamʼs two biggest franchise faces are suddenly no longer on the roster. Of course, Andy Reid remains as head coach, and while it may appear to be a transition year upcoming, Philadelphia still has plenty of talent, and it wouldnʼt shock if going young at key positions resulted in another double-digit win season.
Last year the defense recorded the third-most sacks (44) in the NFL while holding opponents to just 6.5 yards per passing attempt and 4.1 yards per carry, both top-10 marks. The offense scored 26.8 points per game, which ranked as the fifth best unit in the league. McNabb took the team to five
NFC Championship games over a 10-year span as the full-time starter and is tied for the third-lowest INT percentage (2.1) in the history of the NFL. Heʼs also coming off a season in which he posted an 8.0 yards per attempt mark ‒ the third-best of his career, so heʼll no doubt be missed. Still, the decision to move on makes plenty of sense. McNabb would have been a free agent at the end of the 2010 season, and he has missed an average of 3.4 games per season over the past five years ‒ a trend only likely to get
worse now that heʼs 33 years old. And for all his success, McNabb was always an odd fit for Reidʼs West Coast Offense.
With the more accurate Kolb a better fit for the system, and with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek as weapons, Philadelphiaʼs offense could be scary good in 2010. Jackson is entering his third year in the league, Maclin just his second, and Celek his fourth, so they should only get better. The loss of the dynamic Westbrook will no doubt hurt, because while LeSean McCoy looks plenty competent, thereʼs just no way he can replicate what Westbrook did, especially as a receiver. Still, if McCoy can earn the majority of touches, heʼs in the right situation to produce a ton of fantasy value.
Ultimately, the Eaglesʼ fate will come down to Kolbʼs arm. Heʼs obviously untested, having just two career starts under his belt, but he was highly impressive when given the opportunity last season (8.4 YPA, 64.7 completion percentage during those two starts) and has clearly impressed the coaching staff otherwise. At this point, Kolbʼs ceiling is higher than McNabbʼs, but his floor is certainly lower as well. And the Eagles went all in.
Round, Overall, Player
1. (13) Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
Bolsters an already strong pass rush.
2. (37) Nate Allen, S, South Florida
Should immediately step in as the starting free safety.
3. (86) Daniel Teío-Nesheim, DE, Washington.
Provides depth on the defensive line.
4. (105) Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky
Adds much-needed depth in secondary.
4. (121) Keenan Clayton, LB, Oklahoma
Adds LB/Special teams depth.
4. (122) Mike Kafka, QB, Northwestern
Ideally will eventually become the teamís long-term answer at QB2.
4. (125) Clay Harbor, TE, Missouri State
His position remains unclear.
5. (134) Ricky Sapp, DE, Clemson
Nice value pick with pass-rushing upside.
5. (159) Riley Cooper, WR, Florida
Will have to fight to even make the team.
6. (200) Charles Scott, RB, LSU
Could emerge as the long-term backup running back. Will immediately be a threat in short-yardage situations.
7. (220) Jamar Chaney, LB, Mississippi
State. A long-shot to make the team.
7. (243) Jeff Owens, DT, Georgia
Likely practice squad bound.
7. (244) Kurt Coleman, S, Ohio State
Will need to impress to make the team.
Mike Bell, RB (Saints)
Should immediately become RB2 and is
the favorite for goal-line carries.
Ernie Sims, LB (Lions)
Should start on the outside.
Darryl Tapp, DE (Seahawks)
Is the likely starter at left end, but the
team rotates its D-line quite a bit.
Brian Westbrook, RB (FA)
Two concussions were bad, but ultimately his knee problems have put his career in jeopardy.
Kevin Kolb AS QB 1
Itʼs unclear if Andy Reid or the higher-ups ultimately chose Kolb over Donovan McNabb, but either way, itʼs obvious someone in the organization is a big believer in the QB with just two career starts. Kolb didnʼt throw a single pass after Week 3 last year, so thereʼs plenty of blind faith going on here, and while his numbers were impressive, itʼs worth noting he racked up yards while playing mostly from behind against the Saints (while throwing three picks), and his most impressive performance (9.6 YPA, 2:0 TD:INT ratio) came against a weak Chiefsʼ secondary.
That said, Kolb is well-versed in Philadelphiaʼs system, which is highly conducive to big passing stats (remember, A.J. Feeley once looked so good as a member of the Eagles that he was traded for a second-round pick). Of course, the hope is Kolb ultimately is much better than Feeley, and, truth be told, his skill set is actually far better suited for Andy Reidʼs West Coast Offense than McNabbʼs ever was. With such dangerous weapons to work with in the passing attack, Kolb could put up huge numbers this season.
The short answer: Of course not. Westbrook put up Hall of Fame type production when on the field, and while injuries prevented him from ever playing 16 games in a season, his combination of running and receiving ability was rare. Westbrook will certainly be missed, but, at this stage of his career, injuries finally made him too unreliable, so the Eagles simply had to move on. McCoy was able to record 40 catches for 308 receiving yards last year, so itʼs not like he canʼt contribute in the passing game, but at 5-10, 198 pounds, it remains unclear if he can carry the ball 300 times. Still, if heʼs truly given the opportunity to take over Philadelphiaʼs backfield, itʼs not out of the question that McCoy ends up a top-10 fantasy running back ‒ and his price will be much lower than that.
TRUST THE SYSTEM?
Up until very recently, only during the brief Terrell Owens era did Donovan McNabb ever have even an average WR corps, yet because of Andy Reidʼs system, big passing stats were consistently produced. Now, the Eagles are going to start DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, which looks deadly on paper. Add in the fact Kevin Kolb fits what Reid has wanted to do forever (more shorter and precise passes), and we could be looking at something special. But quarterback is by far the most important position on the football field, so it really comes down to if Kolb is ready for the task. Itʼs possible the 2010 season turns into a transition year, but, either way, the future looks bright.
RISING: Kevin Kolb is now the starter and considering his situation, needs to be considered a top-10 fantasy QB option. In fact, he has top-five upside.
DECLINING: Michael Vick had few, if any, teams interested in trading for him. Heís now QB2 instead of the third stringer, but heís a long-shot to ever be fantasy relevant again.
SLEEPER: Brent Celek is hardly a secret, but this is a tight end who scored six TDs over the final 10 games last year.
TRENT COLE, DE Has averaged 11.3 sacks with 68 tackles over the past three seasons. Easily the teamís best IDP option.
ASANTE SAMUEL, CB Quite possibly the worst tackler in the NFL but tied for the league-lead with nine interceptions last year.
QUINTIN MIKELL, LB Led team (by a wide margin) with 87 tackles last season.
RotoWire Rank: 10