Which Eagles Rookies Could Play Right Away?
Andy Reid has showed over the past few seasons that he isn’t afraid to give significant playing time to young players.
So which of the Eagles’ nine draft picks and 13 rookie free agents have a decent chance of starting this season?
Round 1: First-round pick Fletcher Cox might not “start” but he should see plenty of playing time shifting between defensive tackle and defensive end. He is an active, penetrating defender who should fit very well in Jim Washburn’s wide-nine look.
Round 2: Mychal Kendricks was the team’s second round pick and should start right away as the strong-side linebacker. His 36.5 tackles for a loss are a school record and the Eagles are hoping that he can be a play-maker in week one.
Round 2: Much like first-round pick Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry could see plenty of playing time as a rotational defensive end. Curry was a sack machine at Marshall recording 23 over the last two seasons and the Eagles are hoping he can get to the quarterback right away in Washburn’s wide-nine scheme.
Round 3: Quarterback Nick Foles will have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie unless he really impresses during training camp and passes Mike Kafka on the depth chart – which is unlikely. Foles has displayed a strong arm during the team’s first OTA session, but Kafka has experience in his favor.
Round 4: Cornerback Brandon Boykin played slot corner at Georgia and was one of the most dangerous return men in the nation. He should get a look at both spots in 2012 with the Eagles, as the Eagles have informed Joselio Hanson that he will have to beat out Boykin for the team’s slot corner job. Boykin should also be the favorite to win the punt and kick returner job. He was Georgia’s all-time leader in kick return yardage and also returned a punt return for a touchdown.
Round 5: Dennis Kelly is a big kid that the Eagles will probably put on the practice squad. He does have some talent, as he was voted the Most Valuable Player in 2010 for the Purdue Boilermaker offense. At 6-8 , 321 lbs., Kelly will battle for the back-up tackle spot in camp.
Round 6: Sixth round-pick Marvin McNutt is an interesting pick. He posses ideal height, is very good after the catch and can block down field. He could push incumbent Riley Cooper for the fourth wide-out spot. This should be an interesting battle to watch at Lehigh and during the pre-season games.
Round 6: Brandon Washington could make the team as a back-up at both guard spots. He has ideal siaze and great strength for the position. Has played left guard and left tackle while at Miami and is a big, strong player who could be a future starter.
Round 7: Running back Bryce Brown is an interesting story and should be a guy to keep an eye on at Lehigh. Brown has great size (5-11½ | 223) and ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the combine. Brown could win the back-up job behind LeSean McCoy and could also be a factor in the return game.
Free-Agents: WR Elvis Akpla (Montana State); LS Matt Camilli (UTEP); TE Chase Ford (Miami); CB Cliff Harris (Oregon); FB Emil Igwenagu (Massachusetts); WR McKay Jacobson (BYU); WR Damaris Johnson (Tulsa); WR Aaron Pflugrad (Arizona State); RB Chris Polk(Washington); FB Jeremy Stewart (Stanford); FS Phillip Thomas (Syracuse); P Ryan Tydlacka (Kentucky); WR Darnell Williams (Louisiana College).
Record-setting Tulsa receiver and returner Damaris Johnson, All-America Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris and three-time 1,000-yard rusher Chris Polk of Washington are three names to watch for at Lehigh. Polk could be a long-shot but some had him pegged as high as a second or third round pick, but injury problems had him fall out of the draft. Johnson holds the NCAA Division 1 all-time record for most career all-purpose yards with 7,796 and also the NCAA career record for kickoff return yardage at 3,417 – but has many character issues. Meanwhile, in 2010 Harris was tied for fifth in NCAA Division 1 with six interceptions and also returned four punt returns for touchdowns – he too has Character issues, and was thrown off the team in 2011.