Monday, April 27, 2009

Somewhat More Sanguine

My how the accolades roll in!

NFL report card by Paul Domowitch

Eagles: Swung two separate trades that got them a Pro Bowl left tackle (Jason Peters) and a 4-year starting cornerback (Ellis Hobbs). Got one of the draft's top two wide receivers (Jeremy Maclin) in the first round and some much-needed help for Brian Westbrook in the second (LeSean McCoy). All in all, a helluva draft.

Grade: A-plus

More? CBS Says…
Best pick: They had no idea they'd get receiver Jeremy Maclin in the first round. They will love his speed in their offense.
Questionable move: Hard to find any. I mean it.
Second-day gem: Fifth-round pick Cornelius Ingram is a wonderful athlete who will be the new L.J. Smith in their offense.

I’m a little bit more sanguine. Mind you, I am no expert on these players- but I’m a little down on the approach.

For example, I know why Jeremy Maclin slipped out of the first ten picks (on some boards)- and why Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy lingered on the board. Because they can’t block.

It tends to be glossed over by these draftniks- who are a little blinded by the numbers and big play capacity of skill players. But coaches aren’t. The NFL is a real competitive league- and guys who can’t hold there own on the edge or in pass protection are a problem.

Jeremy Maclin seems like a clone of Desean Jackson: real speed, stretch the field. But I can’t see how they can both play on first down and subsequent run-oriented short yardage situations if both are, widely acknowledged, minus blockers? Which means Maclin isn’t going to, next year, supplant Kevin Curtis. In a fair forecast for next year, he is going to have the fifth most catches in this offense- behind the two starting wide-outs, the tailback position (Westbrook) and the starting tight end.

Now, the Eagles obviously think they are in a two year window to make a couple of runs at his thing. They needed a day one contributor with their first pick (like trading it for the OT Jason Peters- a definitive "win now" move)- not a potential good player who contributes on the margins through 2010.

On the surface, it was a little different with McCoy- there is a huge role around here for a twelve-fifteen touches per game from an alternate tailback. And the immediate expectations are less for a second round pick. But I look at him and think Ryan Moats- another “running” talent who could not get on the field because he couldn’t block people.

It is a real institutional bias in Philadelphia. Buckhalter stayed here forever because the coaches trusted him to block. Conversely, Ryan showed flashes- but never got a sustained look because he couldn’t be trusted to protect the organization’s franchise resource: Donovan McNabb. He was a third round pick we never saw- and we just drafted a guy in the second round with the exact flaw.

Again, these NFL guys know these players much better than I ever will. Maclin will probably turn out to be just fine- but there were guys still on the board more ready to contribute from this September on a team about now, not next year: say Brandon Pettigrew? And I’ve seen the McCoy prototype fail very recently here. Honestly, I had them at C+ after the first day- but I love the selection of Cornelis Ingram (if healthy, I think he is the best player they drafted- another potential indictment of these selections) and the trade for CB Ellis Hobbs. So, I give’em a “B-”.