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Fan-Demonium: Meet The Class Of 2013

Posted Apr 30, 2013

Fan-Demonium

The Eagles added eight players in the draft over the weekend and definitely upgraded the roster. Some fans wanted the team to fix the defense. Others wanted the Eagles to land a franchise quarterback in the early rounds. Some others had the philosophy that the team should trade back and load up on picks to bring in as much talent as possible. 

Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly played things a bit simpler. They only moved up once, and that was just a couple of spots. The Eagles focused on adding players they had rated highly. It didn't really matter what position they played. There was no specific goal, beyond adding talent and improving the overall team. 

Things got very interesting on Thursday night when the Dolphins traded up to the No. 3 pick. I thought for sure they were going for left tackle Lane Johnson. That would have pushed linebacker Dion Jordan to the Eagles, which would have been fine with me. Then Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement that Jordan was the pick. Wow. That blew me away. 

There was no doubt after that. I knew the Eagles would take Johnson. He was too good a player and too perfect a fit for the team to go in any other direction. I did wonder if they would consider moving down, but I think staying put and making the pick was the way to go and that's just what they did. 

Johnson will compete for the right tackle spot right away. He probably will line up there with the starters in the post-draft minicamp. The Eagles had a high grade on Johnson and think he can start this year. They'll want to get him on the field to see what he can do. There is no question that Johnson has the size, strength and ability to be a good tackle. His technique needs some work, but I'm sure offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will work with him day and night to get that stuff fixed. 

Adding Johnson makes the whole line better. It allows Todd Herremans to slide inside to guard. Herremans will have to compete with Danny Watkins for that spot. Herremans is the better player, but Watkins seems rejuvenated by the new staff and it will be interesting to see how much better he plays in 2013. At the least, Watkins can be a good backup at guard. 

Drafting Johnson also provides a good insurance policy for left tackle. If Jason Peters gets hurt, the Eagles can slide Johnson to the left side or they could move Herremans over there. The team now has some versatile, talented pieces in place. After last year's disaster up front, it feels like the football gods should take it easy on the offensive line, but you must have plans in place in case someone goes down, whether for a game, a month or the year. 

If Johnson plays to his potential, I think he could be a Tony Boselli-type of player. I can't promise you that's how things will work out, but Johnson has that kind of potential. He is a great athlete with size, good feet and a real nasty streak. Think of taking Tra Thomas and putting Jon Runyan's mentality inside of him. Thomas was the gifted pass blocker. Runyan was the mean, nasty run blocker. Johnson can do both and he's more athletic than either of them. Great pick. I can't wait to see Johnson in action. 

There was much less drama in the second round. I fully expected the Eagles to take Zach Ertz and that's just what they did. I know some fans wondered why the Eagles would take a tight end that early with Brent Celek already in place. I can't stress this enough - Ertz is not a normal tight end. He is a chess piece who can line up all over. He will allow Kelly to be very creative on offense without having to make substitutions. That's crucial for a team that wants to run the no-huddle. You want to keep the same 11 players on the field, but have them versatile enough to line up in different formations and really get the defense off balance. 

Ertz is big enough to be a traditional in-line tight end. He is skilled enough to line up outside as a wide receiver. He can play in the slot or as an H-back. Ertz will be all over the place. Stanford used him like that so this is no blind projection based on a good workout. Ertz has shown the ability to do these things in games and against good competition. He is a proven player with a good combination of size, athleticism and skill. He will block, too. You're not going to play a lot at Stanford if you can't contribute to the run game. Ertz will play a lot as a rookie and will be a valuable part of the offense. 

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

I was caught off-guard by the Eagles' third-round pick. I didn't anticipate defensive tackle Bennie Logan being a target. I liked the player, but due to his size I hadn't thought of him as someone who Kelly would go after. Logan had impressed me when doing tape study, but seemed much more like a 4-3 player. After the selection, I went back and re-watched most of his 2012 games. That was an eye-opening experience. 

At 6-2, 309 pounds, Logan was used very creatively by the LSU coaching staff. You really did need to study a minimum of five games to appreciate him. Put on the Clemson or Texas A&M games. Both teams run the spread. Both have mobile quarterbacks who are also talented pocket passers. Attacking upfield can create as many problems for the defense as it does for the offense. Watch Logan in those games. He generally came off the ball passively. He would shove the blocker in front of him and then back off. Logan would then mirror the quarterback and chase him if the guy tried to run outside. Sure enough, Logan got a sack of Johnny Manziel by chasing him out of bounds while doing this. He had a couple of plays like this agains Clemson, where he read a play and got in on the tackle. 

Watch the Florida game and you see some stout play from Logan. Put on the Bama game and he more than held his own against Chance Warmack. That was impressive. There were at least two snaps in the Bama game when Logan lined up at defensive end. I thought Auburn and Washington were his best games. He was regularly disruptive vs. Auburn. Against Washington, I thought Logan had a few “wow” moments. He fired upfield on one pass play and either timed the snap perfectly or showed some explosion I hadn’t seen before. That was really impressive. Since the LSU coaches didn’t fear the Washington and Auburn quarterbacks getting loose, they let the defensive line attack up the field. Logan showed he could do that.

Logan is a hybrid defender. He can play nose tackle in the 4-3 or 3-4. He lacks the ideal build for the 3-4, but Kelly mentioned that Logan may get up in the 320-pound range. Logan can play the 3-technique defensive tackle. He could even slide to the 5-technique defensive end spot if needed. Logan has 34-inch arms (long) and big hands. That gives him the potential to move around and be able to keep blockers from getting into his body when the Eagles are playing a 2-gap system. Kelly mentioned the Eagles had a second-round grade on Logan so this is a player they really liked. I felt the same way after studying more of his game tape. 

Saturday opened and the TV guys told us there was a trade. They said the Eagles were on the clock. My mind was scrambling. Who could the Eagles be moving up to get? My initial thinking was a quarterback or a defensive back, so I was headed in the right direction. I didn't expect that the quarterback was going to be Matt Barkley, though. That pick shocked me. 

Barkley has been on my radar since the second week of his college career. He led USC on a late comeback to win a game at Ohio State. I've been a Penn State fan for decades and I watch senior quarterbacks who can't do that. To see a kid in his second college game ever do it? Amazing. Barkley and USC looked to be on the way to great things. 

Then the bottom fell out. Pete Carroll left. No one would take the USC job. Lane Kiffin took it. The NCAA came down hard with sanctions and penalties. Things were far from perfect out west. Barkley had the chance to transfer after both his freshman and sophomore seasons, but didn't. He could have gone to the NFL after the 2011 season, but stayed. Athletic director Pat Haden, a former Trojan quarterback himself, likes to joke that Barkley is the only player to ever choose USC four different times because of how that situation played out. 

I thought Barkley would be an ideal fit for a team running the West Coast Offense, but didn't see him as a likely target for Kelly. I didn't think Kelly was as obsessed with athleticism as some made him out to be, but I did think he'd want someone that could run at least a bit. Barkley is more of a pure pocket passer. 

As Kelly explained on Saturday, Barkley was simply too good to pass up. The Eagles had him rated highly and were shocked that he was still on the board. The team only had to sacrifice a seventh round pick to move up for him. That is great value for a quarterback who you think can play in the NFL. People want to know where Barkley fits in here. That is to be determined. Right now, he's third or fourth on the depth chart, but clearly the Eagles wanted him so unless he has the worst Training Camp in the history of mankind, he'll be on the roster. 

Barkley wants to come in and win the starting job. That's the right attitude for him. He must be confident in himself. You expect nothing less from a quarterback. I don't think he's likely to get on the field this year, but I would have said the same thing about Russell Wilson last year. Kelly has said that jobs are wide open. It is up to players to win/lose them. Barkley will be slotted according to how he plays. 

The most significant aspect of the Barkley pick is that it does show that Kelly is willing to take pocket passers. He isn't going to run an exact duplicate of his Oregon offense in the NFL. He must have a quarterback who can throw well first and foremost. If you can't pass efficiently and consistently, the running game will struggle. You must be able to throw the ball. Mike Vick can. Nick Foles can. Barkley too. 

Safety Earl Wolff was the team's fifth round pick. He can play in the box or back deep. Wolff isn't a dramatic hitter, but is a wrap-up tackler with good speed. The thing I love most is his explosion. Wolff did a 39-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine and that explosion shows up on game tape. When he starts to come up against the run, his first couple of steps are crazy. He's able to explode up the field. This helps him get to the runner or receiver quickly. Wolff led N.C. State in tackles this year and was second last year. He is an active and productive safety. He is 5-11, 209 pounds and has plenty of experience due to three-plus years as a starter. 

There was no sixth-round pick, but the Eagles added a trio of players in the seventh round. First up was defensive end/linebacker Joe Kruger from Utah. I think he is a great fit. Kruger is big (6-6, 269 pounds) and young (20 years old). The Eagles can bring him in and develop his body and skills. Maybe Kruger is good enough to contribute right away, but he might also take a bit of seasoning. I think he's got excellent potential as a 5-technique defensive end. 

Jordan Poyer went up against Kelly four times in college so they knew each other well. Poyer was a star at Oregon State. He didn't work out so well and that hurt his value. I liked what I saw of Poyer on game tape and down at the Senior Bowl. He looked like a starting cornerback to me. You can bet Poyer will have a chip on his shoulder from slipping all the way to the seventh round. I'm really curious to see how he does. Poyer has great ball skills and was a playmaker in college. If he can make plays in the camps, that will absolutely sell the coaches on him and he'll have a good NFL future. 

The final pick was David King from Oklahoma. If you check his stats, you'll be disappointed. He had 4.5 sacks, which isn't a good career total. Once again, you have to go to the tape and do more research. King played both defensive tackle and end. He wasn't allowed to just fire off the ball and chase the quarterback. He was used to contain backside runs and then as a pursuit defender quite a bit. King could develop into a solid 5-technique defensive end. I wouldn't project him to ever start, but he could become a good role player. He is a high-character player who the Oklahoma coaches thought very highly of. He'll do whatever he can to succeed in the NFL. King lined up wherever the coaches asked and did the dirty work when that was needed. He's truly a team guy. 

The Eagles ended up with quite a collection of talent. As Roseman has said, the team was never going to have a perfect draft and fill every hole. You want to add the best players you can and as many good ones as possible. The Eagles did just that. Let's hurry up and get the new guys on the field. I can't wait to see them in action.

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