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All Around, Roster Has Promise

It is, on paper, a really good team. I've looked at the position-by-position roster every day since the draft -- several times a day, in fact -- and it is impressive. General manager Howie Roseman and head coach Andy Reid have teamed to make this a formidable roster.

On paper.

We know that paper means nothing, and boasting means zilch, and that the great teams win in September and beyond.

But for the sake of conversation, and that's all we have in these middling days of May, the Eagles seem well positioned to withstand the rigors of the long season and the inevitable injuries and the weird bounces that will come and go.

They have done a good remaking the defense, which has been a two-year process, and then some. It really started in 2010 with the selections of end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen in the draft. We hope it is complete now.

By bringing in DeMeco Ryans in a trade and drafting Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry, the Eagles fortified the front seven.

If there is a question, and there always is, the safety spots are probably the focus. Allen is expected to make a large leap in 2012, so there is pressure on him. The Eagles are likely to have an open competition next to Allen, with third-year man Kurt Coleman and second-year player Jaiquawn Jarrett battlling for playing time.

Otherwise, the Eagles seem to have a complete roster. They have depth throughout. They have front-line talent. They have young players to build around.

The proof is in what happens on the field, as we are all well aware. It's just that, well, in this very moment, you have my permission to expect a lot out of these Eagles. They have good pieces in place.

Now, yeah, I can tell you that it's all going to come down to how quarterback Michael Vick performs and how the offense handles the red zone and how well the defense adjjusts to Juan Castillo in his second season as the coordinator.

The Eagles have cap room to make some moves if their best-laid plans don't fall into place, so there is likely to be some roster juggling ahead.

Right now, though, with the rookie camp to run this weekend, it's OK to feel a lot optimistic about your Eagles. I will tell you the truth and say that a rookie is a rookie until proven otherwise, so I'm not going into this thing with high hopes for the draft class of 2012. Former Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent told me a long time ago that a locker room doesn't approach a season expecting rookies to make an impact until they show they are up to the challenge.

Is Cox going to be an immediate starter? Only if he is a star right off the bat. Kendricks? He will have a shot, but I happen to think that Jamar Chaney is a pretty good player and that he will be productive on the strong side at linebacker.

Curry? Everyone loves that pick, but he has to beat out some talented players to earn time on the field.

How about Brandon Boykin at the nickel cornerback position? Excellent prospect, we know, but Joselio Hanson has been around long enough to know all of the nooks and crannies of the position.

You get my point. The Eagles are well stocked everywhere. Again, I think it's fair to wonder about safety, because the Eagles didn't make a substantial move to upgrade there in the offseason.

All considered, though, I love the way this roster looks. Now it's time, over the course of all of these camps and practices and then training camp and the preseason games, to prove how good the roster really is.

On to other points ...

  • I've heard good things about Monte Simmons, whom the Eagles signed from San Francisco's practice squad. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Eagles use him as a pass-rushing edge player to take advantage of his burst. Think Antwan Barnes here, people ...
  • You can expect most, if not all, of the team's draft picks to have a contract prior to, or shortly after, the rookie camp this weekend. This is not a stress point at all. The Eagles are on top of it in a big way.
  • There could be as many as 40 to 50 players on hand for the weekend camp as the Eagles extend invitations for players to try out. Already, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has reportedly been invited, and there are going to be plenty of others. Only a select few will have contracts at the end of the camp, if that many.
  • The roster stands at 89 players, so the Eagles can sign one more player before they reach the NFL limit of 90 players. Just so you know ...
  • I'm really fascinated by the approach at running back behind LeSean McCoy. Why no veteran? Because, quite honestly, Ronnie Brown's struggles last year showed that having a veteran "just to have a veteran" isn't necessarily the right appoach. The Eagles are high on second-year man Dion Lewis and they have a couple of talented rookies in Bryce Brown and Chris Polk to compete. If the Eagles want a veteran at a later date and time, there will be plenty on the streets.
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