It really was an incredible several days at the NovaCare Complex. The draft brings with it an irresistible buzz and intensity. For weeks and months, really, the football operations department prepares for the most important weekend of the year and the rest of us wait and wonder and speculate and whisper our secret hopes to improve the roster.
From the time the Eagles traded cornerback Asante Samuel to Atlanta for a seventh-round draft pick that became running back Bryce Brown -- more on him later -- to the list of 13 players added in the frantic hours after the draft, and everything in between, the weekend was a wild ride.
Here are some of the things that stick with me now that the 2012 NFL draft is over ...
- I am really looking forward to the offensive line/defensive line drills in training camp. The Eagles loaded up along the defensive line with tackle Fletcher Cox and end Vinny Curry and they are going to get after it with Howard Mudd's offensive line. I think the depth on the defensive front is, potentially, as promising as it has ever been. While both Cox and Curry have a lot to learn, they both are eager to accept Jim Washburn's, um, enthusiastic instruction.
- Calling Cox an "immediate starter," as some have in the media in their analysis of the Eagles' draft, is not fair. And it's probably not accurate. I don't see Cox moving either Cullen Jenkins or Mike Patterson out of the starting lineup right away. Those are two pretty good veterans with a lot of success. I'm not suggesting that Cox won't make an immediate impact. If he earns it, he will work in the rotation. But I don't go in thinking he has to start right away to validate his draft spot.
- I've been thinking a lot about the running back situation, and when the Eagles didn't address the position until the seventh round on Saturday, I figured it was likely that they would, at some point in the coming weeks, sign one of the many veterans on the streets. Now I'm not sure. All along I thought the Eagles would sign one because, well, they went out and signed Ronnie Brown last year. Well, maybe they won't sign one because they signed Brown last year. He played OK in limited time, but Brown wasn't nearly as explosive as maybe the Eagles hoped he would be. So maybe the Eagles don't have to go out and sign a veteran. Maybe they can give Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk and Graig Cooper all the reps behind LeSean McCoy through the summer just to see what the kids can do. And if they need a back later in the summer, just before the regular season starts, they can probably pick from a large group of big-name, experienced backs.
- Speaking of Bryce Brown, there is no question for me that he is the most intriguing player drafted. His background is worth checking out, and I recommend you look him up. If Ted Williams liked him enough to give his go-ahead to use a draft pick, then Brown has something worth checking out. Let's see how humble Brown is, how hard he works, how well he shakes off the rust of a collegiate career of inactivity. Brown doesn't have a lot of wear and tear on his body, that's for sure. I think he is one of those players who will dazzle in the spring, but as we all know, it matters how he handles the nuances of the game and the physical part of the NFL when the pads go on.
- Brian Dawkins was a pure joy to be around on Saturday. He was thrilled to be honored by the Eagles and shocked and wonderfully pleased to have so many of his former teammates present for his retirement. It was a great, great day to have a small part. Jeffrey Lurie's decision to retire Dawkins' number was appropriate and extremely well received. It made the weekend so much more special.
- If you are asking me, Donovan McNabb deserves to have his number retired, too. Brian Westbrook is an interesting case. I don't think any other player should wear his number, but I'm not sure his number should be retired. That honor should be reserved for Pro Football Hall of Fame candidates.
- Am I the only one who finds it interesting that the Eagles signed a long-snapper after the draft? I don't know if I ever remember the team signing a rookie specialist at that position.
- Don't discount Joselio Hanson as the team's nickel cornerback just because the Eagles used a fourth-round draft pick on Brandon Boykin. Hanson is still a productive player who knows the game. He is still first on the depth chart.
- The Kevin Kolb trade is now complete. The Eagles received cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the 51st pick in this year's draft. They then flipped the 51st pick for two more draft choices that became Curry and Boykin. So the Eagles get Rodgers-Cromartie, Curry and Boykin in exchange for Kolb. Let's see how it works out.
- Andy Reid has made 35 draft-weekend trades in the last 10 years, including a staggering 22 in the last 5 years.
- What, no trade with the Patriots this year?
- I saw one draft analyst say that quarterback Nick Foles has "feet of concrete," which is remarkable for a player recruited by major Division I basketball programs like Baylor, Georgetown and Texas. I will trust Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg on this one. They like athletes at the quarterback position. Foles is most definitely an athlete.
- Don't you think that the only given at the linebacker positions is that DeMeco Ryans will start in the middle? Is Brian Rolle at given on the weak side? Do you see second-round pick Mychael Kendricks as an immediate starter at SAM? The level of competition is certainly higher is than it has been in recent years.
- Talk about a defensive makeover in the last couple of offseasons, wow! The front seven on defense is, with the exception of end Trent Cole and Patterson, completely different.
- Will the Eagles sign a veteran safety, just to be sure of what they have there? I know that Yeremiah Bell is a possibility, but I don't know if I see that happening. Keep an eye on Phillip Thomas, signed after the draft. He played well at Syracuse, but probably underperformed and, the word on the streets is, didn't necessarily approach the game the right way. He runs well and he has good size and he has a shot here.
- It amazes me that wide receivers who are so incredibly productive in college have such a tough time transitioning to the NFL. The reason, usually, is that they just don't run well enough to separate at this level. That leads me to Marvin McNutt, who dominated at Iowa. He's 6 feet 3, 216 pounds and he has strong hands and plays the game in a physical manner. McNutt will challenge for a roster spot. Can he run well enough to make it here?