Philadelphia Eagles News

Creativity, Instant Impact Mark Draft Effort

And now, and only now, we can begin to fairly assess this Eagles' roster. An off-season that has been a wild ride calms down now that the draft is over and now that the roster is largely set. There are going to be some moves between now and September, but this is pretty much now what it is going to be then.

So what is it?

How about this: A very, very good-looking team that has depth throughout, youth interspersed with veterans. Talent and speed all over. An offense that underwent a facelift in an off-season to improve the offensive line, add front-line ability at wide receiver, bring in depth at running back and tight end sign a tried-and-true fullback.

A defense that returns 10 of 11 starters and replaced the safety hole in free agency and then went out and added a starting-caliber cornerback to add great depth there.

A lot happened over the weekend. It was incredible, starting with a move up two spots in the first round to nab the immense talents of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, continuing with a be-patient approach in the second round to land super-productive running back LeSean McCoy and then waiting an agonizing 100 picks before they again made another selection -- skipping rounds three and four entirely -- to bounce around the second day of the draft in fascinating fashion.

The end result? The Eagles should get some immediate impact in this draft from Maclin and McCoy, along with left tackle Jason Peters (acquired at the cost of the 28th pick and a fourth-round selection). They manipulated their bounty of draft picks wisely -- at one time the Eagles held six picks in the fifth round -- and traded two of those fives to New England for cornerback Ellis Hobbs, a starter with the Patriots who also happens to be one of the best kickoff return men in the league.

They added Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram in the fifth round, too, falling for Ingram's vast athletic ability and tantalizing size and skill set after he missed all of last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

A chance for significant playing time for all of them, right now. The window is open.

For the rest of day two, the Eagles brought in more prospects to add competition up and down the roster -- a couple of offensive linemen, a linebacker, another wide receiver -- and also moved some draft picks around to acquire three more selections for next year, including a third-round pick from Seattle.

It was a well-orchestrated performance to add the exclamation point to a riveting and, as it looks now, extremely successful off-season. The Eagles worked the draft process exceedingly well, even if it felt like three years between the time McCoy was chosen late on Saturday night and Ingram was taken midway through the day on Sunday. Those 100 picks used in between seemed like an eternity, as did, as times, the days that spanned the off-season.

But in the end, it was all worth it. The Eagles did a bang-up job in free agency to transform the aging edges of their roster into a stronger, younger and more athletic group. They kept key cornerback Joselio Hanson before, actually, free agency started. They overhauled the offensive line by aggressively signing Stacy Andrews on day one of free agency, then luring the Bills into a trade for Peters, and by welcoming back Shawn Andrews to his happy place. Oh, and the Eagles made sure they retained some depth by keeping restricted free agent Nick Cole, who can play any of interior spots along the line.

They added some draft picks by trading cornerback Lito Sheppard, who allowed his contract status to take away his effectiveness on the field. They dealt wide receiver Greg Lewis for a draft pick. They signed a couple of unrestricted free agents, Sean Jones and Rashad Baker, to add some depth at safety with Quintin Mikell and Quintin Demps.

A key add was fullback Leonard Weaver, who instantly adds legitimacy to the position and who should thrive doing what the Eagles need him to do.

Peters' stunning acquisition set the stage for the draft, and the Eagles did not disappoint. All of the pre-draft talk about veteran playmakers "on the market" turned out to be nothing more than words. Nobody got traded.

Still, the Eagles added the mega-talents of Maclin, who has a chance to develop into a special, special player. Same with McCoy, and both young men impressed with their maturity and their intelligence during their introductions at the NovaCare Complex on Sunday. They both get it. That much is very, very clear.

Oh, there is work ahead. Cornerback Sheldon Brown continues to make a public issue of his contract, but head coach Andy Reid said that Hobbs' arrival "has nothing to do" with Brown's situation.

"You can never have enough good corners in this league," said Reid.

I believe Reid. I don't think the Eagles have any intention of trading Brown -- whom they expect to be on the field for the weekend's post-draft camp -- but they have at least given themselves a more-than-enviable situation with Hobbs on board. There is great depth at cornerback -- don't forget to include draft pick Macho Harris and last-year's fourth-round pick, Jack Ikewguonu -- and the Eagles are going to enjoy the battles there this summer. Can't wait to see the one-on-one battles at training camp.

Anyway, the Eagles are keeping their eyes open for upgrades. They are in great shape under the salary cap, even with all the wheeling and dealing and additions in the months gone by. If they have a chance to upgrade the roster, they will do it. There are a bunch of really interesting roster battles about to heat up -- for starters .... how will it work at wide receiver? At halfback? Who starts at left defensive end? At WILL? At free safety? -- as the on-field portion of the season begins Friday during the post-draft mini-camp.

I couldn't be more excited. I think Maclin can develop into a top-of-the-line wide receiver. McCoy is nothing but extremely impressive in every phase of his performance and his 308 carries last year at Pittsburgh were a testament to his toughness and remarkable durability. Hobbs was an outside-the-box acquisition and a great one at that when the Eagles saw that the cornerback board wasn't falling the way they thought it might. A trade opportunity became available with New England -- the two sides actually opened conversations on Saturday about getting a deal done -- and the Eagles felt two fifth-round picks was worth having Hobbs.

Has there ever been a more satisfying couple of weeks of additions ending with the draft? The Eagles have re-tooled, re-loaded and they are brimming with promise everywhere. The front office deserves all kinds of kudos for its creative approach. The roster is as attractive as it has ever been.

Here are your Eagles, in the aftermath of the draft. What do you think? From this view, the Eagles are ready to soar, one step at a time.

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