One player that I'm real curious to know what the Eagles think of is Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards. He is one of the most fascinating players in the whole draft. Edwards is small at 5-11 and 192 pounds. He is also one of the most productive players in the history of I-AA (FCS) football. At ASU, Edwards threw for 10,392 yards and 74 touchdowns. He completed 65 percent of his passes. He was also a dynamic runner. Edwards ran for 4,361 yards and 65 scores. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry. To really appreciate that figure you have to remember that in college sacks are counted as negative runs for the quarterback.
The Eagles' philosophy with players from small schools has always been to find guys that dominated at their level of play. Brian Westbrook is a great example. They didn't worry about the fact he played at Villanova because Westbrook was such a special player and had such great production. Edwards didn't just put up big numbers. He won a pair of national titles. He led ASU to one of the greatest upsets ever when the Mountaineers won at Michigan. Edwards got ASU to the semi-finals this year and finished with a playoff record of 11-2.
Describing Edwards as a player is tough. How do you explain a roller coaster ride to someone who's never been on one? We'll start with Edwards the runner. He is unbelievably elusive. He can make multiple tacklers miss on a given play. There are times when he seems to have eyes in the back of his head. He is quick and fast. The most impressive thing is his toughness. Edwards is small, but doesn't shy away from contact and is strong enough to break some arm tackles. His best performance was when he set the I-AA record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Edwards did that in a national semi-final game when he ran for 313 yards against Richmond. He also scored four touchdowns.
People see him run in games like that and assume he can't be a passing threat. Wrong. He is deceptively good as a passer. Edwards has a good arm. His passes have zip and he generally throws tight spirals. He can be deadly accurate. Mechanically, he's sound some of the time. Edwards can be a good pocket passer, but also likes to move around. He gets sloppy when throwing on the move at times because he will try to make some crazy throws.
Aside from his size, Edwards' desire to make plays is his main weakness. NFL quarterbacks are taught to dump the ball off to a running back. Edwards always believed he could pull a rabbit out of his hat if he could just keep the play alive. Remember Donovan McNabb's 14-second play against Dallas in 2004? Edwards has tried similar stuff in his career. He pulls it off some of the time, but also will throw some bonehead interceptions. He will take some dumb sacks because of his refusal to just throw the ball away.
Edwards would be an interesting prospect for the Eagles. He has the passing skills needed to run our offense. He has the athletic ability we like in our quarterbacks. Edwards is a natural leader and he's a winner. He was truly a special player at the I-AA level. He could come here and run the Wildcat offense. He could be used on punt returns or even kickoff returns if needed. If he doesn't work out at quarterback, you can always convert him to a slot receiver. He has the athletic ability to play receiver at the pro level. Edwards isn't likely to be taken before the fifth round. It is possible that he could go undrafted. We'll find out if the "it factor" he had in college is enough to get him picked by an NFL team. Don't overlook this kid, whether he's an Eagle or plays for another team. Edwards might just be good enough to make it in the NFL.
• USC defensive end Everson Griffen is a player that gets mentioned a lot as an Eagles target. I think he is a good prospect, but I don't see him as being worth the 24th pick. Griffen has good size at 6-3 and 273 pounds. He can explode off the ball when he times his get-off just right. He's more natural at left end than on the right side. He was somewhat of an underachiever at USC, but has the talent to be a good starter in the NFL.
• I've gotten asked about UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price quite a bit recently. I don't like him for us. Price is 6-1 and 303 pounds. He has good strength, but his biggest asset is his burst off the ball. He is a good pass rusher, which is why I think Eagles fans are interested in him. If we go back to playing more of a one-gap system with our defensive tackles then a guy like Price would make sense as a draft target. If we stay two-gap, I don't see the value. Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley were solid pass rushers in college. We don't let them get after the quarterback the way they could back then. We ask them to play two-gap and occupy blockers. Only when they read that it is a pass play it is time to attack upfield. Price is most dangerous when he can attack upfield right off the snap.
• I continue to be impressed by South Florida free safety Nate Allen. He isn't likely to fall to our pick in the second round. That means going after him would involve a move back or up. I don't know if the Eagles like him as much as I do. Allen has the size, skills and experience to challenge for a starting spot from day one. He isn't a project.
• I watched some more tape of Idaho guard Mike Iupati last week. He is the most dominant blocker in the whole draft class. Not the best, but definitely the most dominant. He finishes blocks. Iupati isn't satisfied with getting his hands on a defender and stopping the guy's progress. He wants to put the defender on the ground. He wants to manhandle his opponents. That gets him in trouble at times, but I guarantee you that Andy Reid and Juan Castillo love watching tape of this young man.
-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 7:00 a.m., March 23