With 13 draft picks in and their non-drafted class in the process of being assembled, the Eagles now go about the business of conducting a post-draft mini-camp ahead. We'll get the first glimpse of a team that has had many, many changes in the off-season and one of the primary questions that begins to get answered is this: How does his shiny class of draft picks fit into the picture for 2010? Let's take a stab here at what the coaches will come up ...
BRANDON GRAHAM, DE
He is coming to Philadelphia to play left defensive end. Juqua Parker will line up as the starter during the weekend (that's the guess here) and Darryl Tapp will run with the second team. Then Graham gets his chance (although Graham said after he was drafted that he would have to leave on Saturday for graduation at Michigan). And from that point on, the Eagles want to push Graham, because the expectations are very high for him now and for the future.
Will he start? He'll have a chance to play a lot, let's put it that way. Graham has to show he can play within the scheme and that he can perform as line coach Rory Segrest wants him to perform. The technique part of the game is stressed at this level, so a lot of how quickly Graham progresses will depend upon his ability to adapt to how he must use his hands and his leverage and all of the pieces of the game that the coaches really, really care about.
Make no mistake, though. The Eagles want Graham to play. They didn't move up to No. 13 in the first round so he could sit all year. It would be a disappointment if that were the case. Graham is hoped to be an immediate-impact player.
NATE ALLEN, S
While head coach Andy Reid indicated that Allen's skills were expansive enough that maybe he could also play cornerback, the expectation here is that Allen will start from the inside out as he learns this defense. That means he is going to line up at safety. Now, the question is this: Does Sean McDermott put Allen out there as a starter from the very beginning, or does he let Allen absorb things slowly and let someone like Quintin Demps get the reps as the first-team free safety?
The learning curve is steep for Allen, a bright and articulate young man who is eager to get in and become the best player he can be. There is an opportunity at free safety to win a starting job. How players like Macho Harris and Marlin Jackson fit in remains to be seen, but the Eagles love Allen and hope he is ready to play. Demps isn't going to back down from the challenge as he is enjoying a very strong off-season, but Allen is going to get a long look.
**DANIEL TE'O-NESHEIM, DE
The defensive end group has so much depth all of a sudden, and Te'o-Nesheim fits right into the mix. The Eagles want to see what this young man can do off the edge and inside in the nickel. They love his aggressiveness and his desire and his toughness. Te'o-Nesheim is worth rooting for. He comes from a very difficult background and has an incredible motivation to succeed at this level. Nobody will outwork Te'o-Nesheim, that's for sure.
But can he work his way into the picture with Parker, with Tapp, with Graham and with draft pick Ricky Sapp on hand? We shall see. Te'o-Nesheim is in the mold of the oft-injured Victor Abiamiri, who won't practice after having knee surgery in the off-season.
**TREVARD LINDLEY, CB
A cornerback who was rated a lot higher after his junior season at Kentucky, Lindley is going to jump right into the competition on the right side. Ellis Hobbs is the starter on the imaginary depth chart now, although Hobbs may not practice this week after missing half of last season with the cervical injury. Hobbs has been a regular at the conditioning program at the NovaCare Complex and wants the chance to prove himself as a starter.
Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson and Geoff Pope are also in the mix there, and so is Lindley. He'll get a crash course in practice working against standout receivers like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. We will get a sense of Lindley's physical skills in this camp.
It may be asking a lot to expect Lindley to start as a rookie, but the Eagles always say they don't draft players to be backups. How quickly Lindley develops will dictate his ceiling here. The chance to play is there. Will Lindley be ready so early in his career?
**KEENAN CLAYTON, LB
The Eagles really like Clayton, who joins a crowded group at WILL linebacker that includes newly-acquired Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan and even Omar Gaither. Sims, Jordan and Gaither are on one-year contracts, which is why the Eagles want to make sure they are covered at linebacker for the near future, just in case.
Figure that Clayton will have a very tough time earning playing time, unless he shows Bobby April that he can cut it and become a help on special teams. Clayton has to come in and fly around the football and be aggressive and cover backs in the passing game.
**MIKE KAFKA, QB
He has a chance to learn from Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick, and at the same time Kafka has to come in and make all the throws because the Eagles are likely to add a fourth quarterback in the post-draft period. Kafka is in a good situation as the No. 3 quarterback. He will get some reps in practice and then in training camp and in the preseason.
Next year is when Kafka must be advanced enough to convince the coaches that he can back up Kolb, because Vick is likely to leave for more playing time after 2010 if all goes according to plan.
Kafka is a developmental quarterback. Let's see how far quarterbacks coach James Urban brings Kafka in a year's time.
**CLAY HARBOR, TE
On the surface, the Eagles have a great situation at tight end. Brent Celek is a Pro Bowl-worthy player. Cornelius Ingram is a great prospect, and Martin Rucker is a young player with a lot of promise. But a deeper look reveals the Eagles had to make sure they are OK in case the worst case happens, and that means Ingram can't stay healthy.
Ingram has suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments in each of the last two years. He is expected to practice this weekend, and he has gone through his rehab with flying colors. He looks great. He says he feels great. You wonder just how good he can be if he stays healthy.
And you keep your fingers crossed that he can stay healthy. If he can't, well, the Eagles need depth. They couldn't pass up Harbor, who has terrific pass-catching skills and the coaches think he will work hard in the blocking game at the line of scrimmage. Harbor is going to enjoy this offense, because he will have a chance to be very active in the receiving game.
If he has a great spring and summer, Harbor will earn a spot on this team, no matter the injury situation.
RICKY SAPP, DE
For whatever reason, Sapp's stock fell after most mock draft guesses had him as a second-round draft pick. Now he is here, with a chip on his shoulder about being a fifth-round selection. Sapp will see time at defensive end and as a standup pass rusher either off the edge or in the "A" gap, and he has to show explosiveness and strength at the point of contact to make it at this level.
There is certainly a lot of talent here. The Eagles hope he has the kind of play-making ability he showed at Clemson, and if Sapp does that, he will find a place on the field. Again, the defensive end position looks loaded with promise. Sapp has to come in and fly all over the field and get to the football. If he does that, the Eagles will find a place for him on the field.
**RILEY COOPER, WR
Watch Cooper from his days at Florida and you can't help but be impressed. He has sure hands, a great frame and he has enough speed to get behind the defense. At nearly 6 feet 4, Cooper is a tall target in tight spots. How does he fit in here? He has to beat out some talented players to make it, that's for sure.
The Eagles drafted Cooper because of his production and because they want to challenge the wide receiver depth. Behind Jackson, Maclin and Avant is veteran Hank Baskett, on a one-year contract. Then there are youngsters Jordan Norwood and Dobson Collins, both of whom looked good enough in practice last year to keep around for this year. Newcomer Chad Hall is in the mix as a long shot, too. Cooper brings some different physical dimensions and a lot of success in college.
It is going to be interesting to see how this wide receiver group, seen as a weakness years ago, blossoms into even more of a strength. This group has a chance to be fantastic, from top to bottom.
**CHARLES SCOTT, RB
Power, power and more power, with some nimble feet as well, Scott is a different kind of back than the Eagles have had in a long time. The obvious fit here is as a third running back, and to earn that spot Scott is going to have to pick up the offensive scheme quickly and show he can block and that he can play special teams and that he can catch the football as well as converting short-yardage running situations.
LeSean McCoy is the starter and Mike Bell -- on a one-year contract -- is the backup. That is a good one-two punch. Eldra Buckley was the third back last year and he did a good job. The Eagles signed Martell Mallet from the CFL and he has been at the NovaCare Complex every day in the conditioning program.
Now add Scott to the picture. Very interesting guy.
**JAMAR CHENEY, LB
The first of three seventh-round draft picks, the Eagles actually traded a draft pick next year (sixth round) to have the chance to draft Cheney. The like him a lot. He hopefully can play all three linebacker spots, but the Eagles will probably look at him in the middle initially. That is a direct challenge to Joe Mays as the Eagles want to make sure they solidify the position behind Stewart Bradley.
Cheney is an active, aggressive, physical player. The team had him graded far higher than a seventh-round draft pick. Now he has a chance to prove how good he is at a position that has been too unsettled the last few seasons.
There are a lot of linebackers here and you wonder how it is all going to shake out. Who stays? Who goes? Can the Eagles finally have some stability here for the next several seasons?
JEFF OWENS, DT
Why not? Trevor Laws hasn't played well in his two seasons here and Antonio Dixon is still on the raw side, so Owens comes in and is going to push for a roster spot and to add some depth. He's got good size, he is active and he has talent. Figure that the Eagles will keep four defensive tackles on their 53-man roster. Owens is one of the players the Eagles want to bring some game and make the coaches sweat over their decisions in the summer.
KURT COLEMAN, S
Although a bit undersized, Coleman makes up for his lack of prototypical size with smarts, with heart, with great football instincts. The Eagles have two new rookies to throw into the mix at safety, and they are going to shake things up and see how it comes out.
Coleman made a lot of plays at Ohio State. He has a lot to learn here, and he has an uphill battle making the 53-man roster. But he also has great intangibles, and he is going to present a challenge to the safety positions here.