Philadelphia Eagles News

Fanaika, Fokou End Up In Good Situation

Seventh-round draft picks aren't going to get the hype of the first-day selections. They are not going to be heralded as future cornerstones of the franchise.

However, guard Paul Fanaika and linebacker Moise Fokou are in as good a situation as seventh-round draft picks can be in with the Eagles.

Fanaika, a 6-4, 314-pound guard from Arizona State, will get to work with one-on-one with offensive line coach Juan Castillo, whom he met at the Scouting Combine. Castillo is one of the coaches who puts the prospects through the drills. That gives Castillo an up-close look at the players. So when Castillo paid Fanaika a compliment at the Combine, the two-time All-Pac 10 honorable mention honoree knew he meant it.

"I could really feel how sincere Coach Juan was about this," Fanaika said. "Anytime a guy looks you in his eye and tells you he speaks highly of you as a player, it really means a lot to you. For Coach Juan to do that, being at the Combine with all of these great players, it meant a lot to me."

Castillo is respected as one of the top offensive line coaches in the league. He's turned first-round draft picks into Pro Bowl selections, like Tra Thomas. He's also, however, turned rookie free agents like Jamaal Jackson into quality starters.

"I was very impressed by Coach Juan," Fanaika said. "It was both an honor and a pleasure to get to meet Coach Juan and keep in contact with him throughout this whole process. I'm very excited and ready to go."

Fokou is also in a very good position. The 6-1, 228-pound outside linebacker from Maryland is a player who potentially has his best football ahead of him. Fokou started out at Frostburg State (Md.) where he was more concerned about his education rather than football. Fokou was studying to become an electrical engineer, just as new teammate Chris Gocong earned his degree from Cal Poly in general engineering and would like to eventually pursue a career in the biomedical field.

After playing at Frostburg State, he transferred to Maryland. The Potomac, Md. native was the MVP of the scout team in the year he couldn't suit up because of the transfer rule. He started his final two seasons on the strong side, but has experience playing the weak side as well.

Fokou joins a roster that is talented and young at linebacker, but could use some depth. Omar Gaither is the backup on the weak side to Akeem Jordan, but wants to challenge him for the starting job. Tank Daniels is the backup to Gocong on the strong side, but is mainly known for his role on special teams. Fokou relishes the outside 'backer spots because of his ability to work in space covering backs and tight ends.

"That's one of the things I love to do. I feel like I'm best in space, coming off the edge blitzing,"" Fokou said. ""I love those big tight ends who think they can run away from a linebacker, but not me. Even the backs coming out in little flares (routes), I enjoy covering them in space. I think I have a quick twitch. I have fluid feet and I just love pass rushing."

While Fanaika and Fokou aren't household names, they were drafted. There are a number of prospects today who can't say that. Now that these two are Eagles, they have their opportunity. It's up to them to make the most of it.

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