You want a No. 1 wide receiver. Adding Jeremy Maclin in the draft is a great start. Maclin is a superstar talent who has a long way to go to make it in the NFL, but his very presence has wide-ranging meaning for the Eagles and their receivers. Maclin brings good size, great hands, explosive speed and game-breaking ability to the offense, and while I still am amazed that anyone would question this move -- as happened while talking tonight with my former college roommate who knows about the Eagles because he is a Dallas fan and because he listens to the media -- I understand that Maclin doesn't just walk in as a starter.
The ripple effect, though, is substantial. DeSean Jackson is a mega-talent who enjoyed a tremendous rookie season. He is on his way to being an NFL star. No doubt that Jackson noticed the selection of Maclin and welcomed the addition, because the more weapons the Eagles have, the better it is for every player. At the same time, another mega-talent is in town, and that is going to spur Jackson just a little bit more. There are few players I have met who love the game as much as Jackson, and who approach the game the way he does. Jackson wants to be the best player in the world.
Having Maclin around is going to be good for Jackson, and it is going to be good for Kevin Curtis and Jason Avant and Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett and everybody. The competition makes every player better, and I believe the end result of all of this, and you will see some of this in 2009, is that Maclin has a chance to be special, along with Jackson. That's a great situation.
Anyone who thinks Maclin won't contribute this year hasn't seen the young man play. He is highly intelligent, works hard, and has that flare for making big plays every week.
This is a fantastic group of wide receivers. I know a lot has to work out, but isn't that the case with every acquisition? Since when is a free-agent signing a sure thing?
"We think we have a big-play maker in Jeremy, so obviously time will tell," said general manager Tom Heckert, who admitted that in all of the pre-draft scenarios the Eagles conducted, none had Maclin slipping to the 19th selection. "It starts this weekend at our post-draft camp. We'll get a look at Jeremy and go from there."
Maclin, for the record, is more than two inches taller and nearly 25 pounds heavier than Jackson. Boy, I would love a fleet of Jacksons, because he is a warrior. But Maclin's body type is not the same as is Jackson's. Not really even that close. They are two different players.
**NEW NAME IN TOWN
LeSean McCoy has a magnetic personality and is a strong, strong mentality. He carried the ball 308 times last year at Pittsburgh, and nobody really considered that when McCoy was labeled a fumbler. Bad rap, maybe, but let's see how the Eagles coach him up through the summer to get him ready to play and contribute in 2009.
"We were just kind of hoping that teams didn't have him rated the way we had him rated, so it was great that Shady fell to us at 53," said Heckert. "We didn't expect Knowshon Moreno to be there at 21 for us. After that, we kind of had four players rated in the areas where they would go in the late first round or early second round, and we were very happen when he was there for us.
"It isn't fair to say he is a change-of-pace running back or that he is not a full-time player. He has proven that he can be durable carrying the football against major competition. Everybody says he is small, well, he really isn't that small. He's over 200 pounds at 5-10 1/2, so he's not a small guy. He can do the same types of things that Brian Westbrook can do. He's a great receiver, so we can spread him out and he can also run between the tackles. We think he is an all-around player and we think he can step right in and help us out."
By the way, McCoy is pleased to be called "Shady." So, Shady it is.
Both Maclin and McCoy are 20 years old. They are only going to get better and better.
**THE PICTURE AT CB
It is certainly an interesting situation at cornerback with the arrival of Ellis Hobbs. Does he push for a starting job? Is Hobbs a hedge for a later move? All of that is a discussion for a later time, but it was heartening to read that Sheldon Brown plans to be at the team's post-draft camp this weekend and that his business issue is a "now" conversation, but that when it is time to play football, Brown will be ready to go.
"I'm not going to blow up the NovaCare Complex," Brown told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I'm not going to be one of the guys who puts on a show week in and week out when the media comes to my locker."
Good to hear. I hope Brown understands what a Super opportunity the Eagles have right now. I know the business side of things isn't done in Brown's mind, and that is just part of the way of life in the NFL. Brown has to see that this team is a Super Bowl contender, and that the Eagles have created competition at every position, cornerback included.
As for Hobbs, he gives the Eagles four outstanding cornerbacks. This is a good thing. Add in Jack Ikewguonu, Macho Harris, Dimitri Patterson, etc, and the Eagles are going to battle it out in the preseason.
**WHY THE TRADE OUT OF ROUND THREE?
After an active first day, the Eagles traded out of the third round and actually waited 100 picks between the selection of McCoy and tight end Cornelius Ingram.
"If there was a player there in the third round that we thought was a really good player, we probably would have stayed there and done that (made a pick). We just thought that there were a ton of players still on the board and we had the extra fifth-round picks -- at one time we had six picks in that round, and I'm not sure we had six players up on the board at that time -- but it worked out really well for us," said Heckert. "We were able to get Ingram, who we had rated a lot higher than the fifth round. I'm sure he fell because he didn't play last year (at Florida) and we knew those guys were starting to fall, so we thought we could move back and still get our players, along with picks next year. It all worked out in the end, I think."
**ANY LATE-ROUND PLAYERS WHO MIGHT SURPRISE?
Could be. There is always a chance. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson is a player who enters a crowded picture at that position, and he is going to have to perform very, very well to make it here. Linebacker Moise Fokou will have to make it as a special-teams player, so watch how he and Joe Mays battle it out there. Fokou is a WILL, while Mays is a backup in the middle. The Eagles added some offensive linemen, too, so they have a pretty thick group of young linemen who are going to work hard to impress and make this roster.
But we all knew this going in: The Eagles were never going to have room to add 10 players from the draft, so they smartly traded around and added three picks next year.
The player to keep an eye on is Gibson from those late rounds, and the Eagles will always give their offensive linemen a chance to make it here.
As for non-drafted rookies, here are two to consider: cornerback Courtney Robinson from Massachusetts and safety Reshard Langord from Vanderbilt.
**NEXT UP: KEEPING EYES OPEN
While the roster looks nice now, the Eagles have to keep their options open and add players where they see opportunities. One of those players to add won't be linebacker Leroy Hill, who was released by Seattle over the weekend. The Eagles looked into Hill, but really did not see him as an option here, said Heckert.
"It's going to be good competition with what we have, and we like both Akeem Jordan and Omar Gaither," said Heckert. "Last year at this time, Omar was starting and Akeem was trying to find some time. Now the roles are reversed. So, we'll see who wins the job."