Philadelphia Eagles News

How Do New Eagles Fit In Here?

I'm sure the Eagles aren't finished adding to the roster. They have flexibility within their salary cap and they have areas they would like to improve. But let's pause from this merry-go-round of roster moves and take a step back and take a look at where the players the Eagles have acquired fit in from this perspective.

DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE, CB

Acquired in the trade for Kevin Kolb, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie lined up at left cornerback in Saturday's practice. He has the goods, for sure. Long and lean, with a great backpedal and break on the ball, Rodgers-Cromartie is a freakish athlete with blazing speed. He is very fluid in his movement and his ball-playing skills have helped make him one of the game's biggest playmakers from the position.

At this point, the Eagles have three extremely talented cornerbacks. We know that. How it all works, we don't know. The NFL is a pass-happy game and the Eagles have the best trio of cornerbacks in the league. It is an amazing trio. And Rodgers-Cromartie figures to be on the field a ton, in whatever role he earns.

NNAMDI ASOMUGHA, CB

By signing the premier player in free agency, Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles added a cornerback with a complete game. He has great size at 6 feet 2, 210 pounds and he covers like a blanket and tackles well. Asomugha can play press coverage and he can play off the line of scrimmage, man to man and zone. He can do it all. The Eagles landed themselves a player whom analysts have said is the best cornerback in the league.

Andy Reid has already said that Asomugha will start at right cornerback. Nobody doubts that he will be a standout for this defense with the ability to cover any receiver on that side of the field.

JASON BABIN, DE

Somewhat lost in the big news that Asomugha's addition made was the signing of defensive end Jason Babin, who signed a five-year contract on the first day of free agency. His importance is huge in the scheme of things in Juan Castillo's defense. Babin flourished under line coach Jim Washburn in Tennessee and is expected to do the same here in his second go-around with the Eagles. Babin is likely to start at left defensive end and work in a rotation that Washburn likes to use.

A former first-round draft pick who never realized his potential until last season, Babin is a high-energy player with speed off the edge. He is relentless. He is physical. And he is going to battle all game as one of the leaders of this defense. That Babin made the Pro Bowl under Washburn's is no accident: Washburn utilized Babin's skills and pushed him and Babin emerged as the player the league thought when Houston drafted him 27th overall in 2004.

The Eagles have a lot of defensive ends they like. Babin is going to be a central figure.

JOHNNIE LEE HIGGINS, WR

A fast, down-the-field receiving threat, Johnnie Lee Higgins also has return ability, and that makes him a valuable piece in the Eagles' offensive arsenal. He didn't catch a lot of passes in his four years with the Raiders, just 57, but he has a chance to aid the passing game here. Higgins has good hands and a strong body, and he gets down the field.

Will Higgins return punts? The Eagles don't want to wear out DeSean Jackson and they will give Higgins looks in the preseason. He averaged 8.5 yards on punt returns with Oakland, including three touchdowns in the 2008 season.

DONALD LEE, TE

With good blocking skills and solid receiving skills, Donald Lee poses an interesting challenge to the Eagles' tight end group. Is he here to add to the blocking game? Are the Eagles looking for better in-line blocking in the running game? Does this mean that Brent Celek and Clay Harbor need to step up their games?

Probably a little bit of all of the above. The Eagles had plenty of numbers in camp with five tight ends -- including Cornelius Ingram, John Nalbone and Martell Webb -- and it is highly unusual for the team to have this many in camp. The rosters are expanded to 90 players, I know, but why go out on the first day of free agency for Lee?

The Eagles want every bit of competition. Lee signed a one-year contract. Let's see how much he earns on this roster.

VINCE YOUNG, QB

Very simply put, Vince Young is here to back up Michael Vick and become immersed in the West Coast offense if Vick goes down. There is a lot of work ahead for Young, who has not played in this kind of scheme. Young is incredibly talented and has been a winner in this league. There is no more accomplished backup in the league. The key for the Eagles is to bring Young up to speed quickly to get him ready for the regular season.

Would the Eagles use Young in some "Wildcat" packages with Vick on the field? Maybe, but the team has plenty of weapons so there really isn't a need to go overboard. But you never know with Marty Mornhinweg's creative mind.

CULLEN JENKINS, DT

Rated by SI.com's Peter King as the third-best unrestricted free agent available in 2011 (Asomugha was ranked first and Babin sixth), Cullen Jenkins fits a very important need for the Eagles: A pass-rush presence from the defensive tackle position. Jenkins can play defensive end or tackle, and he may very well line up in both spots as the Eagles change up their fronts.

But the Eagles have long lacked the punch inside in the nickel. They hoped Brodrick Bunkley would provide that push, but it never happened. They have looked at Victor Abiamiri and will continue to do so, hoping he stays healthy and flourishes under Washburn.

Jenkins is a proven player who plays the run well, too. He won a Super Bowl last year playing for the Packers. Jenkins had seven sacks in 11 games. He will help right away in this defense.

NEWS AND NOTES ON A BUSY SATURDAY

  • Nice crowd on Saturday morning, with both stands completely full. The crowd pushed toward 5,000 in the morning, with another couple of thousand out to watch the walk through in the afternoon. Pads go on for Sunday, which begins at 8:05 a.m. Running backs sign autographs after the practice.
  • Some thoughts on deals the Eagles made on Saturday, beyond the addition of Jenkins: Bunkley wasn't going to make this team. That was clear very early. He ran with the second-team defense after a disappointing 2010 season and he reportedly carried a high cap number. Getting a fifth-round draft pick is fair value. Too bad it didn't work out for Bunkley here. Great guy. Anyway, the Eagles now have their own picks in rounds one through six, plus an extra second-round pick (from Arizona), an extra fourth-round pick (from Tampa Bay), an extra fifth-round pick (from Cleveland) and two extra sixth-round picks (New England, Denver). That's 11 picks in all.
  • In case you missed it, and maybe you did in this blizzard of Eagles news, the team waived rookie running back Noel Devine and re-signed linebacker Akeem Jordan. Jordan adds depth to the linebackers, a young group that is likely to have some changes ahead.
  • Kudos to the fans in attendance on Saturday, who rose and applauded when Young walked onto the field. It is a love affair with the team. I have never, and this includes the Terrell Owens offseason prior to 2004, seen a fan base more charged up than you are right now. Enjoy the ride!
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