Philadelphia Eagles News

Spread Concepts Carry Over To Eagles Offense

Last year, first-round pick Jeremy Maclin's impact as a rookie was supposed to be limited because of his transition from playing in a spread offense in college to the Eagles' West Coast scheme.

Fifty-six catches, 773 receiving yards and four touchdowns later it appears that wasn't the case at all.

The success of players like Maclin and quarterback Kevin Kolb and the promise showed last year by tight end Cornelius Ingram appear to have validated the scouting of players who previously played in spread offenses.

This year, tight end Clay Harbor, quarterback Mike Kafka and wide receiver Riley Cooper were all draft picks who played in spread formations in college.

"I think getting a lot of those high-passing, high-completion systems translate to the NFL," Kafka said.

The challenge for the Eagles regarding Kafka is that he didn't take snaps under center at Northwestern. Plus, Kafka was more than willing to take off with the ball on the ground at a moment's notice.

For Cooper, Ingram's former college teammate, the offensive shift is the precise timing of the short and intermediate routes that need to be executed. Florida's head coach Urban Meyer helped prepare Cooper for the transition that is taking place now.

"At Florida, we had a real difficult offense. I'm kind of used to it," Cooper said "The terminology is different which is tough, but I've been spending a lot of time in the books."

Harbor thrived at FCS Missouri State and has had to get adjusted to the higher level of competition where Cooper went against the top college programs week in and week out. Compared to tight ends in other systems, Harbor's routes are more developed since he was utilized as a receiver who could line up in the slot. The technique is the key for Harbor, who is now going up against bigger and faster linebackers at this level.

"There are just a lot more details in the NFL than in college," Harbor said. "You have to pay attention to every little thing you do, every little piece of your route. You have to push vertical for a half a step more than you would in college; you have to give them a little stick, a little fake, into a route before you make your choice on direction. There's just a lot more details involved than normal for me."

All three of these players will be worth keeping an eye on at Lehigh to see if they are able to adapt and gain a level of comfort in the Eagles offense.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:15 a.m., May 31

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