Forecast for Eagles’ draft class
Fletcher Cox (1st round, 12th overall):From the moment the Eagles traded up to take Cox, the expectation was that he would contribute right away as a rookie. And with the news that veteran Mike Patterson won’t participate in training camp, the Eagles will lean on their first-round selection even more.
Jim Washburn will rotate four defensive tackles throughout the course of a game, but keep in mind that Patterson played more snaps (66.3 percent) than any other Eagles interior lineman last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Look for Cox and veteran Antonio Dixon to line up alongside Cullen Jenkins with the first-team defense. Washburn needs Cox to provide pressure up the middle and make plays in the run game behind the line of scrimmage – both areas in which he excelled at Mississippi State.
Mychal Kendricks (2nd round, 46th overall): The 5-11, 239-pound linebacker seemed sick of answering questions about his size during OTAs, but he’ll likely have to field more at Lehigh.
Kendricks is penciled in as the starting SAM linebacker in the base defense, and he also stayed on the field in nickel packages during the spring. The Eagles have to like his versatility. Kendricks appears to have the speed and cover skills to defend the pass, and he totaled seven sacks as a blitzer during the 2010 season at Cal.
At this point, it would be a mild upset if he didn’t start the season as a three-down player.
Vinny Curry (2nd round, 59th overall): The Eagles’ defensive end rotation is something they’ll need to figure out at training camp. Trent Cole and Jason Babin have locks on two of the spots, but that leaves Curry to battle for playing time with former first-round pick Brandon Graham, veteran Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt.
Curry’s a lock to make the roster, but he’ll have to prove himself to get significant playing time as a rookie. Babin is 32, and Cole turns 30 during the season, so the Eagles needed to get younger at DE. But Curry’s contributions likely won’t be as immediate as the two players the Eagles took ahead of him.
Nick Foles (3rd round, 88th overall): Full disclosure: I’ve been wrong about the Eagles’ quarterback situation all offseason. I thought they’d bring in a legitimate veteran to back up Michael Vick. And I thought they’d only draft a quarterback if they had a chance to snatch one of the top three guys.
In other words, take these thoughts with a grain of salt.
The most likely scenario, though, would be that Foles sits back and learns during his rookie season as the team’s third quarterback. While it’s true that we saw rookies Cam Newton and Andy Dalton have success right away last season, the six quarterbacks taken in the third round or later in 2011 attempted a total of one pass.
If Foles really impresses the coaching staff, it’s not completely out of the question that he’d be in the mix for the backup job, but it seems pretty unlikely that he wins it.
Brandon Boykin (4th round, 123rd overall): If you want a sleeper for Eagles rookie most likely to make an impact in his first season, Boykin is a good choice.
Consider this: According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles were in nickel 47 percent of the time last season. That means they need to get a healthy contribution from their slot cornerback.
Joselio Hanson was cut before the 2011 season. And while the Eagles eventually brought him back, Hanson did not play well after taking over for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. That leaves the door open for Boykin to steal the nickel corner spot.
The other area where he can contribute is special teams. The Eagles were terrible on kickoff returns in 2011, and Boykin tied an SEC record with four touchdowns on kickoff returns while at Georgia.
Considering he can fill two areas of need right away, there’s no reason Boykin shouldn’t see a lot of playing time as a rookie.
Dennis Kelly (5th round, 153rd overall): Depth will be important for the Eagles at offensive tackle. Jason Peters is already out, and Demetress Bell has to show he can stay healthy.
However, typically the Eagles dress only one backup tackle on gamedays, and that will almost certainly be King Dunlap. Kelly could make the team as a backup or land on the practice squad.
Marvin McNutt (6th round, 194th overall): In the coming weeks, you may hear about how he and Riley Cooper are battling for a roster spot at wide receiver, but the truth is, both players could end up making the team.
McNutt (6-3, 216) provides size at wide receiver and was a productive college player with 28 touchdowns (15 in the red zone) at Iowa. He would have to be pretty impressive, though, to take playing time away from Cooper, who has shown the ability to contribute on special teams.
McNutt should make the roster and could see the field if the Eagles suffer an injury to one of the Eagles’ receivers ahead of him on the depth chart.
Brandon Washington (6th round, 200th overall): The Eagles took an interior lineman in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, and he ended up being a starter.
But Washington, a 6-3, 320-pound guard out of Miami, is unlikely to follow the same path as Jason Kelce.
Barring a disastrous training camp, Danny Watkins will start the season at right guard. But Howard Mudd and company will have depth decisions to make among their interior linemen. Washington should be able to compete for one of those spots.
Bryce Brown (7th round, 229th overall): Backup running back is one of the Eagles’ bigger roster battles on offense. LeSean McCoy played more snaps than any other running back in the league last season and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in his final five games.
Brown will compete with Dion Lewis and undrafted free agent Chris Polk for the backup job, which will go to whoever is most capable of playing 5-7 snaps per game and filling in as the starter should McCoy get injured.
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