Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Draft Aftermath: Depth Chart

Most analysts issued the Eagles a favorable grade for Chip Kelly's first off-season as a head coach. The one thing that stands out to me is that when Kelly was hired, the front office developed a sound plan, and stuck to it.

In free-agency, the front office didn't jump on any of the hot commodities. Rather, they let the market develop on the first wave, not over-paying for an injury-riddled Jake Long, or 29 year-old safety Dashon Goldson. They picked up young guys who fit Kelly's mold and signed them to reasonable deals. They even picked up Connor Barwin and Cary Williams after seeing their markets dip.

Every draft room says the superior draft philosophy is taking the best player available, and every head coach will say his team did that. However, I actually believe Coach Kelly and Howie Roseman. They resisted temptation to fill needs with bodies, and focused more on adding the best talent on the board.

Since free-agency left the Eagles with zero gaping holes, Kelly was able to take guys like Bennie Logan, Joe Kruger, Matt Barkley and let them develop under the current starters. These are guys with major upside. Barkley was once considered a top 15 pick, Logan and Kruger both came out early, most analysts believe they would've developed into first or second round draft picks as seniors. He has the luxury of finding that untapped potential while guys like Michael Vick, Isaac Sopoaga, and Cedric Thorton man the top of the depth chart in the mean time.

If there is one word I would used to describe Chip Kelly's first offseason, it would be value.

Here's a look at the projected depth chart on the offensive side of the ball:

Position 1 2 3 4
QB M. Vick N. Foles M. Barkley D. Dixon
RB L. McCoy B. Brown C. Polk M. Maysonet
H-Back J. Casey
WR1 D. Jackson J. Avant R. Cooper I. Momah
TE B. Celek Z. Ertz C. Harbor
LET J. Peters D. Kelly
LG T. Herremans N. Menkin M. Tobin
C J. Kelce D. Reynolds K. Quinn
RG E. Mathis  D. Watkins
RT L. Johnson E. Wang
WR2 J. Maclin A. Benn D. Johnson

Here's the camp battles I can't wait to see unfold:

Momah is a move-able mis-
match, which Kelly loves.
- Obviously the quarterback position will get the most attention, and rightly so. Michael Vick is coming off a down year, but with a re-vamped offensive line and a new regime, he's poised to re-establish himself. Foles gained valuable experience last year and he'll get equal reps to Vick. Barkley may not be the most physically gifted QB from the 2013 class, but he's definitely the most NFL-ready. Look for him to make a push by the Pre-Season finale.

- The 3rd RB spot will be more contentious than many think. Polk is a solid talent with special-teams experience. However, with the new 3-4 base defense and the additional linebackers on the roster, the 3rd RB might not need to contribute on special-teams. Miguel Maysonet is Todd McShay's favorite UDFA prospect, he was ultra-productive at Stonybrook. Keep an eye on him.

- How many wide-receivers will Chip Kelly keep on the 53-man roster? He's likely to keep three or four tight-ends, which might limit the amount of receiver slots. Jackson and Maclin are safe. Avant and Benn are very likely safe. That leaves Cooper, Damaris Johnson (who I like quite a bit) and the very-intriguing Momah battling for one or two spots.

Here's the projected depth chart on the defensive side:

Position 1 2 3 4
RDE C. Thorton C. Geathers D. King I. Remington
NT I. Sopoaga B. Logan A. Dixon
LDE F. Cox V. Curry J. Kruger D. Square
ROLB C. Barwin B. Graham E. Brown
ILB1 D. Ryans J. Chaney C. Matthews
ILB2 M. Kendricks E. Acho J. Knott J. Phillips
LOLB T. Cole P. Hunt
CB1 C. Williams C. Marsh B. Hughes
FS K. Phillips N. Allen C. Anderson
SS P. Chung K. Coleman E. Wolff
CB2 B. Fletcher B. Boykin J. Poyer

Here are the camp battles that intrigue me the most on D:

- The starting defensive line is completely up in the air. Fletcher Cox is the only sure-fire starter. Will Dixon or Logan push Sopoaga? Will Vinny Curry or Joe Kruger add enough weight to be a viable 3-4 DE option by the start of the 2013 season? This battle will likely last until the final buzzer of Pre-Season Game 4.

- There are three fierce competitors battling for two starting OLB spots. Brandon Graham and Trent Cole have likely cut weight in order to make the transition from DE. Connor Barwin has extensive experience as a productive OLB, so he's got the early leg-up on the competition. Phillip Hunt and Everette Brown will be battling to make the roster.

Phillips has great height, length
and range, making him one of
the top safeties when healthy.
- I think Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher will be the starting tandem for the Eagles come this September. However, a team's nickel corner is practically a starter against the high-octane offenses in the NFL today. Kelly likes length in his secondary and Brandon Boykin doesn't provide that. After drafting Jordan Poyer, Kelly mentioned him as a potential nickel CB option. Poyer's knock is long speed. As a nickel corner, it's more about quickness and agility. At 6'0", Poyer may be able to overtake Boykin if he can match his on-field play.

- Safety is the competition I'm most excited to see. There are five guys who will battle for two spots. I'm sorry, Colt Anderson has no business doing anything other than special-teams in this league. Kenny Phillips is by far the most talented player, but he's had an injury-riddled career thus far, can he stay healthy? Chung has been a productive play-maker in New England, but he lost his starting spot last year. Nate Allen was very encouraging as a rookie, but declined ever since. Will a new scheme maximize his physical talents? Kurt Coleman has made plays before and Earl Wolff is a talented rookie, they will definitely have a say in the final depth chart. Wolff has a real chance to earn playing time by Week 1.

* Comment, re-tweet, share. Tweet me with the camp battle you're most excited to see.

Follow me on Twitter @Matt_Chastain25 and @OfficialEagles_, I'll get you back.

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