Two NFL scouts evaluate Eagles roster

Scouts say LeSean McCoy is a good complement for Brian Westbrook.
Scouts say LeSean McCoy is a good complement for Brian Westbrook.
Posted: September 10, 2009

DAILY NEWS pro football writer Paul Domowitch asked two NFL pro personnel people to break down the Eagles. Their position-by-position assessments:

Quarterback

* Scout 1: "[Donovan] McNabb is one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He's not perfect, but he's smart, knows where to go with the ball, has the mobility to buy time in the pocket and pick up a first down with his feet every now and then, and doesn't throw interceptions. I like the [Michael] Vick signing. They'll come up with a good plan [for using him]. At the very least, the [opposing] defensive coordinator is going to have to prepare for that [Wildcat] package. They're going to have to take 10 to 15 minutes of practice to cover that stuff.''

* Scout 2: "They will go as far as McNabb takes them. He's a top 10 quarterback. He does everything that the other top quarterbacks can do, but he has another dimension because of his mobility and pocket presence and experience. He's got the whole package. [Kevin] Kolb, I don't think is ready to be a 16-game-a-year guy. I don't know if he ever will be. Vick is strictly a special-situation guy. At least until he gets the rust off. And from what I've seen, there's still a lot of rust to get off. But he has the potential to be a difference-maker in that role if he can regain his speed and elusiveness.''

Running back

* Scout 1: "[Brian] Westbrook is a great player. But you wonder how much he's got left. There are only so many carries and so many hits in runners. They get up one morning and they're done. That has got to be a concern as he goes forward here. [LeSean] McCoy seems to have picked up the offense pretty quickly and appears ready to take some of the load off of Westbrook's shoulders. That will keep Brian fresher and healthier. He's very similar to Westbrook in style, which will help with the continuity when he goes in. [Leonard] Weaver, the fullback, is a solid player. He has all the skills of the position. I'll be curious to see how much he's on the field this year. They didn't use much two-back last year. Maybe 25 to 30 percent of the time.''

* Scout 2: "They've got a really good group. Westbrook is what, 30? But if they don't overuse him, he still can be a difference-maker for them for another couple of years. McCoy is a lot like Westbrook. He has picked things up fast. The [Eldra] Buckley kid, I really like him. He's a hard runner. He brings it. He's a good complement to Westbrook and McCoy. Weaver is a pretty versatile fullback. He can catch the ball. He's a good blocker. He's tough. It's hard finding fullbacks that can do a little bit of everything. He can. He gives them something they definitely didn't have last year."

Wide receiver

* Scout 1: "It's a good group. I wouldn't call it a great group, but they've got nice depth there. They've got big-play capability in [DeSean] Jackson. [Kevin] Curtis is a very reliable guy who's faster than people think. [Jason] Avant has developed into a productive slot guy who has earned McNabb's trust. They need [Jeremy] Maclin to make an early contribution, though. Because if I'm a defensive coordinator, Jackson scares me, but nobody else does. Maybe Maclin at some point, but not yet. It's a big adjustment going from a college spread [offense] to what Andy [Reid] runs. Guys come out of the spread, they don't know how to run routes. They run to areas. He seems like a fairly bright kid, but it's going to take time.''

* Scout 2: "They've got a pretty deep group. And a good group. Maybe the best group they've had in a long, long time. Jackson and Curtis are quality receivers who have done it. Avant is a very good receiver. He'll take the pressure off of Maclin and let Andy work him in the way he wants. [Hank] Baskett is a pretty good possession receiver and [Brandon] Gibson was a steal for them in the sixth round. He's going to be a nice player at this level. He's not real fast, but he can make the tough catch.''

Tight end

* Scout 1: "[Brent] Celek is a serviceable guy. You wonder if he's going to hold up in the run game, but you can ask that question these days about 90 percent of the tight ends in the league. He seems to have established a comfort level with McNabb, which is going to help him. You saw that in the Arizona [NFC Championship] game. You're going to see a lot of '2' coverage or a lot of 'buzz' coverage to Jackson. Somebody has got to pick up the slack, because when they're in man, that will put Celek and the other outside receiver and the slot guy all man-on-man. If they're in a zone, they'll roll over the top to Jackson and they'll be able to find some areas for the tight end on some seams and stuff.''

* Scout 2: "Celek is a good player, but they don't really have a second tight end. He's an adequate blocker and good receiver. You can play him on the line [in the run game]. He isn't as fast as some of the tight ends who have come out of spreads. But he's fast enough, has pretty good hands, uses his body well and can break tackles . . . It's too bad for them that [Cornelius] Ingram got hurt, because he would've given them some real speed at that position."

Offensive line

* Scout 1: "The biggest concern with this group is the fact that they haven't played together. [Nick] Cole should be OK [at left guard] until [Todd] Herremans gets back. He's a functional guy. But if they have to go deeper anywhere else, they're in trouble. I'm not sure they can count on [Shawn] Andrews. That's going to be a week-to-week thing wondering what's going to happen next with him or if he's going to be in the mood to play. [Jason] Peters, he's got a lot of talent, but only time will tell whether his new contract is going to affect the way he plays. The first few games are going to be interesting as these guys try to learn to play together. If I'm Reid, I'm having McNabb use a lot of three-step drops early on."

* Scout 2: "It's a very talented group. The concern right now is they haven't been together, played together. And you worry from a continuity standpoint how long it's going to take them to mesh. Especially with Herremans out for a while. But strictly from a talent standpoint, this is one of the better lines in the league. Depthwise, [Winston] Justice and [King] Dunlap are inadequate on the outside. If either has to play, this could turn into a house of cards."

Defensive line

* Scout 1: "They are very good as a group. They've got three excellent run-stoppers inside in [Brodrick] Bunkley, [Mike] Patterson and [backup Trevor] Laws and they've got a bunch of outside guys who can rush the passer and have the flexibility to move inside in nickel. I'm looking at our grades on them. We've got a blue [Pro Bowl caliber] on [Trent] Cole, a red [good] on [Victor] Abiamiri, a red on Patterson, Bunkley and Laws, a red on [Darren] Howard as a run player and a red on [Juqua] Parker as a rusher. That's pretty good. When you've got seven guys up front with red-or-above grades, that's damn good. This clearly is their strongest defensive area."

* Scout 2: "This is a very good, very deep group. Bunkley and Patterson aren't space-eaters like the Williams boys in Minnesota, but they've developed into excellent run-defending tackles. They clog it up pretty good. If Abiamiri can stay healthy, I think he and Cole can be an excellent combination. And Abiamiri gives them a guy they can move inside in their nickel package."

Linebacker

* Scout 1: "[Middle linebacker Stewart] Bradley was the one special guy on this unit and he's out for the year [with a torn ACL]. [Akeem] Jordan and [Chris] Gocong are functional guys, but that's it. We've got red grades on Jordan. Gocong has developed into a decent run defender, but he still struggles in coverage. The biggest problem here is going to be finding a replacement for Bradley. [Omar] Gaither was a pretty good player at Tennessee, but I don't know if he's big enough to hold up inside for 16 games. The first game [against Carolina] is going to tell a lot about him because of [the Panthers'] two running backs and the play-action they're going to throw at the Eagles."

* Scout 2: "Losing Bradley was costly. He was a really good player who could do a lot of different things. Now, you've kind of got to mix and match with Gaither and [Joe] Mays. It's going to be very important for Gocong and Jordan to play well. I like Gocong. He's been getting better every year. I expect him to take even another step this year. Gaither has some experience and is a smart player. But he's not very big or physical. If linemen can get to him, he's going to have problems. Mays is a contact player. He's physical. He's a little bit undersized, but he brings some things to the table. It's not the same as having Bradley in there, though, that's for sure."

Secondary

* Scout 1: "If I were them, I'd feel very good about their cornerback situation. They've got four good ones. They've all got cover skills and they're good tacklers. Safety is a concern, though. [Strong safety Quintin] Mikell is functional. Better than functional. But they need to solidify the other spot. I'm not crazy about any of their options there. [Quintin] Demps runs fast in a straight line, but a safety has got to come up to balance, break down, be flexible enough to be able to flip his hips and those things. [Sean] Jones is stiff and another fast straight-line guy, who has trouble breaking down. We had orange [low] grades on him in Cleveland. And Macho Harris, once again, you're taking a boundary corner and asking him to play safety. He's a baller, but I don't know if he has the natural instincts to play safety. You lose Bradley and now you've got concerns about the middle part of your defense deep. That's not good. If I'm an offensive coordinator, I'm going to be trying to attack the Eagles in the pass game in between the numbers."

* Scout 2: "Mikell has developed into a solid safety. The three they've got battling for the other spot, none of them has stepped up. All of them are capable and have done some good things. But none of them has proven they can be trusted back there. They're fine at corner. Better than fine. They're good and they're deep. In this league, that's a good place to be deep. [Asante] Samuel is a ballhawk who is going to get you six or seven interceptions. Sheldon [Brown] is a smart, tough, reliable guy. And [Joselio] Hanson has turned out to be a real find for them. He's one of the better nickel guys in the league right now. Considering their problems at free safety, I wouldn't be surprised to see them use some three-corner, one-safety packages."

Send e-mail to pdomo@aol.com

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|