The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles are primed to see a huge impact from their 2010 draft class. All successful teams have the mantra that you build through the draft and the Eagles are no exception. They say the biggest jump for players comes in their third year after they survive the dreaded “sophmore slump”.
However, I see six players drafted last year who have no time for slumping and are ready to make significant contributions in their sophmore seasons.
If they step up and play well it could mean the difference between just making the playoffs and making a strong push for a title. This season we will see exactly how well some of the new bricks in Andy Reid’s foundation hold up.
Jamar Chaney: Drafted in the 7th round last year, he started at middle linebacker after Stewart Bradley went down with an injury in week 14 last season. He made a favorable impression on the coaches after an outstanding game in week 15 against the Giants where he recorded 16 tackles, one TFL (tackle for loss), and one forced fumble. He showed enough promise that he is a strong candidate to be one of the starting linebackers in 2011, most likely on the weak side.
Mike Kafka: The 4th round pick will possibly end up being our second string quarterback. Kevin Kolb is almost as good as gone so unless we sign a veteran backup (which is definitely possible), Kafka is the man on deck. Michael Vick has only ever had one full season without missing any games so if Kafka is the backup, there is a good chance he’ll see some action. If he has to play multiple games, he will undoubtedly have the biggest impact–good or bad–on the Eagles’ season. Better eat your Wheaties Mike!
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim: When the Eagles selected him in the third round last year, Eagles Nation let out a collective “huh?” However, he was a four year starter in college and collected a total of 30 sacks and 37 tackles for a loss which shows good play making skills. With Brandon Graham likely starting the year on the PUP list and Juqua Parker winding down, Te’o will have every chance to shine. He could potentially flourish under Jim Washburn and his “wide 9” defensive front. Recommended viewing: The attached clip here, it might get you a little pumped about his potential.
Riley Cooper: The 5th round 6′ 3″, 222 pounder is the Eagles’ biggest wide receiver. Last year he caught seven passes for 116 yards (16.6 yards per catch) and one touchdown as the team’s fourth receiver. The coaches love his potential so his playing time should increase this year. He will be counted on to provide the big presence that our wide receiver corps lacks. If he learns how to “play big” he should become a valuable red zone target. In other words, we can “say no to Plax-ico”.
Nate Allen: He was dubbed “the Donovan McNabb pick” since he was selected with the second round pick the Eagles received in the trade with Washington. Though he struggled at times, he was having a decent rookie season before rupturing his patellar tendon in week 15 against the Giants. He accumulated 3 INTs, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and 8 passes defensed before his injury. With Quintin Mikell likely gone, he will be expected to step up in a major way in 2011. He says he will be 100% recovered from his injury by training camp (if there is one).
Kurt Coleman: Nate Allen’s injury opened the door for Coleman last season. The 7th round pick stepped in for the final three games and played well. The first thing I noticed about Coleman last year was that he can hit and tackle well. Then a study by Pro-Football Focus found that he didn’t miss a single tackle in 2010, albeit it was a small sample size (24 tackles per PFF). Coleman could begin the year as the starter at strong safety if 2011 rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett isn’t quite ready. And if the lockout takes away training camp, that will increase Coleman’s chances of starting.