Our Detroit Lions schedule preview continues with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions have an early bye week in 2012 but that will give them an extra week to prepare for their week six matchup with the Eagles in Philly.
I sent a series of questions to Inside The Iggles editor Bob Wankel for a preview of the Eagles. My thanks to Bob for his willingness to participate in this Q&A.
1. What is your initial reaction to the Eagles’ 2012 draft class?
Bob Wankel: It’s been said that it’s impossible to immediately evaluate a draft class, and that’s because, well, it is. But it appears the Eagles aquitted themselves rather well in the 2012 NFL Draft. They were able to get their man when they selected DT Fletcher Cox. Cox is a player that should be able to come in and immediately contribute the Eagles’ deep defensive line rotation. Cox will provide a pass rush up the middle and can also slide outside and provide run support from the DE position. It should help him that he won’t be called upon as “the man” from the jump.
Second-round pick Mychal Kendricks projects as the starting weakside linebacker and expectations are high for the Cal product as he plays alongside the cerebral DeMeco Ryans. He may make the most immediate impact of any Eagles rookie. He is a bit short, but a very physical player who shows the ability to cover the tight end, something the Eagles haven’t had since the departure of linebacker Carlos Emmons nearly a decade ago.
Their other second round pick, DE Vinny Curry, is a guy that will jump into the defensive end rotation and a guy that I believe will be a valuable piece quickly, but my expectations of Curry aren’t sky-high, simply because of the rotation used by defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
I’m not big on the Nick Foles pick–I don’t believe he projects as an elite starter, but he should have some time to learn the system and develop. Ideally, it will take a few years to know what his game is all about.
Brandon Boykin could come in and win the slot corner and kick return jobs. I wanted the Eagles to target him in the third-round, so it may have been their best overall pick when they grabbed him in the fourth. He’s ultra-athletic and possesses the ideal attributes to play on the inside.
I think the Eagles did a nice job with this draft and addressed their primary areas of need, but again, we won’t know until the new parts begin moving on the field.
2. How confident are you that the Eagles can live up to expectations this season? What has to be different to avoid another colossal disappointment?
BW: It depends what the expectations are. Is this a Super Bowl team? I’m not sure. I believe the Eagles are in the same class as the Giants, Saints, Packers, and Detroit, and frankly, may be the most dangerous team of the lot simply because of what they can do in terms of pass rush and their quick-strike capabilities. Their balance and explosiveness on offense may be unrivaled. But can they avoid mental lapses? Can they avoid turnovers? Can they avoid poor execution in the red zone? I don’t know. And, really, that’s what has to be different in 2012. Michael Vick needs to stay on the field and they must dramatically improve on turnover differential. I expect the defense to be drastically better with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie another year into this system and with what appears to be a substantially better group at linebacker. It will be up to defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who was brutal during the first-half of last season, to better utilize his players. If they can do these things, then look out.