CBA issues aside, there will be an NFL Draft in 2011. That much is set in stone. Because of that, the 2011 Senior Bowl provided, as always, some wonderful insight into some prospects that the Eagles may or may not be looking into.
How is that for cryptic?
When I look at the needs that the Eagles have, offensive line is the first thing that pops into my mind. As such, I spent a great deal of the game looking at the different players playing along the right side of the lines. Two players in particular grabbed my attention.
The first being right tackle Lee Ziemba from Auburn. Ziemba has anchored the right side of the line for every single game during his collegiate career. As a senior he was voted to the 2010 AFCA’s Coaches’ All-America Team and also won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, an award presented to the best blocker in the SEC. Ziemba is a punishing pass protector and showed a lot of promise in run blocking as well.
The other lineman that stood out was right guard Danny Watkins from Baylor. Watkins is someone who I’ve seen before when watching random college games, and I’ve yet to see something I don’t like. He has a very nasty streak and really finishes his blocks. Much like Ziemba, he is relentless in both pass protection and run blocking.
The next position of need on my list is cornerback. I was always a huge fan of Sheldon Brown. Personally I thought he was the best corner on the team when it was he and Lito Sheppard as a tandem. Brown didn’t get the interceptions, but much of that was because teams just wouldn’t throw his way. He was also a very sturdy tackler.
So, as you can imagine, I was delighted when I saw someone playing the exact same way at the Senior Bowl. It just so happens that his last name matches good old #24’s. Curtis Brown is a cornerback from Texas, and he is someone else who I’ve noticed in the past. However, because he isn’t a flashy player at a flashy position, I had somewhat forgotten him. However, Brown plays just like Brown. He doesn’t get many passes thrown his way but when he does he makes the receiver pay. He is a punishing tackler and very good in pass coverage.
Another prospect that stood out to me was Richard Sherman, a 6’2” corner who used to play wide receiver. Sherman intrigues me because I see someone who has an incredibly skill set but is still raw. He did make a boneheaded judgment in the Senior Bowl when he let a receiver blaze by him too close to first half, but other than that he showed good intangibles. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I think this guy has a chance to a stud and he certainly won’t be a high round pick. However, he is someone who could be late round gem if given the proper coaching.
After cornerback on the list of needs, I have defensive tackle. The Eagles got some decent play from Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon in 2010, but there’s always room to improve.
The one man who really caught my eye was Phil Taylor from Baylor. Taylor showed incredibly strength as a senior this past season, and that continued to be showcased at the Senior Bowl. He was consistently collapsing the pocket around the North quarterbacks and made plenty of plays in the backfield. Suffice to say, he’d be a welcome addition to the Eagles defensive front which sorely needs a play-maker in the middle.
Linebacker has long been a problem for the Eagles. They seem to select many incredibly gifted athletes that just don’t pane out for whatever reason. But, I’m an optimist so I can hope that they will eventually get this drafting linebackers thing down.
Von Miller of Texas A&M quickly and consistently separated himself from the crowd of linebackers in my opinion. He reminds me of Ernie Sims when he was in college. I know that raises red flags in many peoples’ minds. Calm down. Remember that in college Ernie Sims was absolute beast of a linebacker. I don’t know for sure if Von Miller has better instincts than Sims, but I have to believe they can’t be worse. Miller might be better suited to a 3-4 scheme so I doubt the Eagles will draft him but he is someone who I’d look into. His upside is phenomenal.
I have one final player who stuck out to me, and he does play what I believe is a position of need for the Eagles. Quarterback. What? Yes friends, the Eagles will need a quarterback. Michael Vick has not convinced me he’s the answer for the long run. It has nothing to do with his skill set or quality of play. It has simply to do with the fact that he is so incredibly fragile and his style of play does not lend itself to a lengthy career. Plus, I fully believe Mr. Kevin Kolb will be traded in the offseason once the CBA is worked out. So, the Eagles will be looking for a quarterback.
This draft class is relatively weak but from the Senior Bowl one guy clearly shined above the rest for me. That was Colin Kaepernick from Nevada. Kaepernick showed impressive mobility and the ability to make some quick reads while resetting his feet when on the move. I don’t claim to be a draft expert so I’m not entirely sure when he’s projected to go in the draft, but if he somehow were to slip to the mid rounds this is a guy I can see Reid drooling over. He has all the physical tools and had a great college career.
I’m sure there’s draft prognosticators out there who firmly disagree with everything I’ve said. That’s fine, this is just what I saw from both the Senior Bowl and watching a few of the games these young men played during the 2010 season. It’s still several months until the draft, so I have no doubt at all in my mind that I’ll change my mind on some, if not all, of these guys at some point or another. It’s all part of the purely insane science that is preparing for the NFL Draft.