In every draft, you have expectations for your picks. Clearly, players that are taken in the earlier rounds are expected to make immediate impacts or be groomed so they’ll make a strong impact for many years to come.
For players drafted in the later rounds, the expectations for immediate results aren’t typically that high. However, it’s always a huge plus when players can come in and make an impact right away.
This year’s draft was very balanced for the Eagles. They made a total of 11 selections. Five selections play offense, five play defense, and the other is a full-time special teams player, kicker Alex Henery.
Today we’ll look at the potential impacts the rookies should have on Michael Vick and the Eagles offense.
Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
No other Eagles rookie will make a bigger or earlier offensive impact than first-round draft pick Danny Watkins. Truthfully, this shouldn’t be a real shocker. He was drafted because the Eagles have a need at the right guard position. His mission is to come in and solidify the position.
The right guard position was an absolute disaster for the Eagles last year, especially as the year went on. Towards the end of the season, you didn’t see Vick progressing through his reads like he did earlier in the year. In turn, he made some bad decisions and threw a bunch of interceptions.
Why was there such a dramatic difference? He lost confidence in his line. Every time he dropped back, he was getting killed.
You can throw the right tackle position into the mix as well, but some consistency at right guard was needed big time. The Eagles knew this, and that’s why they brought in Watkins.
Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh
After drafting an offensive player in the first round, the Eagles didn’t draft on that side of the ball again until the fifth round. This didn’t upset me, because the defense clearly needed more help than the offense.
When they decided to return to the offense, they picked up Lewis, a talented play-maker out of Pittsburgh. The last running back they drafted from Pittsburgh has turned out pretty well so far, and the Eagles are hoping Lewis can step up the same way.
Much like when LeSean McCoy came out of college, the biggest knock is on his size. I’m hoping Shady shares whatever he did last offseason with Lewis, as he bulked up his frame and it really helped him in 2010.
Regardless of his frame next season, I think Lewis will step in as the backup. He has great pass catching ability and should be a nice target for Vick on screens and swing passes. He has the ability to make people miss, and I think Lewis will be another dynamic play-maker in the Eagles offense.
Julian Vandervelde, OG, Iowa
Vandervelde is a guy I’m hoping to not see on the field in 2011. Why? That would likely mean that Danny Watkins or Todd Herremans was injured. This isn’t to say Vandervelde isn’t talented. However, Herremans is a stud and Watkins is a first round pick.
If Vandervelde does find playing time this season, I don’t think it will be the end of the world. He was a proven leader in college and that’s something that goes a long way along the offensive line. Also, he’s one of those more smaller, quicker guards. Howard Mudd has had a lot of success molding guys like this in the past, and I expect him to guide Vandervelde in the same direction.
I don’t think Vandervelde is a guy who will play his way onto the field this season. However, I think he can be successful down the line with some guidance from Mudd.
Jason Kelce, OG/C, Cincinnati
Kelce is a lot like Vandervelde in terms of being considered smaller, but with quick feet. I also have to believe that Andy Reid loves the versatility Kelce brings. He played guard at Cincinnati before moving to center his senior season.
If Jamaal Jackson can’t stay healthy, Kelce could possibly battle for the starting center spot with Mike McGlynn. Clearly, McGlynn would have the edge from all the experience he had last year, but I think Kelce is a guy the Eagles really like.
He’ll likely be asked to learn both guard and center, and his versatility should keep him on the roster. Although he may not be blocking for Vick in 2011, he may be able to find his way onto the field in a few years.
Stanley Havili, FB, USC
Although he was Mr. Irrelevant in the Eagles draft this year, don’t rule Havili stepping into the Eagles offense in 2011 and making an impact.
It looks like he’ll enter Training Camp in a heads up competition for the fullback position with Owen Schmitt. You can’t deny that Schmitt stepped in very nicely last year for the Eagles when Leonard Weaver went down. However, Havili may be the guy that better fits what the Eagles look for in a fullback.
The Eagles offense isn’t going to lineup a fullback and tailback in a Power-I and shove the ball down your throat every play. Instead, the Eagles like their fullback to be versatile. He has to block in some situations, but he also has to have the ability to run the ball in short yardage situations and catch out of the backfield. For a guy his size, he’s known to have very good hands, and that’s just one more target for Vick to utilize on the field.
Reuben Frank thinks Havili will be the guy. He has the skill set. If he can grasp the playbook quickly enough, he could end up as the starter.