Last week, I took a look at how the offensive rookies should contribute in 2011. Today, it’s time to take a closer look at how the defensive players could make an impact next season.
Coming into the draft, we knew the Eagles needed more help on defense than they did on offense. The offense had it’s problems, but they were no where near the scale of the problems the defense was having.
Most thought that the Eagles would use their first round pick on the defense. They chose not to. However, they did end up bringing in five defensive players through the draft, and a number of them should be able to help.
Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple
The selection of Jarrett in the second round was a bit of a surprise, but you have to indicate a few things from it. To start, it likely means the Eagles won’t be bringing back Quintin Mikell when free agency finally opens up. With Mikell leaving, it also means the Eagles see Jarrett as the guy that will step in and immediately replace him.
Jarrett may be at a bit of a disadvantage this year with all the uncertainties surrounding the league year. He may not be able to spend as much time learning the system as other rookies have under normal circumstances.
Keeping that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see if Jarrett is ready to step into the starting lineup immediately. He was known to be a very intelligent player at Temple, so it will likely be a matter of how quickly he can grasp the Eagles’ system.
If he’s not ready, Kurt Coleman should start opening day, but I think Jarrett will be in the starting lineup at some point shortly after.
Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
The Eagles need a corner who can come in and start immediately. Most people believed the Eagles may try to find this type of player in the draft. However, Marsh is not that guy.
By waiting until the third round to draft a corner, the Eagles told us that they plan to find their starter in free agency. They may try to win the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes or they may go in another direction. Regardless, you have to believe the guy who will start opposite of Asante Samuel next season isn’t currently on the roster.
Marsh has only spent two seasons in college playing corner. There are those who have argued that he’s done really well during those two seasons. At the same time, how can you expect a guy with that little experience to immediately fill arguably the Eagles biggest need.
The Eagles defense got absolutely killed last season by the poor play opposite Samuel. Marsh is a guy who needs more work before he attempts to fill a starting role. Maybe he’ll be a great corner down the line, but I can’t see him having much of an impact on the defensive side of the ball in 2011.
Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
Here’s an interesting player. This was a guy we heard reports the Eagles were very high on heading into the draft, and it wasn’t surprising to see select him in the fourth round.
He’s already been asked a million times about his brother, and he keeps repeating that he wants to make a name for himself and not be known as Clay’s little brother. Personally, I love that. Casey is already known as a hard-working guy, and I think that will just serve as extra motivation.
I think he’s going to be an absolute menace on special teams from the start. Defensively, some of that will depend on whether or not the Eagles decide to bring back Stewart Bradley. If the Eagles are really high on Matthews, they could let Bradley walk and Matthews could compete for a starting position.
Regardless, I think Matthews should still find his way onto the field in certain situations. He could be used in passing situations to both run with tight ends or blitz the quarterback.
Brian Rolle, LB, Ohio State
Rolle fits the bill of what the Eagles have looked for on their front-seven over the last few years. He’s a relentless player that some consider under-sized. However, Rolle is quick and can use his hands effectively to get off blockers and position himself to make plays.
He’s extremely aggressive and is always around the ball. I think he’ll be another guy who will shine on special teams right away with his high-motor and relentlessness.
Defensively, I can’t see him cracking the starting lineup in 2011. If the Eagles put together some type of speed rushing package, he could be part of it. I believe they like what Rolle can do, but they may struggle to find a place for him right away.
Greg Lloyd, LB, Connecticut
Lloyd is a guy I’m very skeptical about. In 2009, he tore both his ACL and MCL and it caused him to miss a bunch of time during the 2010 season.
Unlike the other linebackers the Eagles selected, Lloyd is a guy built more on power than speed. He’s a guy that will lay the boom on a running back coming through the middle, and I like that because it’s been a while since we’ve had that type of player.
However, the Eagles don’t have a good history of drafting players who suffered knee injuries in college. If Lloyd doesn’t pan out, it won’t be a huge loss as he was drafted in the seventh round. I just have a hard time believing that he’s going to be able to stay healthy.
Even if he does, he’s going to have to battle with a lot of other players for a spot on the roster.