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Eagles 2012 Roster Additions: New Faces in the Nest

What will the Eagles' new pick-ups add to the 2012 team? Here's a recap of the off-season additions.

The Eagles chose to reward their own players this offseason rather than shopping wholesale in the free agent market. In sharp contrast to its 2011 spending spree, the franchise added only a few new players through free agency, trades and the draft.

The most impactful addition in the short run looks to be middle linebacker Demeco Ryans, who was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans. A six-year veteran who just turned 28, Ryans and his 250 pounds gives the Eagles a stout, run-stopping presence at the position that they have not had since Jeremiah Trotter retired.

The Eagles' Wide Nine system is very effective in putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. It also requires linebackers to be strong against the run; lacking this ability hurt the team last year.

Ryans should fill that void. He played all 16 games last year, working his way back from an Achilles tendon injury that limited him to six games in 2009. Prior to that injury, Ryans had a perfect attendance record every game day in his first four seasons, during which he averaged 130 tackles per year. If he can match that production, he is exactly what the Eagles need.

Another aspect Ryans brings to the Eagles defense is leadership. Texans GM Rick Smith said Ryans' leadership abilities cannot be over-exaggerated and called him "a class act." His former Texans teammates were unanimous in their praise of Ryans. They noted he was the most respected guy on the defense by far; the guy to whom everyone turned in the clutch.

The Eagles have been in need of a defensive leader the past couple of seasons. If Ryans can continue to play at a high level, he can fill that important role as well.

Mel Kiper’s hair and obnoxious personality draw a lot of laughs, but his draft analysis is pretty strong, and he graded the Eagles' 2012 draft an "A."

They moved up to get Fletcher Cox, an immediate starter. Mychal Kendricks is a perfect fit, and at No. 46, a really good value. The Eagles look a lot better up the middle after this weekend. If Vinny Curry came off the board really early in the second round, nobody would have been surprised, so to get him at No. 59 is a steal. Nick Foles has the upside of an NFL starter, and Andy Reid could turn him into something. Brandon Boykin is my No. 9-ranked corner, so I love the value as a fourth-rounder. I thought they might get a tackle earlier, but it’s hard to quibble given the value they got with every pick early on. I love this draft, and Bryce Brown will be an interesting story if he sticks. Keep an eye on Brandon Washington, a sixth-rounder with the upside of a starter at guard.

Cox, an All-America selection from Mississippi State, should start at Defensive Tackle in Jim Washburn’s line rotation. Kendricks was the 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year at the University of California.

Eagles fans are excited by the ability of both prospects to contribute, but even  more excited by the change in philosophy that Kendricks' selection indicates. The Eagles have long undervalued the linebacker position. In using a high draft pick on a linebacker, it appears the Eagles now recognize its importance.

The third pick was spent on Curry, an undersized defensive end from Marshall who was the 2012 Conference USA Player of the Year. The Eagles are stacked at the position, so his selection appears to be a hedge against the possibility that they may have made a mistake with Brandon Graham.

Foles is a very intriguing pick. It appears Mike Kafka is a career backup, and Michael Vick is past 30, so taking a young quarterback was a prudent move. As a middle-round pick, however, his prospects of becoming a starter in the NFL are questionable.

Yet Andy Reid’s prowess with quarterbacks should at least give him a chance. Foles earned good grades from draft experts and he has prototypical size and arm strength for the position. Whatever the outcome, drafting Foles at 88th overall was worth the gamble. After that the Eagles selected a number of players who were considered value picks.

Boykin, a cornerback from Georgia and the winner of the 2012 Paul Hornung Award, has a good chance of adding depth to the Eagles three-CB rotation.

McNutt, aside from having a great name, was an All-Big Ten selection as a WR at Iowa. Now that Riley Cooper is out until at least the beginning of the season, McNutt seems a lock to make the team. The Eagles are loaded at WR, so any immediate production from him seems unlikely. Injuries are always a concern in the NFL, so it is good to have quality backups and willing special teams players, of which McNutt is one.

The Eagles addressed depth needs with the rest of their draft picks and the usual myriad of undrafted rookies, some of whom may prove to be diamonds in the rough. With these new faces in the nest, the roster is establishing itself as the season fast approaches.

The air is filling with the sounds of pads hitting, teammate on teammate. As fans, we desire more each day to see them start hitting someone in an opposite-colored jersey. These are the untarnished dreams that accompany the start of the season.

There is no better time of year.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike Diviney August 08, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Posted by SJGIANTSFAN: I know this is an Eagle blog and living down here amongst Eagle fans as a Giant fan is always, let's say entertaining. But for all the back and forth, and wins, losses, super bowls and such, all that was put into perspective on Saturday. As a long time Giant fan and eagle hater (games), my heart goes out to the man who has to bury his son. Nothing is close in comparison, wins and losses mean zero. Chin up Andy Reid, even Giants fans hearts and prayers are with you at this difficult time...
Mike Diviney August 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I'm sure I speak for the entire Eagles family and fans when I say thank you. Very classy.
John Madden August 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
SJGiantsfan. Boom! Now that's tough actin tinactin.
Mike Diviney August 08, 2012 at 06:46 PM
John Madden, hmmmm...
Fabiola Et August 09, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Well done!
Mike Diviney August 09, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Porterincollingswood August 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Thoughts from last night's game? I thought Bell looked unbelievably slow off the snap and struggled with any kind of speed on the outside. He turned his man loose several times and Vick won't last long if he doesn't improve. But it looks like he's just not that quick, so I'm not sure if he can get better. This is a MAJOR concern of mine now. On defense, pursuit was way better and the pass rush looks strong. Ryans and Kendricks look good. But there seem to be some issues carrying over from last year. Poor tackling. Run defense was weak at the point of attack. Defensive backs out of position. Failure to get stops on 3rd down. What was that defense on the goal line score early in the game, Juan? It's early, some of this gets fixed. I get that. But not all of it will.
Phil McConkey August 10, 2012 at 09:23 PM
yeah 3rd down was atrocious, and Kafka lookd SLOW. Not reading the defense slow just mechanically slow. The one very bright spot was SWOOP. He was in mid season form. Also the Real Madrid soccer players kicking field goals at halftime was top notch.
Mike Diviney August 10, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I wouldn't put too much stock in that stuff Porter. Reid's teams always look bad in preseason and the fact they play the Steelers early in the season means they showed even less than usual. I agree with the poor tackling though. We saw WAY too much of that last year and don't want to see any of it this season.
Mike Diviney August 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Foles and Edwards looked very good. Kafka looked pretty bad. His roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Mike Diviney August 10, 2012 at 10:59 PM
They got them in 3rd and long often and gave up the 1st way too much. DRC really made a stupid play. You launch yourself at a QB and touch him above the shoulders, you're getting a flag EVERY time. Kafka did look slow... and weak-armed, but we already knew that.
Mike Diviney August 10, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Great to see Henery drill the 51 yarder at the end. W's and L's are meaningless in preseason, but given the circumstances, nice to win. GREAT job by the fans honoring Andy and Garret.
Porterincollingswood August 11, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I noted that Henery has the longest neck since Merton Hanks
Bo August 11, 2012 at 04:31 AM
I was most impressed with curry. I read a story on him today, knew he was hard core Eagles fan growing up, learned he was more so than I initially thought. He wouldn't allow any live shooting of his home and scene there during this year's draft. It turns out that much of his family home is covered with various types Eagles memorabilia, which he didn't want to take down for the draft, so if he was drafted by a different team. If he happened to be drafted by another team, the mini Eagles museum wasn't going to come down. My biggest disappointments; Jarrett-still very unpolished & looked lost most of the time, Ryans-zero tackles, looked slow at times with his reads and his reactions. Nnamdi - seriously why were the offenses in the AFC West so afraid to throw at him for all those years, and it was quickly clear that Jason Peters isn't at LT.
Mike Diviney August 11, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Ryans didn't play that much. Jarret isn't a starter and has played very little NFL football so he did look unpolished- not sure where the "still" comes in. I didn't really notice Naamdi do anything good or bad, but I was bitterly disappointed with his performance last year. It couldn't have all been unfounded rep so we'll see this year.
Porterincollingswood August 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM
One of the biggest issues last year was coverage in the secondary. Guys being out of position, being used to their weaknesses, and generally leaving guys wide open. That was blamed on Juan. And it was on display again.
Bo August 11, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Last season the excuse for Jarrett and many of the Eagles rookies was two fold, wherein they didn't have the normal off-season workout schedule to adapt and improve their technique to the pro game. Then there was the new defense coordinator, but really all the new coaches to varying degrees, who were all adjusting under these circumstances. Jarett, second round draft pick, who got a surprise start because Nate Allen was dinged up, shouldn't 'still' look that inept, or why was he taken in the 2nd round in the first place. Yeah I agree with what Porter said above, the more I think about it the more worried I am about Juan's ability to not just call a game, but prepare the parts of the Defense to synchronize around a game plan. I can't tell if Juan is the leader and has a vision for his defense or he's being led to it by Jim Wasburn. There is no doubt that Juan has yet to get a full grasp on it all yet. All I keep hearing is the limits for practice time, as outlined in this new CBA, are going to compromise the coaches ability to teach and work on the fundamentals. This work happens in those off season sessions and during the beginning of training camp. My question is why can't there be more off season non-contact sessions, which have strict guidelines per players safety, to ensure the product on the field is still at a high level and we don't see a 2nd round draft choice like Jarrett look so lost.
Mike Diviney August 12, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Yeah, especially on 3rd down. You'd think with the veteran corners they have, there'd be less confusion. Hopefully, the preseason, with the corners and safeties working together, will serve to reduce or eliminate this problem going forward.
Mike Diviney August 12, 2012 at 03:42 AM
He didn't look THAT lost. He's a young player with no experience and he's not even a starter so not sure why you're focusing on him so much. Rather than try to rewrite the bargained agreement between the players and the owners, just realize all teams work within the same constraints. Whichever teams are best able to manage them will be successful.
Mike Diviney August 12, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Porter- Merton Hanks reference was classic- HA!
Bo August 12, 2012 at 05:04 AM
If you think he didn't look that clueless you are probably the only person who didn't. He was a 2nd round draft choice, who really should have been a 3rd round pick at best, and was taken with the pick we got for Kolb. A second round pick should be challenging for a starting position in his 2nd year, but Jarret is about to be cut and turn into a bust. We have a secondary that will be our team's weakest. The Steelers knew this too and went right at it during much of the first half. I didn't see us draft a safety, and with the questionable play of Nate Allen so far and what is obvious about Jarret, it was foolish not to draft a one safety, with all the picks we had. I mean McNutt, Washington and Brown might be good players, but did we have weaknesses or issues with our starters at WR, OG and RB like we did with our secondary last season, which will now have again this season. Watch the game again Mike, it'll be on comcast in a few minutes, cause you missed a few things. My thought with the new CBA guidelines for practice time and how it pertains to this player is that some young players are late bloomers who will need more time to work on the fundamentals which now they won't get because of the restrictions. Jarret might have been alright if he that time or a better coach. I am beginning to think our 2ndary coach in his 2nd year there, Mike Zordich, isn't that good, but I know our defensive line coach is that good, and Vinny Curry is a reason why I know.
Mike Diviney August 12, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Proofread your post- you missed more than a few things. Yeah, a coach's ability is entirely based on how 1 player you picked out under him performed in his first preseason game. Get a clue.
Porterincollingswood August 12, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Jarrett probably was a panic reach, but I was pleased with the play of Nate Allen. You can't do much about a guy getting injured.
Porterincollingswood August 12, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I was pleased with his play his rookie year.
Porterincollingswood August 12, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Bell was demoted for King Dunlap at LT. We may want to get at least 5 more QB's in here, because they're going to get drilled.
Bo August 12, 2012 at 05:34 PM
DRC and Nnamdi, I am fine, just not thrilled with our starting corners, but if you don't have questions about Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman as starters at the safety positions then you need to get a clue. There development is what I base my questions about Coach Zordich and his ability on. I think they should try corner Brandon Boykin at safety, it seems like he wants and knows how to be physical, which is what I saw lacking from our secondary in this first preseason game and for much of last season. I fondly remember Zordich the player and how gritty and physical he once was, so why aren't the players he coaches now reflecting anything similar. I thought that was the theme of this year's training camp where Andy wanted to toughen them up, so more hitting in scrimmages and drills. Your only as strong as your weakest link, right? That was my point. I saw alot of positive development from our young defensive linemen in watching that first preseason game, and I didn't see the least bit in our secondary.
Mike Diviney August 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
That is troubling. I don't think Dunlap is that bad, but I thought Bell was highly regarded. No one can replace Peters, but they have to have a solid left tackle given that Vick struggles against pressure because of his lack of height.
Mike Diviney August 12, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I agree with your point on Boykin. I don't agree with the adage that you're only as strong as your weakest link in football. For instance, if you pressure the QB relentlessly, your safety coverage is not as important.
Porterincollingswood August 13, 2012 at 02:31 AM
King is a RT, and by the looks of it so is Bell. He really had trouble keeping his guy from getting the edge. A few times, his man just blew by him. At best, it means keeping Celek in to block, which really hurt the offense last season when that needed to be done. Brent adds a whole new dimension to that offense, and keeps the safeties from running deep with Desean.
Fabiola Et September 24, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Your blogs are so interesting to read. Great job!

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