In our March series of Enemy Intel articles, we examined the balance of power in the NFC East two weeks into free agency. This weekend, we’re going to take a look at the impact the last month’s draft could have on the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants.
2012 record: 4-12, 1-5
Free agent activity: WR Arrelious Benn, TE James Casey, LB Connor Barwin, LB Jason Phillips, CB Cary Williams, CB Bradley Fletcher, S Patrick Chung, S Kenny Phillips, NT Isaac Sopoago
Draft picks: OT Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz, DT Bennie Logan, QB Matt Barkley, S Earl Wolff, DE Joe Kruger, CB Jordan Poyer, DE David King
Updated 2013 outlook: New Coach Chip Kelly used free agency to retool a defense that surrendered more points (27.8 per game) than all but two other teams.
With three of the Eagles’ first four picks in the draft, however, Kelly targeted potential cornerstone players on offense. Fourth overall pick Lane Johnson, a tackle out of Oklahoma, should help stabilize a line that allowed Michael Vick and Nick Foles to be sacked a total of 48 times last season. This week at rookie minicamp, Johnson was lining up on the right side.
Meantime, tight end Zach Ertz (Stanford) gives Vick another pass-catching weapon to push Brent Celek and could make for some potent two tight end sets.
Speaking of Vick, he’s expected to enter training camp as the Eagles’ No. 1 signal caller and it’s possible, if not likely, that he’ll start Week 1 at FedEx Field. But Kelly traded up to pick USC’s Matt Barkley for a reason: the quarterback fits the offense that he's installing. Is it possible Barkley will pull a Russell Wilson and seize the starting job as a rookie? Seems like a longshot, but probably not out of the question.
Some analysts also believe the Eagles got a steal with cornerback/returner Jordan Poyer, who was pegged as a third or fourth round selection but slipped all the way to the seventh. His poor combine numbers and a 2012 arrest for a trespassing incident at a nightclub likely hurt his stock, but his versatility and football intellect suggest he could be a starter at some point in the future.
Again, on paper, the Eagles appear to be a more well-rounded and much-improved club after an active and productive offseason. But everyone thought the 2011 ‘Dream Team’ was going to be special, too. So we’ll wait until the season opener in Landover, Md., before declaring them legit challengers to the Redskins’ division crown.