Posted on: August 14, 2010 10:43 am
It is admittedly easy to get caught up in the hype of a strong preseason performance, but Kevin Kolb looked every bit the part of a future NFL star in his 2010 debut as the Philadelphia Eagles' starting quarterback last night against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kolb's stat line -- 6/11 for 95 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions -- is far from jaw-dropping, but in one quarter of action Kolb engineered two scoring drives and seemed on his way to another before being lifted mid-drive for Michael Vick once the second quarter began.
What was most impressive about Kolb's performance was his poise and accuracy on a variety of routes.
Kolb's first pass was a perfectly placed slant to DeSean Jackson for 21 yards. His next was a crossing route for 29 yards to Jeremy Maclin. Both passes caught his athletic wideouts in stride and allowed them to use their agility and straight-line speed to generate significant yardage after the catch. The first pass came from under center. The second from the shotgun.
In between the two throws, Kolb was forced to scramble to get a first down. On third and five, Kolb, out of the shotgun, sensed the pressure and scrambled left, faking a throw to freeze Jaguar defenders just enough for him to get six yards, escape untouched out of bounds and pick up the first down. In doing so, he ran to the Philadelphia sideline, where his excited teammates congratulated him with yells and slaps on the helmet.
Kolb, however, didn't look excited. He looked poised and ready for the next play. The pocket sense, balance and athleticism he showed in running for the first down were elements of his game Kolb for which is rarely recognized. Some, in fact, have argued that mobility is one of the areas in which the Eagles will miss Donovan McNabb the most, but not in this game. Kolb ran twice, picking up 15 yards total.
Kolb's stat line would have been better if not for a couple of rare drops from his tight end (and training camp roommate) Brent Celek. Each of the passes, including what should have been a touchdown from the 11-yard line, came in hot, but hit Celek in the hands.
The Eagles surprised us all by trading McNabb to division-rival Washington in April. It was natural to characterize head coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman's decision to trade the potential Hall of Fame quarterback as risky, especially considering that Kolb had only two starts in three seasons since being drafted in the second round (No. 36 overall) out of Houston.
Kolb's impressive performance, however, was eerily similar to the one that Aaron Rodgers had in his first preseason action as Green Bay's starter after trading Brett Favre to the New York Jets. Rodgers was 9 of 15 for 117 yards, a touchdown and an interception (deflection). The stats might be a little different, but the moxie, accuracy and mobility that Rodgers showed in that contest had to be comforting to general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy.
It is far (FAR!) too early to think that Kolb will be able to make the same seamless transition from former high pick biding his time behind a superstar to emerging as one in his own right as Rodgers has done for the Packers.
But the fact that Kolb was successful in his first start since taking over for McNabb is encouraging. Even more so was how he engineered that success.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 6:23 pm
Earlier today I was asked to compare Jeremy Maclin to an NFL receiver and I described him as a better version of Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson... Looks like we'll see how that comparison holds up, with the Eagles taking the versatile playmaker in a trade up.
The Lions are now on the clock and are in position to take the OT Michael Oher, if they'd like. The Lions are also in real need of a DT, so watch out for Peria Jerry or Ziggy Hood. The ILB Maualuga makes a great deal of sense, as well... ILB might be the team's biggest area of weakness, but teams are up and down on Maualuga, whose off-field concerns are significant.
Instead the Lions take Brandon Pettigrew, who gives the Lions an immediate target over the middle and a stout, physical presence as a blocker in the running game...
Perhaps I should have listened to my own advice. Most of my "safe" picks are flying off the board right now, whereas potential character concerns (Oher, Maualuga, Harvin, etc) are slipping...
The Browns -- AGAIN -- are on the clock and should consider Beanie Wells at this spot. Just too much talent at this point.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 6:13 pm
Had to run to do another radio spot, but am back... The Broncos added a pass rusher, but not one of the USC linebackers I had mentioned. Tennessee's Robert Ayers is an interesting player, whose inconsistency throughout his career I find a bit disturbing. There is no denying his upside, however, and he fills a clear area of need for the Broncos.
The Browns have played the board beautifully so far and have three players available to them at #19 that many would have thought they'd consider at #5 -- WR Jeremy Maclin, RB Beanie Wells, and OT Michael Oher -- who is the unofficial "winner" of the last man standing in the Green Room...
The Browns are moving down again and the Eagles are now on the clock. This could be the RB, Wells...
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:56 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2009 5:59 pm
The Texans chose a USC linebacker as had been long projected. Cushing gives the club immediate flexibility, and more importantly, size at the outside linebacker position.
The Chargers, as they have consistently done to me, made the first pick of players I did not project in the first round. English has good burst off the snap as a defensive end, but will obviously be making the transition to the 3-4 rush linebacker position for the Chargers.
English was impressive at the Senior Bowl, but was never placed back in space while in Mobile, something I would have liked to have seen...
The Cleveland Browns are now on the clock and I believe are going to take WR Jeremy Maclin with this pick. RB Beanie Wells and OT Michael Oher makes sense, as well, but Maclin is the best player available and has the speed to compliment (or replace) Braylon Edwards.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:19 pm
The Packers get their nose guard in Raji and that leaves the 49ers with two receivers who could provide immediate help, as well as a tackle that makes sense. Pass rushers, while a need, are not being graded as highly by most clubs and thus, aren't likely to be the choice with Crabtree, Maclin and Oher available.
Ultimately, Michael Crabtree is just too much of a talent to go any lower than this... Expect the 49ers to take him here or consider trading down slightly if they get the right offer... The phone will be ringing for teams intrigued with Crabtree's upside...
Posted on: April 25, 2009 5:04 pm
I've been hearing for weeks that the Bengals' offensive line coach Paul Alexander absolutely loved Andre Smith's physicality and that the Bengals would take Smith over any other tackle available.
The Raiders are now on the clock. They have needs at OT, DT, and certainly at WR.
Possible picks include:
A. Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
B. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
C. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
D. BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
E. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
I have sources who claim that the Raiders have locked on to Heyward-Bey, just as the Bengals had locked on with Andre Smith. I, personally, feel that Heyward-Bey is a significant reach, at this point, though there is no denying his potential to track down deep passes from JaMarcus Russell, especially with opposing safeties crowding the line of scrimmage to slow the Raiders' developing ground game.
The idea that any receiver is drafted ahead of Crabtree is crazy, but ultimately, that's my best guess...
Sorry... had to run and do a radio spot. Rather than erase everything I wrote, you can see my thoughts... It isn't just hindsight with these comments either, as I picked Heyward-Bey to the Raiders in my final mock, as well.
Posted on: April 10, 2009 8:21 pm
According to a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the NFL is going to invite at least 10 players this year to Radio City Music Hall for draft day. The number is nearly double that which the league has invited in recent years and is likely an attempt on the league's part to give the increasingly made-for-television-event a reality-TV appeal. The decision to invite more players was made to highlight especially intriguing players, including some who aren't necessarily expected to be within the top ten picks.
Among the players (listed alphabetically) expected to attend are:
WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
OLB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
OLB Brian Cushing, USC
QB Josh Freeman, Kansas State
OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia
OT Michael Oher, Mississippi
DE/OLB Brian Orakpo, Texas
OT Jason Smith, Baylor
QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia
Some notable names are missing on this list, not the least of which is USC quarterback Mark Sanchez (who, according to Mortensen's report is currently planning on spending the draft with friends and family), Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Interestingly enough, I spoke with Aaron Curry yesterday in preparation for Part 3 of the four-part "Road to the Draft" we're doing and he had not yet been invited...
The most players I recall the NFL ever inviting to New York for the draft was 11, back in 1996. The 1996 draft was memorable for many reasons -- Keyshawn Johnson was the last wide receiver selected with the top pick and no linebacker has been selected as high since the Jaguars made former Illinois standout Kevin Hardy the second overall pick. The 1996 draft was also memorable in that it featured the only player invited to NYC by the league that slipped entirely out of the first round. The Cardinals made running back Leeland McElroy the second pick of the second round (32nd overall).
Tags: Aaron Curry, Andre Smith, Arizona Cardinals, Brian Cushing, Brian Orakpo, Eugene Monroe, green room, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jason Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Josh Freeman, Kevin Hardy, Keyshawn Johnson, Leeland McElroy, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Michael Crabtree, Michael Oher, New York Jets, NFL Draft
Posted on: March 3, 2009 6:00 pm
There has been a buzz surrounding Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and potential injuries discovered at the Combine... Sources in the league, however, tell me that all of the talk has little substance behind it.
Monroe has had some recurring issues with his left knee. He originally suffered a patella tendon strain in 2005. The most serious issue occurred in April of 2006, when he dislocated his left knee cap and was forced to undergo surgery on April 7th of that year. He returned to play in every game in 2006 and didn't allow a sack all year long. He missed two games due to a knee sprain in 2007, but no games in 2008. Some team doctors may have seen enough in his medical reports to redflag the knee, but the teams I spoke with were not concerned. Said one front office executive potentially in position to draft Monroe: "It doesn't change our stance on him..."
Likewise, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has been cleared by renowned Dr. James Andrews for all testing. I was among the media invited into the Combine to watch the quarterbacks and receivers work out on Sunday, February 21st and saw Maclin go down awkwardly in an attempt to haul in a long pass from Hartwick's Jason Boltus... After a few moments on the trainers' table, Maclin jumped right back into the workout, though he was clearly tentative. Andrews' announcement is sure to ease teams' concerns about his health.