Gocong Fitting In Nicely

The Eagles are impressed with the immediate progress of Chris Gocong. The third round pick is learning to play linebacker after playing defensive end in college. So far, the move looks easy for Gocong.

Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson knows how to evaluate talent. He was one of the people pushing for the Eagles to draft Chris Gocong and felt that the college defensive end could move to linebacker without much trouble. So far, Johnson thinks the move is paying off and was worth dealing with the Jets to add Gocong in the third round.

"He's a pretty good athlete, has good movement. He shows that he has a chance to play linebacker," is how Johnson evaluates Gocong's early showing. "Some guys who make that transition [from DE to LB], you're not quite sure if he's got the movement. But, just in the few days we've had him, it looks like he can play linebacker, as far as the athletic ability. Now it's just a matter of learning the scheme."

Gocong found himself immediately behind because his college classes hadn't finished up when the Eagles assembled for their first mini-camp. By all accounts, Gocong came in and didn't look like he had missed much time, impressing everybody on the coaching staff. "He did a nice job with the short period of time he was here, he did make progress and again, I think that first three days of training camp will be beneficial to him where he can get in and get some reps," said head coach Andy Reid when camp was finished.

Keep in mind that this was mini-camp. There wasn't a shoulder pad in sight and there are some touch football games that get rougher than what the Eagles recently went through. Still, Johnson believes that you can at least get an idea for how a guy might perform once the hitting starts. "The biggest thing you see right now is guys moving, especially skill positions," explained Johnson. "That's the biggest thing, just seeing the skill athletes, how they move, how they can run, how they can change direction right now, because we still do a lot of that."

Perhaps the biggest endorsement that Johnson gave to Gocong was in simply mentioning him among the options for the SAM linebacker spot. "I think it's too early to say, because until we put the pads on we won't really narrow it down. But until we go into training camp, it will be [LB] Dhani [Jones]. [LB] Greg Richmond is right there pushing him. And you've got Chris," predicted Johnson. "Hopefully he's going to get enough reps to really push it a little bit."

So far, Gocong remains unsigned, but the Eagles hope to make progress with him and their other six remaining unsigned picks in the near future.


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