Chris Steuber: Jackson is a versatile player who will see time on offense this season in some capacity; he's too talented not to use on offense. Unlike Devin Hester, a player similar to Jackson, Jackson was an accomplished WR at California and posted big numbers throughout his career. Jackson presents matchup problems for the opposition, whether he lines up outside, in the slot or in the backfield where he can break out in the flat .The key for the Eagles is find ways to get Jackson in space and allow him to create offense with his tremendous speed and quickness. Anytime he has the ball in his hands, good things will happen.
Q: The Eagles selected cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu out of Wisconsin in the fourth-round, but they will have to wait to see what he can bring to the team because he will likely miss the entire 2008 season recovering from a knee injury. What do you think the organization saw in Ikegwuonu that prompted them to draft him, knowing he would not play right away? Do you think he has a chance to contribute in an already crowded secondary once he comes back? How concerned should the Eagles be about his legal troubles?
Steuber: If the Eagles were concerned about Ikegwuonu's legal troubles they wouldn't have drafted him. The Eagles did their due-diligence and conducted background checks and spoke with coaches at Wisconsin about Ikegwuonu and felt comfortable with him. If Ikegwuonu didn't get hurt this off-season, he would have been a second round pick. When you are drafting on Day Two, you're always looking for great value; Ikegwuonu was great value and a quality prospect. He's a very talented corner, who has great size and speed, and his physical style of play will rival that of Sheldon Brown, a player who Ikegwuonu will challenge for a starting position in a year or two.
Q: Former Auburn tackle King Dunlap plummeted to the seventh-round after a poor senior season where he lost his position as a starter, but the Eagles were one team that was willing to take a risk on him because of his rare size (he is listed at 6-foot-8, 310-pounds). Do you think that the Eagles have little to lose by trying to develop him, or do you think the drop-off in his play was a warning sign, and that they may have wasted a draft pick? If he does have what it takes to make the team, which side of the line do you see him playing on?
Steuber: I don't think you can ever say that a seventh-round pick is a wasted selection. When you're selecting players in the sixth and seventh rounds, you're looking for guys to develop, and Dunlap has all the physical tools you look for in a tackle. Even though he struggled this past season, he's displayed the ability to dominate in a tough SEC. Dunlap projects to be a left tackle in the NFL. He has quick feet and good athleticism to compete against speedy pass rushers. He's a quality developmental OT the Eagles coaching staff is intrigued with.
Eagle's rookie defensive tackle Trevor Laws has the potential to contribute early on, Steuber says.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Steuber: When the Eagles traded out of the first round and decided to make their first selection a second round pick, I believe they had to select the best player available. Trevor Laws is a guy I was extremely high on throughout the entire draft process. He's a high motor guy, who will remind people of Mike Patterson, but he plays with more leverage. Laws switched from DT to DE this past season at Notre Dame and recorded 112 tackles on a bad Irish squad. I think you will see Laws on the field more than expected this season, and he will be a contributor and provide nice penetration up the middle.
Q: Another pick that may have caused a few people to scratch their heads was the selection of defensive end Bryan Smith in the third-round. While he was a dominant pass-rusher and playmaker at McNeese State, the competition that Smith faced was hard to compare to big-time Division I-A programs, and at 6-3, 230-pounds, he is undersized for an NFL defensive lineman. What kind of things do you think Smith will have to show in training camp to prove he is ready to compete at the next level? Do you think his lack of size will be an issue?
Steuber: I was also surprised the Eagles selected Bryan Smith in the third round. I personally thought he was a fifth round prospect, but the Eagles like undersized DEs with good speed and pass rushing ability. Smith is also an older rookie; he's currently 24 and will turn 25 during the season. I don't think his weight is too much of an issue, because he's reportedly already gained 10 pounds and is up to 240. The Eagles are not asking Smith to be an every down DE; he's going to be a situational pass rusher who can pressure the quarterback. The Eagles have some tough decisions to make on the defensive line, as they're stockpiled with a lot of talent, and Smith is just another talented pass rusher who the Eagles believe has a bright future.
Q: Which player do you think has the potential to be the biggest surprise of the Eagles 2008 draft and why?
Steuber: A player who I really like, and a guy who made my All Sleeper Offensive Team, is California OG Mike Gibson. Gibson, a former JUCO transfer, only played two seasons at Cal and displayed tremendous strength and the ability to dominate inside. He's a good athlete and moves well laterally. Gibson will have great coaching in Philadelphia with Eagles offensive line coach Juan Castillo. and even though he won't see a lot of time this year, Gibson will compete for a starting job in a year or two.
Q: What kind of grade would you give the Eagles for their 2008 draft? Do you think they did a better job of adding players who could contribute immediately or stocking up on young talent for the team's future?
Steuber: I think the Eagles did a good job overall in the draft. I think they addressed needs for now and in the future. Trevor Laws will be an instant contributor on defense and DeSean Jackson will have an impact on offense and special teams. Bryan Smith and Quintin Demps will be situational contributors on defense, but they will make a name for themselves on special teams this season. I give the Eagles a B for their performance in the draft.
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