I'm looking forward to hating Eli Manning, now that he's with our division rival, the New York Giants. With his pedigree and measurable skills, it's doubtful he'll be failure, but I do wish upon him the utmost mediocrity.
Did you see him pouting after he was selected by the Chargers? What a puss. Is that the demeanor of someone who's going to step into a huddle of professional athletes and be their leader? I can't wait until Jevon Kearse smears him into the turf.
As far as the Eagles are concerned, I was completely surprised by the selection of Shawn Andrews and a more than a little taken aback by the price we paid to move up and get him (second round pick), when linebackers and wide receivers were rife among the players left in the second round.
However, if Andrews turns out to be a Larry Allen clone, then the price will have been well worth it, when you consider that dominating the line of scrimmage physically is the basis for any championship football team.
I like the selection of Bruce Perry in the 7th round. I hadn't even really heard of him, but, looking at what he did in 2001 before he was plagued by injuries in '02 and '03, he'll be a nice addition to our running back corps if he stays healthy.
As far as John Welbourne is concerned, what really interests me is finding out what he said on WIP radio. I'd like someone at the Philadelphia Inquirer to get a transcript of what he said. Surely we can't rely on party member Dave Spadaro to do that job.
Welbourne is good offensive lineman, not great, and Andrews will be an upgrade over him. Our depth along the line is solid, so losing Welbourne isn't that significant, in my opinion. We picked up a good fullback prospect with one of the picks we got from the Chiefs for him and, if Welbourne plays 50 percent of the Chiefs' snaps next year, we get a third rounder in '05, which isn't too shabby.
But I am interested in what Welbourne had to say. It's not going to be good if the Eagles develop a reputation as some kind of front office "Evil Empire." All clubs experience similar strife. The Patriots last year cut Lawyer Milloy, Tom Brady's buddy and a team leader, and came out flat in the opening game against the club Milloy went to, the Buffalo Bills, and were crushed like 28-0, then went on to win the Super Bowl. And now this year Ty Law, who was a man possessed for them in the postseason, is griping. The bottom line is that, in the salary cap era, which has resulted in the NFL's being the league among all professional sports with the most parity and open competition, successful teams that manage the cap skillfully will every year make cold-hearted decisions that cause rancor among the affected players.
Very few players, like Donovan McNabb for instance, earn an exemption from that cold process, sign $70 million contracts and receive immunity from front office penny pinching. But McNabb too will one day find himself in the position, when he's 34 say, when his skills no longer match the dollars on his contract.
Third round selection Matt Ware, the corner/safety out of UCLA, is the only draft choice who can be expected to come in and compete for significant playing time on the defensive side of the ball, barring any unforeseen circumstances due to injury.
So that means the Eagles feel a defense that consists of -- DE Jerome McDougle, DT Corey Simon, DT Darwin Walker, DE Jevon Kearse, LB Nate Wayne, LB Mark Simoneau, LB Dhani Jones, CB Sheldon Brown, FS Brian Dawkins, SS Michael Lewis and CB Lito Sheppard -- is good enough to win with which to win a Super Bowl title. Subs you'd expect to see some playing time include DE N.D. Kalu, DE Derrick Burgess, DT Paul Grasmanis, DT Hollis Thomas, DT Sam Rayburn, LB Ike Reese, CB Matt Ware, CB Roderick Hood, and maybe one or two of our safeties, including rookie J.R. Reed.
The fact that the Eagles didn't select a receiver means they feel they are set at their skill positions. If the Eagles do what I expect them to do, there will be a rigged competition for the starting outside receiver position opposite Terrell Owens between last year's slot receiver Freddie Mitchell and NFC Championship Game bungler Todd Pinkston, with Pinkston winning the job and Mitchell staying in the slot.
If the competition is truly open, then I do not see a scenario in which Pinkston beats Mitchell out. Since Pinkston can't play in the slot, he would be an extremely well paid fourth receiver who come in on passing downs, while either Billy McMullen or Greg Lewis will start in the slot.
It's always possible that Pinkston will enter this season markedly improved and that he'll benefit from the example that Owens sets and the attention he'll get from opposing defenses. And Pinkston could benefit from the league's decision to prevent DB's from holding, kind of like munchkin Ricky Manning Jr. held Pinkston in said NFC Championship game debacle.
This is the year we see whether Pinkston has hit his ceiling.