Since we have spent so much time recently debating the drafts of our New York Giants and the rival Philadelphia Eagles I reached out to the marvelous 'JasonB' over at the Eagles blog Bleeding Green Nation for some of his thoughts on the off-seasons of both teams.
Here is the result of our Q&A, which went beyond the standard five questions.
Big Blue View: Let's talk NFL Draft. I was struck by the similarities in the drafts of the Eagles and Giants.
Eagles take Maclin ... Giants take Nicks.
Eagles take RB LeSean McCoy ... Giants take RB Andre Brown.
Eagles take TE Cornelius Ingram ... Giants take TE Travis Beckum.
Eagles trade for Jason Peters ... Giants draft LT William Beatty (I know that comparison is a bit of a stretch).
What do you make of all that?
Bleeding Green Nation: That is interesting. Both teams lost RBs this offseason, so those were need picks. I'm not sure how you guys feel about your own Kevin Boss and our own Brent Celek, but I dont really see either player as anything special. So TE was a need pick for both teams in my eyes. Everyone and their mother seemed to know that the Giants would take a WR... I think the two most similar picks in many ways are Beatty and Maclin. I don't think either team set out to target either player or even either position, but the value was just too good to pass up.
BBV: Your favorite Eagles' draft move? Also, was there a move that left you scratching your head?
BGN: I can maybe answer this question with one guy. Cornelius Ingram. The one major head scratcher for me on draft day was when they didn't take a TE in round 3. I thought for sure that was their target and I saw it as a major need. However, I think they went on to steal Cornelius Ingram in round 5... He's got great size, great athleticism, and could really be the "big" red zone reciever that we've been looking for. Most people at the draft I talked to were shocked to see him drop into the 5th and thought that if he hadn't gotten hurt last year he would have been a second round pick. Todd McShay said he was one of the best picks of the second day. I have hopes for him, but admittedly TE still bothers me for this year.
BBV: Maclin vs. Nicks. You recently wrote that the Eagles 'beat the Giants' to Maclin. I suspect we will be comparing these guys for a long time. Make the case for why the Eagles got the better of the two young wide receivers.
BGN: Well... I'll let the Giants make the case! They think Maclin was the better player since they had him higher on their board and were trying to move up to #20 to get him. I kid... sorta.
They've got similar size and while Nicks is probably more "NFL ready" I don't believe he has the upside of a guy like Maclin. Nicks could be a good player sooner, but I'm not sure he has the superstar potential of Maclin. It all comes down to that speed and athleticism. Plus, Maclin is an elite returner which is an area he'll hopefully be able to make an immedate impact. We'll see how their careers play out though, I suspect you're right that these guys along with Heyward-Bey, Crabtree, Harvin, and Britt will always draw comparisons to one another.
BBV: Including the free-agent signing period, how do you feel about the Eagles' off-season? Biggest acquisition? Biggest loss?
BGN: The biggest acquisition literally and otherwise is probably Jason Peters. Tra Thomas has been a cornerstone of this franchise for over a decade now and LT is a position that pretty much every great team has locked down. When Tra left it appeared that vital position would be a big question mark, but to replace him with a two time pro bowler just entering his prime was huge. Giants fans know as well as us that Winston Justice sure as hell wasn't going to take over.... so getting Jason Peters in there was a great thing.
The biggest loss was probably Brian Dawkins. While at 36 years old he's not the player he once was... I think we're all wondering what his loss will mean to the locker room. This Eagles team over the past few years has been one that has shown good character. They seem to always falter at some point in the middle of the year and put themselves in a near impossible situation only to have a sensational last month and get themselves into the postseason. So if we were to find ourselves in that situation again, I wonder who the guy will be to oull the team off the mat and give them the belief that they can win three straight NFC East road games in December like they did in 06/07 or beat the Giants on the road twice late and blowout Dallas in a must win like they did last year. Dawkins has been that guy.
BBV: Do you feel there are any holes on the Eagles that still have not been addressed?
BGN: I'm not sure that I'd call this a "hole" as much as a "question mark" but the position is free safety. Quintin Demps was drafted last year to eventually replace Brian Dawkins, but I think his depature came a year earlier than we thought it would. So while Demps did play quite a bit in the second half of last year he's still an unknown. The Eagles did add some veterans safeties in free agency and picked a guy that will probably play FS later in the draft, but that's a position of concern right now. TE is still a concern as well. Brent Celek had a pretty amazing run in last year's playoffs, but I still think he's limited as far as upside. I loved the pick of Ingram this year, but how much can we expect from him as a rookie?
BBV: The Giants traded up with the Eagles in the third round to select WR Ramses Barden, a pick that has overwhelmingly been lauded by the folks at Big Blue View. Did it surprise, or bother you, that the Eagles made that deal with the Giants?
BGN: Two years ago the Eagles traded a first-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys, so the fact that they'd trade with the Giants is certainly no shock. My view on the draft is that it really shouldn't matter who you're trading with. If you've made the decision that you don't see value where you're picking, then you should take the best deal you can to move back. So if the Giants want to move up for value that the Eagles don't think is there, by all means let them. Now, whether the Eagles were correct that the value wasn't there is something that obviously remains to be seen. Clearly the two teams saw different boards there and in the end one is going to be more right than the other.
The last time the Eagles traded down with a division rival we got our backup QB and our starting middle linebacker, while they got Anthony Spencer. That said, I trust the Giants draft evaluators a lot more than their Dallas counterparts...
As for Ramses Barden, I really don't know what to think about that guy. I remember asking someone before the draft "If he wasn't 6'6 would he even get drafted?" He didn't play against major college competition, he was amongst the slowest timed WRs in the draft, the scouting reports don't seem to say that he doesn't any of the typical WR things(hands, routes, seperation) particularly well... but he's got that freakish height. It'll certainly be interesting to see how he develops over the next couple years, but I don't know what to think of him.
BBV: In my view, the Giants and Eagles (no matter which order you put them in) have clearly separated themselves from the Cowboys and Redskins in the NFC East. Would you agree with that?
BGN: I do agree. I think the end of the last year and the offseason has cemented the idea that Eagles and Giants are the class of the NFC East. It's about more than just the offseason additions though. The Eagles and Giants have both proven that they know how to win a big game when they need to. The Redskins and Cowboys haven't proven that. I don't think there's a huge gap of talent between these teams, I think the real seperation is that ability or nerve to play big when the pressure is on. I'm not totally sure why two teams have it and two don't, but I suspect coaching has a LOT to do with it.
BBV: You were one of the two SBN writers who were able to get credentials to cover the draft in New York (and yes, I'm jealous as hell). Describe the experience.
BGN: It was great and grueling all in one. What I never got watching it on TV was how much energy there is in the room. The media is buzzing, the ESPN and NFLN guys are set up right in the middle of everything, the fans are electric... IT's a great time, especially that first day. The second day has considerably less energy and really can drag on for the last few rounds...
I gotta give credit to Jets fan though. They own that place on draft day. The Eagles, Giants, and to a less extent Patriots are all well represented but none of them trump the Jet fans. When the Jets made the move for Sanchez, that place absolutely exploded. Really gave me chills.
'Kudos' to Jason for some thoughtful -- and I'm sure argument-provoking answers. I will be answering some questions for BGN, so be sure to head over there and have a look. And, remember, play nice. Represent BBV with some class. I will try to hook up with Hogs Haven and Blogging the Boys for similar Q&As soon.
-- E-mail Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org