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News » Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-02-21


Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-02-21


Philadelphia Eagles Inside Slant 2009-02-21
With the Eagles not expected to re-sign L.J. Smith, they will be looking for a tight end fairly early in the April draft.


The Eagles put the franchise tag on Smith last February, but he had poor season, catching just 37 passes. He averaged a career-low 8.1 yards per reception and had just three TD catches.

He was benched late in the season and replaced by second-year man Brent Celek. Celek, a fifth-round pick out of Cincinnati in the '07 draft, caught 19 passes in the Eagles' three playoff games, including 10 in their 32-25 NFC Championship Game loss to Arizona.

But Celek, like Smith, isn't a very good blocker, or at least wasn't last season. So, the Eagles will be looking for a more complete tight end in the draft that can compliment him in two-tight end packages.

The trouble is, with so many college teams using the spread offense, it's hard to find complete tight ends.

"It's really tough to find guys who can block and catch," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said. "There are a bunch of guys that we like that are really good receiving tight ends. But I'm looking at our (draft) board, and there are four (tight ends) that probably will go in the first four rounds that don't even line up on the line of scrimmage at all.

"To find a guy who can do both things, it's almost impossible. They don't have 'em anymore. You look at the athletic ability and the receiving ability and you just hope they'll give you something as a blocker."

Smith had a tight end body and wide receiver speed. The Eagles often flexed him wide to try to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties. But he had inconsistent hands, was too often hurt and couldn't block a lick.

Celek isn't as fast as Smith. He's more along the lines of former Eagles tight end Chad Lewis - a short and intermediate route-runner with the strength to break tackles and gain yards after the catch. But he too has blocking shortcomings that hurt the Eagles' ground game last season.

"I think he can get better (as a blocker)," Heckert said. "I think he blocked a little bit better last year (2007) than he did this year. But he had some minor injuries. He knows the situation. He knows he has to become a pretty good blocker. And I think he will."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 21, 2009

Scott Young Name: Scott Young
#71
Position: OG
Age: 27
Experience: 4 years
College: Brigham Young
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