Everybody has fantasized about creating their own NFL team from scratch, and then keeping that team for the next decade.
The following 10 players are those who I would select if I were starting a team of players from the Philadelphia Eagles.
This is a keeper team, so soon to be 31-year old quarterback Michael Vick is not going to be one of the my top picks, even though he is one of the biggest playmakers in the league. The same applies to 30-year old strong safety Quintin Mikell. Even a guy like Trent Cole, who will be 29 this October, is a bit of stretch.
Talent is vital, but age is just as important, if not more important. You get the picture.
The ten players are as follows:
10. Winston Justice, Offensive Tackle, 26.
Justice has been a starter for two seasons. He has had his share of ups and downs, and he will need to prove himself this year after being benched against the Packers in the postseason. But with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd, Justice has the makings of an above average offensive tackle for seven to eight seasons.
9. Jaiquawn Jarrett, Safety, 21.
This pick is a bit of a gamble, but what’s not to like what a 21-year old safety who hits like Brian Dawkins. Jarrett may have been a bit of a stretch as a second round pick but there’s every reason to believe that he will be a productive starter for years to come. Brian Dawkins? Probably not. An above average safety? Very likely.
8. Brandon Graham, Defensive End, 23.
Graham will be recovering from a torn ACL for a portion of 2011. The injury shouldn’t derail his career though. Selected with the team’s first round pick in 2010, Graham is expected to be a force alongside Trent Cole for years and years.
7. Jamar Chaney, Linebacker, 24.
Chaney has all the potential in the world. In two starts late last season, he collected 28 tackles and was considered to be so valuable that the team rested him in the season finale for the postseason. He doesn’t officially have a starting spot this year but many speculate that he will beat out Stewart Bradley for the starting job at middle linebacker (forcing Bradley to move to the outside).
6. Nate Allen, Free Safety, 23.
Allen had a pretty productive rookie season but a knee injury prevented him from playing the final few games. He will need to show that he has no lingering effects of his torn patellar tendon. I think he’ll turn in a pretty productive career. He’s not going to come close to replacing Brian Dawkins but Allen does have the potential to earn a Pro Bowl selection or two.
5. Danny Watkins, Offensive Guard, 26.
Ignore his age. Watkins has never played in the NFL so he has no wear and tear. He is in his physical peak and projects to be an above average starting offensive lineman even as a rookie. There’s no reason at all to believe that Danny Watkins won’t be starting with the Eagles until 2017 or 2018, possibly longer.
4. Jason Peters, Offensive Tackle, 28.
Peters is 28 but he’s really not that old for an offensive lineman. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler who is at his physical peak right now as one of the best offensive tackles in the game. He’s only going to improve working with Howard Mudd. Peters has a chance to start, and dominate, for five to eight more seasons.
3. DeSean Jackson, Wide Receiver, 24.
Jackson is one of the best playmakers in the history of the National Football League. His ability to score literally every time he touches the ball is completely unprecedented. I just worry about Jackson’s durability. He’s such a light guy that I feel staying healthy will be somewhat of a concern.
2. Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, 23.
Although it’s close, I would take Maclin over Jackson if I were starting a team for a few small reasons. He’s a year younger. He’s never been injured. He doesn’t play special teams so he takes fewer hits. And he is a more complete, physical wide receiver.
1. LeSean McCoy, Running Back, 22.
It wasn’t an obvious choice, but McCoy is probably the one Eagles player who I would pick if I were starting a keeper team. Why? First of all, he’s extremely young. He is younger now than many players who were drafted this year. He’s played two seasons but he isn’t a 300-carry a season back so he shouldn’t wear down like a Larry Johnson. He’s a virtual clone of Brian Westbrook with the potential to be even better. And running back is one of the most important positions in the National Football League. McCoy has the chance to be the face of the Eagles’ franchise for the next six to eight seasons.