With the influx of yet another large class of incoming rookies from the NFL draft, current Eagles have to be worried. Each year more veterans lose their jobs as the team turns to younger and cheaper replacements. Here are the five veterans hurt most by the 2011 class of rookies:
David Akers - Might as well start with the obvious. Akers's time with the Eagles is at an end. Truthfully, we all should have seen the writing on the wall. Akers's kickoffs were only average, and his field goal kicking has actually declined relative to the rest of the league. His refusal to sign the transition tag was the final straw, and the Eagles will have to hope that rookie Alex Henery can give them better results.
Quintin Mikell - About a month ago I made the case for re-signing Quintin Mikell. I still think it would be beneficial for the Eagles to do so, but the draft only made it more clear how remote that possibility is. Even after the promising play of two rookies in 2010 (Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman), the front office added another young safety to the mix -- second round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett. Presumably, the plan is to let those players compete for the starting job in 2011 and beyond, with no more room for aging veterans.
Jamaal Jackson - What was the biggest lesson from the 2011 draft? That new offensive line coach Howard Mudd is ready to blow up the interior of the Eagles O-line and institute a whole new philosophy. Under his guidance the team drafted three interior linemen -- guards Danny Watkins and Julian Vandervelde and center Jason Kelce. All three are smaller than the massive converted tackles the Eagles consistently brought in under Juan Castillo. This new focus on agility rather than bulk makes Jackson (as well as Max Jean-Gilles) the odd man out. In returning from two season-ending injuries and soon-to-be 31 years old, Jackson was already facing an uphill battle. Having to fend off challenges from Kelce, McGlynn, and A.Q. Shipley while learning Mudd's new technique may be too much for Jackson to overcome.
Leonard Weaver - Many experts already questioned whether Weaver would be able to return from the severe ACL tear he suffered in game one of the 2010 season. Now that the Eagles have drafted another fullback, USC's Stanley Havili, to compete with last year's replacement Owen Schmitt, it seems obvious that they don't expect Weaver to come back. Factor in that Weaver is owed $2.6 million next year -- five times as much as Schmitt -- and you see the problem.
Stewart Bradley - An emerging star in 2008, Bradley was next in line for a big contract extension before he blew out his knee in the 2009 Eagles Flight Night practice. He hasn't showed that same talent since and missed the final three games of last season due to injury. I think the Eagles want Bradley back in 2011, but there's a lot of younger competition now. Moise Fokou, Jamar Chaney, Keenan Clayton from the last two drafts. Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle and Greg Lloyd this year. That's an entire linebacker corps in three drafts. Even if the team resigns Bradley for 2011, are they willing to commit to him long term at the expense of the growth of other players? I'm starting to think not.