Sapp Steal of the Draft?
By Lance Epstein
In the fourth round many of the players that the Eagles selected the fans criticism, knew nothing about or did not even know their names. In fact, most fans were questioning whether Andy Reid and Howie Roseman had lost their minds.
But then the fifth-round with the No. 134 pick (third pick in the round) came and they have struck gold again like they did in Trent Cole, Correll Buckhalter, Jason Avant and Omar Gaither. The Eagles selected Clemson star defensive end Ricky Sapp.
He is considered to be undersized due to his weight, but has the rare combination of athleticism, speed, agility for a DE/OLB, which provides him with enormous upside. His competitiveness and quick initial burst off the line of scrimmage allows him to get to the quarterback in a hurry.
Sapp (6-4, 252) was very productive at Clemson, where he he was a three year starter. In his three seasons as a starter, he recorded 121 tackles, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles. This past season after recovering from a torn ACL in his final game of his junior season, Sapp made first team All-ACC due to registering five sacks and 13.5 tackles for losses.
In college, he lined up as a defensive end, but his versatility allowed him to drop back into coverage to guard tight ends and even running backs out of the backfield. One of his best attributes is that he plays the game with great instincts especially in coverage.
Ultimately, Sapp is a great value pick in the fifth-round. He was projected to go as high as the late first round by many draft gurus, but was definitely penciled in with at least a second round ground. The reason he fell was due to his durability concerns. Still, many scouts have said he was the second best pass rushing outside linebacker behind Jerry Hughes of TCU.
So the question becomes whether he will be used at SAM linebacker or at defensive end for the Eagles? Since Moise Fokou and Andy Hall are unproven players at the SAM position, he could step in and possibly overtake both as a rookie.
On the other hand, he could play defensive end because of his agility and burst off the line of scrimmage. Moreover, he has the athleticism and speed to be a disruptive force in the backfield. While most experts say he is undersize, he actually has really has good height for the position. If manages to puts on some bulk and muscle to his 6-foot-4 frame, he could be a dynamite player.
This is a typical Eagles late-round pick that could turn out to be a diamond in the rough and a quality starter. This pick has Trent Cole written all over it.
update: The Eagles traded the 146th pick in the draft to the San Diego Chargers for the 159th and a 2011 fifth-round pick next year. Eagles have 10 selections in 2011 already.