Eagles Sign Two More Rookies
By Lance Epstein
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced that they have come to terms on four-year deals with rookie quarterback Mike Kafka and rookie tight end Clayton Harbor.
With these two players in the fold, the Eagles have only four unsigned draft picks and three of those four were the club's top picks -- DE Brandon Graham (first), FS Nate Allen (second), DE Daniel T'eo-Nesheim (third) and WR Riley Cooper (fifth). However, there is plenty of time for the Eagles to get those players signed in time for the start of training camp at Leigh University. Rookies are not scheduled to report to training camp until July 26.
The Eagles entered the 2010 NFL Draft looking for a long-term backup quarterback to new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb. Even though Michael Vick was and is still on the roster, his tenure in Philadelphia is coming to end once his contract runs out at the end of the 2010 season.
In the fourth round (122nd overall), the Eagles selected Northwestern's Kafka. Kafka earned second-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior. In his senior campaign, he led the Big Ten Conference and Wildcats with a 64.8 completion percentage, 2.44 touchdown-to-interception ratio, 3,430 passing yards and 3,729 in total offense.
While Kafka was not a four-year starter in college, he still managed to finished third in the school's record book with 887 rushing yards (rushing yards for only for the quarterback position). More importantly for the Eagles, they do not need Kafka to step in immediately. He has the luxury of sitting behind two young and talented quarterbacks in Vick and Kolb. He can learn by watching from the sidelines and absorb their knowledge.
Eventually, Kafka could become a great backup quarterback to have waiting in the wings. If Kolb if happens to get hurt or is struggling then Kafka has the tools necessary to be successful. He does not possess the greatest arm strength, but he excels in accuracy, which is perfect for the Eagles west coast offense.
Additionally, his ability to run with the football could possibly earn him some playing time in the 'Wildcat offense' this year. Since Vick is the main backup and the Eagles cannot afford for him to go down with an injury, which is more likely when he takes off an runs in the gadget offense. Also, Vick will not be around in 2011, so Kafka could take over the QB role in the Wildcat.
As for Harbor, the 6-foot-3, 252-pound tight end comes from a small, non-BCS school in Missouri State, but does not lack confidence. With the Bears, Harbor earned the honor of being a three-time All-American. Furthermore, he set a school record with 150 career receptions, which went for 1,906 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Harbor might enter camp as a mere fourth-round pick, but he has a chance to make this team and contribute from day one. Of course, Brent Celek is the incumbent starter and is a lock to be the team's no. 1 tight, but the second tight end position is a wide open race. One would think, Cornelius Ingram (last year's fifth round pick) would be in the driver's seat for that spot. However, no one is sure if his knee will hold up after his second ACL surgery in the last 2 years or if he will ever have the game breaking speed he once possessed.
Moreover, Harbor gives the Eagles a luxury that none other tight end on the roster gives them, he can play multiple positions. The Eagles can use him at tight end, but he could also line up as an H-back in the backfield as well. Besides H-back and tight end positions, Harbor is willing and able to make his mark on special teams, which is a good way to solidify a spot on the roster for any rookie.
Nevertheless, he still has to prove himself and beat out Ingram and Martin Rucker if he expects to be in uniform on Sunday.