Jerry Rhome knows the knock on Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb: He played in a shotgun-spread offense system, never had to drop back, and was in that system all through high school and college, raising the possibility that it created his success.

"That is bogus," Rhome said after the Eagles surprised their fans by using their first selection in the 2007 draft on Kolb, thereby putting Donovan McNabb on the clock, even if it is unclear when the clock is set to alarm. "He can handle [dropping back]. He's 6-3 and he can run. He's a great competitor. I think it's a great pick . . . He has the ability to move around the pocket, he has a strong arm, and he's very accurate. This guy's one of the sharpest quarterbacks I've ever been around."

Will Kolb be an NFL starting QB someday?

"Without a doubt," said Rhome, the 1964 Heisman Trophy runner-up at Tulsa who later quarterbacked in the NFL before his more successful career as a QB coach for 10 NFL teams. Rhome is retired from coaching but hires on to prepare quarterbacks for the draft. This year he tutored Kolb and Ohio State's Troy Smith (who went to Baltimore with the last pick of the fifth round, 174th overall), a year after Rhome addressed many of the same "drop-back" issues with Vince Young, before Young was drafted by Tennessee.

Rhome said he tutored Kolb in the system he used, then Kolb learned a variation of that system playing for Norv Turner at the Senior Bowl. He said Kolb had no trouble adjusting. Rhome also said it was no mystery to him why the Eagles picked Kolb so high.

"This is a great kid, a lot of teams were very interested in him," Rhome said. "I think it was going to happen pretty quickly, and I think they knew that. They jumped in there and grabbed him . . . I just think this guy is very underrated, as far as his ability and the things he's done in college."

Kolb said he didn't think the Cougars' offensive philosophies were much different from what he understands of the Eagles', even if the formations were different. He noted that Young faced many of the same transition challenges and had a very strong rookie year.

"It was nice to see somebody that went shotgun all the time . . . a lot of people were saying the same things to him they were saying to me, and then to see him succeed under Jerry Rhome's wing - it was nice," Kolb said.

"I'm a student of the game," Kolb said. "If I don't know it, I'm going to sit there until I do. I think that's what [Rhome] admired the most about me, when I didn't learn something quick, I stayed in there and I grinded until I got it."

Birdseed

This was the first time since 1992 the Eagles ended up without a first-round pick . . . Fifth-round conerback/safety

C.J. Gaddis

, who will start out as a safety with the Eagles, told reporters that when he first starting playing football, as a high school sophomore, "I used to be scared of getting hit. Now I love dishin' licks" . . . Sixth-round corner

Rashad Barksdale

, from Albany, played baseball until this past season, when he walked on as a football player, having last played in high school. Why'd he get drafted? "At my school on a rubber track, I ran a 4.38 and a 4.40. The next day, I worked out at Syracuse's Pro Day and I believe I ran a 4.43," he said . . . Today, the Eagles are expected to announce the names of several undrafted free agents they have signed. *