BENNIE LOGAN might have been the most surprising Eagles' draft pick in April. (It was surprising that they got quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round, not all that surprising that they drafted him.)
Logan is a defensive lineman from LSU. After the Eagles went offensive line (Lane Johnson) in the first round, and tight end (Zach Ertz) in the second, most observers would have laid odds on a safety or a corner in the third. You saw the Birds' secondary last year; maybe there didn't seem to be a defensive back in the draft worthy of being taken fourth overall, where the Eagles took Johnson, but nobody would have been shocked if they'd gone for secondary help in the second, third and fourth rounds.
The Eagles had drafted defensive linemen with their first pick 3 of the previous 5 years, drafted one in the first two rounds 6 of the previous 8 years. They needed another? Well, yeah.
That Logan was out there sweating on the fields of NovaCare yesterday with the other Eagles rookies has something to do with new coach Chip Kelly, and a change in what the team is looking for on the d-line.
Logan, 6-2, 309, said yesterday he can play anywhere along that line, which apparently will present a 3-4 front quite a bit but also align itself as a 4-3. General manager Howie Roseman talked this week about fits, about how some guys who fit what the Eagles did previously don't fit as well now. That's why Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins are attending training camp with the Giants, and why Logan, more of a run-stuffer than a sack artist (five for his college career) is here.
"I was surprised," Logan said. "The only time I had talked to the Eagles was at the combine. A lot of teams were trying to push up to the second round [to draft him]. The Browns were trying to get me in the second round, but unfortunately, they didn't have a pick. When the Eagles finally called me, it was great to get that phone call from them."
The Browns, run by former Eagles president Joe Banner, sat one slot behind the Eagles in the third round. They took San Diego State corner Leon McFadden 68th overall, after the Birds nabbed Logan 67th.
Logan has long arms and is said to be good at batting passes, something that the past few years has happened more to the Eagles than been done by them.
"When you're rushing the passer, you're not always going to get to the quarterback. We were always taught, when you see the quarterback at the point of releasing the ball, try to get your hand in the passing lane, bat the ball down," said Logan, who was overshadowed at LSU by talents such as Barkevious Mingo (drafted sixth overall this year by the Browns) and Michael Brockers (14th overall by the Rams in 2012). But Logan wore No. 18 his final year at LSU, an honor given to a player who shows leadership and character.
Logan obviously wasn't here last year, doesn't know much about the line's struggles. People who doubt a quick turnaround under Kelly often point to this group, where 2012 first-round pick Fletcher Cox might be the only surefire, above-average starter. Brandon Graham, the 2010 first-rounder who played so well down the stretch when he finally got a chance, is an outside linebacker now, at least in the base alignment. Ditto Trent Cole and his 71 career sacks.
"We've got a mixture of veterans [and young players]. You've got a mix of speed, size, power . . . whatever coach calls, he has the personnel to fit the scheme," Logan said.
That's what Kelly and new defensive coordinator Bill Davis want to be true, but it's going to take a lot of proving. After Cox, who are the starters up front? Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga was a starter who didn't play a normal starter's share of snaps last season for the 49ers. Cedric Thornton is a project who has never started a game, in 2 years as an Eagle, though at 6-4, 309, he has the heft the new regime prizes. There's Logan, Antonio Dixon, Clifton Geathers, seventh-round rookie Joe Kruger, seventh-round rookie David King, 2012 second-rounder Vinny Curry, and several guys you never heard of.
"I would characterize this defense as mobile. Mobile and exciting to watch," said Logan.
The Eagles were awarded running back William Powell on waivers from the Cards, releasing rookie wideout Nick Miller to make room. General manager Howie Roseman didn't tie the acquisition of Powell directly to rookie RB Matt Tucker's inability to pass a conditioning test (he tries again today), but feel free to make your own inference.
Roseman said Powell, 5-9, 207, had an excellent 2012 preseason. He played at Kansas State, signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent in 2011, and ended up gaining 217 yards on 60 carries last season, along with catching 19 passes for 132 yards. Roseman said Powell can also return kicks.
Fifth-round rookie safety Earl Wolff notched a 39 1/2-inch vertical leap at the combine, but Wolff said yesterday he has done better, as when he jumped over his sister's Nissan Altima. "I took two steps and jumped. First over the hood, then I tried it over the back. But I needed more than two steps to do that," Wolff said . . . Veterans report today, with the first full practice scheduled for tomorrow.
DN Members Only: Paul Domowitch sits down for a long Q&A with Donovan McNabb.