Philly Wrap-Up by Jeff Lyons
Like a lot of other Eagles fans, my first response to the selection of quarterback Kevin Kolb in the April draft was a resounding "HUH?"
Surely the Eagles had more pressing needs than a quarterback. Their linebacker corps was ineffective and they needed more support for running back Brian Westbrook. But as the minicamps have unfolded, I'm starting to like the pick.
Let's face it - Donovan McNabb isn't going to play forever. He's suffered some serious injuries and he's lost sizeable amounts of playing time in his eight-year career. He's still rehabbing a knee injury but should be healthy enough to start the season opener in September. It never hurts to look to the future.
And I like what I've seen and heard from Kolb. He seems to understand his role. In interviews, he comes across as intelligent and soft-spoken. He's not making demands to become the starter right away. He's here to learn the offense and eventually get some playing time. Barring some devastating injuries this season to McNabb and backup A.J. Feeley, the most action Kolb will see is carrying a clipboard along the sidelines.
Kolb became the first true freshman in University of Houston history to start a season opener at quarterback for the Cougars. Once he was named the team's starter, he never relinquished the job. According to nfl.com, Kolb set a school record by starting all 50 games he played in. He holds virtually every passing and total offense record at the school and in Conference USA. He connected on 964 of 1,565 passes (61.6 percent) for 12,964 yards, 85 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He gained 751 yards with 21 scores on 472 carries (1.6 avg.) and posted four solo tackles with a pass deflection. In 2,037 plays, he accounted for 13,715 yards in total offense and was responsible for 106 touchdowns.
Kolb has the size (6-3, 220 pounds) and the agility to become a solid NFL quarterback.
The other thing that's happened as a result of the Kolb selection is the "humanization" of Donovan McNabb. Lately, we've been seeing lots of McNabb on the news, at fund-raisers and news conferences and the like. He's smiling. He's jovial. He's accessible. He's not as guarded as in the past. Is it a coincidence that McNabb has shown he's not some robot running the Eagles' offense now that Kolb is in the fold? It's an interesting development.
Speaking of draft picks, the Sixers have three picks in the first round of the NBA Draft on June 28. They have the 12th, 21st and 30th selections. It's a deep draft and I'd love to see Sixers GM Billy King trade up to get a better pick. Does he have the ability to package all three first-round picks and a player and trade for one of the top three picks? Can he move up by dealing the 12th and 21st picks? This is one of the most important drafts in team history. They need help up front and the top end of the draft is filled with big men who can make an immediate impact. But guys like Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Brandan Wright will be long gone by the time the Sixers choose. King needs to get creative and make something big happen.
The Sixers got so much better as a team after the trade of Alan Iverson. Selecting the right big man could put the Sixers back in the playoffs.
And one more thing. The Phillies deserve some huge props for sweeping the Mets in New York. The much-maligned Pat Burrell and injury-riddled bullpen came through in a big way against the Mets. Let's just hope this sweep is the start of something big as the Phils resume inter-league play this weekend against the lowly Kansas City Royals.
Jeff Lyons, a fanatical Philadelphia sports fan, is senior managing editor of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter and Bar Reporter Online.