Philly Sports Live

Why Darren Sproles Was a Steal

Say these names to yourself:
Earl Wolff, Dennis Kelly, Dion Lewis, Julian Vandervelde, Ricky Sapp, Riley Cooper, Cornelius Ingram, Macho Harris, Fenuki Tupou.

These are the Eagles’ fifth round draft picks since 2009. Of the above, only Riley Cooper has made a legitimate impact, while the jury is out on Earl Wolff. The others? Most likely forgotten amongst most Eagles fans, as most are no longer on the roster. Or any roster, for that matter.

Harris and Tupou are fending their trade in the CFL and AFL. Cornelius Ingram is out of football entirely. Ricky Sapp is a fringe player who has been cut and resigned multiple times, with three career tackles. Last season, Dion Lewis was traded to the Cleveland Browns and didn’t have a single rush on the season. Vandervelde and Kelly are depth offensive linemen for the Eagles.

To put it mildly, fifth round picks don’t often amount to much in the NFL. Before last season, Riley Cooper had a career 46 catches. He had 47 last year alone, with more yards in last season (835) than he had throughout his first three years in the league (679).

While most of the reaction to the Darren Sproles trade has been positive, there are a few critics. A lot of the complaints stem from two things:
a) he’s not a safety/cornerback, and
b) he’s 31 years old. I’ll address both of those.

While running back wasn’t necessarily a position of need, the Eagles added another weapon on offense and special teams through this move. Sproles will likely be utilized by Chip Kelly as a return man, slot receiver, and third-down back. He’ll be in packages with McCoy, and he’ll be on the field on his own, likely lowering McCoy’s NFL-leading snaps per game total (54 per game, in case you were curious.)

This was a simple move: a player who will improve the roster was available at low cost, and the Eagles made a move to improve the roster. Using one of our two 5th round picks, we acquired a player who may be a focal point in Chip Kelly’s offense next year. Making this move now may steer the Eagles away from looking at an offensive player in the draft, since we filled that gap already.

As for the age issue – Sproles is a young 31. With a career 437 rush attempts, he has avoided many big hits and cracks by the heavy defensive linemen. Most of his action comes in the passing game, where he’s on the edge facing up against corners and safeties (and the out of bounds line). Even combining his 437 rushes and 378 receptions, Sproles has under 1,000 offensive touches. Compare that with 6-year pro Knowshon Moreno, who has racked up 845 rushes alone. Even oft-injured Darren McFadden has 883 rushes. Age doesn’t always equate to wear and tear.

In a timeshare with McCoy, Sproles will be an additional weapon who can contribute rushing, receiving, and return yardage. In exchange for a fifth round pick… why complain? This was a steal for Philadelphia.