Eagles sign third-round pick Gocong to four-year deal
Continuing their momentum at the bargaining table, the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday signed third-round draft choice Chris Gocong of Cal-Poly, a dominating sackman at the Division I-AA level who will be expected to contribute immediately to a revamped pass rush.
Philadelphia has now signed five of its eight choices from the 2006 draft, three of them this week. The lone unsigned members of the Eagles' 2006 draft class are defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (No. 1), offensive tackle Winston Justice (No. 2) and wide receiver Jason Avant (No. 4).
The Eagles' rookies are scheduled to be in training camp at Lehigh University on July 20, the earliest reporting date in the NFL, because Philadelphia is playing in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 6.
The four-year contract signed by Gocong is worth $2.38 million and includes a signing bonus of about $774,000, with minimum base salaries for all four years. Gocong can trigger "escalator" clauses that would increase his base salary for 2009 based on playing time, performance and Pro Bowl honors.
Although it isn't certain yet where Gocong will play on the Philadelphia defense, there seems little doubt that coordinator Jim Johnson will want him on the field in most nickel situations to bolster a pass rush that slipped noticeably in 2005. The Eagles generated only 29 sacks last season, the sixth-lowest in the league and a total that is out of character for a Johnson-designed defense.
The additions of veteran defensive end Darren Howard via free agency and Gocong in the draft and the likelihood that end Jevon Kearse will play multiple positions in pass-rush situations this season should help to address the deficiency.
In his four college seasons, Gocong produced 42 sacks, the most ever at the Division I-AA level since the NCAA began recognizing sacks as an official statistic in 2000. Gocong led the nation's I-AA programs in sacks in both 2004, with 17½, and again last season, when he posted 23½. He authored a stretch of 17 straight games with at least one sack each. His 61 tackles for losses are the fourth most in I-AA history.
Gocong, 22, also had 212 tackles, one interception, six forced fumbles and four recoveries in 45 games. He was the recipient of the Buck Buchanan Award, presented to the outstanding Division I-AA player, for his senior season.
A nose tackle at the outset of his college career, Gocong blossomed when he moved to end in 2003. The Eagles had discussed moving him to strongside linebacker but may hold off on that switch to provide him time to adjust to the NFL. At 6-feet-3 and 263 pounds, Gocong might not be quite big enough to withstand the rigors of playing end in the NFL, and the Eagles may want more time to judge him athletically before deciding whether to move him to linebacker.
At the combine workouts, Gocong was clocked at 4.7 seconds in the 40 and posted a 38½-inch effort in the vertical jump.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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