Brown has been a long time fixture in the Eagles secondary and has always been one of the more popular veterans. He doesn't say much, but when he does speak he's very honest and generally a guy the fans really like. Plus, he's one of the few older vets we actually have left... Eagles fans are upset to see him go because he's been such a fan favorite for so long.
On the field Sheldon has his strengths and weaknesses. First and foremost he's a great tackler and can take down WRs and RBs with ease. He's had a lot of success playing in the slot for that very reason. When the opposition would go three wide, the Eagles would often move him inside to cover the slot WR and defend against the run. That would utilize his strength against the run and physicality on the inside and keep him away from some of the speedier outside WRs that he sometimes struggled with. He's not a fiery or outspoken leader, but he does things the right way and is a "lead by example" kind of guy. Even though he whined about his contract and asked for a trade, he really did it in the least disruptive way possible if that makes any sense. He's just a good guy. Also, he doesn't miss games. He plays hurt and doesn't complain about it. I'd argue that his playing hurt wasn't always a good thing as he was pretty bad at the end of last season due to a hamstring injury, but that really shouldn't be on him. The team should have sat him because Sheldon is never going to take himself out of the lineup.
He's never really collected a lot of picks, but he does knock down a lot of passes. Part of the reason he hasn't gotten tons of picks though is that he rarely gambles for INTs. He's a smart guy and always plays within his limitations.
There's a few weaknesses. He doesn't really have ideal size or speed. He'll struggle with bigger WRs. In fact, there was probably no happier guy in the world that Plaxico Burress shot him than Sheldon Brown as he was on the wrong end of a number of fade passes in the battle between those two... That said, Plaxico Burress out jumps most corners... He's also not the fastest guy and will get beat deep. I wouldn't call him slow necessarily, he just doesn't have great make up speed. The other obvious concern would be his age. At 31 you never know how much time he has left, but he was playing really well last year before he got hurt. I also wouldn't say he's necessarily "lost a step" because like I said he was never the fastest guy anyway. I see no reason why he can't play a solid level for another 2 years.
Onto Chris Gocong. He fell out of favor last year and was benched in favor of rookie Moises Fokou, so it was always unlikely he'd be back. Gocong is one of those guys that's at the age where it's hard to say whether he hasn't reached his potential or if he's just not that good. There's positives we've seen from him, but also some major weaknesses that never seem to have gotten any better. Last year really should have been the year he put it all together, but he just never did.
First, some background. He was a defensive end in college at Cal Poly and put up impressive sack stats albeit against inferior Div 1AA competition. The Eagles brought him in to play SAM LB. When the Eagles took him there was a lot of disagreement on what kind of prospect he was. A diamond in the rough or just a guy who excelled against bad competition? To this day, I'm not sure that the question has been fully answered... but the latter argument is looking pretty weak.
He's a solid run defender. He never really put up gaudy tackle stats, but he did a good job shooting gaps, blowing up the FB and paving the way for someone else to make a tackle. He did the things against the run that don't show up on the stat sheet. Overall, he's a pretty good in the box defender. If he does have a weakness against the run he can sometimes struggle shedding blocks to the outside and doesn't have great speed.
He's a truly awful coverage player. Part of that can certainly be attributed to the fact that he never covered anyone until he got to the pros, but the fact is that he's a complete liability when out in coverage. There really isn't much more to add to this, he's just bad at it,
I saw a scouting report somewhere that referred to Gocong as a "top notch' special teams player and I didn't understand where that came from. I don't remember him playing a whole lot of special teams. He did towards the end of last year when he had lost his starting job, but I didn't see anything special. Not bad by any means, but I never saw anything that could be described as "top notch."
The thing people have always wondered about Gocong is whether he'd have been a better DE or 3-4 OLB than a SAM LB. Pass rushing from the hand down DE position was his greatest strength in college after all... He's never really shown any knack for getting after the QB in the pros, but then again he wasn't consistently asked to do that. So it remains to be seen if that's something he could excel at if given the opportunity. I think a lot of people agree that the only chance Gocong turns into a productive NFL player is if he's in a 3-4 at OLB. It's good that he'll get a shot at it in Cleveland. He did play inside for a short time for the Eagles, but that really didn't work out well.
Overall I think it was a decent trade value wise for both sides. Gocong and Hall are a wash and the picks are probably the best the Eagles could have hoped for in return for Brown. If 25 year old Antonio Cromartie was only worth a 3rd rounder, then surely a 4th & a 5th is fair compensation for 31 year old Sheldon Brown. The fact that the Eagles don't have much to replace him makes me wonder whether the trade was "worth it" but that's not something any of you really care about... If the Browns draft a young corner this year SHeldon will do a good job solidifying the position for a year or two while the young kid learns. Honestly, I wish that's what happened here...
It was actually pretty fun writing about these guys and I think I covered everything that I could think... but if you guys have any questions about either let me know in the comments.