Let’s jump right in and talk about some interesting topics.
Peter King mentioned in an article that the Eagles met with Johnny Manziel. Say what? We’re going for Johnny Football? Uh, no. The Eagles have met with all the top underclassmen for years. This began under Reid/Heckert and continues today. Why? Scouts start doing research on prospects in May. They gather all kinds of info and build detailed reports. Underclassmen declare in late December or early January. The team may have done some preliminary work, but doesn’t have as good a feel for those guys. One way to catch up quickly is to make sure you meet with them at the Combine.
Here is the specific comment from King.
[Manziel and his agent, Erik Burkhardt, declined to discuss how many teams he met with this weekend or which they were, and the executive of the team I just referred to didn’t want to identify his team because it has an established quarterback and didn’t want to drum up controversy in that market. But it’s known from reports in various places that Manziel met with Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia coaches and team officials, and very likely Oakland, this weekend before flying back to Texas late Sunday afternoon.]
This isn’t a big deal. The Eagles are just doing their due diligence.
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The WRs worked out on Sunday and they put on quite a show. That’s bad news for Jason Avant and doesn’t really help Riley Cooper either.
I’ve had my doubts about the return of Avant. He is still a good possession receiver and blocker, but that’s about it. He’s got almost no RAC ability. People think of him as a good STer, but that’s more from the past. Per the Eagles official stats, Avant didn’t have any STs tackles this year. Great leader, but a limited player in this offense.
We don’t know what Chip Kelly wants in a slot receiver, but he’ll have his choice of players. Does he go for a small, quick guy? Does he prefer someone with speed? Does he want a big guy? The WR class is deep and talented enough that Kelly should be able to find what he’s looking for.
As for Cooper, the amount of good prospects hurts his value to the Eagles and other teams. Would someone in need of a solid starter rather sign Cooper or draft a player like Allen Robinson in the 2nd round? You could go for Martavis Bryant or Jordan Matthews after that. Or maybe you prefer smaller, faster guys. Brandin Cooks is an explosive 2nd round prospect. Or you could go for someone like Bruce Ellington with big upside in a later round.
Cooper is a proven commodity…sort of. He had one breakout season and even that has to be put into context. Cooper played opposite of one of the fastest players in the whole league. His RB led the league in rushing and so did his team. There were a pair of good pass-catching TEs. You can argue that Cooper will get even better with a full season as a starter. Or you can say that he needs the right circumstances to be successful. That all depends on your vantage point.
If the price is right, I’m still in favor of keeping both Maclin and Cooper, but there is something to be said for keeping just one and then adding a receiver in the draft. That guy could come in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th round and still be an effective player as a rookie.
In terms of big receivers, I still think Robinson from PSU would be a great fit. He is 6-3, 220, almost Cooper’s identical size. We know Kelly likes big receivers. Robinson has better RAC skills and could be a good starting receiver. Robinson ran a 4.60, but I expected that. He isn’t a burner on tape. Robinson is a workhorse receiver. He caught 97 passes this year. To put that in perspective, Cooper caught 81 passes in his entire career. I think Robinson is the kind of guy who you could feed the ball to.
That said, some of the speedy guys were a ton of fun to watch. Ellington and Cooks aren’t 6-2, 220 guys, but they are both very dangerous with the ball in their hands. Cooks could sneak into the 1st round, but more likely is a 2nd round pick. He ran 4.33 in the 40, which shows great straight-line speed. He ran 3.81 in the short shuttle, which shows quickness and agility. Can you imagine him in the slot or across the formation from DeSean Jackson? Ellington is incredibly fascinating because he used to be the starting point guard for the South Carolina basketball team. He ran 4.45, which gives him above average speed. Both guys looked terrific in drills. You could see them as gifted athletes with great body control. These guys could be very dangerous in space.
The Eagles could add a pair of receivers, one for the slot and someone else to play outside. The team could cut Avant and then lose Cooper in free agency. Getting Maclin back would make up for one guy, but he would only sign a short-term deal. Add some other player to battle with Arrelious Benn for a roster spot.
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— Brandon Graham is a player to keep your eye on this offseason.
The people we talked to believe he is a 4-3 defensive end, pure and simple. Not a scheme fit.Howie Roseman knows the value of pass rushers in this league so I don’t think he will be in a hurry to trade Graham necessarily, but I do think he will entertain any offers that come through.
Graham would benefit from a fresh start and could be attractive to 4-3 teams looking to bolster their pass rush. The Eagles need to build this defense with pieces that fit. Not a lock, but I think there is a decent chance he gets dealt.
I mentioned the other day that I think the Eagles should trade Graham. I don’t see him fitting in the 3-4. Deal him and use some resources (draft pick, money) to build up depth at OLB.