I expect the Eagles to draft a CB, as early as the 1st round or possibly in the middle rounds. They have a pair of starters in place for 2014, but there is a need to upgrade the position for the long haul. So let’s talk about what the Eagles are looking for.
Bill Davis and Chip Kelly haven’t offered exact information, but they have talked about wanting big corners. Davis also wants physical corners. The goal in his defense is for the corner to play tight and affect the receiver. Don’t give him a clean release. You can do this by jamming the receiver or by playing press coverage and simply not giving him room to work with. Bump ‘n run and press coverage are not the same thing. Press doesn’t mean there has to be contact. The CB can simply line up on top of the receiver and then mirror his steps at the release. Some players/coaches are hesitant with jamming receivers for fear of missing and getting burned. By pressing, the receiver is affected in a less risky way.
I’m not going to talk about every top CB prospect. I’m going to focus on a few guys from different areas of the draft.
We know DBs coach John Lovett was at the Pro Day for Darqueze Dennard. The Eagles have to be interested in the Michigan State star. He is a top shelf cover corner, even though he lacks the ideal size/speed ratio. Dennard is 5-11, 199, but only ran 4.51. That’s not fast for a guy who isn’t huge. Another concern for the Eagles is that his arms are only 30 1/4. They would prefer 32 or 33 inches.
Watch Dennard’s game tape and you’ll see why he’s so highly thought of.
He has outstanding man cover skills. Dennard can be physical with receivers. He can play the ball. He has good instincts. Plus, he’s ultra-competitive. He wants to make every play. Dennard is a solid hitter and tackler. He will play the run. I could see the Eagles considering him at 22.
The 2nd round player I like is Bashaud Breeland from Clemson. He ran 4.62 at the Combine and re-timed 4.57 at his Pro Day. That hurts his value since he’s only 5-11, 197. He does have 31 3/4 arms. Breeland is quick, agile and has very good feet. He has outstanding ball skills. That’s something the Eagles value. They like a CB who can knock the ball away in the air. They teach very specific techniques for this. Breeland does it naturally, but could get even better with good coaching.
Breeland plays right, left and in the slot. That’s the kind of versatility the Eagles value. He will hit and tackle. He was booted from the FSU game for hitting Jameis Winston in the head. You don’t like that, but at least there is no hesitation before contact. If Breeland was a hair faster, he could be a 1st round player. His lack of long speed is an issue on deep routes. Breeland excels when allowed to press and be physical with receivers.
The more I watch Stanley Jean-Baptiste, the more he’s grown on me. I still have concerns with him athletically, but he’s good at what he does…being physical with receivers. SJB wants to bump, grab, push and anything else he can do to keep players from getting a clean release.
There was a discussion about SJB not being aggressive enough as a hitter and tackler. I watched several of his games over the weekend. In 3 of them, he took on a pulling O-lineman. That’s not something a wuss does. SJB does hesitate before getting into some piles. I don’t know if there is a previous injury from this or what, but he will hit and tackle in open space.
The Eagles were at his Pro Day. They have to love a guy that is 6-3, 218 with 32 3/8 arms. That’s a huge CB that can affect plays just by being in an area. He did only run 4.61 at the Combine, but that’s more acceptable for a guy that is 218 pounds.
I wouldn’t want SJB until the 3rd round. The Eagles might feel different and taking him in the late 2nd wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. He’s just not my ideal guy, but if Davis wants huge corners and thinks SJB is a great fit, that makes sense.
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I’m still trying to figure out some other corners. Putting a value on small school guys like Pierre Desir and Walt Aikens is tough. Both are big and athletic. Phillip Gaines from Rice is a freak athlete that I need to study more. Dontae Johnson from NC State was mis-used in college so his tape isn’t ideal. They played him off most of the time, despite the fact he’s an ideal press corner.
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The Eagles offseason program kicks off today. The one bit of news is this.
Eagles All Pro LG Evan Mathis is expected to be a no-show when team kicks off voluntary offseason workout program this week.
— Paul Domowitch (@pdomo) April 21, 2014
I thought this situation had gone away, but apparently not. We’ll see if anything comes of it. I sure hope not. Mathis is one of my favorite Eagles and he’s a darn good player.