Connor Barwin is gone. The Eagles need to find some DE help to replace him and improve the pass rush. Rather than looking at free agents, the team is focusing on draft prospects.
Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com says the Eagles had DL coach Chris Wilson at the Kansas State Pro Day to check out DE Jordan Willis. He would seem to be an ideal Jim Schwartz DE. He’s got an excellent combination of size and athleticism. Willis is 6-4, 255 and he put on a show at the Combine. His game tape is also very impressive.
Jordan Willis is Top 50 player in this draft IMO.. Good first step and uses hands to win! Decent athlete and plays hard in both run/pass.. pic.twitter.com/3yPKJSwX5q
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 10, 2017
You can see he is used to getting down in that track stance and firing off the edge. He would be a natural fit in the Wide-9 front the Eagles like to use so much. The question is whether Willis is still on the board when the Eagles 2nd round pick comes up.
The Eagles are looking all over for DE help. Per Pauline, they sent assistant DL coach Phillip Daniels to Youngstown State to check on a couple of pass rushers.
Derek Rivers, who measured 6037/249 ponds and met with the Detroit Lions last night, re-ran the short shuttle and timed 4.39s, slightly better than his combine mark.
Kevin Green of the New York Jets ran most of Rivers’ drills and the defensive end/outside linebacker looked terrific not only rushing the passer but also dropping into space. He was smooth flipping his hips and effortlessly moved about the field. Much of this comes from the fact Rivers played tight end in high school and is comfortable moving in all directions on the football field.
If you followed our Senior Bowl practice page we mentioned how impressive Rivers looked throughout the week standing over tackle. I’m told Kevin Greene and the New York Jets came away impressed and this could be the second day pass rusher the team is looking for.
Avery Moss was also worked hard and looked good in all his drills. Throughout the day Moss, who had a solid week of Shrine practice, met with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans. Moss has set himself up as a solid middle round pick.
Rivers is the more highly regarded prospect. He could be a 2nd round pick. He did play at Youngstown State, a I-AA school, but Rivers was dominant. He had 14 sacks in 2016 and 37.5 for his career. He has serious potential.
DE Derek Rivers is a strong dude.. Uses a mix of speed/power moves (30 reps at a Combine) – this DL was aggressive! Every play race to QB.. pic.twitter.com/dlonZ8xm1d
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) March 13, 2017
Avery Moss isn't the darling of this Penguin rush duo….but this is nice work in his own right. pic.twitter.com/58SJS20DP7
— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) February 21, 2017
Moss goes 6-3, 264. He isn’t as athletic or explosive as his teammate. Still, he has NFL ability. Moss is more of a mid-round target.
The Eagles looked at another player.
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) March 14, 2017
I found this to be really interesting. I figured Anderson is a player the Eagles wouldn’t have any interest in. He played LB at Alabama and is only 6-2, 253. Not everyone likes DEs that small. I’m not sure there is a perfect fit for Anderson in terms of position. I thought he would go to a 3-4 team with a creative coach and carve out a niche for himself.
He reminds me a bit of John Simon, who just left the Texans for the Colts. Simon was 6-1, 257 coming out of Ohio State and didn’t fit any real position. The Ravens (and Joe Douglas) loved Simon and drafted him. They couldn’t make it work with him, but Simon found a home with Houston for the past 3 years.
Anderson is more naturally gifted than Simon. Anderson is also a productive player. He had 19 TFLs (including 9 sacks) for Bama’s elite defense this past season. While Anderson lacks ideal size, he is a powerful rusher and would fit in well in the Wide-9.
EDGE Ryan Anderson (Alabama, 6'2", 253lbs). Speed, hands, power. I'd love to see him use a counter a little more often, but dang girl! pic.twitter.com/ErzXAQhkYw
— My Colts Account (@MyColtsAccount) January 12, 2017
Anderson knows how to rush. He uses his hands well. He can explode off the edge. He runs the arc naturally. And don’t be fooled by his size. He knows how to use power to get blockers off balance. He is the kind of smart, tough, physical, blue collar player that I could see scouts and coaches falling in love with.
Teams love Ryan Anderson's game and we're raving about him following the interview process. Will have a ton of interest by the draft
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 5, 2017
Interviewing well also helps. Anderson could be a 2nd round target.
I will mention that it is possible the Eagles like him as an OLB. That doesn’t make sense to me because he’s not a great athlete and I don’t see him replacing Nigel Bradham at SAM in the future. You could play him at WLB in the base and as a rusher in sub packages, but I’m just not sure Anderson has the cover skills to play LB in the 4-3.
The 49ers are keeping their eye on some of their own free agents, including receiver Rod Streater and running backs DuJuan Harris and Shaun Draughn. Another player in that category – and one getting attention from other teams – is cornerback Marcus Cromartie, who visited the Lions over the weekend. He also has received interest from the Seahawks, Jets and Eagles.
Cromartie was slated to be an RFA, but the Niners are letting him go. They did not tender him. He’s hardly a proven player, but does have some potential. And he’s cheap, which is important for now.
Cromartie has played both cornerback and safety for the 49ers. He started one game in 2015 at cornerback, knocking away two passes, but did not see as much action last year after Jimmie Ward was moved to cornerback and the 49ers selected Rashard Robinson in the fourth round.