Evan Mathis Update

Posted: March 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 229 Comments »

This is not the news I wanted to come out of the owners meetings. Apparently the Eagles are shopping LG Evan Mathis and if a trade can’t be worked out, they could release him.

Ugh.

The benefit of trading Mathis…you get a late round pick and some cap space. The benefit of releasing Mathis…you get some cap space. I’d rather have the experienced LG in the starting lineup for one more season.

Obviously Chip Kelly isn’t making this move unless it makes some kind of sense to him. I don’t know that the extra cap space is going to lead to any deal of significance so that angle doesn’t seem compelling. Maybe the Eagles see Mathis as a declining player who is easier to replace than we think. Maybe there is some other way to look at this, but I’m not sure what that would be.

We’ll see what happens.

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No shocker there.

And there won’t be any comp picks next year either.

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Chip Kelly and His Wideouts

Posted: March 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 233 Comments »

Wide receiver has been an interesting position for the Eagles ever since Andy Reid took over as coach in 1999. He made some interesting choices, from Na Brown to Freddie Mitchell to Terrell Owens to Hank Baskett to DeSean Jackson. Chip Kelly took over a couple of years ago and we’re still trying to figure out his thinking at WR.

Jeff McLane wrote an interesting piece on the subject. I can’t quote a snippet or two because you need to read the whole thing. I don’t want to take anything out of context.

McLane hints that Kelly may not value WR as much as other coaches, but does point out that Kelly was willing to pay almost $10M per year to Jeremy Maclin. He was trying to come away with a conclusion, but there really isn’t one to be had.

Kelly values “his guys”. DeSean Jackson wasn’t one and therefore he’s gone. I’m pretty sure that would have been the case at any position and not just WR. Kelly liked Maclin a lot. Mac is a very good player and a high character guy. You can hand him big money and trust him to do the right thing. Kelly very much wanted to re-sign Mac. But there was a financial line in the sand that got crossed and Kelly wouldn’t go there. I’d hardly read anything into that about devaluing WR.

Last year the Eagles were very interested in drafting Brandin Cooks. They may have even tried to trade up to get him. When the Eagles were on the clock, Kelly wanted to draft Jordan Matthews. Howie Roseman told Kelly they could wait until the 2nd round and get him. The Eagles ended up trading up in the 2nd round to make sure they didn’t miss him.

Kelly values WRs.

Seattle played in the Super Bowl with nothing but UDFA receivers. That’s a team that is willing to build a cheap WR corps.

Kelly will spend money…on his guys. McLane’s article is dead on the money when he talks about some of the things Kelly does value in a WR. Blocking isn’t an option. It is a necessity. Running crisp routes at full speed even when the ball isn’t coming to you is a necessity. Stats are part of the evaluation, but tape study is critical to see who played the way Kelly wants on an every-down basis.

The WR choices this offseason weren’t ideal for someone like Kelly. All the available guys had one issue or another. From Bowe to Crabtree to Harvin, all of them had something about them that made you not want to pay them big money. Mac was the one clean guy. Unfortunately, Andy Reid was willing to overpay for him. A few years of Dwayne Bowe will do that to you.

I still think the Eagles could sign a veteran WR to a cheap deal. If you don’t like how the guy fits in, you can cut him. And I do expect the Eagles to spend a couple of draft picks on receivers. Maybe one early and one late. Or maybe both mid-round picks. Heck, could be a pair of early picks.

Kelly can look at the WR depth chart and see that he needs help. He will go get some more talented pieces for Sam Bradford to throw the ball to.

We still don’t know exactly what Kelly wants in his WRs from a size/speed standpoint.

He said Odell Beckham Jr. (5-11, 198) was his personal favorite last year. They loved Cooks (5-10, 189). They drafted Matthews (6-3, 212) and Josh Huff (5-11, 206). Kelly still likes Riley Cooper (6-3, 215) a lot. We have this notion of Kelly coveting monster WRs, but I think he’s more open-minded than most realize. He wants guys that can get open and catch the ball. He wants guys that are tough and physical, but they don’t have to be huge. I don’t think you’ll ever have to worry about Todd Pinkston coming out of retirement to play for Kelly.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out in the next couple of months.

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Some Draft Q&A

Posted: March 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 139 Comments »

Earlier I posted a mock draft for the Eagles. That led to a few questions.

The most frequent question was why I projected OL T.J. Clemmings at pick 20 instead of going with Jake Fisher? After all, Fisher is from Oregon and Chip Kelly loves his Ducks.

Simply put, Clemmings is the better player. Beyond that, Clemmings is probably the better fit. The Eagles have a hole at RG. I think Clemmings would make a better OG than Fisher. Clemmings has never played the position, but his style fits. Fisher is more athlete than mauler. I think he’s better at OT. Fisher was a RG early in his career, but I don’t think he ever started there. He does have 2 years experience at RT and one at LT.

Watch these highlight videos to get a feel for each player. One will show you physical dominance. I don’t think it will be hard to pick out which one that is.

And

If it was close, I could see Kelly choosing his guy over Clemmings, but I think Fisher’s grade will be lower. And I don’t know that he’d be someone to challenge for the RG spot right away.

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I mentioned this mock wasn’t my ideal scenario. A few people wanted to know what my ideal scenario is.

I don’t have that worked out yet. I’m in the process of trying to figure out which players I covet.

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What about Landon Collins at pick 20?

I don’t know if the Eagles want Collins. He is 228 pounds. That is one big Safety. The Eagles tend to prefer versatile guys. Collins can play back, but is best in the box.

Someone else wanted to know about the Eagles having interchangeable Safeties, but playing Cover 3. Does that make sense? Sure. Cover 3 means the CBs and one S form a deep zone. The other S plays underneath. Seattle does this and wants Earl Thomas as the deep guy. The Eagles would prefer that both of their Safeties be able to drop deep and be equally effective.

The Eagles also like having the versatile Safeties for when they go with the base defense against Nickel looks. Remember the Seattle game? The Eagles stayed base to deal with Marshawn Lynch. That meant that Nate Allen and Malcolm Jenkins were playing the WR in the slot. That strategy works a lot better if you have Safeties that have good man cover skills. Landon Collins would not fit that scenario.

Maybe the Eagles do like him, but based on what they’ve said and shown to this point, I don’t think they’ll have serious interest in him.

Someone asked about Kurtis Drummond. I do think he would be of interest, probably in the 4th round.

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What about Sammie Coates as WR target?

I could see Kelly liking him quite a bit, but Coates is very raw and will need a season to learn. I’m not sure Kelly will want a WR that needs time to contribute.

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Why no Oregon players?

Kelly loves his Ducks, but they have to fit.

Fisher is a possibility, especially if the Eagles trade back.

Mariota is a possibility, especially if the Eagles move up.

If Arik Armstead is on the board at 20, he could be the pick.

LB Tony Washington could be a priority free agent.

S Erick Dargan could be a later round / UDFA target.

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Could the Eagles go for an OLB in the 1st?

Sure. Bud Dupree is a good 3-4 OLB prospect and just might be on the board. Kelly might feel that with money tied up in Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham, and with a 1st round pick in Marcus Smith, that may be too many resources in one spot. Or Kelly could feel that you can never have enough good LBs in the 3-4. I think Kelly might take the right LB, but if grades are close, he might go for another position that is more of a need.

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Mock Draft Time

Posted: March 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 131 Comments »

I put together my first Eagles mock draft of the offseason. Remember…this isn’t my ideal scenario, but rather one possibility based on the kind of players the Eagles like and where they are likely to go in the draft.

I used the mock for my PE.com column this week.

The hardest part of doing a mock is trying to address all the positions with early picks. I think the 1st round pick needs to be about the best player, not the most needed position. If we did go with position, which one would you choose? You could make a strong argument for WR, RG, CB, FS or QB. There is no definitive right answer and that’s what makes roster building so tricky. Are you drafting for right now, next year or 3 years from now? If you draft a stud WR, will he make the current OL better? If you draft a stud RG, will he make the current WR better? And so on.

The only thing I feel definitive about is that the Eagles need to draft a couple of OL and a Safety. They don’t have to be early picks, but you don’t want them to be 6th and 7th’s.

Fire away with your questions and comments and I’ll answer them in a post later today.

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More Mariota & Draft Talk

Posted: March 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 123 Comments »

There continues to be all kinds of talk about the Eagles trading up for Marcus Mariota. After all, Sam Bradford is in the final year of his deal and people still don’t buy Chip Kelly’s desire for him as his QB. Mariota still has to be a key target, right?

I think Kelly would love to get Mariota, but only at the right price. There won’t be a trade up to pick #1 or #2. There are still holes on the roster. Picks are needed to fill those holes.

There is another angle to this. Kelly has said publicly that he sees Mariota as the #1 QB in the draft and he thinks highly of him. But, Mariota isn’t a great prospect. He’s not Andrew Luck. He’s not Cam Newton. Mariota is the best or 2nd best QB in a weak group. He’s not a guy you necessarily build a franchise around.

I still think Mariota goes very high. But this is a strange draft and I could be very wrong on the QBs. It is possible that both Winston and Mariota could slide. The question is where Kelly would find the price to be reasonable. Is he willing to try and get into the Top 10? I tend to doubt that, but that is just a guess.

Mariota to the Eagles remains a long shot in my mind. He’s a talented QB prospect and there are teams in the Top 10 who need a QB. If he slides, we’ll see what happens. Just don’t get your hopes too high.

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This is not a great class of Safeties, but this notion that the Eagles can’t find anyone is ridiculous. History is filled with can’t miss prospects who did miss and guys with no chance who played for a decade. It is up to the scouts and coaches to find players who fit the Eagles scheme and could become effective players. Earl Wolff was a 5th round pick and showed promise as a rookie. You don’t have to find the perfect player. You need someone who is good enough.

The Eagles have shown interest in Damarious Randall of Arizona State. He is exactly the type of guy they like at S.

Randall is 5-11, 196. He generally is the Safety on the wide side of the field. ASU moves guys around and does a lot of blitzing. Randall will drop down into the slot and cover WRs on a regular basis. He has good cover skills. Randall is a solid tackler. He regularly tries to wrap-up and tends to go low, aiming for the legs. Randall isn’t a punishing hitter, but he is physical enough.

Randall ran 4.46 at the Combine. He had a 38-inch vertical and 10-foot broad jump. You can see that explosiveness when you watch him play. He gets an excellent break on the ball when playing off a target. He also has terrific closing speed. He was a good playmaker for ASU. As a Senior, Randall had 3 INTs, 9 PBUs, 9.5 TFLs and 2 FFs.

I’m still figuring out what his draft value is, but Randall could be of serious interest to the Eagles. He is the kind of versatile, interchangeable Safety they like.

Here is a highlight video.  It won’t blow you away, but you can at least see him in action. I watched him recently vs USC and liked what I saw.

A word of warning…very NSFW music. I almost never have the volume open when I watch YouTube videos. The music isn’t my type and the lyrics are often inappropriate for consumption in public areas. I won’t put this warning up for every video I post in the next 2 months. Please be smart and turn off the sound when you watch the videos. I don’t have time to listen to all the sound and I don’t want to get anyone in trouble with their kids/spouse/parents/boss/whoever.  Thanks.

Lots more Safety talk to come.

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Chuck Bednarik has died.

If anyone was the Philadelphia Eagles personified, it was Concrete Charlie. He led the team to their last NFL title. He played both C and MLB. And he was part of the most iconic moment in Eagles history…when he stood over an unconscious Frank Gifford in November of 1960 after delivering The Hit.

Go read this great piece by Bill Lyon to appreciate Bednarik.

He was truly one of a kind.

Saw this on Twitter and loved it.

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