Converts

Posted: May 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 24 Comments »

Pete Rose helped the Phillies win the World Series back in 1980. He did that playing first base. Rose played third base for the Reds in 1978, but Mike Schmidt manned the hot corner in Philly so Rose had to change positions when he came to town. Over to first he went. This wasn’t a big deal for Rose, who had already spent full seasons at second base and all 3 outfield spots in his career. Rose is obviously an extreme example, but changing positions is part of baseball.

Football is different. Players find a home and tend to stay there. I can’t see Donnie Jones and Darren Sproles switching spots this year, although it would be fun to see Jones get to show off his dynamic athletic ability. You know he’d leave a trail of DBs and LBs behind him, all begging for mercy. We’ll have to settle for seeing him boom punts this fall.

The Eagles are going to move Nate Gerry from SS to OLB. This will be a challenge for Gerry and the team, but it can work.

The first thing you have to look for is skill set. Thomas Davis played S at Georgia, but moved to LB in the NFL. I had no doubt that he would succeed. Davis might be the most physical college player I’ve ever seen. Playing in traffic and having to deal with blockers wasn’t going to be an issue for him. If anything, those poor guys were the ones who were going to have the problem. Davis has thrived at LB in the NFL.

Gerry isn’t anywhere close to Davis in terms of talent or physicality, but he is a tough, physical player who is comfortable near the LOS. He is a good hitter and tackler.

https://twitter.com/WeAreDBNation1/status/837352439552561152

It is one thing for a player to hit WRs over the middle. It is another to come downhill and take on a RB head on. Gerry doesn’t just run to him. He wraps up and tackles the runner. That’s good, physical football.

Here is another example of his physicality.

Taking on a FB isn’t the same thing as battling OL, but it shows that he will do the dirty work. This isn’t a guy who expects to sit in space and have clean, easy targets in front of him. He will play in traffic and fight to get to the ball. LBs have to do that all the time.

Some want LBs who can shed blocks. Some want LBs who can run. Some want LBs who can hit. Some want LBs that can cover. Most important to me is the ability to tackle. More than anything, my LBs must be able to wrap up and put players on the ground. Gerry does that well. He gets into good position and then uses his hands/arms to secure the runner/receiver. There are times when he’ll go for the big hit and that’s fine. Most of the time, you want to tackle. It isn’t as flashy, but that’s how you get offenses off the field. Tackle.

Gerry has a LB frame. He was 6-2, 218 at the Combine. He can easily add 10 pounds and have enough bulk to play LB. With the emphasis on the passing game these days, there aren’t a lot of 250-pounds LBs out there. Someone that is 6-2 and in the 225 to 230-pound range is big enough. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. There are guys who are 225, but don’t look it. Gerry does. Check out the picture at the top. That doesn’t look like your typical DB. He looks like a LB.

This also isn’t completely new to Gerry. He played some LB in high school and Bo Pelini recruited him to Nebraska to play LB for the Huskers. He did play that as a freshman and even got some starting experience. Gerry became a fixture at S for his final 3 years, but his background can’t hurt.

What will Gerry have to work on?

He loved to attack downhill in college. As a LB he won’t be able to do that as much. He can shoot gaps on some plays, but will also have to move more laterally. Gerry will have to learn to use his hands better when fighting off blockers. He did some of that at Nebraska, but not like this. He will have to stack and shed blockers on a regular basis. That means playing with leverage, power and using your hands really well. There is a technique to taking on and defeating blockers. This will challenge Gerry quite a bit. Some guys who play LB for 4 years in college struggle to deal with blockers.

Diagnosing plays will be different. At S, Gerry was back and had time to read what was going on in front of him. At LB, you are right by the action. You have less time to key and diagnose plays. It has to become second nature. Gerry is a smart player and shows good instincts, but he still has plenty of learning to do.

I think Gerry has the size, skills and background to make the transition to LB. It won’t be easy, but the potential is there. One advantage he does have is that his experience as a DB will help him in coverage situations. Some young LBs struggle with that area when they come to the NFL. Gerry knows how to cover RBs and TEs.

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Fran Duffy and his trusty sidekick Greg Cosell took the time to break down Gerry and the LB role in the Eagles defense. Good stuff, as always.

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Gerry isn’t the only Eagle on the move.

  • Greg Ward is going from QB to WR.
  • Byron Marshall is going from RB to WR.
  • Taylor Hart is going from DT to WR RT.
  • Billy Brown is going from WR to TE.

Marshall may get plenty of time at RB as well. The talk this weekend is that he’s being “cross-trained”. That wasn’t the case a few weeks back. With the Eagles not having ideal depth at RB, it makes sense to get him some reps there.

Hart is the most interesting guy on this list, but he has an uphill battle because of time. He’s been in the league a few years already. I’m curious to see him this summer.

Ward has the skill set to be a good slot receiver. He played some receiver early in college so this isn’t new to him.

Fran is higher on Brown than I am.

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Players have moved in the past. Some worked, some didn’t.

Ray Farmer was a SS at Duke in 1995 and was the SLB for the Eagles in 1996. He won NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance in a shutout of the Giants that fall. A knee injury killed his career.

Reno Mahe was a highly productive WR at BYU. Andy Reid had him bulk up and move to RB. I always thought they should have had him stay lighter and play slot receiver.

Matt Ware was a stud CB at UCLA, but a bit stiff. He tried to play CB, slot and S in the NFL, but wasn’t a great fit anywhere. He did manage to play 7 years in the league so he obviously found some niche.

Chris Gocong was a great DE in college. The Eagles moved him to SAM and he was okay, but never developed into the player they hoped. He was an effective starter for a few years. He was no Greg Richmond, obviously (joke for the old timers from the EMB).

A couple of players came to the Eagles after having moved. Brad Smith was a great QB for Missouri. He moved to WR and STer in the NFL and proved to be a good role player.

One of the greatest transitions in NFL history is Jason Peters going from blocking TE at Arkansas to Pro Bowl LT in the NFL. The rarest of the rare. If he could give just a bit of his magic to Dillon Gordon, that would be great.

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Roster Tweaks

Posted: May 12th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 175 Comments »

The Eagles will be having a Rookie Camp this weekend. They finally got around to making the UDFA announcements official.

There are some players missing from the first reports we had.

LB Marcus Oliver
TE Billy Brown

I wasn’t a huge fan of either guy. I didn’t think Oliver had NFL athleticism and Brown had to make the transition from D2 WR to NFL TE. That’s a tall order.

The Eagles also let go of WR Rasheed Bailey, who was a bit of a fan favorite from the past. He lacked ideal size or speed.

As I count it, the roster now stands at 89 players.

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There are a number of tryout players coming for the weekend. The one getting the most notoriety is Air Force Safety Weston Steelhammer. Great name. He’s also a good player. He finished his career with 18 INTs, the most of any current college player. We know the Eagles love production so giving him a shot makes a ton of sense.

The Eagles posted the full roster for this weekend. There will be a mixture of draft picks, UDFAs, tryout players and “young veterans”. Guys like LB Don Cherry,  WR David Watford, CB Mitchell White and DT Justin Hamilton will be there. When you are a fringe roster player, you take every rep you can get.

The RBs will be Donnel Pumphrey, Corey Clement and Joe Yearby, a tryout player who was a former starter at Miami. The coaches will get a chance to see how quickly Pumphrey and Clement learn.

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Interesting idea. The Ravens need help at WR. The Eagles might be willing to deal Matthews. Why? There are questions about how he fits in the long term plans. His production will warrant good contract. Eagles seem to want different types of WRs. Will they spend big for him or try to use that money on Alshon Jeffery?

One problems. The Ravens are showing some interest in free agent Victor Cruz.

Matthews is a good player. But just how much is he worth in terms of his contract? That’s the tricky part.

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The Eagles have some depth at certain positions. They have some players they can deal, if they want to. Howie Roseman won’t give anyone away. He’ll try to get good value or he’ll keep the players for the upcoming season and then worry about the future when it gets here.

Trades are like a game of chicken. You have to go as far as you can to “win”. You have to be willing to lose if you want a good payoff. If you play it safe, you won’t be consistently getting a good return for your players. The other team has to be willing to meet your price or at least to up their offer and the way to get them to do that is by making them believe you’ll walk away from the trade table and keep your player. Lots of bluffing and posturing, but it can be beneficial if it works right.

Or you could get stuck with a player you aren’t really committed to.

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QB Jerod Evans has grown on me a little bit. I don’t think he has any chance to win a roster spot this year, but you can see where there is something to work with. He is a good downfield passer. There are times when he is good underneath, getting the ball out quickly and accurately. There are other times when he is painfully slow with his release and you know why he went undrafted.

This was a good game.

Don’t watch Notre Dame.

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In and Out

Posted: May 10th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 198 Comments »

Sometimes analyzing the offseason is easier than we make it.

IN

WR Alshon Jeffery
WR Torrey Smith
WR Mack Hollins
WR Shelton Gibson
RB Donnel Pumphrey
QB Nick Foles
QB Matt McGloin
OL Chance Warmack
DE Derek Barnett
DE Chris Long
DT Tim Jernigan
LB Steven Daniels
CB Patrick Robinson
CB Sidney Jones
CB Rasul Douglas

OUT

QB Chase Daniel
RB Kenjon Barner
DE Connor Barwin
DT Bennie Logan
ST Bryan Braman
LB Stephen Tulloch
CB Leodis McKelvin
CB Nolan Carroll

RB Ryan Mathews is going to be cut when he’s healthy enough to pass a physical.

ANALYSIS

The top group is better than the bottom group.

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Moves and Maybe Moves

Posted: May 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 162 Comments »

Some interesting nuggets out there today.

Very interesting. I wasn’t sure what to make of this kid before the draft. He has serious talent. His highlight moments are good. But he’s been inconsistent and had a slew of injuries, including 3 concussions. He only played 4 games this year. After a concussion vs TCU, he decided to sit out the rest of the season. Concussions aren’t anything to be taken lightly so you can understand his thinking.

Walker has solid size at 6-2, 310. He had some good numbers at the Combine (4.96 in the 40 and 25 reps), but didn’t do as well in the agility tests as I would have anticipated. He certainly looks like an agile big man when you watch the tape.

Walker is a natural fit in the Eagles scheme. Looks like OU had him playing DE and DT and doing a variety of things (attacking and reading plays). Jim Schwartz will turn him loose and let him attack up the field. Walker had 6 sacks as a Soph. and you know Schwartz loves DL who can get to the QB. From a fit perspective, this can work.

The coaches have to get Walker to play all out, all the time. They also have to hope he stays healthy. The talent is there, but DL with his ability don’t go undrafted unless there are serious questions.

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Did you hear this?

So the Saints might need help at C? Hmmmm…

Their backup C is Jack Allen, a UDFA from last year. I have no idea how he played last summer or what the Saints think of him. For a team that is desperate to get back to winning (3 straight 7-9 seasons), the Saints might feel like they have to make a move.

https://twitter.com/PatrickMCausey/status/861650416630738945

The Eagles could use a RB. The Saints could use OL help. Wonder if they might work something out.

The Saints signed Adrian Peterson in free agency and drafted Alvin Kamara so they have flexibility with their backfield. Ingram has some size and is coming off his best NFL season so you could easily see where the Eagles would be interested.

I would love an Eagles RB group of Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey. Ingram and Sproles would be a heck of a 1-2 punch. Smallwood showed good potential last year, but we don’t know just how good he can be. Pumphrey would have his rookie season to adjust to the league and the coaches could mix him in slowly. The coaches could be very situational with a solid group of runners.

This move would seem to make sense for both sides.

We’ll see what happens.

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Other Pieces

Posted: May 8th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 133 Comments »

We’re all excited by what the Eagles did in the draft and free agency, but what about the development of players already on the roster? That can be a big X-factor for a team trying to get over the hump.

Howie Roseman recently noted that DE Alex McCalister looked great. That meant he looked bigger and stronger. We’ll have to see how that translates to the playing field. McCalister was a talented pass rusher from Florida. He has NFL ability. He just needs to be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. Imagine if this guy has things start to come together for him.

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We’re mostly down on Dorial Green-Beckham right now. There was a time when we saw this and really got our hopes up.

The Eagles dramatically changed the WR position in the offseason. There will be serious competition for roster spots, let alone playing time. This will either bring out the best in DGB or he will be looking for a job.

The talent is there. We’ll find out just how competitive he is this spring and summer.

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I’m curious to see if any of the holdover CBs can challenge for playing time. C.J. Smith was impressive last summer. He was never good enough to get on the field during the season, but that’s not shocking for a UDFA rookie at corner. He has to take another step forward this year if he wants to keep a job. He has to show that he can contribute.

Aaron Grymes looked great at times last summer. I would love to see him challenge for the slot corner spot in this defense. Grymes has some experience from his days in the CFL. He showed ability last summer and seemed to be a guy with a chance at getting playing time before he got hurt.

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OL Dillon Gordon is one of the players I’m most curious about. When I watched him as a TE at LSU, I wasn’t impressed with his blocking. The Eagles signed him and bulked him up to OL size. I was blown away at how good he looked in the preseason. He showed LT potential. He was a natural pass protector with good feet and agility. He was raw, but talented.

The Eagles liked what they saw enough to keep him on the roster. This was a player they didn’t want to risk losing.

I’ve been around long enough to know that players can flash in one summer and then disappear. Gordon has to build on what he did last year. He can’t looked talented, but raw anymore. He’s not a rookie this time out. He’s been part of an NFL team for a year now and knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t have experience, but he’s been at practice and been getting coached enough that we should see real growth from him.

I’m excited to see what this young man can do.

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