Brett Hundley – Yes or No?

Posted: February 11th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 321 Comments »

Tyler Aston has been writing some good scouting reports for us over at ScoutsNotebook. Tonight he wanted to share his thoughts on QB Brett Hundley, the star from UCLA.

Take a look at Hundley’s highlights, in case you aren’t familiar with him.

Tyler didn’t want to cover this with a simple scouting report. He decided to try something original.

Disclaimer/Context: 

I like Nick Foles. I think he has a chance at becoming a Rivers, Flacco, and Roethlisberger level QB. The kind of QB who gives you a punchers chance against even the best, but won’t take you to the mountain singlehandedly. However, if he stays closer to his floor, of a good backup, in the vein of a Kyle Orton type, the franchise is in trouble. Brett Hundley is an extremely gifted young QB, with some flaws. He has a ceiling to be a superior passer with very good mobility. He has mobility to put zone reads into play and has experience with packaged plays, both of which will allow the coaching staff to ease him into a full blown NFL offense. I’ve done all the film work on Hundley, and Kyle Crab’s write-up matches my thoughts on Hundley extremely closely, so instead of a write up on Hundley, I thought a flow chart, inspired by my days as an Econ major (roughly based on a prisoners dilemma) would be a better way to discuss the possibilities of drafting Hundley, and why I support it.

Assumptions:

Foles Good: Foles becomes a top 8-12 QB in the conversation with Flacco, Rivers, Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan year to year.

Foles Bad: Nick plays closer to his 2014 form. He becomes more of a Kyle Orton or Ryan Fitzpatrick, someone who you bring in to be a Band-Aid at the QB position, while waiting to find your guy.

Hundley Good: Hundley becomes an electric young QB, his plus arm and mobility making him one of the best in the game. His inconsistencies in college turn out to be more of a gunslinger mentality and a poor supporting cast.

Hundley Bad: He doesn’t become a professional level QB. His reads are slow, and his confidence in his arm and legs get him into more trouble than they help.

Player X good: This non QB draft pick at 20th, becomes an above average starter. Not a world beater, but makes a few pro-bowls and starts in the league for a long time. Player X is not related to Dawkins.

Player X Bad: The player taken at 20 only becomes a pretty average or sub-par player.

I am aware these distinctions are black and white, but in order to put it into a flow chart, such distinctions must be made. Theoretically one could do this as an equation, but we would never reach a consensus on probabilities anyways.

 

                        Draft Hundley                                          Draft Player X at 20

Good Hundley Bad Hundley Good Player X Bad Player X
Good Foles Outcome A: Excess Value at QB – trade one of the QB’s for good ROI Outcome B: You have your franchise QB in Foles. Hundley still has some value as backup. Opportunity cost of no player X Outcome C: Foles is Franchise QB. You also have a talented player at another position Outcome D: Foles good. Blown draft pick. Hurts quality of the supporting cast (which is important to Foles)
Bad Foles Outcome E: Cheap young QB with a better skill set and ceiling. Future is bright. Outcome F: Bad things this way lie. Outcome G: You have a good positional player but are now desperate for a QB. Outcome H: City Burns. Chip moves on. Vets move on as new regime starts over.

Analysis:

Good Outcomes: A, C, E

Decent Outcomes: B, D

Bad Outcomes: F, G, H.

Drafting Player X: 1 good outcome, 1 decent outcome, 2 bad outcomes

Drafting Hundley: 2 good outcomes, 1 decent outcome, 1 bad outcome

In Outcome G or H: If Hundley becomes good, he becomes Earl Thomas times infinity. Every call from an Anthony from Manayunk, or Mike from Chestnut Hill, starts as a grown man screaming and raging against everything, and ends with a grown man weeping on the airwaves. Every WIP host, beat writer, guy at the end of the bar has an easy “The Eagles messed up; rue the day the Eagles passed on Brett Hundley” story. The rest of us collectively lobotomize ourselves. PBR, Chocolate pudding, and Funyuns are banned. Megan Fox becomes Charles Manson’s wife. Tommy cries. Karlie Kloss spontaneously combusts from being so darn amazing. I cry. ALOT. Chris Christie and Rodger Goodell become the leaders of the free world and start to openly fix games so only the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, and Patriots win Super Bowls…

Sorry, that was a weird nightmare.

Conclusion:

Once again, I’m not in either Nick Foles camp. I think he could very well be good enough, but there’s also a strong chance he may not be. Under this framework, drafting Hundley is the right decision. Obviously it’s not perfect. If it was, I would be making a ton of money as a GM and winning all the Super Bowls. There are too many exogenous and endogenous variables to attempt to account for. . Given the crossroads the Eagles are at I thought applying a theoretical framework to the conversation would be a unique approach.

Be sure to follow Tyler on Twitter

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What do you think of Hundley?

What do you think of Tyler’s approach to the question of whether to draft him?

I’ll reserve my thoughts for a separate post. I never took anything beyond intro to econ in college so I find this to be an interesting intellectual exercise at the very least.

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QB Craziness

Posted: February 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 335 Comments »

Nick Foles up and down showing in 2014 combined with his injury and the presence of Marcus Mariota in the draft means that there will be a lot of QB talk for the next few months. Just get used to it.

Let’s start with Foles. Cian Fahey wrote a lengthy piece for Bleacher Report on why Nick Foles isn’t the answer at QB. Fahey did a lot of research and made a good case. On the flip side, this isn’t the first time he’s written a piece knocking Foles.

I don’t think any of us sees Foles as a finished product or sure thing. The hope is that he might get better and develop into a consistently good QB.

Mike Mayock does not think Foles is a franchise QB and thinks the Eagles should go hard after Marcus Mariota. Sounds great. I’d love to get Mariota. But making that a reality is a lot easier said than done. Mayock loves to point out that 31 teams would be projecting Mariota to their offense, while the Eagles know what he can do since he ran such a similar scheme at Oregon. That’s great. It doesn’t mean the other 31 teams won’t have interest in Mariota.

I would love nothing more than to see Chip Kelly reunited with his protege. That would be fantastic. But the Bucs, Jets, Rams, and Texans all need QBs and pick ahead of the Eagles. Teams like the Titans, Skins, Bears, Giants, Browns and Chiefs could all be in the market for a QB, for now or the future. Just because Kelly and Mariota would make a compelling story doesn’t mean the rest of the NFL is going to let them reunite for the heck of it.

I hope Mariota does slide and the Eagles can make an aggressive move for Mariota. I just think that is an extreme long shot. Hope for it, but sure don’t count on it.

Yesterday some report broke that the Rams would cut QB Sam Bradford and that teams up high in the draft might prefer him to a rookie prospect. I get that Lovie Smith would love to “win now” with a veteran QB instead of waiting for 2016 since the Bucs were so bad last year. But…is Sam Bradford any good?

The stats aren’t encouraging. Bradford doesn’t win games. He doesn’t post gaudy numbers. He doesn’t jump out on tape. Bradford was an elite prospect coming out of Oklahoma, but that was a lifetime ago.

Could Bradford’s release benefit the Eagles?

Still a major long shot, but adding a QB to the market certainly can’t hurt the Eagles.

Eagles OC Pat Shurmur was on the Rams staff when they drafted Bradford. They spent one year together. Is it possible that Shurmur could try and sell Kelly on taking a chance on Bradford? Possible. Bradford was a good athlete coming out of OU. He’s been hurt some in the NFL so I’m not sure how athletic he is anymore.

While he might have a higher ceiling than Foles, I don’t think there is a lot of benefit to going after Bradford as a potential starter. I do think he would be interesting as a backup, but he’ll likely get offers to at least compete for a starting job elsewhere.

The veteran QB I’m most interested in is still RG3. The problem is that it seems like the Skins may keep him around for now.

This could be a pretty wild few months. Will Bradford be cut? Will RG3? Will Foles be traded? What do the Bears do with Jay Cutler? Who takes a chance on Mark Sanchez? Where do Mariota and Jameis Winston end up? You also know there could be some interesting surprise moves.

* * * * *

The NFL Combine is happening next week. One bit of bad news.

We weren’t going to get any hard-hitting news from Ed Marynowitz or Chip Kelly, but they at least would have said something of interest. Disappointing that neither will speak and give us some insight into what has happened or what will happen.

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Marcus Smith Sounds Smart

Posted: February 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 238 Comments »

No matter what you think of Marcus Smith’s future, we all agree that his rookie season was a complete disappointment. He never came close to pushing for time at OLB. He got moved to ILB due to injuries and failed to impress there (although that isn’t a big deal since he wasn’t trained to be an ILB). Worst of all, Smith couldn’t earn a regular role on the STs.

One reason I’m not as down on Smith as others is that he lost out to really good players. The OLBs ahead of him were Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Two of those guys had career best years. The guys that Smith failed to beat out on STs were guys like James Casey, Bryan Braman and Trey Burton, who happen to be 3 of the Eagles best STers.

As a point of comparison, it is more concerning to me that Jaylen Watkins failed to more seriously challenge for playing time in a very bad secondary.

Back to Smith. He became a hot topic when Tra Thomas recently criticized him for having a high school type of body. I was curious to see how Smith would respond to this. We got out answer the other day when he was interviewed on 97.5.

“What I’ll say is … Tra was right,” Smith said. “My body type has to change. I can’t look like a quarterback forever. That’s what I used to play. I’m still, during the season trying to look like that type. Right now I’m 265 [pounds], I’m really eating well, trying to maintain that weight … I’m running with that weight and I’m feeling really good right now.

“Everything that Tra has said, he’s already told me before. When he says that,It’s just the truth. I just have to get bigger and stronger and be productive at that weight so the coaches can be impressed.”

Smith is taking the right approach to this situation (his poor rookie season and Tra’s comments). He could moan and groan about how the coaches weren’t fair to him. He could rip Tra. Instead, Smith is trying to take ownership of the situation.

Saying the right thing is important, but only if it is truly followed by actions. Smith says he is 265. That’s possible. It has been 5 weeks since the season was over. He could have added 10 pounds in that time frame. The key is making sure he has the right 10 pounds (combination of muscle/bulk).

I was really impressed to read that Marcus is working with Chuck Smith, a pass rushing guru, down in Atlanta. Check out this video to see some of Smith’s clients and training.

Marcus is a talented prospect. People obsessed on whether he should have been a 1st rounder, but even if the Eagles passed on him, Smith wasn’t going to last much longer. Daniel Jeremiah reported 2 weeks before the draft that he was hearing Smith and other pass rushers could go earlier than some expected. QBs go quickly in the draft. So do pass rushers.

Smith is a gifted athlete. He needs to get bigger and stronger. He also needs to develop his pass rushing skills. So far this offseason, Smith is doing both. A year ago he was doing Combine training. This time around he is developing his body and his game for a specific role with a specific team. That kind of focus can make a big difference.

I can’t guarantee you anything about the results, but this is certainly encouraging news.

The players who succeed in the NFL are the ones who learn from their failures and work hard in the offseason to fix the wholes in their game. Smith must become a more polished pass rusher if he’s going to thrive as an OLB so it is good to hear that he’s being realistic about what needs to be done and then putting actions behind those words.

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Understanding Evaluation

Posted: February 8th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 228 Comments »

As we talk about Chip Kelly and Ed Marynowitz running the personnel side of things for the Eagles, one big topic is player evaluation. I think there is some confusion as to exactly what this means and what their roles are.

The draft process starts every spring. Most teams belong to BLESTO or National Scouting, the two primary scouting services. Those services begin looking at rising Seniors. They build lists of draft eligible players. They offer heights and weights. If available, they will provide 40 times and some other simple info from when players worked out at Junior Day. The services grade players based on their Junior tape.

I don’t know which service the Eagles belong to or if they are one of the teams that does the work on their own.

This is happening in April and May, as the current draft is coming to a close. The services then get the information to teams so that they can then have their scouts make plans for the summer and fall. BLESTO has a big meeting in Orlando where they actually present the information to their clients.

Team scouts take over in the summer and begin visiting schools to evaluate the players on their lists. There could be as many as 1500 to 2000 players to start honing down into a final list of 150 draft targets. It is pretty easy to eliminate a lot of guys. A Safety who is 5-10, 191 and runs 4.97 isn’t draft material. You can watch an OT prospect for 5 minutes and see if he has enough athleticism to be an NFL prospect.

The scouts already have preliminary grades from the spring scouting, but those are just a hint as to who to focus on. What a player does as a Senior is the focus of his final draft grade.

Scouts make their school visits. They write reports and make evaluations. Big schools get multiple visits from cross-check scouts. You never have a key prospect evaluated by one scout. Higher-ups will go to games to scout players during the fall when time permits.

Teams begin compiling the reports and putting together grades on prospects. As the list gets down to 350 to 500 players, things get tougher. Teams want to cut that list down further,  to anywhere from 100 to 200 specific draft targets. Most of these players are highly accomplished. Most have the right size. Most have the right speed.

At this point Chip Kelly hasn’t had a ton of involvement in the process. He’s been busy coaching the Eagles during the 2015 season. Kelly gets reports and might go to some local games on Saturday, but he’s not grading players like a scout would. Ed Marynowitz is doing some scouting, but is limited as well. He is working with college and pro scouts and has some administrative duties.

Kelly and Marynowitz become fully involved with the evaluation process at the Senior Bowl, unless Kelly is still busy coaching the team in the playoffs. The scouts have been the ones on the road, grinding away day after day. They have watched tape, done interviews and gathered as much info as possible.

Check out this info that former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah had in his report on Nick Foles. Here is one sample (but go read the whole piece).

“Everybody loves Nick here. Has the wide receivers over all the time to watch the tape and eat at his apartment. Pays for their food and buys them supplements. He’s taken Juron Criner, who was drafted by the Raiders, under his wing. Criner doesn’t trust a lot of people, but he trusts Foles. Foles is the clear leader of the team.

“Talked to two more sources with the program. Everyone says the same thing about how much they love Nick. Very well-liked and respected. His attitude’s been great through a very trying season in Tucson.”

Scouts gather as much information as humanly possible. That info can be as important as the film study. You’re drafting a person as well as a football prospect. While he doesn’t have to be a saint, he does need to be able to function on a team and succeed in pro football.

The scouts are the key to the draft process. Their information is what enables the decision-makers to make the right decisions. I think some people are under the impression that Kelly and Marynowitz would almost be out there looking for good players.

They will evaluate talent, but it will be more of a confirmation than anything else. They will have already read the scouts’ reports. They will be given cut-up tapes to watch so that they can get a feel for the prospects. This is very different from getting out in the field and finding talent. Marynowitz and Kelly will play a huge part in doing interviews and figuring out which prospects are the best fits for the Eagles.

The biggest challenge for Kelly and Marynowitz will be making tough decisions. Do you have WR Dorial Green-Beckham on your board? He has elite talent, but was kicked out of Missouri due to multiple drug arrests and an incident where he was accused of pushing a woman down some stairs.

How do you grade RB Todd Gurley? He is an elite talent, but missed time in 2013 due to an ankle injury and then missed time in 2014 due a torn ACL. Some risk, but potentially big reward.

How do you grade Nick Marshall, the Auburn QB who will move to CB in the NFL? He played CB early on at Georgia, but moved to offense at Auburn. Major projection, but a talented prospect.

What do you do with Preston Smith, the DE/OLB tweener? Jerry Azzinaro will argue for him at DE. Bill McGovern will want him at OLB. Who makes that decision?

What do you do with Jamison Crowder, the WR/RS who looked so good in Mobile? He’s only 5-8, 174, but is he too talented to pass up for someone who is less talented but 6-1, 200?

Small school prospects can be tough to grade. Scouts can go study them, but the tape is tough to use since the player is likely much better than the guys he’s going against. The Senior Bowl and Combine will help, if the player is invited, but there is still a lot of projection involved.

Kelly and Marynowitz don’t have to go out and find talent. They have to be able to make tough decisions based on the data that is given to them. They will watch tape and fall in love with some prospects. As long as they don’t ignore the scouts work and focus on their own opinions, this can work just fine.

* * * * *

Paul Domowitch wrote a good piece on Kelly and Marynowitz. Here are some blurbs.

“Ed’s one of those guys where you’d walk out of his office at Alabama and say he ought to be somewhere [better],” an NFC scout said. “He’s an extremely bright kid.

“From what I’ve heard about how Chip is going to use him, it’ll be perfect for him. He may be young, but young doesn’t mean you can’t do it. He’ll get a chance to grow in that role. I don’t think Chip will ever have to say, ‘I couldn’t get the answer or couldn’t get the information I need.’ “

Said another NFC scout: “[Marynowitz] essentially will be an organizer. He’ll get the scouts organized. He’ll relay to them what Chip wants. He’ll make sure the [scouting] reports are done right. He’ll walk through the players with Chip. Who do I need to be looking at at the combine, those kinds of things.

“I think they’re going to be OK. We’ll have a better idea after the draft, obviously. If Tom Gamble were still in the building, we probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion. But because of Ed’s age and inexperience, there are going to be some initial questions. But he’s a smart kid. And they’ve got other experienced guys there. They’ve got [senior football adviser] Tom Donahoe.”

And

“If Chip is not as good at [evaluating] personnel as he thinks he is, this could be a recipe for disaster,” an NFC personnel man said. “But Chip’s football smart. He knows talent. He knows what he’s looking for. I’m not saying he’s going to replicate Belichick. But I think he has a chance to do a pretty good job. I think it can work.”

Said an AFC personnel executive: “Chip knows how to utilize talent. He figured out how to get to 10-6 last year with [Mark] Sanchez and Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen and an offensive line that had a lot of guys hurt for much of the season.

“Because he knows how to utilize talent, he’s really at an advantage, because whoever he picks [in the draft], he’ll know how he wants to use them and play to their strengths. That’s why I really would like to know who made the decision on Marcus Smith last year. Because Marcus didn’t have any special attributes. He was just a guy. I would really like to know the dynamics of how they settled on him [in the first round]. Was it Kelly’s decision? Was it Roseman’s?

“Belichick has won with guys you can’t even name at wide receiver and running back. It’s like he says, ‘OK, give me 53 players. And if they’re the 53 I want, I’ll figure out how to utilize them and carve a team out of them.’

“I think that’s what Chip can do. If it were Dan Quinn or Todd Bowles, I’d say no way. And I have tremendous respect for those guys as coaches. But Chip is different. He’s innovative. He’s creative. As a guy on the outside looking in, I’m not as concerned as I would be if it were some other third-year head coach and first-year young [personnel] guy.”

* * * * *

The key to all of this is for Kelly and Marynowitz to listen to the scouts and trust the people that are doing all the grunt work in this process. Kelly does a great job of letting his assistant coaches do their thing so that offers hope that he’ll listen to the scouts.

Marynowitz has been part of the scouting staff the past 3 years. He also did a good job of working as part of a staff at Alabama. I don’t see him ignoring the scouts or short-changing the process.

That said, these are human beings. You never know how they’ll handle a situation until they actually go through the experience. There is absolutely risk in going with Kelly and Marynowitz. But think about the two men you’re taking the chance with. One is a great coach and the other is a young executive with a strong background and big reputation. This isn’t the same thing as Jeff Lurie throwing blind faith behind a rookie coach and some complete unknown.  This risk has a legitimate chance to succeed.

Risk isn’t a bad thing. Dumb risk is. Lurie is far from perfect, but he’s not dumb. Nor is Kelly or Marynowitz. Lurie is trusting his coach and best young executive to make the moves that will put the Eagles over the top. Time will tell if this was the right move or not. But I do think it was a risk worth taking.

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Hot Air?

Posted: February 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 291 Comments »

The offseason is a lot of fun, but one annoying part of it is all the crazy rumors and reports that pop up. The other day a local writer mentioned that the Eagles “may have interest in Jake Locker “. This feels like agent–speak 101.

Agents love to leak “rumors” to writers to get their client’s names out in the media. And you never know if some other team will be fooled by this. “Chip Kelly likes Locker? Maybe we should give him a look.” I prefer to think NFL teams are smarter than that, but history shows there are some teams that aren’t so bright.

As to Locker, could the Eagles actually have some interest? Sure. He’s 26. He is a very good athlete. The price will be right. But let’s also understand he would be a step back from Mark Sanchez. Let that sink in for a moment.

Locker has always been more athlete than QB to me. At Washington he was able to run the ball and help his team to win with leadership and toughness. The Huskies lost to Nebraska 56-21 in a game where Locker went 4-20 with 2 INTs. They had a rematch in the bowl game and UW won 19-7. Locker was only 5 of 16 in that game, but he ran the ball well and made a couple of clutch plays.

Locker did show some growth as a passer early in 2013, but then got hurt (a recurring issue with him). Like the entire Titans team, Locker struggled in 2014.

It is possible that Kelly could have liked something he saw out of Locker from the UW-Oregon days, but there is no guarantee to that. Locker finished his college career with 53 TD passes and 35 INTs, and a losing record. He flashed potential on a regular basis, but his play was erratic.

I would love to have Locker come in as the #4 QB and compete for a spot, but this rumor feels more like Locker’s agent trying to get his name out more than anything.

* * * * *

Tra Thomas was interviewed on 97.5 and had some things to say.

Asked about the Marcus Mariota possibility, Thomas said: “Coach Kelly really likes to have as many Oregon players on the team as possible just because I think they understand his system.”

Someone asks about Mariota and that’s the answer you give? Ugh. 32 teams have interest in Mariota because he is a very talented QB. He’s a great fit for the Eagles because played in the Kelly system at Oregon, but that’s hardly the number one reason to want him. He’s a great athlete with good size and a good arm. This is someone who looks like an NFL starting QB.

Asked later about the scheme, Thomas added: “You’re gonna need a running quarterback if you’re gonna run this type of offense.”

Ugh. Didn’t he watch what Foles did in 2013? Yes, it would be great to have a running QB. That would allow the scheme to operate at its peak, but it isn’t a need. The offense can adjust to the QB’s strengths and weaknesses.

Thomas didn’t get brought back as a coach. If this is the level of analysis he was feeding the Eagles, I can see why. Thomas had a reputation for being a smart player. This is really simplistic insight and offers nothing of real value. Very disappointing.

* * * * *

Thomas talked to Comcast Sportsnet about LB Marcus Smith.

“He’s definitely going to have to get a little stronger out there because when you look at even his body type, he has the build of like a high school athlete still — a young college athlete,” Thomas said on Comcast SportsNet’s Friday edition of Philly Sports Talk. “He needs to put on probably about a good 15 to 20 more pounds so he can really execute and be a effective out there.

“He has the same movement pattern as Connor [Barwin], where you can teach him how to work and throw his different moves in and how to help him with his timing.”

This is more useful info, but a bit of hyperbole, perhaps? Smith has a high school body? The guy led the nation in sacks per game as a Senior at Louisville. That wasn’t all some magical scheme and total luck.

And he went to the Combine and measured in at 6-3, 251. He ran 4.66 and did 23 reps. He had a 35-inch vertical jump. There is nothing remotely “high school” about those numbers.

I have no problem with Thomas saying that Smith needs to get bigger and stronger. Look at Brian Dawkins. He came to the NFL at 190. He left at about 201 and with muscles on top of his muscles.

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