Versatility is a Very Valuable Virtue

Posted: April 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 12 Comments »

Some football coaches love specialists. They want players who have mastered a particular skill or role. Chip Kelly is not one of those coaches. He’s pretty much the exact opposite. Kelly wants players that he can move around and be creative with. His no huddle approach has helped him to see the value of players being able to handle different jobs. Substitutions slow the game down, plus you tell the opponent what you’re doing and allow them to react.

I wrote about Kelly and his love of versatile players for PE.com.

I covered a few prospects who are versatile and could be of interest. Obviously there are plenty more guys that I left out. Just know that when trying to figure out if the Eagles are going to be interested in a player, if he’s not versatile, that hurts his chances.

One player I mentioned in the article is Dee Ford. The more I think about it, the less sense he makes based on what we know about Kelly and the Eagles. Ford lacks ideal size. He isn’t versatile. He even uses the same rush move most of the time (flying off the edge and trying to win with speed). Ford is a quality prospect, but he doesn’t seem like a player for this scheme. He’d be ideal for the Wide-9.

When it comes to the Eagles, versatility is a virtue.

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Please let me know if you have updates to the Visits/Interest List. I added a couple from the previous comments section.

This started back in 2004 with me and a guy named MuddyWaters on the EMB. We started scouring the internet for any mentions of the Eagles and prospects. Over time that grew to being a lot of people helping to check. The more eyes and ears we have checking, the better our info will be.

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One of the people who had names to add to the list is someone named Allen Rodriguez. He runs a blog called BirdBreakdown. He’s got a recent post up that is pretty cool. Allen made a list of the players that Kelly offered scholarships to while at Oregon.

Check this out.

There are some pretty interesting names on there. If you match that list with the Player Interest list, there are a few guys who show up on both.

LB Anthony Barr

WR Marqise Lee

DE Taylor Hart

LB Ronald Powell

TE Richard Rodgers

Here’s an additional note of interest on WR Shaq Evans from UCLA, who I like quite a bit.

Evans is interesting because he is a big  receiver (6’1”, 213) who Kelly appears to have attempted to acquire twice already. Aside from his initial offer from Oregon out of high school, after Evans decided to leave Notre Dame, he was reportedly deciding between UCLA and Oregon. Will Kelly let him get away three times?

Good stuff.

Here is Evans going up against Va Tech in the bowl game.

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One player on that list who I’ve been asked about is Antone Exum from Va Tech. He was injured and missed part of the season. Exum is either a big CB or Safety. Prior to his knee injury, I liked him as a CB target for the Eagles. I think I wrote about him for the Eagles Almanac last summer as a prospect to watch.

I haven’t heard a word connecting him to the Eagles, but he could absolutely be a late round target if his knee checks out.

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Updated Visits List

Posted: April 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 75 Comments »

We just found out this morning that Odell Beckham, the star WR from LSU, will be making a trip to Philly. I’ve also been doing some digging to find out where some Eagles assistant coaches have been spending their time for the past 4 to 6 weeks. So I now present to you the updated lists of visits and workouts info.

PLAYERS THAT HAVE VISITED PHILLY

* WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M – 6-5, 231

* WR Maqise Lee – USC – 6-0, 199

* WR Kelvin Benjamin – FSU – 6-5, 240

* WR Cody Latimer – Indiana – 6-2, 215

* WR Odell Beckham – LSU -

* OG Trey Hopkins – Texas – 6-3, 305

* OG Spencer Long – Nebraska – 6-5, 320

* OC/OG Marcus Martin – USC – 6-3, 310

* DE Taylor Hart – Oregon – 6-6, 284

* LB Jeremiah Attaochu – Georgia Tech – 6-3, 252

* LB Anthony Barr – UCLA – 6-5, 255

* LB Marcus Smith – Louisiville – 6-3, 251

* LB Larry Webster – Bloomsburg – 6-6, 252

* ILB Jordan Tripp – Montana – 6-3, 234

* CB Aaron Colvin – Oklahoma – 6-0, 186

* CB Jaylen Watkins – Florida – 6-0, 194

* S Deone Bucannon – Washington State – 6-1, 216

PRO DAYS / WORKOUTS

QB Brett Smith – Wyoming … Bill Musgrave was at his Pro Day
QB Garrett Gilbert – SMU … Bill Musgrave was at his Pro Day

RB Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern
RB Tre Mason – Auburn … worked out by Duce Staley
RB Andrew Pierce – Delaware
RB Charles Sims – West Virginia … “had meetings with the Eagles”…not sure if at Combine or private workout

WR Donte Moncrief – Ole Miss … worked out by Bob Bicknell
WR Robert Herron – Wyoming
WR Brandon Coleman – Rutgers … worked out by Bob Bicknell
WR Quron Pratt – Rutgers … worked out by Bob Bicknell
WR L’Damian Washington – Missouri

TE Asante Cleveland – Miami
TE Richard Rodgers – Cal … Ted Williams worked him out
TE Blake Annen – Cincinnati … worked out by Justin Peelle (Asst TE coach)
TE Marcel Jensen – Fresno State … at his Pro Day, had dinner with him the night before

OT Ja’Waun James – Tennessee … worked out by Jeff Stoutland
OT Tiny Richardson – Tennessee … worked out by Jeff Stoutland
OC James Stone – Tennessee … worked out by Jeff Stoutland
OG Zach Fulton – Tennessee … worked out by Jeff Stoutland
OG Trai Turner – LSU … met with him at the Combine
OT Laurent Durvernay-Tardiff – McGill

NT Zach Kerr – Delaware … worked out by Jerry Azzinaro

DE Khyri Thornton – Southern Miss
DE Kareem Martin – UNC … worked out by Jerry Azzinaro
DE Shamar Stephen – UConn … Jerry Azzinaro was at his Pro Day
DE Ed Stinson – Alabama … Jerry Azzinaro was at his Pro Day

LB Jeremiah Attaochu – Georgia Tech
LB Will Clarke – West Virginia … worked out by Bill McGovern
LB Scott Crichton – Oregon State … worked out by Bill McGovern
LB Anthony Barr – UCLA … worked out by Bill McGovern
LB Jesse Joseph – UConn … worked out by Jerry Azzinaro, then got additional meeting
LB Keenan Graham – UCLA … worked out by Bill McGovern
LB Chris Smith – Arkansas …. worked out by LBs coach at Pro Day (most likely McGovern)

ILB Ryan Shazier – Ohio State … Rick Minter at his Pro Day
ILB Preston Brown – Louisville … Rick Minter at his Pro Day
ILB Jordan Zumwalt – UCLA … worked out by Bill McGovern

Safety —  The Eagles haven’t had a lot of individual workouts with Safeties, but they aren’t ignoring the position. Chip Kelly attended the Pro Day for many of the top S prospects (Pryor, Dix, Joyner, Brooks and Loston). Coach Lovett was at Isaiah Lewis’s Pro Day, but I don’t know for a fact that he worked him out.

CB Kyle Fuller – Virginia Tech
CB Darqueze Dennard – Michigan State … worked out by John Lovett
CB Joe Rankin – Morgan State
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste – Nebraska … worked out by John Lovett
CB Mohammad Seisay – Nebraska … worked out by John Lovett

PK Cody Parkey – Auburn

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Chip Kelly at these Pro Days:

Alabama
Florida State
Louisville
Missouri
Ohio State
Penn State
Pitt
Temple
Texas A&M
Vanderbilt
Virginia Tech

Pat Shurmur at these Pro Days:

Alabama
Florida State
Missouri

Bill Davis at these Pro Days:

Alabama
Florida
Florida State
Virginia Tech

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SHOWING INTEREST

OLB Ronald Powell – per Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com

RB Storm Johnson – per Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com

Let me know if you have questions on that info.

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John Lovett went to Nebraska to work out CB prospect Stanley Jean-Baptiste. He also got a chance to see a couple of other guys show great athletic ability.

Taylor Martinez was a QB for the Huskers, but doesn’t look like an NFL passer. He is a gifted athlete. Check out his Pro Day numbers, per Gil Brandt.

Martinez (6-foot 1/4, 201 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 and 4.6 seconds. He had a 39-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-9 broad jump. He had a 20-yard short shuttle time of 4.03 seconds and did the three-cone drill in 6.85 seconds. All of those numbers with the exception of the three-cone would have either been the best among quarterbacks or matched the best among quarterbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Martinez worked out as a quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back at Nebraska’s pro day. Some NFL team will have to take a look at Martinez and decide what to do with him because he’s such a gifted athlete.

That’s a big guy that can run, jump and cut. He could be an interesting late round or UDFA target.

Baptiste had a good showing himself.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB (6-2 7/8, 213) — Jean-Baptiste ran the 40 in 4.48 and 4.45 seconds, had a short shuttle time of 4.27 seconds and a three-cone time of 6.72 seconds. He did not participate in the jumps (he was a top performer in both the vertical jump and the broad jumpamong cornerbacks at the combine). He has very long arms, is smooth in coverage and displays good ball skills (he originally came to Nebraska as a wide receiver). Jean-Baptiste should be a second-day draft pick.

I’m not his biggest fan, but SJB has the size and skills the Eagles want.

Gil Brandt didn’t provide the workout numbers for Mohammad Seisay so I don’t fully trust these, but if they are close, they are sure impressive. And if you watch Seisay on the move, you see this kind of athleticism.

Vertical Jump: 39” 
Broad Jump: 11’0 
10 Yard Dash: 1.52 seconds 
40 Yard Dash: 4.36 seconds-4.44 seconds 
20 Yard Shuffle: 4.14 seconds 
3-Cone Drill: 6.50 seconds 
60 Yard Dash: 10.95 seconds 
Bench Reps (225 lbs): 13

NFLDraftScout has him at 6-1, 202 and running a 4.52. Still, the overall workout is really impressive. Seisay was a backup at Nebraska so he’s another late round / UDFA target.

You can actually watch his Pro Day here. Lovett and a coach from another team run the position drills.

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Misc Draft Talk

Posted: April 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 105 Comments »

Quick post for now. One thing I need to stress as we talk about draft prospects is that I’m watching players every morning and every night. I’m still working on my lists and figuring out what I think. I had to move this spring and that ate up a lot of time I would normally spend doing draft research and writing. Thank god they moved the draft back this year.

I am also watching tape on players to make sure I get a thorough understanding of them. Some of you don’t like what I say about Kyle Van Noy. Others disagree with my thoughts on Kareem Martin. And so on. That’s true for many players I comment on.

Understand that I don’t watch 1 or 2 games and then move on. I watch and re-watch the prospects to make sure that I didn’t miss something. When most of the draft world loves OLB Demarcus Lawrence and I don’t, my reaction isn’t that they’re a bunch of idiots but rather…what am I missing? I’ve watched several of his games in the past 10 days to see if I’m missing something. Lawrence has grown on me a bit, but I still think taking him in the 30′s is crazy. I just don’t see an explosive athlete.

Van Noy is one of the most talked about players. I just watched games of him last night. I love the guy, but just not as an OLB in the 3-4. I don’t see someone that I think can consistently beat LTs in the NFL. I see a tough, instinctive and productive player. I’d love him at either OLB spot in the 4-3. I’d love him at ILB in the 3-4. He simply isn’t a good enough pass rusher in my book to be a 3-4 OLB. Watch his tape carefully. Then imagine that guy going up against Tyron Smith on 3rd down in a crucial game. Is he really going to beat a good NFL LT at a critical moment? Maybe, but I’m sure not confident enough about that to draft him for that role.

Martin would be a terrific 4-3 DE, but I just don’t see an OLB.

I see a guy that has great size. I see a good motor. He will chase the ball and make his share of pursuit plays. I see good athleticism, but nothing special. I don’t see a player that looks great up on his feet. I don’t see a special pass rusher. If you want a 4-3 DE with terrific length and who moves pretty well, this is your guy. I just don’t see an OLB.

The Eagles might disagree. They might love his size and feel he’s worth the risk. We know they looked at Will Clarke, who has a similar build, as an OLB. Jerry Azzinaro was at the UNC Pro Day. I assume he was there to check out Martin. That probably means the Eagles are thinking of him first and foremost as a DE prospect. I think Martin could bulk up to 285 and might be a good 3-4 DE. Taylor Hart was a good player at Oregon for Azz and went 6-6, 284. Martin is a much better athlete than him.

We’ll see what the Eagles think in a few weeks when they start making picks and the picture unfolds. For now we can only speculate and make educated guesses.

Do understand that my opinions are written in sand, not stone. I’m continuing to watch tape of these players to make sure I have informed opinions and I don’t make a rush to judgment.

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The Case For Marcus Smith

Posted: April 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 98 Comments »

A few months back I thought Marcus Smith would go as early as the late 2nd or somewhere in the 3rd round. The more I watch of him, the more he grows on me. And he makes a lot of sense as an Eagles target. But when will he go?

There is now speculation that Smith could even sneak into the end of the 1st round. I don’t see that as likely, but never say never when it comes to the draft and pass rushers.

If the Eagles do move back from 22, Smith could be one of the players they hope to get. He would be an excellent fit for the defense. Watch this game and check him out in action.

The first thing that should jump out at you is how much he plays on his feet. Smith is a natural LB. Trent Cole had to learn to play like that and he’s still adjusting. Brandon Graham had an even harder time. Smith played QB in high school, but moved to LB when he got to Louisville. He then moved between DE and LB over the last couple of years.

The Eagles love versatile players. That bit of background info should tell you that Smith is definitely versatile. That also shows up on tape. He plays on both sides. He lines up as a LB and DE. There are times when he lines up like an ILB. Smith can rush the passer or drop into coverage. He’s comfortable playing in space.

Smith has good size. He is almost 6-3 1/2. He weighed 251 at the Combine, but was up at 258 at the Senior Bowl. He’s fine anywhere in that range. He has 34-inch arms, which is excellent size. The Eagles would prefer someone 6-6, but Smith isn’t a short, squatty guy like Cole or Graham. He has some length.

Smith is a good pass rusher and could be the ROLB of the future. If the Eagles ever wanted to, they could move him to the LOLB spot and play him there. Smith is good enough in coverage for that role. He also can set the edge on run plays. Check out his Pro Day workout to see him on the move.

You can see that he’s not the typical DE being moved to LB. This guy is a natural athlete that can play on his feet and on the move. Chip Kelly and ILB coach Rick Minter were at his Pro Day. Smith also visited Philly. The Eagles are showing interest.

One way to look at Smith is to consider him the poor man’s Anthony Barr. Smith isn’t quite as big or athletic and that’s why he won’t be a Top 15 player (which Barr likely will). Both have offensive backgrounds. Both are complete LBs. Both were productive for good teams in 2013. Both guys were highly productive in college and used a variety of moves to get into the backfield and be disruptive.

The Eagles would love a complete OLB to put on the right side to compete with Cole. Smith could be that guy. He will play the run. He can cover. And he’s a good pass rusher, whether flying off the edge or attacking different angles as part of a blitz package. He’s not a guy that needs to line up in the same spot and fire off the edge every single play.

Smith is the kind of long, athletic, versatile weapon the Eagles would like at ROLB. I don’t see him in the mix at 22. I doubt he lasts to 54. If the Eagles move back in the late 1st or early 2nd, Smith would make a lot of sense.

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Appreciating Nick

Posted: April 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 118 Comments »

I was over looking around PE.com and saw they had a Player Profile up on Nick Foles. I almost didn’t watch it, but decided to go ahead and click it. Glad I did.

There’s nothing special or groundbreaking in this video. It just occurred to me while watching it that we’ve spent the last few months looking pass rushers, DBs, WRs and various other positions, but the Eagles are basically set at QB. They can take one if they want, but only if it is a player they love.

There is no need for a QB.

It felt good to watch Foles in action and know that the Eagles have a good young QB already in place. Sometimes we spend so much time and energy focused on what we don’t have and all the players we want that we forget how lucky we are to have the key piece in place. You don’t win without the right QB running the show.

I can’t wait to see Nick in action this year. His numbers won’t be as good, but I bet he’ll have a terrific season.

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