Pick 20

Posted: April 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 303 Comments »

Let’s forget the Marcus Mariota talk for a second and talk about pick 20. Who will the Eagles take at that spot?

Tom Heckert used to explain that the team would have 5 target names for their original pick. Obviously that would get adjusted as the draft went along and some guys fell or some of the names were picked. I think Howie Roseman took the same approach and I’m guessing Ed Marynowitz will as well.

So who are the 5 names this year?

These aren’t your Top 5 players or the guys you covet. These are players you like and expect to be on the board when you pick.

CB Byron Jones
OT Jake Fisher

Those are the 2 names I feel confident about. After that, I’m doing a lot of guessing.

Likely candidates for the other 3 spots:

CB Kevin Johnson
CB Eric Rowe
OT T.J. Clemmings
OT Cedric Ogbuehi
OL Cameron Erving
WR Breshad Perriman

That feels like it for me, but I don’t know anything for a fact. I don’t see Nelson Agholor being in play at 20, but the Eagles could love him. I don’t see any interest in Landon Collins. I don’t think either Brett Hundley or Bryce Petty is worth pick 20. I don’t anticipate any DL at that spot being of interest. I think the top OLBs will be gone by then.

Honestly, I’d be okay with the team taking any of the players I did list. The Eagles need help at CB and OL. Those players could challenge for spots right away. None of them feel like boom or bust types.

Perriman is interesting. He goes 6-2, 212 and ran sub-4,3 at his Pro Day. He put up tremendous numbers at UCF and would give the Eagles the vertical threat they don’t have right now. Perriman fits the Eagles offense because of his ability to work the middle and produce RAC yards as well as go deep. He is okay as a run blocker. That needs work, but there is enough there that I don’t think Chip Kelly would be down on him.

The funny thing about the 1st round is that there isn’t a player I covet. I like T.J. Clemmings quite a bit, but he’s got his share of warts. Fisher and Rowe have grown on me the more I watch them.

The players I covet are actually in the 2nd round. They would be Quinten Rollins, Phillip Dorsett and Ali Marpet. Even a guy like Stephone Anthony in some ways feels more compelling than the 1st round targets.

I think my preference would be for the Eagles to deal back from 20. I would love for them to add another 3rd round pick. I think if they got to the late 1st or even early 2nd there would still be some good targets on the board. It is possible that one of the 5 targeted players could still be there.

Josh Norris did a recent mock draft for RotoWorld and had the Eagles taking Penn State OL Donovan Smith at #20. That’s interesting. Norris doesn’t have a ton of inside sources, but he hears some things and isn’t just blindly throwing poop on a wall.

We know Smith made a visit to the NovaCare. That shows interest. He is likely to go late 1st or early 2nd, so it isn’t likely he’ll be on the board when the Eagles pick in the 2nd round. Smith isn’t as athletic as the Eagles usually prefer their blockers to be, but he does have long arms (34 3/8) and big hands (10 5/8). Smith had a down Senior season, but his 2013 tape is very good and he looked great at the Senior Bowl. Smith has the potential to play OT or OG.

Here is possibly his best game, when he got the best of star pass rusher Randy Gregory.

I can’t say I’d be thrilled with Smith at pick 20, but I would be fine with him if they moved back and took him. I think Smith can be a good starting OL in the NFL. There are just other players I prefer at pick 20 (that I expect to be on the board).

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Ex-Ducks

Posted: April 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 183 Comments »

Dion Jordan is back to being a topic. He’s been with the Dolphins for 2 years and I think it is fair to say they aren’t thrilled with him. He has the same number of suspensions as he does career starts – 1.

Does Chip Kelly have interest in acquiring his old star? I’ve heard differing reports. I have heard Kelly talked to them at one point to see what the asking price was. I’ve also heard that he has said “no thank you” when the subject of Jordan came up.

I don’t know what Kelly is thinking right now. Jordan has been a bust in Miami, but he would come to the Eagles to play a role he’s suited for…OLB. Jordan has the skill set to be a good OLB in this scheme. The other key consideration now is that Miami, if they are ready to move on, wouldn’t want much in return for him.

Jimmy Bama wrote a piece with some ideas of who could be dealt for him. You won’t like the names, but Jimmy’s logic is sound. He mentions Vinny Curry, Brandon Boykin and Evan Mathis. Curry is a proven pass rusher. Why trade him for a bust? This is the final year of Curry’s contract. If the Eagles think they will lose him in free agency next spring, trading him now for some compensation does make some sense. Boykin is also in the final year of his deal. Mathis wants a new deal.

One note here. Some people think that you can lose players in free agency and then get back compensatory picks. That is true, but only if you avoid signing big free agents. Comp picks are based on a formula of players lost in free agency vs players signed. Unless you know for a fact you won’t be signing any key free agents, you cannot count on getting a comp pick.

Back to the trade speculation. I’d be hesitant to deal Curry. He’s become a terrific role player. I can see where he might want to leave to play in a 4-3, but Curry gets on the field a lot here. He grew up an Eagles fan. If the money was good, I could see him wanting to stay. There are no guarantees of course and you might lose him in free agency. I’d keep him for 2015 and hope for the best.

I would be willing to deal Boykin. He is a good young player, but his lack of size is going to be an issue for the coaches and Boykin clearly would like a legitimate chance to play outside. It feels like his departure is imminent.

Mathis isn’t happy, but I’d sure try to keep him one more year. The depth of the OL isn’t ideal. The Eagles could add a player or two next week.

If the Eagles do decide to go after Jordan, he’s not a sure thing to pan out here. I think this system fits him a lot better, but the past 2 years might be showing us that he lacks the kind of character it takes to make it in pro football. When you go up against the best players in the world, you better be serious about your craft and willing to work really hard. I just don’t know if Jordan has been doing that.

If the price is right, I’m certainly interested in taking a chance on him.

* * * * *

Former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla makes Jordan look like a first ballot HOF’er.

Lyerla quit the Oregon team in 2013, which caused him to go undrafted last spring. He then signed with the Packers. Lyerla got hurt and released.

Lyerla is now working hard to get another chance at the NFL. He has to show teams that he is healthy. He also has to show teams that his past actions are ancient history and he’s a different person. He has a laundry list of issues that stretch from high school to last fall.

The Packers signed Lyerla as an undrafted free agent last year.  He was waived-injured after suffering a knee injury and then reached an injury settlement, which paid him through Week Eight.  Lyerla thereafter was arrested for DUI, which became his latest off-field incident in a string that included an arrest for cocaine possession, suggesting that the Sandy Hook shooting was a governmental conspiracy, assault charges that later were dropped, skipping classes and practices in high school, ultimately quitting the team at Oregon.

Yikes.

I give the kid credit for trying to turn his life around. Is he worth bringing in for a look? I have no idea. If Chip Kelly shows no interest, that’s pretty damning. One of the big issues here is the fact Lyerla quit the Oregon team. Most guys with issues love the game but can’t behave. The one thing they fear is having the game taken away from them. Lyerla walked away voluntarily. That will really bother coaches and football people.

Lyerla is very talented, but you have to wonder if he’s wired right for the NFL. Being a pro football player isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work and a lot of discipline.

If someone gives Lyerla a chance, I hope he takes advantage of it.

* * * * *

A day without Mariota talk would be like a day without sunshine.

Who knows, indeed.

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Matt Tucker is Happy

Posted: April 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 189 Comments »

Chris Polk was going to be the #4 RB, looking up at DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Right now, Polk is looking for a job.

Interesting.

I wondered if the Eagles might try to save money at that spot when they took a look at Bengals RB Cedric Peerman. He was a UFA and would have cost less than Polk.

I think the Eagles like Polk. The problem is that you can’t pay that much money to your #4 RB. Heck, do you even want to carry 4 RBs? Maybe you go with 3 RBs, knowing that Josh Huff or Trey Burton could play RB in a game emergency.

The happiest guy in all of this has to be Matthew Tucker. He spent the last 2 years on the practice squad. He saw the changes made at RB and they would have only made things more difficult for him. Now, Tucker might have a real shot to make the roster.

The Eagles also have Kenjon Barner on the roster. He could be in the mix. They might still add a veteran or could go for a UDFA. I tend to doubt they’ll draft a RB.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama has your Marcus Mariota rumor of the day, via Mike Francesa of WFAN.

This one would involve the Eagles getting Mariota and Johnny Manziel (to take on his contract). There aren’t specifics as to what the move up would cost, but you can bet it wouldn’t be cheap.

No idea if this has any hint of reality to it, but figured I’d pass it along.

* * * * *

The Eagles went up to UConn to check out some prospects. BGN has the details.  The players were:

CB Byron Jones

WR Geremy Davis

DL BJ McBride

The Eagles have already shown interest in Jones and McBride, so this is a case of them being really thorough. Jones is in play for pick 20. McBride is a late round target.

Davis could be a good mid-round prospect for the Eagles.

* * * * *

Anyone who was a long distance fan of the Eagles back in the late 80’s or early 90’s (like me) lived for Eagles Digest.

Former Eagles C David Alexander posted that on Twitter the other day. Good trip down memory lane.

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He Speaks

Posted: April 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 419 Comments »

Until Thursday, Eagles fans had heard more from Mr. Ed the talking horse than they had from Ed Marynowitz, the Eagles VP of Player Personnel.

That changed when Marynowitz had his first press conference, discussing the upcoming draft with the media.

I was impressed by Marynowitz. You could see he was a bit nervous at times, but let’s appreciate that stepping in front of the Philly media is no easy task. Remember when Nick Foles had his first PC in St. Louis he joked about how few people were there. If the Eagles don’t have the most media coverage in the NFL, they’re sure close.

Marynowitz did a good job of explaining how things work, but also being generic so as not to give away any information of value. I think he offered some insight. Sheil Kapadia wrote a great piece on the Eagles approach to drafting, which Marynowitz explained in detail. That is must read material.

I loved the fact that Marynowitz said the Eagles would be coming up with their strategy for the draft. You can go with the idea of keeping it simple and just taking the highest rated player on the board in each round. You can also look at the pool of players as a whole and try to figure out if there is a specific strategy that works best for you. This might mean trading up. It might mean moving back. It might mean targeting OL early and then looking for DBs later.  Or just the opposite.

This doesn’t mean you are cementing yourself to a specific scenario, but you go in with an idea of how you want to approach things. Coming out with 8 good players is a generic goal. Chip Kelly and Marynowitz might have more specific goals. You still trust your scouts and your player grades to make the actual picks, but you can have certain ideas of what you would like to get done.

Marynowitz also explained the meaning behind “best player available”. This is the best player available to the Eagles. And that grade/ranking is built on several factors, some of which are:

* Height/Weight/Speed

* How the player fits in the Eagles scheme/system

* How the player compares to the Eagles current roster

Notice that last one? Pretty interesting, huh?

This tells you that position does factor into the way the board is stacked. If the Eagles have 2 players with the same grade, they will take the one who plays a position of need. If 2 players are closely graded, position still might be enough to have one taken over the other.

This is nothing new. Teams have done this for years. And it just makes sense.

Would you rather have Todd Gurley or Trae Waynes? The Eagles need a CB. Take Waynes. Would you rather have Gurley or Darryl Roberts? I’ll take Gurley. In that case, he’s too talented to pass on just because the other guy plays a need position.

I don’t have any better an idea of what is going to happen next week, but I do feel smarter about the Eagles process after listening to Marynowitz and reading some of his other comments.

I’m excited.

* * * * *

The Mariota/Eagles hype just won’t go away. I continue to be a doubter, but never say never. I’m sure Chip would love to find a way to get him and the Eagles could use a stud QB.

Jimmy Bama wrote a piece on some guys the Eagles could be trading, either to help get Mariota or just to move for picks. This one stands out.

• Fletcher Cox: What the what?!?!? They can’t trade Fletcher Cox! Shut your dumb mouth right now, Kempski.

Like hell they can’t. Cox is a budding star, unquestionably, but that also means that he has quite a bit of trade value. If, oh, say, the Tennessee Titans were to demand that Fletcher Cox be included in a package for the #2 overall pick, then you have to consider including him. Would his loss hurt the defense? No doubt. But sometimes you have to give up something to get something. Including Cox in a trade package to acquire a QB can be explained very simply, with math:

3-4 DE math

#JimmySays: Cox is probably more likely to stay with the team than not, seeing as the only reason you’d trade him would be if you included him in a deal to go get a franchise QB. But I’m with Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com in thinking he isn’t untouchable.

Cox is a terrific young DL and is the kind of player you build around, but Jimmy is right. A franchise QB has more value than a DE, even a great one. JJ Watt is the best player in football, but you’d have to take several QBs over him because that is such a critical position.

That said, you better make sure you are getting a franchise QB. Cox isn’t the kind of player you want to lose.

Draft day/night is going to be nuts. Eagles fans better be by the TV for every pick until Mariota goes somewhere.

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OLB in the 1st?

Posted: April 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 220 Comments »

The Eagles lost Trent Cole, but re-signed Brandon Graham back in March. Graham and Connor Barwin give the team a good pair of starting OLBs. After that, things are less settled.

Marcus Smith is going to be in the mix for playing time. He had a wasted rookie year, but 2015 is a new year. While he might turn out just fine, you can’t count on that. Bryan Braman is a good STer with some LB ability. Maybe in his second year as an Eagle he’ll get more of a chance on defense. Again though, you can’t count on that. Travis Long is coming off a knee injury. He has been used at ILB and OLB. The staff was high on him last summer, but he was still an unknown commodity.

The Eagles don’t need to spend a 1st round pick on an OLB, but what if a really good prospect is on the board when pick 20 rolls around? That might be too much to pass up. Let’s talk about a couple of them.

I love Kentucky star Bud Dupree as an Eagles possibility. He has great size at 6-4, 269. He is a very good athlete. Dupree ran 4.56 at the Combine and had a 42-inch vertical. This is a big man that can fly off the ball in a hurry and get to the QB.

UK had him play as a 3-4 OLB and as a DE on a 4-man line. Dupree has shown the potential to do everything the Eagles like a LB to do. He can set the edge and be a physical run defender. He can be a disruptive pass rusher. Dupree’s cover skills will never leave him mistaken for Darrelle Revis, but he looks comfortable playing in space.

I don’t know if Dupree will ever be a dominant NFL pass rusher, but he’s got the potential to be a productive OLB. He gets off the ball well. Dupree has exceptional speed for his size. Understand that he was almost 0.2 seconds faster in the 40 than Anquan Boldin was. One concern is that Dupree is a bit of a straight-line guy. You can see this on tape and in his agility tests (4.47 SS, 7.49 3-cone).

As a point of comparison…Aldon Smith comes to mind. I think Smith was a more versatile pass rusher (actually played Nickel DT some at Mizzou), but Dupree is faster and more explosive. Neither guy had good agility.

I’m less sure on what to think of Randy Gregory, the DE from Nebraska. He is 6-5, 235. You love that length, but he needs to add a lot of bulk to get the kind of size you want in a 3-4 LB. Gregory’s tape is great at times, but not as much as you’d like. He is a natural pass rusher. I see the potential for him to be a very good run defender. He is a gifted athlete with a huge ceiling.

Then you have the fact that Gregory tested positive at the Combine. I’m not hear to rail against drug use. We all know it goes on in society and the NFL. The point is that you quit smoking pot for a month before the Combine so that you can pass the test that you know is coming. That shows basic common sense and some level of discipline. Instead, Gregory failed.

This doesn’t mean Gregory is a bad guy or should be instantly removed from the draft board. But you do have to discuss how stupid it is to test positive in Indy. Every draft prospect in America knows about the Combine. This isn’t some secret event put on by the Bilderberg Group.

There is a good chance both Gregory and Dupree will be long gone by pick 20. If Dupree was there, he would be on my short list of targets. I’d need more character research before being comfortable with Gregory.

Just a couple of thoughts on other guys…

* I like Virginia DE/LB Eli Harold as a 2nd round target.

* I’m confused by LSU athlete Danielle Hunter. Lots of potential, but really could have used another year of college.

* The Eagles might have interest in a BYU LB.

Fua would be an interesting mid-round target. He’s unique in that he drops into coverage more than he rushes. Fua can cover RBs, TEs and even some slot receivers. He’s 6-5, 238 and athletic. He needs pass rush work, but the guy covers pretty well for a LB.

* Shaq Riddick, Obum Gwacham and Kyle Emanuel could all be of interest in the late round (5-7). Emanuel could play both ILB and OLB. Chip Kelly loves versatile guys. Gwacham and Riddick are long, lean pass rushers that could be better pros than college players.

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