More on CBs

Posted: April 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 148 Comments »

I expect the Eagles to draft a CB, as early as the 1st round or possibly in the middle rounds. They have a pair of starters in place for 2014, but there is a need to upgrade the position for the long haul. So let’s talk about what the Eagles are looking for.

Bill Davis and Chip Kelly haven’t offered exact information, but they have talked about wanting big corners. Davis also wants physical corners. The goal in his defense is for the corner to play tight and affect the receiver. Don’t give him a clean release. You can do this by jamming the receiver or by playing press coverage and simply not giving him room to work with. Bump ‘n run and press coverage are not the same thing. Press doesn’t mean there has to be contact. The CB can simply line up on top of the receiver and then mirror his steps at the release. Some players/coaches are hesitant with jamming receivers for fear of missing and getting burned. By pressing, the receiver is affected in a less risky way.

I’m not going to talk about every top CB prospect. I’m going to focus on a few guys from different areas of the draft.

We know DBs coach John Lovett was at the Pro Day for Darqueze Dennard. The Eagles have to be interested in the Michigan State star. He is a top shelf cover corner, even though he lacks the ideal size/speed ratio. Dennard is 5-11, 199, but only ran 4.51. That’s not fast for a guy who isn’t huge. Another concern for the Eagles is that his arms are only 30 1/4. They would prefer 32 or 33 inches.

Watch Dennard’s game tape and you’ll see why he’s so highly thought of.

He has outstanding man cover skills. Dennard can be physical with receivers. He can play the ball. He has good instincts. Plus, he’s ultra-competitive. He wants to make every play. Dennard is a solid hitter and tackler. He will play the run. I could see the Eagles considering him at 22.

The 2nd round player I like is Bashaud Breeland from Clemson. He ran 4.62 at the Combine and re-timed 4.57 at his Pro Day. That hurts his value since he’s only 5-11, 197. He does have 31 3/4 arms. Breeland is quick, agile and has very good feet. He has outstanding ball skills. That’s something the Eagles value. They like a CB who can knock the ball away in the air. They teach very specific techniques for this. Breeland does it naturally, but could get even better with good coaching.

Breeland plays right, left and in the slot. That’s the kind of versatility the Eagles value. He will hit and tackle. He was booted from the FSU game for hitting Jameis Winston in the head. You don’t like that, but at least there is no hesitation before contact. If Breeland was a hair faster, he could be a 1st round player. His lack of long speed is an issue on deep routes. Breeland excels when allowed to press and be physical with receivers.

The more I watch Stanley Jean-Baptiste, the more he’s grown on me. I still have concerns with him athletically, but he’s good at what he does…being physical with receivers. SJB wants to bump, grab, push and anything else he can do to keep players from getting a clean release.

There was a discussion about SJB not being aggressive enough as a hitter and tackler. I watched several of his games over the weekend. In 3 of them, he took on a pulling O-lineman. That’s not something a wuss does. SJB does hesitate before getting into some piles. I don’t know if there is a previous injury from this or what, but he will hit and tackle in open space.

The Eagles were at his Pro Day. They have to love a guy that is 6-3, 218 with 32 3/8 arms. That’s a huge CB that can affect plays just by being in an area. He did only run 4.61 at the Combine, but that’s more acceptable for a guy that is 218 pounds.

I wouldn’t want SJB until the 3rd round. The Eagles might feel different and taking him in the late 2nd wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. He’s just not my ideal guy, but if Davis wants huge corners and thinks SJB is a great fit, that makes sense.

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I’m still trying to figure out some other corners. Putting a value on small school guys like Pierre Desir and Walt Aikens is tough. Both are big and athletic. Phillip Gaines from Rice is a freak athlete that I need to study more. Dontae Johnson from NC State was mis-used in college so his tape isn’t ideal. They played him off most of the time, despite the fact he’s an ideal press corner.

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The Eagles offseason program kicks off today. The one bit of news is this.

I thought this situation had gone away, but apparently not. We’ll see if anything comes of it. I sure hope not. Mathis is one of my favorite Eagles and he’s a darn good player.

Stay tuned.

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Of Interest or Not?

Posted: April 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 70 Comments »

Let’s focus on a couple of NFL players that some people think the Eagles could have interest in. The first player is an athletic QB that many assume Chip Kelly would like.

Pryor is going to be cut and the Eagles might have a chance at him. Pryor will have to pass through waivers so that means other teams will have a chance to claim him. There are some QB needy teams who could take a chance on him. If Pryor hits the street, will the Eagles have any interest?

My guess is no.

We’ve assumed that Kelly is looking for an athletic QB since he got here, but he’s done nothing to make us think that is his ideal target. Kelly did re-sign Michael Vick, but that was partly due to the fact there weren’t great options and Vick is a very talented QB. To Kelly, that was a low-risk, high-reward move. Vick then lost his job to Nick Foles, who played at a very high level.

The 2 QBs that Kelly went out and acquired were Matt Barkley and Mark Sanchez. Neither of those players was ever referred to as a mobile QB. They move well enough, but are not runners per se.

Kelly might have interest in Pryor, but I doubt it. Kelly seems to prefer QBs that can throw the ball well first and foremost. He needs the passing game to be a threat to the defense so that will open up the running game. Pryor is a dynamic runner, as we saw first hand, but he is not a functional passer at the NFL level. He is a major project. The fact Oakland, who is QB needy, is letting him go isn’t a great sign.

RB LaMichael James might also be available.

Kelly coached James at Oregon. James was a workhorse back that thrived in the spread offense. Would Kelly have interest in getting back his old buddy?

Maybe.

The problem is that the Eagles already have a deep backfield. Shady, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk form a good trio. Brown had an odd year so many assume the team is looking to dump him. I don’t think that’s the case at all. Brown is very talented. He’s also young and cheap. That’s the kind of player you keep around and see if you can develop. At his best, he is a very impressive RB. Brian Baldinger compared him to Bo Jackson. Obviously that was a bit silly, but Brown does have a great size/speed combo. I don’t think you give up on him this quickly.

If James was flat out released, I could see the Eagles having interest. I just don’t see them trading a pick for a player at a position where they have depth. If the coaches think Brown is a lost cause, maybe they do deal him. I just don’t anticipate that happening.

* * * * *

We’ll get back to draft talk this evening.

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Versatility is a Very Valuable Virtue

Posted: April 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 96 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.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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 | 87 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

* * *

Chip Kelly at these Pro Days:

Alabama
Florida State
Louisville
LSU
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

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

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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