End Game

Posted: March 15th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 449 Comments »

Connor Barwin is gone. The Eagles need to find some DE help to replace him and improve the pass rush. Rather than looking at free agents, the team is focusing on draft prospects.

Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com says the Eagles had DL coach Chris Wilson at the Kansas State Pro Day to check out DE Jordan Willis. He would seem to be an ideal Jim Schwartz DE. He’s got an excellent combination of size and athleticism. Willis is 6-4, 255 and he put on a show at the Combine. His game tape is also very impressive.

You can see he is used to getting down in that track stance and firing off the edge. He would be a natural fit in the Wide-9 front the Eagles like to use so much. The question is whether Willis is still on the board when the Eagles 2nd round pick comes up.

The Eagles are looking all over for DE help. Per Pauline, they sent assistant DL coach Phillip Daniels to Youngstown State to check on a couple of pass rushers.

Derek Rivers, who measured 6037/249 ponds and met with the Detroit Lions last night, re-ran the short shuttle and timed 4.39s, slightly better than his combine mark.

Kevin Green of the New York Jets ran most of Rivers’ drills and the defensive end/outside linebacker looked terrific not only rushing the passer but also dropping into space.  He was smooth flipping his hips and effortlessly moved about the field. Much of this comes from the fact Rivers played tight end in high school and is comfortable moving in all directions on the football field.

If you followed our Senior Bowl practice page we mentioned how impressive Rivers looked throughout the week standing over tackle.  I’m told Kevin Greene and the New York Jets came away impressed and this could be the second day pass rusher the team is looking for.

Avery Moss was also worked hard and looked good in all his drills.  Throughout the day Moss, who had a solid week of Shrine practice, met with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans.  Moss has set himself up as a solid middle round pick.

Rivers is the more highly regarded prospect. He could be a 2nd round pick. He did play at Youngstown State, a I-AA school, but Rivers was dominant. He had 14 sacks in 2016 and 37.5 for his career. He has serious potential.

Moss goes 6-3, 264. He isn’t as athletic or explosive as his teammate. Still, he has NFL ability. Moss is more of a mid-round target.

The Eagles looked at another player.

I found this to be really interesting. I figured Anderson is a player the Eagles wouldn’t have any interest in. He played LB at Alabama and is only 6-2, 253. Not everyone likes DEs that small. I’m not sure there is a perfect fit for Anderson in terms of position. I thought he would go to a 3-4 team with a creative coach and carve out a niche for himself.

He reminds me a bit of John Simon, who just left the Texans for the Colts. Simon was 6-1, 257 coming out of Ohio State and didn’t fit any real position. The Ravens (and Joe Douglas) loved Simon and drafted him. They couldn’t make it work with him, but Simon found a home with Houston for the past 3 years.

Anderson is more naturally gifted than Simon. Anderson is also a productive player. He had 19 TFLs (including 9 sacks) for Bama’s elite defense this past season. While Anderson lacks ideal size, he is a powerful rusher and would fit in well in the Wide-9.

Anderson knows how to rush. He uses his hands well. He can explode off the edge. He runs the arc naturally. And don’t be fooled by his size. He knows how to use power to get blockers off balance. He is the kind of smart, tough, physical, blue collar player that I could see scouts and coaches falling in love with.

Interviewing well also helps. Anderson could be a 2nd round target.

I will mention that it is possible the Eagles like him as an OLB. That doesn’t make sense to me because he’s not a great athlete and I don’t see him replacing Nigel Bradham at SAM in the future. You could play him at WLB in the base and as a rusher in sub packages, but I’m just not sure Anderson has the cover skills to play LB in the 4-3.

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Per this article, the Eagles could have some interest in free agent CB Marcus Cromartie.

The 49ers are keeping their eye on some of their own free agents, including receiver Rod Streater and running backs DuJuan Harris and Shaun Draughn. Another player in that category – and one getting attention from other teams – is cornerback Marcus Cromartie, who visited the Lions over the weekend. He also has received interest from the Seahawks, Jets and Eagles.

Cromartie was slated to be an RFA, but the Niners are letting him go. They did not tender him. He’s hardly a proven player, but does have some potential. And he’s cheap, which is important for now.

Cromartie has played both cornerback and safety for the 49ers. He started one game in 2015 at cornerback, knocking away two passes, but did not see as much action last year after Jimmie Ward was moved to cornerback and the 49ers selected Rashard Robinson in the fourth round.

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Chasing Nick

Posted: March 13th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 241 Comments »

Monday turned out to be a busy day for the Eagles.

Wow. Lots of stuff going on there. I love the addition of Foles. He had an amazing 2013 season, but that proved to be an anomaly. Foles isn’t a guy you want as your full time starter. That said, he can be a terrific backup. I think Foles is a major upgrade on Chase Daniel. If Wentz has to miss a game (or god forbid multiple games), Foles is a QB I’m comfortable with. You don’t want him out there for 16 games, but he has proven he can be an effective starter in the NFL.

Daniel wants to start. He wanted out of Philly so he could go pursue a chance to play. I get that. I also think he’s a bit delusional. Jalen Mills has his finger wags. Daniel has his desire to start. We don’t know how his release is going to help the Eagles financially.

Let’s hope some other team signs Daniel to a solid deal. That will free up some more cap room for the Eagles.

There is no question the Eagles are tight against the cap and this is going to be a challenging offseason because of that. At the same time, the Eagles are outstanding when it comes to the cap and contracts so I trust them to work through this.

The key thing to remember is this…every weakness, hole or issue isn’t getting settled this offseason. And that’s okay. The Eagles are building something. That takes time. They have the franchise QB. The other stuff can be worked on.

Let’s go back to Foles for a second. Doug Pederson was his QB coach when Foles got drafted. Pederson worked him out prior to that draft and really liked him. Beyond that, everyone in the organization loved Foles during his time in Philly. He was a terrific teammate. The Eagles wanted to keep him, but Chip Kelly needed Foles to make the Sam Bradford trade work.

The Eagles come out of that with Wentz, Foles, a 1st round pick and Bradford as a distant memory. That worked pretty well.

Foles struggled with the Rams, but that is a dysfunctional offense. No QB seems to play well there. Foles needs a good OL to be effective. He didn’t have that in St. Louis, but will in Philly. I think he’ll also benefit from having good offensive coaches. The Rams staff was just not good.

*****

The Eagles had a visit lined up with CB Kayvon Webster, but he signed with the Rams on Monday night. He would have been an interesting veteran corner to add to the mix.

The Eagles will continue trying to find a veteran to help there. I wrote a bit about what’s left in FA for PE.com.

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We thought this might happen.

Good luck to him in KC. Wasn’t a great player, but was darn good and a terrific person from everything I’ve heard.

*****

The Eagles love speedy WRs. Torrey Smith is fast, but Ross is on a whole other level. The Eagles will seriously consider him at 14.

If he is still on the board at 14.

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Eagles Draft Talk

Posted: March 13th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 328 Comments »

The big bucks have been spent. There will be some more pro personnel moves, but the draft really takes center stage from here on out. With that in mind, let’s talk about the Eagles and the draft.

Let’s start with some visits and workout info. Pro Days have started and that means coaches and scouts are traveling the country to look at specific prospects. Knowing that a scout was at the Alabama Pro Day isn’t a big deal. Everyone goes there. If the Eagles have a scout at the Alabama State Pro Day, that’s more interesting. You really pay attention when a positional coach goes to a Pro Day. That shows special interest. Or if the Eagles have multiple personnel there. That shows interest.

Visits to Philly really mean something. Those are players of serious interest. Not all visits go well, though. Last year a player was taken off the draft board last year after his visit to the NovaCare. This is basically a job interview. Some are great, some aren’t.

There is only one visit we know of so far.

Marlon Humphrey is a 6-0, 197 CB from Bama. He ran 4.41 in Indy and is an aggressive, physical player. His highlights are fun.

Read the rest of this entry »


More on the OL Depth

Posted: March 12th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 100 Comments »

Last year Howie Roseman loaded up at QB. That is the most important position in football and he was tired of seeing the Eagles not having enough talent or quality depth at that position. Roseman spent big to re-sign Sam Bradford. He then spent big to add Chase Daniel in free agency. Roseman worked his way up from pick 13 to number 2 overall so the Eagles could add a true franchise QB in Carson Wentz.

Some people were critical of the moves. That was a lot of money and resources to pour into one spot, even QB. Roseman felt different. He looked around the league and saw that it was the haves and the have nots. You either have a QB or you don’t. That sounds obvious, but look at a team like the Jets that keeps trying to find a QB, but won’t aggressively solve the problem. They’re stuck with a bunch of question marks or wasted picks.

Roseman’s aggressive moves ended up paying off for the Eagles. He traded Bradford for 1st and 4th round picks when the Vikings were desperate due to injury. Daniel helped teach his new team coach Doug Pederson’s offense. Daniel also helped develop Wentz. It’s hard to quantify the value of that.

One thing that hurt Wentz last year was inconsistent OL play. The original starting line was fine, but things changed when Lane Johnson left for his suspension. His replacement, Big V, got hurt and missed time. LG Allen Barbre missed 4 starts. RG Brandon Brooks missed a couple of starts. The Eagles used 5 different players at RT. I’ve never heard of something like that.

The inconsistent line play hurt Wentz and the Eagles. With Wentz being such a valuable commodity, Roseman decided to spend a lot of resources on the OL. The Eagles flirted with trading Allen Barbre, but decided against that. They considered cutting Jason Kelce, but now have decided against that. They signed Chance Warmack and re-signed Wiz to improve the depth of the interior of the OL.

Part of the thinking has to do with money. The Eagles have loaded up on O-linemen, but the deals are reasonable. Look at some of the deals given out this year.

OG Kevin Zeitler – 5 years, $60M
RT Riley Reiff – 5 years, $58.75M
LT Matt Kalil – 5 years, $55M
OG Ron Leary – 4 years, $36M
LT Andrew Whitworth – 3 years, $34M
C J.C. Tretter – 3 years, $16.75M

That is crazy money. And not all of those guys are good players. Kalil has been a mess at times.

Brandon Brooks seems cheap at $7.2M this year. Barbre is making $1.95M. That’s peanuts. Kelce at $6.2M is reasonable in context. Warmack is slated to cost $1.51M, which is cheap. Wiz can make up to $3M per year.

The Eagles are prepared to keep their deep OL together. If the right offer comes along, Roseman has the flexibility to make a deal, just like he did last year with Bradford. I’m not saying that some team will give up anything serious for someone like Barbre or Kelce, but the right offer might pry them away. The Eagles won’t be cutting Kelce or Barbre. After looking at the draft class and the free agent market, they decided to keep their guys and build up the OL. The Eagles are in a position of strength in an area where many NFL teams struggle.

Roseman now has a good situation. He can go into the season with the deepest OL in the league or he can entertain trade offers. But he’s not going out and shopping his guys. Teams are going to have to come to him.

The Eagles have flexibility up front. Not many teams are that lucky. We’ll see how this plays out over the next few months.

*****

The Saints leaked a report that the Eagles offered Malcolm Jenkins, a 3rd and a 4th for WR Brandin Cooks. I cannot see the Eagles making this as a serious offer. I guess it is possible they threw various scenarios at the Saints to get an idea what the trade would really take, but even then it is hard to imagine the Eagles would mention Jenkins. The defense struggled last year when he went from S to the slot and Jaylen Watkins took his place. I don’t think that’s a guy you want to move, even for a really talented young receiver.

Plus, Jenkins is a team leader and a high character guy. The Eagles just had to cut Connor Barwin. I don’t know that they would want to get rid of Jenkins at the same time. Losing MJ would hurt them on and off the field.

This offseason, I’m not trusting anything we’re hearing out of New Orleans.

*****

Quick draft update.

Jones was a legitimate possibility for the Eagles at pick 14. This hurts, but the good news is that this is a deep group of CBs so there will be others to target. Still, you hate to lose such a talented prospect, and of course you feel terrible for the young man. His future looked incredibly bright until yesterday afternoon. Now there is a lot of mystery about when he’ll be drafted and how he’ll play.

A lot of people are saying the Eagles should draft Jones in the 2nd or 3rd round. Let him recover for a year or half a year. Then you might have a steal on your hands.

That sounds good, but recent “redshirt” picks have not worked out so well. SF took several guys like this and it really hurt that team. RB Marcus Lattimore is done with football. Tank Carradine has one career start and 4 sacks. The Eagles used a mid-round pick on Jack Ikegwuonu, who had torn his ACL. He never got back his pre-injury form. The Eagles used a 5th round pick on Cornelius Ingram, who had a torn ACL. He re-tore it in the NFL and lost his dynamic athleticism.

There are some cases where this works, but I don’t think the Eagles should take Jones unless they feel very strongly that he’ll make a good recovery. If the Eagles were coming of a 3 or 4-win season and had a long way to go, it might be worth the risk. I don’t think the Eagles are that far away from being a good team so they should focus on players who can contribute sooner rather than later.

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Focus Up Front

Posted: March 11th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 194 Comments »

We knew the Eagles would add a couple of veteran WRs. That had to happen.

We didn’t know the team would add to the OL in free agency.

If you believe Howie Roseman, the Eagles are not getting rid of any OL. They are building. Despite the additions of Wisniewski and Chance Warmack, the Eagles want to keep everyone so they can be very deep up front. Look at a potential depth chart.

LT  Jason Peters ….. Matt Tobin
LG  Allen Barbre ….. Isaac Seumalo
OC  Jason Kelce ….. Stefen Wisniewski
RG  Brandon Brooks ….. Chance Warmack
RT  Lane Johnson ….. Halapoulivaati Vaitai

That’s pretty impressive. And the Eagles still have talent beyond that. They are high on Dillon Gordon, the former LSU TE. He flashed serious potential last summer. Josh Andrews has been on the roster since 1960, give or take. The team signed Josh LeRibeus and Dallas Thomas as interior depth pieces. Both have starting experience and the Eagles really like LeRibeus (for what he is). You also have developmental guys Taylor Hart, Darrell Greene and Aaron Neary. That’s about as deep an OL as I can remember.

The Eagles can say they want to keep everyone, but you have to seriously wonder if they still want to deal Kelce. That would open a starting spot for Seumalo, who the coaches are really high on. It would also add some cap space and net the Eagles a pick, although nothing more than a late rounder. The Eagles have to preach the message that they intend to keep Kelce, if they want another team to deal for him. If not, another team will simply wait for the Eagles to cut Kelce.

It is possible the Eagles have decided they do want to keep Kelce so the OL can be really deep. There were a lot of injuries last year and that hurt the team.

No matter how you slice it, this is a good situation. The Eagles have built a good OL and a deep one. There is a good mixture of youth and experience. Carson Wentz went 5-1 with Lane Johnson as his RT. If you give him good protection, he can win games. And this year he’ll have an upgraded WR corps.

I was hoping the Eagles would add an interior OL in the draft because there are a few guys I really like, but by working on the OL like this, the team can now spend a lot of resources on the defense. They’ll still add a RB and possibly a WR, but expect to see a lot of defensive players added in late April.

*****

There is one bit of bad news. Nolan Carroll won’t be coming back.

Obviously I’m joking when I call that bad news. Nothing against Carroll personally, but he won’t be missed on the field. When he was healthy and playing with confidence, he could be an effective starter. Unfortunately he struggled quite a bit down the stretch last year. The Eagles had to let him go so they could try to upgrade the spot. Dallas has liked Carroll for a couple of years now. I’m not sure what the attraction is at this point, but I look forward to seeing Carroll try to cover Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

Carroll does seem like a good guy. I would wish him well, but by going to Dallas, I can’t legally do that.

*****

Bennie Logan is finally getting some attention.

I didn’t want to see that.

The Eagles say they are interested in keeping Logan. Howie Roseman said he has stayed in touch with Logan’s agent. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t sound like the Eagles are close to keeping Logan.

I can live with Logan signing elsewhere, but please don’t go to the Skins. If he does leave, the Eagles will have some options.

Hankins is a better pass rusher and is more disruptive than Logan. Adding him to the DL would be an interesting move. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with both young DTs.

*****

I’m not sure who is letting Daniel compete for a starting job. Then again, I didn’t see Mike Glennon gettins $14M a year. NFL teams do some crazy things when it comes to the QB position.

*****

Don’t expect the Eagles to make a bunch more moves. They will be smart shoppers from here on out. If the player fits at the right price, they’ll be interested. That’s it. They won’t go after big names. They could create cap room by restructuring deals, but that’s just not smart. The Eagles identified a few players they wanted and the organization went hard after those guys.

Now the Eagles have to be disciplined. Only make a move if it makes sense.

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