Or should I call this the Marcus Mariota Sweepstakes? It would be great for the Eagles to get Chip Kelly’s former pupil, but I don’t think this is a case where they have to get him or the draft is a failure. Moving from 20 to pick 2 (or somewhere in that range) is incredibly difficult. You can’t expect a team to do that. You can hope they do. You can expect them to be aggressive in trying to, but it takes two to tango and the other teams at the top may not want to deal or may prefer to deal with someone else. In the immortal words of my friend Shrub, all we can do is hide ‘n watch.
Before we go any further, let’s look at what the Eagles already have in place. Due to trade rumors, this could change significantly, but for now…
QB – Sam Bradford … Mark Sanchez … Tim Tebow
RB – DeMarco Murray … Ryan Mathews … Darren Sproles … Matt Tucker
WR – Riley Cooper … Josh Huff
WR – Jordan Matthews
WR – Miles Austin
TE – Brent Celek … Zach Ertz … Trey Burton
LT – Jason Peters … Andrew Gardner
LG – Evan Mathis … Matt Tobin
OC – Jason Kelce … David Molk
RG – Alan Barbre …
RT – Lane Johnson …
DE – Fletcher Cox … Brandon Bair … Taylor Hart
NT – Bennie Logan … Beau Allen
DE – Cedric Thornton … Vinny Curry
OLB – Brandon Graham … Marcus Smith
ILB – Mychal Kendricks … Najee Goode
ILB – Kiko Alonso … DeMeco Ryans … Brad Jones
OLB – Connor Barwin … Bryan Braman … Travis Long
SS – Jaylen Watkins… Earl Wolff … Ed Reynolds … Jerome Couplin
FS – Malcolm Jenkins … Chris Prosinski … Chris Maragos
CB – Byron Maxwell …
CB – Walter Thurmond … Nolan Carroll
NB – Brandon Boykin
P – Donnie Jones
K – Cody Parkey
LS – Jon Dorenbos
That’s an interesting depth chart, to say the least. Lots of talent, but also some serious questions. The Eagles need a strong draft over the next 3 days to help this team now and into the future.
The only trade-up target for me is QB Marcus Mariota. He would be a great fit for Chip Kelly’s offense and would give the Eagles a dynamic, young QB, something they haven’t had since Donovan McNabb came to town.
If the Eagles stay put at 20, here are 5 players they are likely targeting:
1 – CB Byron Jones – UConn
2 – OT Jake Fisher – Oregon
3 – CB Eric Rowe – Utah
4 – DB Damarious Randall – Arizona State
5 – WR Phillip Dorsett – Miami
The Eagles have shown serious interest in all of these players. I am fine with 4 of the players, but I don’t like Randall at pick 20. I’m not thrilled with him anywhere, but 20 is just too rich for my taste. He does fit the Eagles scheme and a position of need so I get their interest. And apparently they aren’t the only team that could be looking at him in the 1st round.
Jones played Safety for 2 years before moving to CB. He is a terrific athlete with good size. Put on the tape and you see a guy who can stick with receivers all over the field. Chip Kelly may have noticed that the Super Bowl teams each had lockdown corners (Sherman, Revis). Jones has that kind of potential. He is also a very high character guy and would fit Kelly’s culture. My only issue with him is that I wish he was more instinctive.
Fisher started at RT at Oregon in 2012 and 2013. He moved to LT as a Senior and showed good ability there. He is 6-6, 306 and has NFL athletic ability. Fisher looked great at the Combine and will be coveted by teams wanting tall, athletic OL. I like the fact he’s got a bit of a nasty streak as well. He would likely get in the RG mix as a rookie and then move to OT in the future.
Not everyone likes Rowe as much as me (and I think the Eagles). He played Safety for Utah for 3 years before moving to CB this season. Rowe started slow, but adjusted to his new position over time and I thought he looked great in their bowl game. Rowe is 6-1, 205 and ran 4.45 at the Combine. He can press receivers and run with them. One of the big selling points for me is that I see a smart, instinctive football player.
Randall played 2 years at ASU. He was a nickelback and S. He played in the box, in the slot and back deep. He has terrific cover skills. If the Eagles liked him as a CB, I’d be okay with him at 20. Randall is 5-11, 196. He is fast and athletic. My issue is that he’s erratic as a tackler. Sometimes he looks great, but other times he looks awful. Safeties are primary run defenders. That makes me nervous. CBs don’t have the same schematic expectations when it comes to run defense. The Eagles covet Safeties that have good man cover skills so their interest in him does make sense. I just don’t happen to like it.
Dorsett is one of my favorite players. Only recently did I start to think he could go in the 1st round. There have been some draft insider types linking him to the Eagles at pick 20. The team did bring him to Philly for a visit and he would be an excellent fit so this all makes sense. Dorsett averaged 24.2 yards per reception in 2014 and had 10 TDs. He has elite speed, which the receiving corps lacks right now.
I’ll mention the player that I would prefer at pick 20 and that is OL T.J. Clemmings from Pitt. I think he is the best run blocker in the whole draft. There are times when he is physically dominant. Jake Fisher can block people. Clemmings can move people. There is a difference. He is raw and needs work, but has big time upside. The Eagles have shown interest so this is a possibility.
TRADE BACK SCENARIOS
There is a lot of logic to the Eagles moving back from pick 20. They could drop to pick 30 or even 35 and still have a shot at some of the players listed above as targets. This is a wild year for the draft. After the first 10 or 15 players, things are wide open. Dorsett could go at 20 or 50. Same for Rowe. Clemmings could drop into the early 2nd round. Randall could go in the 30 to 40 range.
I would love to see the Eagles move back and add a 3rd round pick. That actually might be the ideal non-Mariota scenario.
Here are 10 other players the Eagles could target if they move back to pick 30 or 35.
OL Donovan Smith – Penn State – Some see the LT as being in play at 20. Based on 2013 & Sr Bowl – maybe.
CB Marcus Peters – Washington – Very talented press corner, but has some character issues.
DL/LB Preston Smith – Miss State – Long, tall, versatile defender. Played LB, DE and even NT in some sets.
WR Nelson Agholor – USC – Reminds some of Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles could use a polished receiver like Agholor.
OL Cameron Erving – Florida State – Played LT and C in college. Could play any spot in the NFL. Chip loves versatile athletes.
DL/LB Owamagbe Odighizuwa – UCLA – Long, athletic pass rusher. Looked great at Senior Bowl.
OL Cedric Ogbuehi – Texas A&M – Athletic, versatile OL coming off torn ACL. Need I say more?
QB Bryce Petty – Baylor – If the Eagles miss out on Mariota, Chip may covet Petty as a QB prospect.
LB/DB Shaq Thompson – Washington – I don’t know if he’s an ILB or S, but I do know he’s athletic and makes plays.
NEEDS / GOALS / STRATEGY
Finding a franchise QB is a constant goal for those teams that lack one. Sam Bradford might turn out to be a franchise QB, but for now he’s more of a question mark than anything else. That, along with age, health, price and fit, is what makes Chip Kelly so aggressive in trying to land Marcus Mariota.
Beyond that, there are a pair of key goals. The first is adding more talent to the defense, especially the secondary. The Eagles need to add at least one S and one CB in this draft. I wouldn’t object at all if they added 3 DBs. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
The other key is adding youth to the OL. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Allen Barbre and Andrew Gardner are all older players. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson give you a good foundation, but there needs to be young talent added to the mix. The Eagles don’t have to spend high picks necessarily, but they do need at least one quality young player. Let’s say that means someone in the first 4 rounds.
It is just after 630am and Marcus Mariota isn’t an Eagle. What the heck is Chip Kelly doing? Lazy jerk.
I’ve been following the draft for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. The team with the 20th overall pick is being talked about more than the team with the top pick. And I don’t think it is even close. The football world wants Marcus Mariota to be an Eagle in the worst way. It would make for a compelling story and it would be fun to watch. Beyond that, this isn’t a sexy draft at the top.
The Eagles are doing everything they can to move up for Mariota. I would link to this story, except everyone has basically written a version of it. And it is all based on word from league sources or people in the know.
But there is this X factor, not to complicate this too much: One NFL source in Chicago late Wednesday night told me Cleveland believes it has a good chance before the draft to deal for Bradford. So there’s that. But if we’ve learned nothing about the draft over the years, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Such as, there’s a real chance Mariota could end up on a team other than the Titans by nightfall today.
If the Eagles deal Bradford for pick 19, that would help their ammo supply in the attempt to move up with Tennessee. Trading picks 19, 20, a player or two and probably a pick next year could get you to #2. Tennessee has a roster with holes so there is logic to this deal for them.
King concludes with this.
I’ve been wrong far, far more often than I’ve been right in my draft history. But I think the Titans are more likely to take Mariota than to trade him, because the options for them at quarterback are just not good enough for a team looking toward the future. We’ll all know for sure tonight.
I still think the odds are against the Eagles pulling this off because there are so many variables (many of which the Eagles don’t control). But it would be pretty darn cool if the Eagles could emerge from tonight with Marcus Mariota as the team’s QB of the future.
* * * * *
For those who want to listen to me talk about the draft, you have 2 options.
Sadly, I might have to deal with this situation. Some of the best mock draft people out there are giving Randall to the Eagles at 20. That means they are hearing rumors or making very educated guesses.
Randall is a talented, but flawed player. Terrific cover skills. Highly erratic tackler. He might be the poor man’s Earl Thomas.
Watch this highlight reel and you will see an aggressive, athletic DB who can make plays in the box, in man coverage or down the field. This guy looks like a 1st rounder.
Then watch the Oregon State game. Tackling is not so awesome. Don’t let your kids see this or they might be scarred for life.
For whatever reason, the Eagles aren’t as high on Mychal Kendricks as fans and the media. That is frustrating because Kendricks is clearly a good LB and the Eagles have struggled to draft and develop LBs in recent years (since the Magna Carta was signed, give or take).
While I don’t want to see Kendricks go, this is the right move if the current coaches aren’t committed to him. The worst thing would be to have him play this year and then walk in free agency, getting no compensation in return.
It would be great to get a 2nd round pick for Kendricks, but I don’t know how likely that is. You would hope the Eagles could get a 3rd round pick for him. Another possibility would be to use Kendricks to trade up in a round.
Obviously some see this as connected to Marcus Mariota, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. The Eagles would like to add an ILB to the mix to replace Kendricks.
How does Tyler see Anthony as a fit for the Eagles?
Has great size and athleticism, but is going to need some time to develop. Best when allowed to attack downhill and not make complex reads. Needs to be taught how to effectively play zone defense. He’s not the most instinctive player so this pick comes with some risk. Will likely need to be used in an attacking only role (similar to how Najee Goode was deployed against the Packers in 2013) early in his career, but has high ceiling due to athletic abilities. Currently a “see ball, get ball” type of player who is probably a better athlete than football player.
I like Anthony quite a bit as well. I think he’ll actually go in the 2nd round. Anthony is a terrific size/speed prospect and we know that is important to the Eagles. Chip Kelly and Bill Davis went to his Pro Day. The Eagles had dinner with him the night before the Pro Day. That shows serious interest in my book.
Anthony is a good leader and comes across as a high character player. He feels like the guy you want in the middle of your defense, running the show. I bet the Eagles would love to draft him and add him to the LB mix. One interesting benefit is that Anthony might be able to play some snaps at OLB if needed. He is a good blitzer and athlete, and has the bulk to play on the edge situationally.
There are plenty of other good ILBs in the draft so it isn’t as if they have to get Anthony. I just get the feeling he’s one they really like.
* * * * *
Two #Eagles defenders who teams believe could be had for the right price: DB Brandon Boykin & LB Mychal Kendricks.
Like Kendricks, Boykin is in the final year of his deal. If the Eagles aren’t committed to him, make the trade and get something in return.
* * * * *
It is utterly frustrating to see the team draft and develop talent, only to have a new staff come in and not value those players in the same way. That is part of the problem with changing coaches, especially one like Chip Kelly who has definitive thoughts on what he wants in his players.
Coaches like Kelly need to get their types of guys.
The pressure is on for him to now replace 2 good players who don’t happen to fit his ideal mold. Finding his type of guys won’t be hard. Having them play at a Pro Bowl type of level is a huge challenge, though. If Chip can’t do that, some fans are going to hold this against him for a long time.
* * * * *
Jimmy Bama and I did an Eagles draft preview show last night. It went almost 2 hours.
The draft is now just 36 hours away. We have no idea what the Eagles are going to do and that’s part of the fun this year. You literally need to pay attention from the opening moments on Thursday. The Eagles could talk to Tampa about trading up for the #1 spot. They’re certainly talking to the Titans about #2. None of this may pan out, but the very possibility is what makes it so interesting.
It is going to be very difficult for the Eagles to land Marcus Mariota. No team has ever moved up from as far down as the 20th overall pick to as far up as the 2nd pick to draft a quarterback. Additionally, there are no shortage of teams in need of a quarterback, including the team (the Tennessee Titans) that would likely be trading out of the No. 2 spot where most envision Mariota being drafted. There are certainly obstacles galore, and personally, I’m not quite sure if “Mariota to the Eagles” is more likely to happen than not.
However, at a minimum, the possibility of it has legs.
Jimmy then goes point by point and explains the logic to the move. This is very thorough and he makes a compelling case.
I think we all agree that Chip Kelly will try. The question is just how aggressive he’ll be.
Two days until the draft. Is the Eagles-Mariota dream dead? No sir, don't believe it is.
McManus might be the most well-connected of the Eagles writers. When he says something that has an inside feel to it…pay attention. He’s telling us Kelly is going to try to make this happen. And we’ve seen that Chip can be pretty creative when it comes to offseason moves.
* * * * *
In order to get Mariota, the Eagles will surely have to deal away Sam Bradford. Kelly swore Bradford wasn’t here as a trade chip, but not a lot of people bought that. Now there is starting to be scuttlebutt on Bradford and his situation.
Eagles acquired Bradford to be their QB. No trade pawn. He'd only sign ext w Philly with no-trade clause. Wants to play for Chip & Shurmur
Chip Kelly’s offseason has been so crazy that Eagles fans now expect utter chaos. That includes potentially trading away the franchise quarterback that Kelly just traded for a month ago. We’re not buying this as a legitimate option. Rumors have swirled that the Browns could still acquire Bradford, but it doesn’t pass the sniff test. The Eagles have reportedly started contract extension talks with Bradford and are ready to pay him $12.95 million. They worked on acquiring Bradford for a month because Kelly believes it’s a perfect system fit.
Yes, Kelly would surely love to nab Marcus Mariota. They could even entertain the possibility of pairing Bradford with Mariota if the Oregon prospect fell out of the top five picks. But Eagles ownership and Kelly have spent the entire offseason talking up Bradford as one of the best young quarterback prospects in the league. It defies credulity that they would have invested so much time and energy into Bradford just to deal him away. — Gregg Rosenthal
Kelly has spent a lot of time and effort selling the idea of Bradford as a true franchise QB to the fans and media. It would be weird for him to then go and deal him to move up for Mariota.
But that is the same Marcus Mariota that Chip recruited to Oregon and helped develop into a Heisman Trophy-winning QB. This is a special situation. I don’t think anyone will blame Chip for aggressively going after his old pupil, even if that means his previous statements turn out to be false.
* * * * *
So about Dion Jordan becoming an Eagle…not so much, huh?
Good thing he got suspended before the deal went down. That would have been pretty awkward, even if the Eagles had just spent a late pick for him.
Who knew Dion Jordan would turn out to be Bernard Williams, pt. 2?
I think we can finally move on from this topic. For good.
* * * * *
Let’s talk about a couple of mid to late round prospects. Fun guys to watch.
Check out #31 for Kansas. That is ILB Ben Heeney. The thing to watch with him is his range. He flies all over the field. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a LB who could run like that? Heeney might go as early as the 3rd round.
Check out #64, the RG for West Va. That’s Mark Glowinski, one of my favorite players in the draft. I think he would be perfect for the Eagles. He’s probably a 5th round target, but he just looks like he was born for the Chip Kelly offense. Look at his movement skills and the way he blocks on the 2nd level. He’s got a nasty streak and loves to finish his blocks. Puts defenders on the ground any chance he gets. Love this guy.
Glowinski is too much fun for just one video. Enjoy this.
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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