Dumb Rumor Day

Posted: January 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 203 Comments »

We all love a good rumor, but sometimes these things get silly. Some guy today had the rumor that the Eagles are trying to trade Nick Foles. Uh, okay. I could see that. Let’s have Matt Barkley and GJ Kinne atop the QB depth chart. You could argue that moving Foles would involve a move up in the draft, but there are no guarantees the right guy would be available. This kind of rumor just seems crazy.

Could Foles be on the market at some point in the next few months? Sure, anything is possible. But it only makes sense if there are other moves that happen. Until they do, Nick Foles isn’t going anywhere.

We also have the reports about Chip Kelly moving up for Marcus Mariota. This is pure fantasy material. I cannot imagine anyway that guy gets out of the Top 10. Do you really think the Rams would pass on him to go with Sam Bradford, Austin Davis and Shaun Hill? Jeff Fisher is in desperate need of a QB. Mariota is big and athletic, which is exactly what Fisher loves.

You can argue that Mariota would fall to pick 7 or 8 or 9 and the Eagles could then move up for him. But the Rams can move up as well, and the trading team would still be able to have a Top 10 pick. And there are teams other than the Rams who could be interested in moving up for him.

And I still think the Bucs will go for a QB. Winston or Mariota? I tend to think Mariota, but never say never.

* * * * *

Jeff Stoutland gave a big hug to QB Blake Sims today. Stout was at Bama when Sims was the backup QB there. Sims seemed genuinely excited to talk to his old coach.

Stoutland also chased down an O-lineman when the players were leaving practice. There was a crowd of people between me and Stoutland, but it looked like he was talking to Max Garcia from Florida. I don’t know if they’re old acquaintances (college recruiting possibly) our Stout was trying to set up an interview.

Stoutland also has some ties to WR Phillip Dorsett. Eliot Shorr-Parks has that story.

* * * * *

Of the Safeties, I thought Kurtis Drummond had the best day. He looked good in press coverage. Drummond is very physical and able to stick with receivers. He also had a big hit on a TE today.

Clayton Geathers was up and down. I spoke to him after practice and Geathers said he did meet with the Eagles last night. He’s a nice enough kid, but I don’t think he wowed anyone in an interview. Geathers is still a solid prospect, but he won’t be at the top of the list.

Here are my notes on the North’s practice from Wednesday.

I’ll post my notes on the South later tonight or early Thursday.

* * * * *

There is one player I need to mention here. QB Bryan Bennett was added to the South roster. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal, but this is different. Bennett played for Oregon from 2010-2012. When Bennett lost the battle for the starting job to a kid named Marcus Mariota, he transferred.

Bennett ended up at SE Louisiana. He had a terrific career there in 2013 and 2014. He threw for 39 TDs and ran for 31, and also led the school to a pair of FCS playoff berths.

Beyond the Oregon connection, Bennett is newsworthy because he was the best QB on the field for the South today. Bennett has a good arm and smooth motion. He threw the ball well short, intermediate and deep. His timing wasn’t there with the receivers so it was hard to judge his accuracy.

New rumor…my sources tell me the Eagles are prepared to do whatever it takes to get Bennett. Expect them to trade Foles, McCoy, Peters, Cox, Kendricks and half a dozen future 1st round picks.

Bryan Bennett isn’t getting away from Chip Kelly this time!!!


Senior Bowl Day 1

Posted: January 21st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 238 Comments »

Tuesday was an adventure. We started with the weigh-in, which is always the most uncomfortable part of Senior Bowl week. Then we watched 2 practices at 2 stadiums and finished the day with Media Night, where we had a couple of hours to interview the players in a somewhat informal setting.

Nothing really Eagles-centric happened at the weigh-in so I’ll skip that.

Chip Kelly and Bill Davis watched most of the North practice together. Kelly likes to stand in the far end zone and watch. Most coaches are up in the stands. The problem with that is a lot of socializing goes on. I think Kelly prefers to just take in the action.

The Eagles had a camera in the stands recording the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 stuff. I have never seen any other team do this specifically. The practices are taped by the league and everyone gets a copy. Maybe the Eagles wanted a different camera angle for some reason.

I wrote notes on the North practice here.

The South practice at Fairhope is very different. No one is in the stands. Everyone lines the field and watches up close. I stood with a GM and some pro scouts and watched the action. At one point a random person came near me and yelled to someone else “Billy Davis is down there.” I went down that way to see what Davis was doing. I had been focused on DBs and receivers. He was in the LB/DL area. As soon as I got behind Davis he said to a friend “I’ve got to go watch the DBs.” I wasn’t able to stand near him in that area so I couldn’t pick up any info.

Here are my notes on the South practice.

One final note from the South, that is where Alabama coach Nick Saban makes his annual appearance. He comes to support the Bama players and also to schmooze with NFL types as well as fans. He is bigger than the Pope to his fans. Anyway, OL coach Jeff Stoutland, who worked for Saban, walked down the field with him and was telling one heck of a story. Saban was locked in and had a huge smile on his face, as did Stoutland. You never know when an assistant coach leaves a program if he’ll stay in good standing with the head coach, but Stout and Saban seemed like buddies. That’s good when it comes to getting the inside scoop on Bama players.

Overall, there were several players the Eagles should have come away interested in. Safeties Kurtis Drummond, Clayton Geathers, Jaquiski Tartt and Clayton Prewitt all impressed. The Eagles were scheduled to interview 3 of them last night. They were also set to interview CB/S Eric Rowe and CB Quentin Rollins. Both guys had a solid first day.

Oddball note of the day…the ride to Fairhope was interesting. I was in a car that was behind Rex Ryan and his DL coach. Rex was driving and the man was all over the road. He couldn’t stay straight to save his life. Must have been texting with Mark Sanchez about coming to Buffalo.

Media Night was interesting. The hard part of writing about players is that most of the guys are genuinely nice people you want to succeed. Jimmy and I sat down and ate dinner with Shane Carden, a QB from East Carolina. He did not play well. He’s got a poor arm and just didn’t look like an NFL QB. Great in the spread in college, but not NFL material. I struck up an informal conversation with him and he was fun to talk to. Real nice kid. I hope I’m dead wrong and he plays for a decade, but I bet his future is in coaching.

Jimmy and I talked to Michigan State star Tony Lippett. He is a good WR prospect, but also started 3 games at CB this year due to injuries. I made the point to him that every draft is loaded with WRs, but every team is desperate for corner help. Why not move to CB to help your odds? He wants to be a WR. He did say that he’ll do what he has to in order to stay in the league, but he wants to be a WR. The Eagles haven’t talked to him yet. Something tells me Kelly will like a WR that is 6-3, 190 and can also play CB if needed.

The best interview of the night was with CB Quentin Rollins. That is one sharp dude. He’s smart and seems to have a good sense of reality. Some of these guys are a bit delusional. Rollins told us good stories about the past year, his first playing college football. Prior to that he was a star basketball player for Miami OH. Jimmy and I asked him about the Eagles. Rollins said he was interviewing with them Tuesday night. We then asked what he knew about the team. He went back in time and talked about McNabb, Dawk and Reid at first. He then talked about the current team and said “I think they need corner help.” Jimmy and I both said “They definitely need corner help.” As long as he doesn’t become a Dallas Cowboy, I’ll be pulling for Rollins wherever he goes.

The highlight of the night was the interview that Jimmy and I had with Bryce Petty. Eliot Shorr-Parks and Jimmy were lobbing softballs at Petty. He was giving good answers, but there was no real exchange of real information. That’s when I opened up.

I asked Petty if he felt pressure to play well. He said no. Then I talked about the fact he was so good at the short, quick throws that he’d done over and over at Baylor, but NFL teams wanted to see more. I talked to him about the fact that like so many college QBs, he was either throwing short passes or deep passes. The NFL wants to see intermediate throws. They wanna see the dig route. They want to see you hit the TE over the middle. The Senior Bowl is a chance to show that. I told Petty that while he looked great on the short stuff, he was “awkward” with the intermediate throws.

Honestly. he looked bad. I thought awkward was the nicest word I could use that would still convey some sense of negativity. I’m not going to lie to him and tell him he lit it up. Petty kinda laughed and said something to the effect that “I’ll have to work on my awkwardness.”

I then explained what a great opportunity the Senior Bowl was. I told him the story of Donovan McNabb coming to Mobile in 1999 with questions about whether he could be an NFL QB. He was coached by Jon Gruden, who was tough on him. McNabb had a great week and the Eagles took him #2 overall. Petty liked that angle and left happy with the thought that playing well could boost his stock.

Jimmy and ESP were a bit in shock at my candor, but I thought I was reasonable.

Petty was very nice the whole night. He’s got a good personality and definitely comes across as a QB. I hope he does throw the ball better on Wednesday and Thursday. I’d love for him to emerge as a target for the Eagles. One point about that…he would not be someone to play right away. You would need to develop him. Petty would ideally be a mid-round pick that sat for a year or two as he adjusted to the NFL.

That hasn’t worked with Matt Barkley so far, but that hardly means you give up on drafting and developing QBs.

* * * * *

A couple of misc notes…

It doesn’t sound like Ed Marynowitz will get promoted. Kelly continues the search for outside help. No scoops on who he’s talking to now. I’m sure Kelly is looking for people while here in Mobile with all the best personnel guys in the world.

Tom Gamble is here. I assume he’s looking for a job.


Tuesday Quick Update

Posted: January 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 76 Comments »

Today was insane. The weigh-in was from 830am-1030am. Then Jimmy Bama and I went over to Saucy Q BBQ for lunch. The North practiced from 12:15 to 2:15. Then we hopped in a car and drove over to Fairhope Stadium for the South practice from 2:30-4:30. We got back to Mobile at 6pm and went straight to Media Night, which just ended at 8pm CST.

I have a ton of notes and stories, but need time to write them.

Tyler Aston was kind enough to put together some of his thoughts on the weigh-in. Good stuff from him.

Here are some quick highlights from today.

Sheil Kapadia, me, Jimmy Bama and Eliot-Shorr Parks.

I’ll share this story in the next post.

I’ll get my posts up as soon as I can. Just wanted to get something up quickly so I can get back to writing.


Hot For Hundley?

Posted: January 20th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 434 Comments »

Charlie Campbell from Walter Football posted this nugget.

For months, there has been speculation that Philadelphia wants to trade to get Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and reunite him with Chip Kelly. However, there are rumors going around that the Eagles love UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. From an athletic skill set perspective, it makes all the sense in the world, as Hundley is a great athlete with mobility to hurt defenses with his feet. He also has a strong enough arm to disrupt the ball throughout the field. The rumor mill is saying that the Eagles are hot for Hundley and would target him much earlier than other teams, as in he could be in play for their first- or second-round pick.

I have no idea if this is true. It is completely logical because all 32 teams love Hundley’s size, athleticism and physical potential. When you break down his play, things change. Those that like Hundley focus on the positives. Others see a mess on the field and want nothing to do with him. They see a better version of Logan Thomas.

I am still not sure what to make of Hundley. He has the potential to be a very good NFL starter, but you have no idea if he’ll ever come close to realizing that potential. The mental part of the game is his biggest weakness…and we’re talking about college football. Things get much harder in the NFL. Interviews are going to be critical for him. Hundley is going to have to sell some team that he can learn and will work his butt off to become a good NFL QB.

If you could draft him with a mid-round pick, Hundley would be a no-brainer (which would be fine even if he turned out to be a no-brainer). The problem is that a guy with his physical potential won’t last that long. EJ Manuel wasn’t nearly as good as Hundley and went in the mid-1st. I doubt he makes it out of the 2nd round, if he falls that far.

* * * * *

I asked someone with good league connections last night about Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. This guy feels Mariota goes first overall, but has no idea on Winston.

You can argue for which guy should go first based on talent and performance. Winston is much more NFL ready. However, character is a huge issue and Winston’s character is either highly questionable or flat out awful. Is that the kid you want to make the center of your billion dollar organization? Jimbo Fisher couldn’t wait to get him out of Tallahassee.

There was some recent speculation about Mariota falling to the mid-1st, but I just can’t see that happening. He’s not Geno Smith.

* * * * *

No good rumors about the Eagles and front office candidates.

I assume Chip Kelly will be here in Mobile. He’s been the past 2 years. Will be interesting to see who he chats up.

* * * * *

I had an interesting discussion on Nate Allen with some folks on Twitter last night. I said some good things about Clayton Geathers from UCF and someone pointed out that sounded like what I wrote about Nate in January of 2010. And he was right. I loved Nate Allen coming out of USF. I thought he was going to be a good starting FS for years. I was ecstatic when the Eagles drafted him.

Nate had a solid rookie year, but then got hurt late in 2010. That injury affected him in 2011, as did playing for lesser coaches and in the Wide-9. He really struggled in 2012 before bouncing back in 2013. The new coaches and new scheme helped him out. I hoped he would take another step forward in 2014. That did not happen.

Some people felt any talk of injuries, scheme and coaches were me simply making excuses for Nate. Uh, no. Go watch his tape from the 2010 season. You will see a guy playing with confidence and showing a kind of aggression we haven’t seen since. The guy we see on the field now isn’t the same player.

There is value in understanding why Nate failed. He was never on his way to being Dawk, Pt. 2, but there is no question that without his injury he would be a different guy today. That and the Wide-9 gave him some bad habits and changed the way he played.

Jaiquawn Jarrett never showed potential. He was a terrible pick. Nate showed a lot of promise as a rookie and then things changed. There is a huge difference. It is important to figure out what happened to help with evaluating players going forward. You need to learn from your mistakes.

I thought Danny Watkins was going to be a good player. Age aside, I loved the guy as a prospect. He was good on tape and at the Senior Bowl. Turned out he didn’t have the commitment that football requires. Jarrett was a terrific college player, but just couldn’t adjust to the NFL. He struggled with getting bigger and stronger. He never showed the kind of confidence that he had at Temple. Jarrett owned the field in college. He played with an attitude. He looked lost and unsure of himself when he was with the Eagles.

You don’t want the draft to be a pure guessing game. You want to figure out why things work and why they didn’t.


Coaching Changes

Posted: January 19th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 56 Comments »

Chip Kelly finally made some moves. And good ones.

John Lovett is out as DBs coach. He will move to a pro scouting position. Cory Undlin was hired to take his place. Undlin was most recently the DBs coach for Denver. The Broncos faced the most passing attempts in the NFL this year, but only gave up the 9th most passing yards. They were 8th in opposing QB rating. Teams threw a lot, but didn’t have much success.

Here is more from Undlin’s Broncos bio:

With the Broncos in 2013, Undlin coached a unit that overcame losses of perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and starting safety Rahim Moore to injuries. The secondary featured young contributors in cornerback Kayvon Webster and safety Duke Ihenacho as well as steady performances from cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Undlin was part of Denver’s defensive staff in 2012 that helped the club rank third against the pass. The Broncos finished the 2012 regular season as the only NFL team that didn’t allow a 300-yard passer in addition to limiting opponents to a league-low 30.6-percent third-down conversion rate.

While coaching the Jaguars’ secondary in 2011, Jacksonville’s defense allowed just two individual 300-yard passers to tie for the fourth fewest in the NFL in addition to surrendering only 43 pass plays of 20+yards (T-2nd in NFL).

I like this move a lot. Lovett was a solid college coach, but seemed to struggle in the NFL. Undlin has coached NFL DBs and has had good success. He’s worked for Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio and John Fox, 3 highly respected defensive coaches.

Don’t think this means the secondary is instantly going to be better. However, there were too many players underachieving for coaching not to be part of the issue. The Eagles have been lousy at developing DBs for a while now. That has to change. They can’t rely on free agency every time change is needed. Undlin has developed young talent for a couple of teams.

The Eagles also moved Ted Williams to pro scouting. They promoted Justin Peelle to be the TEs coach. Williams is 71 and the Eagles may have moved him for fear of losing Peelle. Clearly Williams is coming to the end of a terrific coaching career. He’s worked with RBs and TEs in his 20 years with the Eagles.

And now for even more coaching news…

Congrats to Bill on the job.

Chip Kelly now needs to hire an assistant DB coach and a QB coach.

Peelle was the assistant TE coach, but that’s not a standard position and he might not fill that.

* * * * *

I am in Mobile. Jimmy Bama is here as well. The trip has already been a rousing success. I made eye contact with Alex Flanagan…twice. I wasn’t stalking her, as far as the authorities are concerned.

Here is a Senior Bowl preview.

That isn’t an Eagles-centric preview.

You know I’ll be all over DBs and QBs this year. Bryce Petty is the QB I’m most fascinated by. Blake Sims is also of interest.

There are lots of DBs to like. I’m excited by the Safety group – Kurtis Drummond, Clayton Geathers, Jaquiski Tartt. I’d love to see any of them end up with the Eagles.

I’m off to have some PBRs and dig for rumors.