Top 10 Talk

Posted: April 17th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 305 Comments »

After talking to some people and doing more thinking, I’m afraid Jared Goff is going to be the Rams  pick at #1. I was hoping there would be some way he would get to the Eagles, but I don’t think that is going to happen.

Here is a guess at the Top 10.

1 – STL – QB Jared Goff
2 – CLE – DB Jalen Ramsey
3 – SD – DL DeForest Buckner
4 – DAL – RB Ezekiel Elliott
5 – JAX – LB Myles Jack
6 – BAL – OT Laremy Tunsil
7 – SF – DE Joey Bosa
8- PHI – QB Carson Wentz

I struggled with the Niners pick. They could easily take Wentz. Their QB position is not exactly set.

Colin Kaepernick
Blaine Gabbert
Thad Lewis
Dylan Thompson

I’m just not sure I can see Chip Kelly wanting to spend a Top 10 pick on a small school QB. I know Trent Baalke is the GM and controls the draft, but I’m not sure he would force an early QB on a coach who wasn’t totally in on the pick. There is also the question of trying to get immediate impact. Do Baalke and Kelly have the job security to draft a player who wouldn’t be likely to help them this season?

It might seem crazy to imagine Wentz falling all the way to 8, but this is a strange draft class at the top. Usually you don’t have so many teams that are set at QB.

If the Eagles feel strongly about Wentz and want to make sure they get him, they should either talk to CLE, SD or JAX about moving up. This is where Howie Roseman will need to have a good feel for what the other teams will do.

If Wentz is gone, I think the Eagles will go CB Vernon Hargreaves. I do not think Paxton Lynch will be in play with pick number 8.

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The Eagles have shown interest in Listenbee.

6-0, 197
4.39 at the Combine
30-597-5 (2015 stats)

That’s a terrific size-speed combination. He was a big play machine at TCU, averaging almost 20 yards per catch for his career.

The Eagles could use someone with that kind of speed.

Beyond speed, Listenbee is a good downfield receiver. He tracks the ball well and is comfortable catching it on the run. I think he could go as early as the 3rd round.

*****

I posted some draft notes over at ScoutsNotebook.

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Presence

Posted: April 16th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 107 Comments »

Presence is the name of a great Led Zeppelin album. Achilles Last Stand is the classic song, while Hots On For Nowhere is incredibly underrated.

Okay, enough about Zep.

Presence is also a key quality with successful NFL QBs.

I remember being at the Senior Bowl in 2012. Both Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins had the presence of starting QBs. This is a mixture of confidence and awareness. You want to be confident, but not arrogant. You also know you’re “The Man”. That means treating others around you a certain way.

QBs are leaders by default. They run the huddle. They have all eyes on them, whether on or off the field. Good QBs have presence, where they come across as natural leaders and being comfortable in the spotlight.

Carson Wentz passed this test in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He might have been a kid from North Dakota State, but if you took the helmet off him you would have guessed he was a 4-year starter at USC, Notre Dame or Alabama. He knew he was the Big Dog at the Senior Bowl this year and projected that vibe. But not in a cocky way.

This is a big selling point for Wentz in my book.

I’ve never been around Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch. Goff played at a big school and his coaches raved about him. I’ve heard good things about him. I don’t know anything for a fact, but I feel comfortable with him. Lynch is more of a mystery. He played at Memphis, never really having much of a spotlight on him. His team was solid, but nothing special. Since he was an underclassman, Lynch didn’t get to go to an all star game. I have not heard anything about him from people I trust so I’m not sure what to make of Lynch in terms of intangibles.

Goff is the QB I prefer, but there is a strong case to be made for Wentz. Lynch remains the mystery man.

I can’t wait to see who the Rams want. I think Wentz is Jeff Fisher’s type of QB, but Goff is the most NFL-ready QB of the bunch so you can make a strong argument that he should be the pick.

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One late round RB I like quite a bit is Auburn’s Peyton Barber.

He left school early to help provide for his mom and family. That sounds good, but you always get nervous when a kid has to provide for so many. Can he stay focused and be successful in pro football?

I love what I see on tape.

Barber is a north-south runner who keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t go down on first contact and will run over his share of tacklers. He shows the ability to make some defenders miss. Barber is 228 pounds and is a physical runner, as you would expect.

There are plenty of questions in regard to Barber’s ability to block and catch, but there shouldn’t be many questions about him as a runner. I have no idea if the Eagles are interested in him, but Barber would be an interesting addition to the backfield because of his size and running style.

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RB Rumors

Posted: April 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 156 Comments »

Another day, another set of Eagles rumors.

This report made one person very happy…Howie Roseman. I’m sure the Eagles do have legit interest in Elliott, but Roseman has to love this getting reported. If the Eagles are sitting at 8 and some team covets Elliott, it will make that team think strongly about moving up.

This also helps to confuse the other 31 teams as to who the Eagles really do want to draft. Is Wentz their target? Goff? Is it possible that Roseman actually wants a RB that early?

Sometimes you spend draft night waiting for your guy to fall to you. Other times you have to move up. And then there are those times when all your key targets get picked and the smart move is trading back. The less other teams know about your true intentions, the easier it is to get the results you want.

Teams can ignore reports from NFL insiders because they know some of those reports are completely bogus. Teams having interest in players can be bogus as well, but it is much harder dismiss these reports. No matter what you think about the Eagles taking a RB early, the team has spent a lot of time on Elliott and made him feel like a key target for the team.

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BGN posted an interesting item from Tony Pauline. According to Pauline, if the Eagles do draft Elliott, they might trade Ryan Mathews and the two teams most interested are SF and Dallas. The Eagles might be reluctant to deal Mathews to Dallas because they’re a division rival and SF because of the presence of Chip Kelly.

I can believe the Eagles would be hesitant about dealing a good player to Dallas. I cannot think the team would honestly have any issues with dealing Mathews to SF. Kelly isn’t in charge of that team. Roseman would negotiate with their GM, Trent Baalke.

I don’t understand the logic behind trading Mathews, if this report is true. If you go draft Elliott, he is going to be your feature back. But you need a good backup. Are you going to stick with Kenjon Barner and Darren Sproles? Keeping Mathews for a year would seem to be the wise move. Or the Eagles could sign someone to be the backup to Elliott and then use Sproles and Barner as role players.

Honestly, I still don’t have a good feel for what the Eagles are doing at RB.

*****

Want more schedule talk?

Jimmy Bama wrote a good piece on the advantages and disadvantages of the Eagles 2016 schedule.

I just can’t get too fired up about the schedule. A lot will change between now the NFL regular season. For example, are the Eagles playing against Dallas with Romo or without him? Little details like that end up making a huge difference.

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Draft Craziness Starts Early

Posted: April 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 352 Comments »

The draft isn’t for another 2 weeks, but we already have a huge trade. The Rams moved all the way up from pick 15 to the top overall pick.

This affects the Eagles in a big way.

St. Louis didn’t make that jump for the heck of it. That’s a deal you make to go get a QB. Okay, so which one? Initial reports had them going for Carson Wentz. Then Adam Schefter reported the Rams were focused on Jared Goff. So we really don’t know right now.

I look at Jeff Fisher and can see him going for Wentz.

Think about Fisher’s past. He had his most success with a big, strong-armed, athletic QB from a small school. Steve McNair helped Fisher get to the Super Bowl. Wentz isn’t exactly like McNair, but there are more than a few similarities. Wentz also makes sense when you think about the Rams offense being based around RB Todd Gurley. Wentz has the arm strength to throw deep and stretch the field, which makes it tough to load the box. Wentz also runs very well, making him dangerous on bootlegs and plays like that.

There is also a case to be made for Goff. I just happen to think Wentz makes more sense for Fisher and the Rams. I’m not alone.

With Cleveland and possibly SF looking for QBs, it will be tough for one to slide down to the Eagles at 8. Suddenly trading up to pick 2 makes a lot of sense. The Eagles could also talk to the Ravens about a deal for the number 6 pick. If Cleveland doesn’t go QB, just getting ahead of SF may be enough. It is possible that neither the Browns or Niners will go for a QB. Both organizations have depleted rosters and need more than one guy.

Goff is still my preference for the Eagles. We’ve heard they prefer him. We’ve heard Wentz is their guy. We’ve also heard a lot about them having interest in Kevin Hogan, a mid-round target. The Eagles are doing a great job of keeping everyone confused.

We don’t know anything for sure, but that’s a group of different reporters all claiming the Eagles were in serious pursuit of the top pick. You would have to think they would keep talking to teams about moving up, especially if the cost is less.

The key will be if there is a player they still covet. Not like, but covet.

Do the Eagles have Wentz and Goff rated similarly? Do they really want both players? If not, they’ll only move up if the guy they like isn’t picked.

You also have to wonder if this means Paxton Lynch becomes a serious target at number 8. I know the Eagles have checked him out thoroughly, but have no clue if they like him. I can’t stress this enough. You don’t take a QB for the heck of it. You have to truly believe in the player.

If the Eagles were truly trying to get to #1, there had to be a player they really wanted. It will be interesting to see if today’s deal takes that player off the board or if it just complicates the pursuit of him.

*****

I’m not a big schedule guy.

Starting with Cleveland. Cool.

Finishing with Dallas. Cool.

SEA-GB-CIN. Not so cool.

BGN did a terrific job of putting together some cool observations on the schedule.

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The Men in the Middle

Posted: April 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 365 Comments »

2011 was such a strange season. Juan Castillo was the defensive coordinator. The Eagles tried to build a scheme around the Wide 9 front. There was a lockout, meaning virtually no offseason for players and coaches to work together. And the Eagles chose to make rookie Casey Matthews the MLB.

Matthews was a good college player, but nothing special. Having him start at MLB in that scheme in an abbreviated offseason was asking for trouble. Putting Moises Fokou on one side and Jamar Chaney on the other certainly didn’t help matters.

The Eagles should be worlds better than that at LB this year.

The media got to talk to Jordan Matthews, Eric Rowe and Jordan Hicks yesterday. The focus seemed to be Hicks, who will now take over as the MLB. So Hicks has a new position and is in a new scheme. Les Bowen has more on that.

Hicks said he isn’t put off moving from Bill Davis’ 3-4 to Jim Schwartz’s 4-3, from inside linebacker to MIKE.

“It’s something I’ve done quite a bit of. I played it in college,” he said.

But of course, he didn’t play it for Schwartz, behind defensive ends who will frequently pin their ears back in a Wide 9.

“A lot of it, schemewise, is just ‘Attack. Attack. Attack. D-line, just go.’ That’s his mentality, is go, and the linebackers clean it up,” Hicks said. “I think it makes you rely more on your instincts.”

Is Hicks the key to making the setup work?

“I think there’s different focuses for different positions,” he said. “Obviously, the corners are one-on-one a lot. They’ve gotta be able to hold up, and the d-line’s gotta go, and we gotta clean up, so we’ve all got our different things we’ve got to be able to do to make the puzzle fit.”

Hicks said he’s lucky that the new terminology is familiar to him…from back in his college days. It isn’t exactly the same, but is similar enough that it will help him pick it up quickly.

The Eagles know Hicks is smart. He was new to the 3-4 last year and learned that quickly, which is all the more impressive because he was a rookie and having to figure out everything. This year he can focus on the scheme, which is simpler than last year’s. The mental side of things should not be an issue.

The biggest concern with Hicks right now is durability. Injuries hurt his career at Texas and he missed several games last year after getting hurt in the win over Dallas. You might remember that game.

It seemed so cruel to lose him after such an epic moment.

Hicks knows he needs to stay healthy and to stay on the field.

Hicks showed the same traits in college he showed with the Eagles last season. He lasted until the third round of the draft because of concerns about his durability. Hicks suffered significant hip (2012) and Achilles’ (2013) injuries at Texas.

Hicks said he can’t worry about what he can’t control, but if there is anything he can do to prevent ligament and tendon tears, he wants to do it. He said he was “getting blood work done” in an effort to find out more about his body.

“That’s something I’m trying to tackle, and I really do think it’s behind me. Does it give me something to prove? Absolutely . . . I’m doing everything I possibly can to learn about myself, to understand my body, to tackle that side of it, so when I am on the field, I won’t have anything to worry about,” he said.

Injuries are partly bad luck. But Hicks is smart to do research and to try to figure out if there is anything he can do to help prevent them.

*****

I think having good players around him will help Hicks. Nigel Bradham has played in this scheme and done well so he can be a voice of experience. Mychal Kendricks. has started 53 games for the Eagles in the past 4 years. He logged some time in the Wide 9 as a rookie so this scheme won’t be completely new to him.

Kendricks is probably best suited to playing WIL in the 4-3 so this should be an ideal situation for him. Some fans tell me how awful Kendricks was last year.

“He was terrible.”

“He sucked.”

Ugh. No, Kendricks was far from terrible. He was second on the team in tackles. He had 3 sacks and 6 TFLs. He broke up 3 passes and had a FF.

Kendricks did have some bad plays to be sure. He struggled in coverage at times, getting badly burned on a few memorable plays. But anyone who thought he was terrible should go back and watch LB play from 2009-2011. Go watch Jamar Chaney, Akeem Jordan, Moises Fokou, Casey Matthews, Joe Mays and Ernie Sims and then talk to me about terrible LB play.

Kendricks is frustrating because he is so talented and doesn’t always play to that level, but he is a solid starter that will make some big plays (and some big mistakes). We’ve seen guys that shouldn’t be starting who kept jobs for multiple years.

Bradham, Hicks and Kendricks should be a much better set of LBs than Fokou, Matthews and Chaney. Ugh. Just typing that brings back some less than awesome memories.

*****

The schedule comes out tonight.

NO THANKSGIVING GAMES…OR ELSE!!!!!

That is all.

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