Some Draft Q&A

Posted: April 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 38 Comments »

You guys have been asking a lot of questions in regard to the draft and prospects. Let me try to answer a few.

Will the Eagles move up or move back from pick 22?

I think the Eagles would like to add more picks so moving back makes more sense. That said, if the right player falls, I think the Eagles would consider moving up. Who might be the kind of guys the team would go up for? LB Anthony Barr could be one. WR Mike Evans could be one. I wonder if TE Eric Ebron could be one. I know the Eagles have Brent Celek and Zach Ertz already, but Ebron would be one heck of an offensive weapon to add to the mix. He’s not your normal TE.

If the Eagles do move up, I think it would only be a few spots. They won’t want to give up a lot. As for moving back, they could go late 1st or even early 2nd.

Do you prefer Beckham vs Cooks?

I like Beckham quite a bit, but I’m still doing my research on Cooks. Jimmy Bama is very high on Cooks. so naturally that concerns me. Both guys are really good and the Eagles would be lucky to add either player.

Talk about big WRs.

Not all big WRs are the same. Mike Evans is 6-5, 231 and Kelvin Benjamin is 6-5, 240, but they are very different players. Evans is going to be a very high pick because he’s got athletic ability to go with his size. Benjamin is a marginal athlete. I don’t know who to compare Evans to. He’s not as special as Calvin Johnson. I don’t like him as much as I did Plaxico Burress. But Evans is pretty darn good.

The Eagles have one big WR right now. Riley Cooper is 6-3, 222. Obviously that pales in comparison to the kind of size Evans has.

While I do think Chip Kelly prefers big WRs, I don’t think he would have a problem with taking average sized players like Cooks or Beckham. If someone is really talented, Kelly is likely to look beyond size. If 2 players are equal, he’ll probably go for the bigger one.

Should the Eagles target defense early and then go for offense?

That sounds good in theory, but I do believe in the Best Player Available theory. The Eagles need more help on defense, but if better offensive players are available, take them.

Do you prefer Attaochu or Van Noy as 2nd round targets?

Different players. Attaochu would be here to play ROLB. I think Van Noy is better suited to playing ILB in the 3-4. I just don’t think he’s a dynamic enough pass rusher to play outside. I like him quite a bit, but think he’s more of a complete LB than just a pass rusher. Of the 2, I prefer Attaochu.

Is Bryce Brown trade bait?

I doubt it. Here’s the problem. Brown has big time ability, but as a RB coming off a mediocre year he would have little value. I’m not trading a talented player like Brown for just a 7th rounder. Brown has 2 years left on his rookie contract. The Eagles need to see if he can become a key player or if he can develop into a tradeable asset.

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Who The Eagles Are Checking Out

Posted: April 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 76 Comments »

The Eagles have been meeting with and checking up on a lot of players in the last month. Let’s take a look at who they are and why the team might like them or at least want to check up on them. This will get updated over the course of the next month. And let me know if I’ve missed anyone.

PLAYERS THAT HAVE VISITED PHILLY

* S Deone Bucannon – Washington State – 6-1, 216

The Eagles could use a big, physical presence in the secondary. That’s Bucannon’s specialty. Could be a 2nd round target.

* WR Mike Evans – Texas A&M – 6-5, 231

Most expect Evans to go Top 10 or close to that. My guess is that the Eagles would have interest in trading up for him if he fell in the 15 range and was affordable.

* DE Taylor Hart – Oregon – 6-6, 284

The Eagles need depth at DE. You can’t count on Joe Kruger. Hart is big and athletic. He could be an excellent backup.

* OG Trey Hopkins – Texas – 6-3, 305

An overlooked player that is starting to get some attention. The Browns are bringing him in for a visit. Good run blocker.

* WR Cody Latimer – Indiana – 6-2, 215

Junior WR had a great season (72-1096-9). Played in one of the fastest offenses in the nation, so it makes sense that the Eagles have some interest in him. Excellent size/speed prospect who could be good value in the 3rd round or great value in the 4th.

* CB Jaylen Watkins – Florida – 6-0, 194

The least known of Florida’s 3 DB prospects entering the season is now going to be the first one drafted. Watkins was very good at the Senior Bowl and then stood out at the UF Pro Day.

PRO DAYS / WORKOUTS

* LB Jeremiah Attaochu – Georgia Tech – 6-3, 252

The Eagles saw Attaochu at the Senior Bowl, but he wasn’t able to work out at the Combine due to a torn hamstring. The Eagles are set to work him out in the next couple of weeks. I don’t think Attaochu is in play at pick 22, but if the team moves back, he could be of interest. I’d love to get him in the 2nd round, but I’m just not sure he is going to fall that far. I’m a big fan and would love to see the Eagles land him. Attaochu is a good athlete, but he’s also a physical, violent player.

* TE Asante Cleveland – Miami – 6-4, 260

Who? Cleveland caught all of 14 passes in his Miami career. This is a weak TE class so the Eagles are probably trying to find some UDFA targets. Miami has been a TE factory over the years so that’s a good place to look, even for a lesser talent. Here’s the note.

Tight end Asante Cleveland looked good, according to an NFL official in attendance. Cleveland met with Eagles officials Tuesday and has a visit scheduled with Arizona.

* QB Garrett Gilbert – SMU – 6-4, 221

QB Coach Bill Musgrave went to SMU to watch Gilbert work out. Gilbert is the son of an NFL QB. His dad Gale was a backup for Buffalo during their glory days. Gilbert began his career at Texas before going on to SMU. Gilbert was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school and we know the Eagles like to take chances on those guys if they fall in the draft (see Bryce Brown).

QB would seem to be set with Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley, but you never know when a player you really like is going to fall to a spot where he is just too good to pass up. We don’t know if they like Gilbert, but they are at least curious.

* Tennessee OL

The Vols are loaded with OL prospects this year. None are super-talented and guys that will go early, but they do have multiple players that will get drafted. Here’s the note of interest.

Most of the attention during pro day was on Antonio Richardson, Ja’Wuan James, James Stone, Zach Fulton and Alex Bullard who made up the Volunteers’ offensive line last year. All have the possibility of being drafted this year especially Antonio Richardson, who is projected to go in the first or second round while Ja’Wuan James has the possibility of going in the second round. Richardson made a few mental errors in the position drills and he was pushed harder by the scouts than any other player. Richardson said that there are about 16 teams that have contacted him.

Regardless, he did show why he is projected to go so high in this year’s draft in his performance. “I tried to show the scouts that I was healthy and that I have my explosiveness back.” Richardson said. “You don’t really know anything until draft day though, it’s hard to see who’s showing me more interest than others.” Ja’Wuan James agreed with Richardson in that you have no idea what the scouts could be thinking. “It’s weird not getting feedback from coaches right away. I came out to show that I can fit any scheme and that I’m a versatile lineman.”

Offensive line coaches Tom Cable from the Seattle Seahawks and George Yarno from the Jacksonville Jaguars worked the offensive lineman hard, putting them through multiple tough drills and were obviously thinking hard about drafting one of the five. All eyes were on the lineman today, but after almost an hour, only representatives from the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets were left watching and talking to the lineman at the end of their workout.

The Eagles need depth on the OL so it makes total sense for them to be checking on the Vols. No word on if they were focused on one particular player.

* OG Trai Turner – LSU – 6-3, 310

The Eagles met with him at the Combine. Here’s what he noted.

“I never had a specific favorite team. It was a blessing to be there. San Francisco was my most intense meeting, the questions they asked. You are only in the room for 15 minutes, it’s rapid-fire. They talked about (former Tiger) Eric Reid and what a high-character guy he was.

“I was in a meeting with the Jets going over my film. One of the coaches said, ‘Dang, you like to hit people, don’t you?’ I said ‘Yeah’, and the coach said, ‘Well, don’t hit me.’

“Some were funny and some were intense. The Eagles asked me a lot about Coach Miles, what kind of guy he was, what did he do at practice, game rituals.

Interesting that the Eagles were picking his brain about Coach Miles. My guess is that they were trying to see what Turner thought of Miles and how he did things. Chip Kelly is a unique and demanding coach. If a prospect didn’t handle tough coaching well at the college level, he’s not likely to fit into Kelly’s program.

* OL Laurent Durvernay-Tardiff – McGill – 6-5, 300

The Eagles were one of a handful of teams at his Pro Day. The Canadian prospect played at the Shrine Game and opened some eyes down there.

* Washington’s Pro Day

The Eagles were there. The players they were most likely focused on were QB Keith Price (UDFA), TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (Day 2) and RB Bishop Sankey (Day 2). Safety Sean Parker had a poor workout and measured in smaller than expected.

* Utah State’s Pro Day

The Eagles were there, most likely checking out CB Nevin Lawson and CB Tay Glover-Wright. Both guys ran well. Lawson is the better of the duo and the Eagles have already seen him at all star games.

Missouri’s Pro Day

Chip Kelly went there himself. I’m sure he was checking out DE/LBs Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. I don’t like either guy for the Eagles. I don’t think they are athletic enough for OLB. While both guys struggled at the Combine, Ealy looked much better at his Pro Day. If Kelly wants a big body for ROLB, maybe Ealy is a legit target.

* Virginia Tech’s Pro Day

Fuller would make a ton of sense. Bill Davis introduced Fuller to Chip Kelly. That’s interesting. I’m sure Davis and Kelly were also checking out OLB James Gayle and DB Antone Exum. Kelly might have taken a gander at QB Logan Thomas. He reportedly had a strong workout, which makes total sense. Thomas is physically gifted. He just doesn’t play well in games. Some think Thomas is worth trying to develop. I think I’d only touch him as a TE prospect.

* RB Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern – 5-9, 209

Here’s a note from Tony Pauline.

Lavelle Westbrooks and Jerick McKinnon were the focus of pro-day attention at Georgia Southern.

Westbrooks ran the forty in similar times to his combine performance. The players ran on grass, and most had Westbrooks clocked at 4.65s, though some watches did read 4.60s. He did a solid job in drills, but most scouts feel Westbrooks will be a last-day/late-round pick.

McKinnon stood on his combine numbers and looked good in both defensive back and running back drills. He was fluid, smooth and for the most part looked natural in the secondary. Westbrooks played some DB early in his GSU career.

The Dallas Cowboys ran the secondary drills while the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders headed the running back drills.

Sending Duce Staley to run a prospect through drills shows more than mild interest, especially since the Eagles saw McKinnon at the Senior Bowl.

* DE/LB Will Clarke – West Virginia – 6-7, 270

Another nugget from Tony Pauline.

In a bit of a surprise, Will Clarke was put through an extensive battery of linebacker drills by the Philadelphia Eagles. And though most have Clarke pegged as a defensive end, from all accounts he looked real good working out at the new position.

Clarke is a real interesting guy. He is huge and a good athlete. WV played him at DT and DE. I don’t think he is consistently physical enough to be a 2-gap DE for the Eagles, but I hadn’t considered trying him at OLB. He was very good at the Shrine Game when lining up out wide and rushing off the edge.

* NT Zach Kerr – Delaware – 6-1, 323

Pauline noted that Jerry Azzinaro went down to Delaware to attend Kerr’s Pro Day. That’s not a long trip so we can’t make too much of it, but the Eagles do need depth at NT. And Kerr was at the Combine so he is a legit prospect.

* LB Scott Crichton – Oregon State – 6-3, 273

Pauline again.

Scott Crichton sat on his combine numbers, running only the 60-yd shuttle. He did both linebacker and defensive end drills, and I’m told he did a lot of linebacker drills. The Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts worked Crichton through the battery of linebacker drills and the 270-lb athlete looked exceptional, easily changing direction and effortlessly moving around the field.

Obviously Kelly is going to be familiar with Crichton from his Oregon days. Kelly may have tried to recruit Crichton. He did have to coach against him.

 * Florida State’s Pro Day

Chip Kelly was down there to check out the Noles in action. Too many guys to list. I hope he focused on S Lamarcus Joyner and ILB Christian Jones. I’m sure he watched WR Kelvin Benjamin closely as well.

* Ohio State’s Pro Day

Kelly on the prowl again. And too many guys to list them all. The biggest names would be CB Bradley Roby, who could be a target at pick 22, and ILB Ryan Shazier, who also could be in play there.

* Lousiville’s Pro Day

Kelly was on hand to check QB Teddy Bridgewater, LB Marcus Smith and S Calvin Pryor. Many expect Bridgewater to be an early pick, but there is talk in NFL circles that he could slide into the 20s or even the 2nd round. Geno Smith part 2? Would the Eagles have interest in him? I prefer the idea of him sliding and some other team trading up to get pick 22 to take him.

Pryor could be an Eagles target at 22. Smith is either a 2nd or 3rd round target.

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Mock Draft Time

Posted: April 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 146 Comments »

For this week’s PE.com column I decided to put together my first Eagles mock draft of the year. First, let’s go over a couple of things. This is not my ideal scenario. Obviously that would be me and Megan Fox sitting in a hot tub, sharing a bag of Funyuns and talking to new Eagle Sammy Watkins. This mock draft is players I think the Eagles like that also fit the scheme and are appropriate value. As much as I’d love to have Lamarcus Joyner coming to Philly in the 3rd round, that isn’t realistic.

Here is the link to my mock.

The thing that really stood out to me is that we need more picks. The Eagles have these picks as of now:

1st Round – No. 22 Overall
2nd Round – No. 54 Overall
3rd Round – No. 86 Overall
4th Round – No. 122 Overall
5th Round – No. 162 Overall
7th Round – No. 237 Overall

I want more picks. There will be guys of interest in the 3rd, 4th and even the 5th rounds. Depending on how things play out at 22, I would have interest in moving back from 22 to add more choices. And I still would like to see Brandon Graham dealt, either for a player or for a pick.

Feel free to ask questions about the mock. Feel free to rip me (as if you would hesitate). Just be gentle since I am a delicate flower.

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DeSean Update

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 213 Comments »

After going DeSean free for a day or two, he’s back in the news. The first item to discuss is a report from CBS Philly about Jackson and his relationship with players and coaches. The report didn’t paint a very flattering picture of Jackson.

But what a number of sources close to and around the team, including current and former players, as well as additional sources within the Eagles revealed was that Jackson was not very well liked by his teammates, was blatantly insubordinate, with temper tantrums cussing out Kelly several times in front of the team, pushed the NFL rookie coach the way “a child would test boundaries,” and was more concerned with his rap label than he was about winning football games.

If you aren’t a DeSean fan, you’re going to like the piece and say “That explains a lot.”

If you are a DeSean fan, you’ll have some questions about the article and what it has to say.

As a person in the middle, I can see both sides. The biggest issue I have is that you’ve got players ripping DeSean anonymously and doing this to someone named Joseph Santoloquito. No offense to Joseph, but I’ve never heard of him. The article was well written so I’m not questioning that side of things, but I don’t know what kind of relationship he has with players.

When Les Bowen, Jeff McLane or Tim McManus has a report that cites unnamed sources, I can accept that. I have met them. I know they have a strong track record. I know they talk to players and other sources year round and work hard to maintain relationships so that we can trust their reports.

The report might be 100 percent dead on the money, but I’d be lying if I said I was completely comfortable with it.

I do think the report has a lot of truth in it. I’ve heard that teammates weren’t fond of DeSean, and that might be putting it mildly. We know he was a handful for the coaches to deal with.

Some people take the angle that people don’t need to be best friends in order to win. That’s completely true, but it misses the mark in this case. Jackson had a variety of factors working against him. He didn’t have great work habits. He was late for meetings. He had a high price tag at a position where Kelly doesn’t seem to think you need to break the bank. I think Jackson’s pursuit of a rap career hurt him as well.

Think of it like this. The coaches weren’t happy with DeSean. Nor many teammates. Nor the salary cap people. Nor the PR/marketing people. Who exactly was going to fight for DeSean to stay?

Obviously he is still a talented player, but the coaches must feel that his production is replaceable. If not, they’d be the one group arguing for him to stick around. Even coaches have a breaking point when it comes to talent.

If this was just a case of Chip Kelly not liking him or one assistant not liking him or a couple of players…getting rid of DeSean would not make sense. If he truly aggravated that many people, getting rid of DeSean does make some sense. You still may not agree with it, but you might understand the move better.

My guess is that Chip Kelly tried to make the relationship work by giving DeSean a long leash. He’s certainly a talented enough player that you want to try to fix the situation. At a certain point you just realize that things aren’t going to work and you then prepare to move on.

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DeSean was interviewed by Stephen A. Smith tonight. I didn’t get to see the interview, but apparently it was a lot of softball questions and safe answers from DeSean.

Les Bowen wrote up a piece on the interview.

“The conversation I had with Chip Kelly was a deep, personal conversation,” Jackson said on the one-week anniversary of his release. “It was basically like, ‘we’re moving forward. I think it’s best for the team, I think it’s best for yourself.’ I was sittin’ there waiting for the reason why, but that’s basically all I can (recall) from the conversation, was ‘we’re moving forward. I think it’s best for us and I think it’s best for you … we’re going to go let you negotiate with 31 other teams.’ “

Jackson said Kelly “came back with the same reason” as he awaited further explanation. “That’s kind of where we left it. I got off the phone — I was like, ‘are you sure? That’s it?’ We hung up. That was it.”

DeSean is saying all the right things. I hope he learns from his mistakes with the Eagles. I hope he makes lots of highlight plays…all in Skins losses or wins over Dallas.

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Jake Knott tried to steal the spotlight tonight, but it didn’t work. The backup ILB was suspended for 4 games by the NFL. Jeff McLane has the details.

The Eagles announced that linebacker Jake Knott has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Knott, who is entering his second season, is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

“We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension,” Eagles said in a statement. “We have spoken to Jake and he is fully aware of the mistake he made and owned it. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”

The 23-year-old Knott played in 12 games as a rookie, mostly on special teams. He was credited by the team with five special teams tackles and six on defense.

Knott released the following statement through the Eagles:

“Several weeks ago, I was shocked to learn that I tested positive for a stimulant that is banned by the NFL. I have never knowingly ingested a banned substance, but like most players, I take nutritional supplements.

Was this an innocent goof or was he hitting the roids? I don’t think of Knott as someone with an incredibly ripped body so I hope it was just a goof.

The Eagles like Knott, but this doesn’t help his situation. He’ll be fighting for a roster spot and the pressure is going to be on him to really stand out this summer.

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Some More WR Talk

Posted: April 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 173 Comments »

I’m going to be talking a lot about WR prospects in the coming days. I’ll have posts on most of the top guys. Why? The Eagles just made the DeSean move and WR is very topical. But it also happens to be the best position in the draft. Even with DeSean, I’d be talking a lot about WR prospects because there is a decent chance that could be the highest rated player on the board at some point in the draft.

Let me make this clear. I do not think the Eagles have to have to address WR in the 1st round. That’s “Do Not”. The team can go for whoever the highest rated player is. I do think the Eagles need to add a WR in one of the first 4 rounds.

Yesterday I wrote about Odell Beckham, because I think he could be a great fit. Today I am going to talk about some big WRs, Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Kelvin Benjamin of FSU.

The Eagles brought Evans in for a visit. My guess is that they are trying to decide just how much they like him. Evans could go in the Top 10 or he could slide down into the 15 range. I don’t see him going much beyond that. If Evans does slide, do the Eagles move up for him? His size and skills would seem to make him a player that Chip Kelly would have interest in.

I don’t think the Eagles would aggressively go after him, but if the price was reasonable, maybe they would move up for Evans.

I don’t like Benjamin very much. I’ll be highly disappointed if the Eagles draft him anywhere. I see him as a LB trying to play receiver. Worked great in college, but won’t in the NFL.

I posted my thoughts on the players over at ScoutsNotebook.

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I’ll write about other receivers and other prospects. You can ask about certain names, but I’m way behind schedule (thanks to moving) and I’ll get to prospects as fast as I can.

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