The Eagles lost Trent Cole, but re-signed Brandon Graham back in March. Graham and Connor Barwin give the team a good pair of starting OLBs. After that, things are less settled.
Marcus Smith is going to be in the mix for playing time. He had a wasted rookie year, but 2015 is a new year. While he might turn out just fine, you can’t count on that. Bryan Braman is a good STer with some LB ability. Maybe in his second year as an Eagle he’ll get more of a chance on defense. Again though, you can’t count on that. Travis Long is coming off a knee injury. He has been used at ILB and OLB. The staff was high on him last summer, but he was still an unknown commodity.
The Eagles don’t need to spend a 1st round pick on an OLB, but what if a really good prospect is on the board when pick 20 rolls around? That might be too much to pass up. Let’s talk about a couple of them.
I love Kentucky star Bud Dupree as an Eagles possibility. He has great size at 6-4, 269. He is a very good athlete. Dupree ran 4.56 at the Combine and had a 42-inch vertical. This is a big man that can fly off the ball in a hurry and get to the QB.
UK had him play as a 3-4 OLB and as a DE on a 4-man line. Dupree has shown the potential to do everything the Eagles like a LB to do. He can set the edge and be a physical run defender. He can be a disruptive pass rusher. Dupree’s cover skills will never leave him mistaken for Darrelle Revis, but he looks comfortable playing in space.
I don’t know if Dupree will ever be a dominant NFL pass rusher, but he’s got the potential to be a productive OLB. He gets off the ball well. Dupree has exceptional speed for his size. Understand that he was almost 0.2 seconds faster in the 40 than Anquan Boldin was. One concern is that Dupree is a bit of a straight-line guy. You can see this on tape and in his agility tests (4.47 SS, 7.49 3-cone).
As a point of comparison…Aldon Smith comes to mind. I think Smith was a more versatile pass rusher (actually played Nickel DT some at Mizzou), but Dupree is faster and more explosive. Neither guy had good agility.
I’m less sure on what to think of Randy Gregory, the DE from Nebraska. He is 6-5, 235. You love that length, but he needs to add a lot of bulk to get the kind of size you want in a 3-4 LB. Gregory’s tape is great at times, but not as much as you’d like. He is a natural pass rusher. I see the potential for him to be a very good run defender. He is a gifted athlete with a huge ceiling.
Then you have the fact that Gregory tested positive at the Combine. I’m not hear to rail against drug use. We all know it goes on in society and the NFL. The point is that you quit smoking pot for a month before the Combine so that you can pass the test that you know is coming. That shows basic common sense and some level of discipline. Instead, Gregory failed.
This doesn’t mean Gregory is a bad guy or should be instantly removed from the draft board. But you do have to discuss how stupid it is to test positive in Indy. Every draft prospect in America knows about the Combine. This isn’t some secret event put on by the Bilderberg Group.
There is a good chance both Gregory and Dupree will be long gone by pick 20. If Dupree was there, he would be on my short list of targets. I’d need more character research before being comfortable with Gregory.
Just a couple of thoughts on other guys…
* I like Virginia DE/LB Eli Harold as a 2nd round target.
* I’m confused by LSU athlete Danielle Hunter. Lots of potential, but really could have used another year of college.
Fua would be an interesting mid-round target. He’s unique in that he drops into coverage more than he rushes. Fua can cover RBs, TEs and even some slot receivers. He’s 6-5, 238 and athletic. He needs pass rush work, but the guy covers pretty well for a LB.
* Shaq Riddick, Obum Gwacham and Kyle Emanuel could all be of interest in the late round (5-7). Emanuel could play both ILB and OLB. Chip Kelly loves versatile guys. Gwacham and Riddick are long, lean pass rushers that could be better pros than college players.
There are no RBs or QBs. There just isn’t a QB that I’m in love with. Bryce Petty is the guy I’m most intrigued by for the Eagles, but he has his issues. As for RBs…I’ll be honest. I just haven’t studied them enough to say who I love. David Johnson is a guy I enjoy quite a bit and Ameer Abdullah is a player I think highly of, but there isn’t any one player that I just loved watching play after play.
I’ll be writing about my favorite defensive prospects this week.
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Washington S/LB Shaq Thompson is visiting with the #Eagles today, per a source. Versatile player that could be intriguing at No. 20.
I can’t say Shaq Thompson is one of my favorite guys, but he intrigues the heck out of me.
Thompson played LB, RB and even some DB for Washington this year. He is a good athlete and an instinctive playmaker. Mike Mayock lists him as a Safety. Thompson wants to be a LB. I’d love to know how Chip Kelly sees him.
He is 6-0, 228. That’s the same size as Landon Collins, the star SS from ‘Bama. They have similar builds, but different games. Collins is a downhill thumper. He loves to punish runners and receivers. Thompson is an athlete. He can hit and be physical, but is more agile, which should make him more effective in coverage.
Maybe Chip Kelly thinks Thompson could be an ILB if he adds 15 or so pounds. He has a slightly bigger frame and more length than Mychal Kendricks, but not by much.
I would really love to find out what the Eagles think. Thompson isn’t a great fit in their system at Safety, but also isn’t an ideal ILB for them. He will likely go in the Top 40 picks so this is a player you have to want to get on the field. He’s not a hybrid player to mix in to specialty packages.
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2. Don't understand the Damarious Randall love. Taking him in the first (or even the second) seems like way too big of a risk for me.
I think most of you know this, but for those who might not, I live down in North Carolina. I rolled in to work today (on time for once) and was hit with 500 Tebow questions. My co-workers range from non-NFL fans to casual fans to Dolphins fans (who knew they actually existed?). There is one other Eagles fan in the office, oddly enough, but he’s more of a basketball guy than a football fan.
That’s the power of Tebow. People who don’t care about football or the specific team still pay attention to Tebow. That can be a blessing and a curse.
There was this expectation that I would be furious about the Tebow news. I’m not…nowhere close to that actually. As I explained to my co-workers, Tebow is here to compete for the #3 QB job. He’s not going to start. He’s not going to be a key player. He’s there to try and win a roster spot.
Someone actually was crazy enough to ask how I would feel about the Eagles winning the Super Bowl with Tebow at QB. I said, “Are you nuts? I’d be ecstatic. Heck, I’d be okay with Charles Manson as our Super Bowl winning QB.” Obviously there is a bit of hyperbole there. I think.
There is a lot of noise and hype right now. Let’s keep things in perspective. Tebow will be battling for the #3 QB spot. Nothing more, nothing less.
The “fixing” of Tim Tebow, the quarterback, would take some three months. House’s diagnosis of why Tebow was inaccurate all came back to timing issues with his body. Once they could get his body in sync, the mechanics were actually pretty easy to fix, the former major league pitcher said.
“He still does what he’s always done with his throwing arm. We just fixed the front side and gave him a better posture to do it and made him time it better.” Beyond that, House said Tebow learned why he would misfire whenever he did, which “The Professor” said was vital for anyone to be at their best.
“We allowed him to understand why the ball goes right or left, why the ball goes high or low and how to spin the ball and how to physically prepare from feet to fingertips and to take it out and make the dynamic movement work for you and not against you. Does the term muscle-head make sense? He muscled everything. He can muscle it when he needs it, but now he’s got kinematic sequencing. He’s muscled down for efficiency.”
Another underlying problem that tied into Tebow’s issues in the NFL that House ID’d: The former All-American quarterback had no confidence in his throwing ability.
“He didn’t think he could make that throw, so he went to what he was confident in, and that was his legs,” House said.
This all sounds great, but we need to see him in action. One thing does need to be brought up now…remember that Mark Sanchez struggled early last year with throwing and then looked worlds better in Training Camp. The same was true for Trent Edwards a few years back. Tebow may look awkward in the spring as he re-adjusts to NFL timing and has to learn the new offense. Wait until you see him in the summer before making any definitive judgments.
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Mike Freeman, my least favorite writer going right now, just hates Chip Kelly. And has for a few years. Freeman sees this as an ego ploy by Kelly. He thinks Chip is trying to show the world how smart he is. Something along the lines of “If I can fix Tebow, then I am The Genius”.
I’m not linking to that because I can’t stand that kind of content.
You could easily rip on Kelly for the signing, but do so in a logical way. To take a heavily slanted opinion and act as if that’s fact…I just don’t like that kind of writing. If Freeman had no history of Kelly bashing, I might see this as different.
Is it possible Chip’s ego is part of this? Sure, that’s possible. I don’t think it is, but Chip is a strange coach and he does see things differently. I think this says more about the lack of good QB choices than anything else. Kelly would love a great QB. He couldn’t find one so he took a huge risk and dealt for Sam Bradford. He re-signed Sanchez, who was erratic last year. Now he’s adding Tebow to the mix. Kelly is looking high and low for a QB. Why not take a flier on Tebow? Maybe his showing in the workout is better than any of us could have imagined.
Time will tell. Kelly won’t keep Tebow unless he shows something this summer.
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Interesting note to help clarify Eagles logjam at QB: G.J. Kinne expected to get work at WR, KR, special teams. Athletic jack of all trades.
I’m a big fan of his. Dorsett has explosive speed. The question is whether the Eagles would be interested in him at pick 20 or would try to move back a few spots and get him. There was thinking a month ago that Dorsett might last to the Eagles 2nd round pick, but it doesn’t seem like that will happen.
The Eagles have some talent at WR right now, but don’t have an explosive speedster. Dorsett would add that element to the offense immediately.
That’s an accurate headline, isn’t it? Or should I have mentioned the QB is Tim Tebow?
I have very mixed feelings.
Tebow as your #3 QB isn’t the worst thing in the world. The guy has won games and even won a playoff game. My biggest issue with him is the circus that follows him. With Chip Kelly in charge and the Eagles having such a big media group, the circus atmosphere is already in Philly. Obviously the presence of Tebow will take that to another level, but this isn’t the same as him going to many other teams.
Bleacher Report: You started working with Tim Tebow in 2012. Have you been working with him continuously, or did he recently return to you?
Tom House: Tebow came for two weeks in 2012, and then he went and played [for the Jets]. I didn’t see him that whole season. He came back when he was released by the Patriots [in 2013, at the end of training camp]. He’s been pretty much a regular since he was released by the Patriots.
B/R: How did your relationship with Tebow start?
House: I think, the first time through, it may have been Drew Brees who told him about us. The second time, I know it was Tom Brady who said, “Get out and see what you can do with Tom House and his staff.”
B/R: What were his strengths and weaknesses as a passer before he started working with you?
House: Well, he was strong. He was probably the strongest quarterback that I have ever worked with. But strength is only one piece of the puzzle. There’s efficiency, timing and sequence.
He came to get better with accuracy; he came to get better at spinning the ball. He’s doing that with me.
B/R: Why is spin so important?
House: If the ball doesn’t spin true, there are issues with release point and where the wrist and elbow are. If the spin is there but the front side wobbles up and down, or the tail goes one way or the other, there’s a mechanical flaw somewhere.
B/R: How often are you working with him, and for how many hours per day?
House: We’ve been seeing him about three days every week, year-round. Now, he works besides his time with us, but the time he spends working with us on skills, routes and all of those things works out to about two or two-and-a-half hours per day.
B/R: What is Tebow doing differently now than he was the last time we saw him two years ago?
House: I honestly believe that everybody who was trying to help Tim, everybody who thought they “fixed” him, they probably did temporarily fix him. But Tim didn’t have enough repetition for it to become autonomic. When he got into competition, with the stresses and anxieties that come with the competitive situation, he fell back to his old habits.
The difference now is that he has put in the reps. There have been 10,000-plus reps. If he gets a chance to play again and gets back to competition, it’s hard-wired now. He doesn’t have to think about it.
I’ll keep an open mind when it comes to watching his throwing motion. The guy we saw in the past wasn’t good. We’ll find out if he’s truly improved or if that is just typical offseason bragging by part of a player’s support group.
The biggest takeaway from this to me is that Matt Barkley better start working on his resume. The Eagles didn’t bring in Tebow to compete with GJ Kinne. He’s here to take Barkley’s job. And then there is the matter of the draft. The Eagles could take a QB early or late. Barkley is as good as gone.
Does the addition of Tebow mean anything in regard to the draft? Not necessarily. If Marcus Mariota falls to 20, the Eagles aren’t passing on him due to the presence of Tebow. But this is a weak QB class and adding another veteran to the mix means the Eagles don’t have to force the issue to find competition for Barkley. They can take one if the right guy is available.
Can Tebow play in Kelly’s system? He obviously has the skills to run the ball. The Eagles threw a lot of short passes once Mark Sanchez took over last year. Tebow might be an effective enough passer to keep the chains moving with short throws. Obviously if you get to your #3 QB, you’ve got problems.
San Jose State defensive lineman Travis Raciti, who played at 300 pounds last season, is down to 288 pounds and looked noticeably slimmer and quicker on Friday. Raciti wants to show teams that he can play on the inside of the line and also be a five-technique player in a 3-4 defensive front. Raciti has upcoming visits with the Eagles and Washington.
Raciti had 8.5 sacks in 2012, playing in an attacking 4-3 scheme. SJSU lost their DC after that year and the new guy brought in the 3-4. Raciti moved to DE and wasn’t nearly as effective. SJSU fired the DC and went back to the 4-3, allowing Raciti to move back to DT. He only had 3 sacks, but his tackle total did jump from 37 to 72.
Defensive lineman Travis Raciti (6-foot-3 7/8, 288 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 5.06 and 5.18 seconds. He had a 31 1/2-inch vertical and a 8-foot-10 broad jump. He recorded times of 4.66 seconds in the short shuttle and 7.52 seconds in the three-cone drill. He performed 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Raciti had a good workout. His good quickness makes up for his lack of speed and he will likely be a priority free agent this year.
Raciti is a talented late round prospect. The question is what the Eagles think of him. Do they like him as a DE, even though Raciti didn’t thrive at that spot? Could the Eagles want him to switch positions? It is possible the Eagles could want Raciti to drop down to 275 pounds and play OLB. Another possibility is that they have interest in him as an OL. Per Brandt, the Eagles OL coach was at Raciti’s Pro Day. I can’t confirm if that’s true or that if it is, the coach was there to see Raciti.
I think Raciti has the skills to be a DE. He has a good motor. He can take on and shed blocks. The fact his production fell isn’t a huge deal to me. 3-4 DEs don’t make a ton of plays. Raciti has shown that he is willing to do the dirty work, which is key at 3-4 DE.
As for OL…that is a complete projection. I think he’s got the right disposition to play there. He has enough size and athleticism to play there.
Raciti is a 6th or 7th rounder, or a UDFA.
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The Eagles interest in Adrian Amos forced me to watch a lot of him. It didn’t really affect my thinking. He’s okay and has some good skills, but just isn’t my cup of tea.
The Eagles interest in Jake Fisher has forced me to watch more of him. And he has grown on me. I especially enjoyed the nasty streak he showed in this 2013 game when he was playing RT.
I won’t have any problems if the Eagles take him at 20. I still wonder if he can play OG or needs to be an OT.
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Chris Conley is a very talented WR that will go somewhere in rounds 2-4. Watch this play from the bowl game to appreciate just how fast and explosive he is.
The CB had no chance on that.
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The Eagles brought Utah LT Jeremiah Poutasi in for a visit. I have no idea what to make of this.
Poutasi isn’t a typical Eagles type of OL. He goes 6-5, 335. He ran 5.32 at the Combine and had a 3-cone time of 8.09. I think the Titanic had a 3-cone time of 8.04, if that’s any hint of how slow that is.
So what gives?
This could be one of those visits that is meant to confuse other teams. The Eagles might have zero interest in Poutasi. Or this could be a case where the Eagles think he could be an interesting late round target. Poutasi could be an interesting OG. You would think he is a dominant run blocker with that size, but he didn’t stand out to me. He is erratic in pass protection. There are times when he looks okay, but there are other times when he gets off balance and looks terrible.
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