Wide Friggin’ Open

Posted: April 6th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 252 Comments »

I had some ideas on what might happen in free agency. I wasn’t anywhere close to reality. Chip Kelly made moves that I would have never come up with.

Because of that, I’m as excited for this draft as any I can remember. I wrote about that for PE.com.

There were times when Andy Reid would throw me a curve ball, but I generally knew what he was doing. Same with Howie Roseman. I don’t mean that I could predict every pick, but I had a good feel for the players they would like and when they might go after them.

I have some very basic ideas with Chip, but I also realize he could do shocking things in the draft. He could trade up, he could trade down. He could make surprising choices. The actual draft board was mostly put together by Ed Marynowitz and the scouting department so this isn’t as if Chip Kelly is going to take a long snapper in the 2nd round and then spend a 3rd round pick on a kid from Oregon that the rest of the league sees as a UDFA.

The scouts are looking for Chip Kelly’s type of players so there won’t be a lot of 5-9 CBs or 230-pound Safeties in the mix. But the scouts are grading players in a conventional way. They started this process last spring. Howie was the GM and ran the scouting department. Chip took over in January. I’m sure he communicated to the scouts what he was looking for, but he couldn’t completely overhaul how they graded players in a matter of days. I don’t know if Kelly even wants to do that. He’s just very specific with what he is looking for.

With Kelly running the show, the draft is wide open. Just about anything can happen. It will almost be disappointing if the teams stays put at every pick and makes seemingly normal selections. After the flurry of pro personnel moves, I think we all expect at least one pick where we say “What is Chip thinking?”.

Less than a month away.

Are you starting to get excited.

* * * * *

If the Eagles miss out out on CBs Trae Waynes and Kevin Johnson, and they don’t like Marcus Peters (possible character issues), I hope they go for Eric Rowe over Byron Jones. I love Jones athletic ability, but Rowe is smarter and more instinctive as a player. I value that in DBs.

The more I watch of Rowe, the more he grows on me. He’s not an elite corner or special player, but there is a lot to like about him.

* * * * *

Someone in the comments section found this snippet on Nick Saban.

What makes Saban such a fantastic coach is that he recruits players who fit his system. One example that I read in The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, is that Saban follows what he called “the blueprint” for success. According to the book, Andy Staples in Sports Illustrated, stated that the “blueprint targeted high school athletes who fit certain character/attitude/intelligence criteria and position-specific height/weight/speed guidelines tailored to Alabama’s offensive and defensive schemes. Cornerbacks, for example, should ideally be between six feet and six feet two inches and about 190 pounds and run a sub-4.5 forty-yard dash; linemen should stand no less than six feet two because as ( Kirby) Smart (defensive coordinator) drily noted, ‘big people beat up little people.’”

They state that they might not be interested in guys who might be five-star players as seen by recruiting websites, if they don’t fit their parameters at Alabama. Smart states, “Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but we don’t want a team full of exceptions.”

Sounds very familiar, huh?

Just interesting to hear how much coaches can think alike, despite being very different.

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More Eagles Draft Talk

Posted: April 4th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 123 Comments »

Before we get into draft stuff, a couple of things. Many of you want a podcast or at least a podcast update. We tried to record a show each of the past 2 weeks, but there were last minute issues that came up. I promise you we will do everything possible to put out a show this week. Feel free to blame Jimmy Bama since everything bad is always his fault.

* * * * *

BGN had an interesting piece the other day. I’m not familiar with Matt Harkenreader, but he wrote a column about Chip Kelly and how he might look at things from a numerical standpoint, and in a slightly different way than you might think. The piece isn’t about analytics, but rather an engineering outlook on team building.

I don’t agree with all of his thoughts, but it is an enjoyable piece with some interesting ideas.

* * * * *

The Eagles were at Maryland’s Pro Day. They were checking out ILB Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil.

Cudjoe-Virgil ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 to 4.6 seconds, according to NFL scouts.

The 6-foot-2, 244-pound Towson High graduate also bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times. He had a 4.25 short shuttle, a 7.2 three-cone drill and a 9-10 broad jump before 30 NFL teams. That included the presence of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

“I had a pretty good day,” said Cudjoe-Virgil, who wasn’t able to work out at the NFL scouting combine in February due to a knee injury. “I’m excited. I feel like I did well. I’m just trying to get more opportunities.

“It was definitely a big crowd, more than I even expected. It was definitely a good day for a lot of us trying to make a name for ourselves at the next level.”

Following the workout, Cudjoe-Virgil did board work for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers.

YCV, as I’ll affectionately call him here, is a late round or UDFA target. The Eagles are being extremely thorough with their research on ILB prospects. They are talking to Top 50 prospects and guys that won’t be picked. It is really going to be interesting to see who they do pick or sign. It will also be interesting down the road when we hear who they really wanted but missed out on (should that happen).

* * * * *

One of my favorite CBs in the draft is PJ Williams from Florida State. He’s tough, physical and very talented. And apparently very, very dumb. He got a DUI this week.

He was driving the rental car on a suspended license, according to court records.

Williams, 21, stopped during a green light at the intersection of Dewey and Tennessee Streets before turning onto Tennessee Street.

He swerved over the center line several times and the outside line nearly hitting the curb before he was stopped, court records show.

The FSUPD officer noticed Williams’ eyes were red and watery and he spoke with slurred speech, according to court records.

He told officers he was coming from local bar Recess. His stance swayed and he braced against the door of the vehicle when officers asked him to exit.

He refused a field sobriety test and to give a breath sample at the Leon County Jail.

Williams told police he played football for FSU and he “just wanted to go home,” before being transported to the jail, the arrest report states.

He’s already got a suspended license. Then he drives drunk. Then he tries the old “Do you know who I am? I just want to go home” trick.

Does this sound like a Chip Kelly guy? I’m kinda leaning a bit toward no.

There is no way he goes in the 1st round to any team.  Someone will take a chance on him, probably in the 3rd round. There just aren’t enough good cover corners. Some team will be willing to roll the dice. If you had a veteran secondary that could help the young guy, that might be the best situation. Clearly the Eagles don’t fit that description.

* * * * *

The Eagles are checking out QB Cody Fajardo from Nevada. Tim McManus has the details.

The former Nevada quarterback  has had one private workout to this point, he said, and that was with Eagles QB coach Ryan Day.

“I felt that he was pretty interested,” Fajardo said in a phone conversation with Birds 24/7. “We had a great lunch together and he asked me some typical questions and then some off-the-wall questions. It was definitely a good time. I got to learn a little bit of the system in the private workout, what types of routes they run and how they do their play-action, so it was kind of an inside look at what the Eagles do.

“He said I threw the ball really well.”

I can’t say I’m a big fan of his. I do need to watch some older games to make sure I get more of a complete picture. Fajardo is a good athlete and he’s got a lot of experience. I’m sure Kelly would enjoy having a mobile QB to work with.

I’ll watch more of him and write up what I see.

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What Will Happen At Safety?

Posted: April 2nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 310 Comments »

The Eagles went hard after free agent Devin McCourty. He proved to be a complete traitor by re-signing with the evil Patriots. If you can’t convince a man to leave his friends and teammates by throwing money at him, you have to wonder what kind of a world we really live in.

Since Traitor McCourty turned his back on the innocent children of Philadelphia, who dreamed of having a star FS for the first time since 2008, the Eagles are now faced with the task of figuring out what to do at Safety. Malcolm Jenkins is a good player, but the spot opposite of him is more open than DeSean Jackson being covered by Bradley Fletcher.

Jimmy Bama offered some thoughts on the situation. While I’m extremely confident the Eagles have several future Pro Bowl types already on the roster, Jimmy is a bit more down on the situation.

In summary, the Eagles are probably going to be bad on the back end in 2015. Again. Apologies for stating the obvious. And God forbid Jenkins get hurt.

Apparently someone hasn’t seen Jerome Couplin’s YouTube highlights, right?

By the time he’s done, Couplin will make Brian Dawkins look like Jarrad Page. (okay, that might be going a bit too far)

Just in case the Eagles want another option beyond Couplin, they might consider spending a draft pick on a Safety. Let’s talk about some of the guys.

* Landon Collins – Alabama – 6-0, 228 – I don’t see him as a legit target. Collins is more of a pure SS. He’s a good prospect, but I don’t see him as a good fit for what the Eagles want.

* Shaq Thompson – Washington – 6-0, 228 – Former LB/RB who some teams like as a S. Same size as Collins but a different guy. Lacks Collins speed (4.64 to 4.53), but much more agile. Thompson had a short shuttle time of 4.08 to Collins’ 4.33. Thompson is the natural athlete. He can do a bit of everything. Good instincts. Playmaker. I don’t know if Kelly would be interested in a project like Thompson, but he’d have to be at least curious. The Eagles are either going to work him out or bring him to Philly.

* Damarious Randall – Arizona St – 5-11, 196 – Ideal fit for the Eagles. But a highly inconsistent player. Put on the USC game and you’ll be impressed. Watch the Oregon State game and you’ll be highly disappointed…or worse. As long as you don’t take him too early, worth a look because of the fit. Can play SS, FS or the slot.

* Adrian Amos – Penn State – 6-0, 215 – Has played CB and S. I’m interested in him as a CB, but don’t love him as a S. Inconsistent as a hitter/tackler.

* Kurtis Drummond – Michigan St – 6-1, 208 – I like him as a mid-round target, but don’t know what the Eagles think. Has some man cover skills, but not someone you’d want covering slot receivers on a regular basis.

* Byron Jones – UConn – 6-1, 199 – Spent his first 2 years at S before moving to CB. Has the skills and athleticism to play either position. Chip Kelly went to his Pro Day so there is more than casual interest. Do they like him at CB or could Kelly see him as a S? There are plenty of talented CB prospects in this draft. Finding the right S isn’t so easy.

* Eric Rowe – Utah – 6-1, 205 – Played S for 3 years before moving to CB as a Senior. Kelly was at his Pro Day. Another guy that could play either spot in the NFL.

* Quinten Rollins – Miami O – 5-11, 195 – Former basketball player has one year of college football experience. Played CB. Physical player. Had 7 INTs. Natural athlete and instinctive player. Could be an interesting candidate at Safety.

I’m not going through every guy the Eagles could like. These are the big names. I don’t have a favorite player among them yet. That will change in the next couple of weeks.

* * * * *

I think Reuben Frank owes us an explanation. From UConn’s Pro Day

Reuben Frank, who worked out with the defensive linemen and receivers, matched Whitmer with a vertical leap of 33½ inches, an inch better than receiver Deshon Foxx and two inches better than 300-pound defensive lineman B.J. McBryde.

What was he doing working out with those kids? What is Geoff Mosher’s vertical jump?

We deserve answers, Roob!!!

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Player Interest List

Posted: April 1st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 198 Comments »

Back in 2003 or 2004, a person on the Eagles Message Board and I began tracking pre-draft interest between the Eagles and prospects. We didn’t have nearly as much info as we do today, but it was still a fun exercise and helped us to understand what might happen in the draft.

This is useful information, if you understand it.

Last year all of the Eagles picks visited Philly, with the exception of Josh Huff, who Chip Kelly knew a thing or two about. It doesn’t always work out that neatly, though.

One of the reasons I track all the Pro Day info is to know where the assistant coaches are going. They will tell you not only who the Eagles are interested in, but what positions seem to have some priority. That or you have bored coaches who love to go to Pro Days.

The fact that Jeff Stoutland ran Ali Marpet’s Pro Day workout shows special interest. The fact Stephone Anthony had dinner with Eagles staff (probably Chip Kelly & Bill Davis) prior to his Pro Day shows special interest. Neither player is a 1st round pick, but that doesn’t mean the team can’t really value them in the round where they are graded.

I’ll post some analysis on players and positions in a later piece. For now, let’s take a look at the draft prospects the Eagles have shown interest in.

COMING TO PHILLY FOR A VISIT

* LB Danielle Hunter – LSU … visit coming soon

* WR Breshad Perriman – UCF … visit coming soon

* OLB Shane Ray – Missouri … April meeting

* OLB/DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa – UCLA … already visited

* WR Rashad Greene – Florida State … visit coming soon

* LS Joe Cardona – Navy … visit coming soon

* TE Randall Telfer – USC … visit coming soon

* CB Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest … visit coming soon

* WR Jaelen Strong – Arizona State … already visited

* ILB Benardrick McKinney – Miss State … already visited

* WR Nelson Agholor – USC … already visited

* FS Damarious Randall – Arizona State … already visited

* OL Terry Poole – San Diego State … visit coming soon

* WR Chris Conley – Georgia … visit coming soon

SPECIAL WORKOUTS / PRIVATE VISITS

* ILB Johnior Sylvestre – Toledo … worked out by LBs coach at Pro Day

* ILB Stephone Anthony – Clemson … had dinner with him prior to Pro Day

* ILB Kyle Emmanuel – North Dakota St … ILB coach at his Pro Day

* ILB Jordan Hicks – Texas … ILB coach at his Pro Day

* ILB Martrell Spaight – Arkansas … ILB coach worked him out at Pro Day

* ILB Jake Ryan – Michigan …. ILB coach worked him out at Pro Day

* ILB Gabriel Martin – Bowling Green … ILB coach was at his Pro Day

* ILB Darryl Lynch – Bowling Green … ILB coach was at his Pro Day

* ILB Ben Heeney – Kansas … 30-min. phone conversation with ILB coach

* ILB Justin Shirk – Bloomsburg … met with him at his Pro Day

* ILB Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil – Maryland … met with him at his Pro Day, did chalk talk

* S/ILB Shaq Thompson – Washington … workout/visit

* S Adrian Amos – Penn State … watched tape with him at Pro Day

* S Kurtis Drummond – Michigan State … DB coach at his Pro Day

* S Brian Blechen – Utah … private workout

* S Ibraheim Campbell – NW …. private workout

* CB Quentin Rollins – Miami …. DB coach worked him out as S & CB at Pro Day

* CB Kevin Johnson – Wake Forest … DB coach at Pro Day

* CB Trae Waynes  – Michigan State … DB coach at his Pro Day

* CB Eric Rowe – Utah … private workout, Chip Kelly at his Pro Day

* CB Byron Jones – UConn … Chip Kelly, Bill Davis at his Pro Day

* CB Garry Peters – Clemson … worked out by DB coach at his Pro Day

* CB Justin Coleman – Tennessee … talked to scouts after Pro Day workout

* CB Cam Thomas – Western Kentucky … private workout

* CB Travis Manning – NW Missouri … scout at his Pro Day

* DE Caushaud Lyons – Tusculum … DL coach worked him out at Pro Day

* DE Henry Anderson – Stanford …. DL coach at his Pro Day

* DE Jordan Williams – Tennessee … DL coach worked him out at Pro Day

* DE B.J. McBryde – UConn … talked to family, spent time w/ him at Pro Day

* DE Corey Crawford – Clemson … Bill Davis at his Pro Day

* DE Mario Edwards – Florida State … DL coach at his Pro Day

* DL Eddie Goldman – Florida State … DL coach at his Pro Day

* DL Gabe Wright – Auburn … DL coach at his Pro Day

* DL Angelo Blackson – Auburn … DL coach at his Pro Day

* DL Jordan Phillips – Oklahoma … DL coach at his Pro Day

* NT David Parry  – Stanford …. DL coach at his Pro Day

* OLB Obum Gwacham – Oregon State … met with Eagles prior to his Pro Day

* OLB Bud Dupree – Kentucky … met with him at his Pro Day

* OLB Ryan Russell – Purdue … met with him at his Pro Day

* OLB Shane Ray – Missouri … OLB coqch at his Pro Day

* OLB Vic Beasley – Clemson … Bill Davis at his Pro Day

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* OL Terry Poole – San Diego St … worked out by OL coach at Pro Day

* OL T.J. Clemmings – Pitt … worked out by OL coach at Pro Day

* OL Brandon Scherff – Iowa …. worked out by OL coach at Pro Day

* OL Ali Marpet – Hobart … OL coach ran his Pro Day workout

* OL Mike Coccia – New Hampshire … worked out by OL coach at Pro Day

* OL Al Bond – Memphis … Asst OL coach worked him out at Pro Day

* OL Andrew Donnal – Iowa …. worked out by OL coach at Pro Day

* OL Tyrus Thompson – Oklahoma … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OL Darryl Williams  – Oklahoma … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OG Adam Shead – Oklahoma … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OL Cam Erving – Florida State … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OG Tre Jackson – Florida State … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OG Josue Mattias – Florida State … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OG Mark Glowinski – West Va … Asst OL coach at his Pro Day

* OG A.J. Cann – South Carolina …. worked out by OL coach

* OL Bobby Hart – Florida State … OL coach at his Pro Day

* OL Visesio Salt – Utah … private workout

* OL Jeremiah Poutasi – Utah … private workout

* OC Ross Hall – Villanova … coming to NovaCare for local Pro Day

* QB Marcus Mariota – Oregon … QB coach at his Pro Day

* QB Bryce Petty – Baylor … QB coach had dinner with him prior to Pro Day

* QB Cody Fajardo – Nevada … QB coach worked him out at Pro Day

* QB Brett Hundley – UCLA … private workout & film session

* QB Brandon Hill – Monmouth … private workout for April 8

* WR Devante Davis – UNLV … met with scout for 30 mins on Pro Day

* WR Vernon Johnson – Texas A&M-Commerce … met with him at Pro Day

* WR Rasheed Bailey – Delaware Valley … met with him at his Pro Day

* TE Blake Bell – Oklahoma … had dinner with him

* TE Kennard Backmon – UAB … private workout

* TE Casey Pierce – Kent State … private workout

* TE Brian Parker – Albany … private workout

* TE Tyler Kroft – Rutgers … private workout

PRO DAYS ATTENDED BY CHIP KELLY

Clemson
Utah
Alabama
Michigan State
Penn State
UConn
LSU

 

MISC PRO DAYS

* Northwestern Pro Day …. scouting exec Anthony Patch in attendance

* North Texas … area scout

* Lafayette … area scout

* Coastal Carolina  … area scout

* Buffalo … area scout

* Portland State … area scout

* James Madison … area scout

* Florida Atlantic … area scout

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Taking A Look at the Eagles Offense

Posted: March 31st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 366 Comments »

We’ve seen a few changes on the Eagles offense. Let’s look at the lineup and talk about things.

WR Jordan Matthews
WR Miles Austin
WR Riley Cooper
TE Brent Celek … Zach Ertz
RB DeMarco Murray … Ryan Mathews … Darren Sproles
QB Sam Bradford … Mark Sanchez
LT Jason Peters
LG Evan Mathis
OC Jason Kelce
RG Allen Barbre
RT Lane Johnson

We don’t know for a fact Austin will play in the slot. On a conference call with the Philly media, Austin estimated he’s played the slot about half of his career, but did spend last year more outside. That was due to the presence of someone who was strictly a slot receiver.

Watch these 2014 highlights of Austin and you can see even though he played outside, a lot of his catches came over the middle. He can play in traffic. He can make catches while covered.

Austin is a solid blocker. He’s not going to dominate defenders, but has the size, strength and effort to win most of his battles. Both Cleveland and Dallas would at times walk him in close to the formation and have him block bigger guys. Andy Reid used to do this with some of his bigger WRs. You don’t expect the WR to control the LB, but just get in his way for 1.5 seconds. You do need the WR to be willing to do dirty work for this to succeed. Austin is willing to do whatever is needed.

Chip Kelly has a big set of WRs. Austin lists at 6-2, 215. He looks closer to 225. Riley Cooper is in the 225 range. Jordan Matthews is the midget, at only 6-2, 212. These guys can all deal with physical DBs. They can all block.

That’s great, but where is the speed?

Matthews is the blazer and he ran 4.46 at the Combine. That’s not going to scare many DBs. Jeremy Maclin wasn’t as explosive as DeSean Jackson, but Mac was a better vertical threat than most people gave him credit for. Can Matthews now take that role?

We do need to remember that stretching a defense is about more than just pure speed. Cooper had some success as a downfield guy in 2013. He tracks the ball very well and is big enough to fight for contested balls and win them. I certainly wouldn’t count on Matthews becoming a deep threat, but that was part of his game in college. As a rookie, he played in the slot. You don’t run many vertical routes from the slot so this is an unknown part of his game right now.

There are reports that the Eagles looked into veteran WR Mike Wallace before deciding to look elsewhere. That shows that they do have some interest in speed, but don’t feel it is an overwhelming need. They can try to find someone in the draft that is a good vertical threat and could help with that part of the offense.

The Eagles do need chunk plays. They can get them in the form of RAC gains rather than downfield throws. DeSean Jackson and Matthews both had the same number of catches of 20 or more yards last year (16). Jackson used speed while Matthews used RAC ability. The difference is that Jackson had 13 catches go for 40 or more yards while Matthews only had 2 of those.

Zach Ertz and Brent Celek form a good TE duo. Ertz is a terrific receiver. He has the speed to get deep and is a gifted downfield receiver for a TE. Celek is more blocker than pass catcher now, but still is a threat in the passing game. Ertz had more catches of 20 or more yards last year than Jimmy Graham or Jason Witten. He’s still scratching the surface of how good he can be.

I think the RB trio of Murray, Mathews and Sproles will deliver chunk plays. Murray had more runs of 20 or more yards and more runs of 40 or more yards than LeSean McCoy did over the past 2 years. Mathews has the speed to break long runs. Sproles is a threat to create a big play any time he touches the ball.

Obviously the key to all of this is having the right trigger-man. We’ve talked about Sam Bradford quite a bit. All we can do for now is speculate. If things go as Kelly envisions them, the offense will be even better. You’ll have a veteran QB with a strong and better accuracy running the show. He’ll get the ball to the open receivers and run the explosive attack at a high level. If things go as others fear, we’ll see Mark Sanchez on the field too often and being as erratic as he always has through his NFL career, meaning the offense is in trouble in critical situations. Time will tell on this.

The OL looks to be in good shape, assuming Evan Mathis sticks around. The Eagles let his agent talk to teams about a trade, but we’ve heard no progress on that front so it seems like Mathis will be an Eagle in 2015. Allen Barbre at RG should be okay (or better). The Eagles are likely to spend an early pick (or two) on OL. They know they need youth and depth up front.

It is certainly hard to believe the Eagles could have as much turmoil up front in 2015. The 4-game suspension of Johnson last year combined with constant injuries and the ejection of Peters in the first WAS game to create a non-stop shuffling of players. That was simply insane.

One thing we have to remember is that offense is Kelly’s baby. This is his offense. He made these changes. Kelly chose Byron Maxwell over Jeremy Maclin. He dealt Nick Foles for Bradford. He felt the defense needed a certain amount of attention and that the offense could still thrive even with change.

Kelly added veteran players that are smart, tough and physical.

They also have serious durability issues. And this is where Kelly loses more than a few people. He’s betting that his Sports Science program and new surroundings can help keep these players healthy. Kelly does see the risk, but he feels the risk/reward makes it worth it. As Kelly has explained, if Bradford were completely healthy, he’d have never been available in a trade.

Kelly is trusting his Sports Science and training ideas. We’re (most of us) trusting Kelly. That trust could look awfully dumb if things go horribly wrong.

One final note…Kelly is continuing to bring in high character players. WR Michael Crabtree is on the market right now. He is a gifted young player. But Crabtree has had some issues over the years. Kelly signed Austin, who is older and less talented. But Austin is coachable and can help the young players around him develop. Kelly still believes in the importance of the right football culture.

* * * * *

Not everyone is on board.

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