Misc Draft Talk

Posted: March 31st, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 7 Comments »

We’ve talked a lot recently about the wide receiver position. One of the interesting questions is what the Eagles are ideally looking for. We have to look at the Colts offense for some hints, but we aren’t going to know anything for sure until we Nick Sirianni’s team in action.

Adam Caplan was talking about Jalen Reagor playing in the slot this upcoming season and that just might happen. The Colts had a rookie receiver last year named Michael Pittman. He started slow, but then played quite a bit in the slot. That’s unusual because Pittman is 6-4, 223.

It is possible the Eagles could put Travis Fulgham in the slot. He goes 6-2, 215 and isn’t afraid to work the middle. Now it is possible Sirianni might prefer more speed in that role. If so, the Eagles could go with Reagor.

There are a ton of potential slot receivers in the draft.

Ben’s list was done with the Packers in mind. Those are some athletic, explosive playmakers. They’re also small. The Eagles might just be fine with that.

If the Eagles prefer bigger guys, they’ll have plenty more options.

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I’ve mentioned DeVonta Smith a few times recently. It is fair to question if there are any concerns with him.

We don’t have official measurements for Smith. He is unoffically 6-0 and says he is 170 pounds. Someone I trust wrote a while back that Smith played in the 165 range this year. It is easy for an Eagles fan to have scary flashbacks to Todd Pinkston, who was 6-2, 170.

I can’t stress this enough, but Smith and Pinkston are nothing alike.

Nothing.

Smith played on STs. I’m not talking about as a returner (although he did do that).

Smith is a good blocker. He will mix it up with DBs. Yes, he’s got a slight build, but this is not a finesse player. He’s mentally and physically tough. He’s ultra-competitive. I love guys that have that mindset. Anquan Boldin was slow (ran 4.7 at the Combine), but I loved his competitive nature so much I had him rated as a 1st round prospect.

Smith lacks ideal size, but he sure seems to have ideal heart. And you can watch the game tape to see how he dominated the best conference in all of football. At pick 12, he is worth taking a chance on. There is risk to be sure. At the same time, look at J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. He’s got plenty of size and hasn’t done squat in the NFL. Size matters, but it is only part of the overall picture.

And for the record, I hated the Pinkston pick. I was yelling at the TV.

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TE Kyle Pitts and WR Ja’Marr Chase both had sensational showings at their Pro Days. This is not a shocker. The Eagles certainly expected this. They knew that one would be gone by pick six and that both could be. It certainly feels that way after today.

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I love the draft, but I do hate the hyperbole machine that gets going every March and April. If you listen to enough people, you’ll hear that 40 different guys are climbing their way into the middle of the first round. It’s kinda hard for that to happen.

Teams have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, but those of us on the outside can only speculate.

Don’t get riled up at every crazy thing you hear. This is silly season for comments, good and bad.

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I’m not in love with either CB Patrick Surtain or CB Jaycee Horn. They are good prospects and each of them had an amazing Pro Day showing, but there’s something that keeps me from fully buying into them.

My favorite CB is Greg Newsome from Northwestern. He’ll likely go in the 20 to 30 range.

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I’m curious to see how early the Eagles go for a RB. There could be some really interesting options in the second round. That might seem way too early to many people, but if there is a player you have rated highly, you should trust your board. It would be interesting to pair a bigger back like Najee Harris or Javonte Williams with Sanders, who is a big play threat.

I’m guessing the Eagles go for a RB later on, but if the right guy slips a bit, it would be interesting to see what they would do.

In case you haven’t seen Williams in action…

You’re welcome.

Fans at The Linc would go nuts to see that dude in action.

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I haven’t written a lot about D-linemen because there are so many guys I like, but so few I love.

One guy I’m really high on is Rashad Weaver from Pitt.

He had 7.5 sacks and 3 FFs in nine games. Weaver then went down to Mobile and put on a show at the Senior Bowl. He has enough size and strength to be a starting DE and to slide into DT in sub-packages.

He won’t go early, but has a chance to be a good NFL player.

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Fun Options

Posted: March 30th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 6 Comments »

If you held a gun to my head and asked who I want the Eagles to draft right now…wait, why would you do such a horrible thing? Just buy me a PBR and I’ll gladly talk to you about DeVonta Smith. My opinion may change (and Smith may be gone by 12), but he’s the dude I want as of today.

We know the Eagles believe in building the line of scrimmage so they easily could go O-line or D-line at pick 12. I need to write about the potential targets and who makes the most sense for the Eagles. For now, just assume the team does go OL or DL. What would that mean for WR?

I have good news. There are good options beyond pick 12.

We know the top three receivers will be Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Chase should go first. After that, the other two will be valued differently by each team. All three of them are terrific prospects.

We don’t know who will go after the big three. One possibility is Bateman, who was great in 2019. He didn’t have as much success in 2020 and that could affect his draft status. Bateman could be available at the Eagles second round pick.

I love his RAC ability. He plucks the ball on the move and just explodes up the field. The Eagles have struggled with yards after the catch in recent years. Bateman would be a big help.

Moore was thought of as potentially a first round pick, but he only measured in at 5-7. He is absolutely explosive. Like Darren Sproles, he’s short, but muscular and thick.

That is not an undersized dude. He’s short, but he is put together. And Moore posted big time numbers at his Pro Day, which matched the way he played at Purdue. He was truly a difference-maker.

If the Eagles drafted Bateman, he could play in the slot or outside. Moore most certainly would spend most of his time in the slot. There are other good receivers who could be in the mix in the early second round if the Eagles should skip receiver at 12.

Of course, that might be tough to do.

https://twitter.com/JS_Football/status/1346805948644470784

The Eagles won’t have an official weight or 40-time for Smith, but his game tape is pretty incredible.

Cynthia Frelund does analytics work for the NFL Network and she recently did a mock draft using numbers to see who would likely be available and which pick would make the most sense for a team.

She had the Eagles taking Smith.

We’ll see.

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The NFL made it official.

The Eagles play the Jets this year.

No more 8-8. Teams will have a winning or losing record. No more sitting on the fence.

I guess you could go 8-8-1, but that won’t be a likely outcome.

I’m not a fan of the extra game, but it’s here so let’s embrace it.

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A Wanted Man

Posted: March 30th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

More than a few people were ticked off when the Eagles traded back from the sixth pick in the upcoming draft. The 12th pick isn’t all that far away, but potentially special players like Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase will be gone by then. Moving back has its merits, but you are likely settling for a lesser talent.

Were the Eagles really giving up on Chase and Pitts?

Albert Breer of SI offered this nugget today.

And with the Eagles believing there is a pretty good chance the Bengals will take LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase at five (we mentioned in our mock this week that Joe Burrow has given Cincinnati’s brass a glowing recommendation), Philly felt comfortable with the difference in talent between six and 12—and also operated with the knowledge that it’d be hard to get a future first (this being Miami’s slotted No. 1 in 2022) in exchange for moving down closer to the draft, particularly if it looked like the top four picks would be QBs.

Interesting.

There is a lot of guesswork for me and you when it comes to the draft. NFL teams are a different story. They are doing research every single day, trying to figure out who will go where. They read the same articles that you and I do, looking for a nugget they didn’t know.

The difference is that they have a lot more information other than media reports. The scouting community won’t be mistaken for the CIA anytime soon. Those guys love to talk and swap tales. This helps give teams some idea of how other teams feel.

Teams also talk to agents. They probe for any info they can get that will help them to understand who likes certain prospects.

The teams work on mock drafts throughout March and April, looking at different scenarios. This can be tough when you pick in the 20’s or 30’s, but you have a good idea of what to expect when you’re at pick 6…or pick 12.

Breer says the Eagles think Ja’Marr Chase goes to Cincy with pick 5. That would have left them with Kyle Pitts. As special a prospect as Pitts is, you can argue that he’s a luxury because his primary position is TE. The Eagles already have a good TE in Dallas Goedert. It would be great to add Pitts, but with so many other roster holes, he would be a luxury.

If the Eagles truly thought Chase would be gone and Pitts wasn’t an ideal fit, trading back makes all the sense in the world.

What about trading up?

Ian Rappoport of the NFL Network reported last Friday that the Eagles tried to trade up to the #3 spot so they could draft BYU passer Zach Wilson. That got everyone’s attention, including the Eagles. Rappoport immediately put out this tweet and deleted the other one.

Oops.

Trading up to #3 for Wilson didn’t make much sense. The Jets are expected to take him with the second overall pick. I’m sure the Eagles have interest in Wilson. He’s a very talented prospect. Trading up to #3 doesn’t make much sense, though.

Unless…maybe the Eagles were exploring moving up to take Chase. This team doesn’t need to be using key resources to move up, but it can’t hurt to ask, I guess.

The bottom line to all of this is that the Eagles didn’t move back to pick 12 on a whim. They didn’t make that move lightly. They obviously think there is a player they like who will fall to that spot. Maybe that is DeVonta Smith or Jaycee Horn or some OL/DL. Or as I wrote the other day, maybe this is the year to go for a LB.

The Eagles have a plan. We’ll have to wait and see if it works out.

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Believe it or not, the draft is more than pick 12.

Matt Alkire wrote a piece on the value of late round picks and how they’ve helped the Eagles in rebuilding years in the past.

Always interesting to see how past moves helped build winning teams.

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Could This Be The Year?

Posted: March 28th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 6 Comments »

Jerry Robinson is the answer to a common Eagles trivia question. Who was the last off-the-ball linebacker the team drafted in the first round? That seems hard to believe when you remember special players like Seth Joyner and William Thomas were Eagles draft picks. You have to go all the way back to 1979 and Mr. Robinson.

Crazy.

The Eagles were not going to spend the sixth pick in the draft on a LB. There was zero chance of that happening. It probably won’t happen at 12, but it is at least a discussion worth having.

We don’t know a lot about Jonathan Gannon and the scheme he’s going to run. We can look at the Colts and Vikings for some hints since those were the places where he did most of his NFL learning. One thing each team had was playmaking LBs.

The Vikings spent the 9th pick in 2014 on Anthony Barr to give them a big, athletic LB who could rush the passer, cover TEs and make plays. Barr has stayed with the team since being picked and he’s been a good player. He helped the team to have the #1 defense in the league in 2017 and reach the NFC title game (no word on what happened that night).

The Colts spent the 37th pick in the 2018 draft on Darius Leonard to give them a playmaker in the middle of their defense. Leonard has been to a pair of Pro Bowls. He’s got 7 INTs and 15 sacks. He has been a major playmaker. The Colts had the #1 defense for part of 2020, but struggled down the stretch and finished 8th in yards allowed.

The Eagles do not have any player remotely close to Barr or Leonard.

Alex Singleton is the best LB on the roster. He plays hard and he’s fun to watch, but Singleton isn’t anything close to a difference-maker.

There is one elite LB in the draft, Micah Parsons from Penn State.

I don’t think the Eagles will take Parsons, but if there was ever a time to go for a LB early, this just might be it. Parsons is big, fast and athletic. Check out these numbers from his Pro Day.

https://twitter.com/PFF_College/status/1375112879268114435

He has the size to be a SAM. He can stack and shed like a MLB. He is athletic enough to be a WLB. Parsons can do it all.

One of the hallmarks of the Vikings defense is the double A-gap mug look. This is where you put two LBs right over the center. Jim Johnson did this a lot when he ran the Eagles defense. This gives you the option to blitz both LBs, blitz only one or have them drop back. Offenses aren’t sure what will happen and it can slow them down. It helps to have LBs that are good blitzers and/or pass rushers.

Parsons had five sacks in 2019 (he sat out 2020). He is a force when he blitzes up the middle. He’s got the athleticism to shoot gaps and wreak havoc. In the clip you can see that he’s got the size, strength and skill to beat blockers when someone is in his way.

Parsons can fly around the field and make plays all over. He has the potential to be really good in coverage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pALaLOjXZ1U

I’m sure a few of you will say “Tommy this is all great, but LB just isn’t worth that pick. Why even waste time with this discussion?”

There is some truth to that, but I wonder if the playoffs will have people re-thinking things a bit. Devin White was a monster in the postseason.

White had 12 tackles, an INT and a couple of TFLs in the Super Bowl. He looked like the best player on the field at times. White had 15 tackles and a fumble return in the NFC title game. He had 11 tackles, a FR and an INT in the divisional win over the Saints. He was taken 5th overall in 2019.

Parsons is a better prospect than White.

The big issue is possible character concerns. We don’t know everything that is being talked about behind the scenes. NFL teams each employee former law enforcement officers and have them research certain draft prospects. NFL teams don’t what to know about rumors. They want facts. They want to know what a kid did or didn’t do and the circumstances around those events.

Parsons talked about making mistakes in his past, but says he hopes teams judge him on who he’s become. I hope he is changed. We’ve all done dumb things and you don’t want that to follow you forever. At the same time, I’ve also sat across from a draft prospect and had him sell me on how great a kid he is, only to find out later that he was full of shit. This is just like any job interview. People want to get hired. They will lie to you with a huge smile on their face, trying to convince you that you’re bringing in the next Saint Francis of Assisi.

NFL teams will do a lot of research on Parsons to find out who he was and who they think he is. Parsons is saying the right things. He got his degree from Penn State. He’s got some notable people vouching for him. Maybe he has grown up.

If the character stuff checks out, Parsons would be great value at 12. He would immediately give the Eagles a playmaker in the middle of their defense. He and Singleton would give the Eagles a good pair of LBs. And you would have young players like Davion Taylor, T.J. Edwards and Shaun Bradley behind them. That would be a pretty interesting group.

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One player won’t be coming back.

There were a lot of jokes about Gerry’s departure on Twitter yesterday. He was terrible in 2020. SF has done a good job of developing LBs in recent years. Maybe they can get Gerry back on track. At the very least, he could be a good STer for them.

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Matt Alkire posted his thoughts on players the Eagles could target at 12.

Matt didn’t list Parsons, likely due to character and the Eagles avoiding LBs early.

He did talk a lot about CB and DE. Good stuff, so be sure to check it out.

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A Surprise Trade

Posted: March 27th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 6 Comments »

I was sitting at work on Friday when one of my co-workers (a degenerate Broncos fan) said there was a blockbuster trade between the Dolphins and the Niners. I headed out to get lunch a couple of minutes later. While waiting for my food, I checked on Twitter to see the details. I saw Eagles writers and fans talking about a trade and got confused. Then I saw this.

Wow.

I like it.

The Eagles need a massive infusion of young talent. The more resources they have, the better their odds of finding good players.

More than a few fans were furious. Why pass on elite talents like Ja’Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts? The simple answer is that the Eagles didn’t covet those players. I choose the word covet very specifically. A lot of you seem to take it the wrong way.

All 32 teams are going to have high grades on Chase and Pitts. They are terrific prospects. Every team would love to have them. That’s not the question. Would you rather have them than pick 12, a 4th this year and a 1st rounder next year? If you feel that player is so good and so important to your team, you take him. The Eagles preferred to move back and add the other picks.

Some people were upset at Howie Roseman for moving back because they think there is some other player he prefers or that he’s trying to be too cute about getting the player he wants. Again, you can bet Howie loves Chase and Pitts. They are great prospects.

But moving back six spots isn’t that big a deal and the Eagles could have three first round picks next April. That would give them the chance to be very aggressive if they want to trade up for a star or a QB. Or the team could add a lot of talent in one night. I love the thought of three first round picks.

11 players will go off the board before the Eagles choose on draft night. Here are the guys likely to be gone:

QB Trevor Lawrence
QB Zach Wilson
QB Trey Lance
QB Justin Fields
WR Ja’Marr Chase
TE Kyle Pitts
OL Rashawn Slater
OL Penei Sewell

The Eagles should have at least one of this group available:

WR Jaylen Waddle
WR DeVonta Smith
CB Patrick Surtain
CB Jaycee Horn

There will be other good options on the board. This isn’t a case where the Eagles moved back to the end of the round and they’re taking a chance on getting a pretty good talent. There will be outstanding players to choose from at pick 12.

I get people being frustrated at losing out on Chase, but this is a very deep group of receivers. There are a ton of guys I love. This isn’t Chase or bust at receiver.

I struggled with the idea of DeVonta Smith at pick six. I’m much more comfortable at 12.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDKGBfThEik

Man, that kid is just incredibly impressive. I would love to see him in midnight green.

The Eagles have 11 picks this year and I think they’ve already got nine next year. That’s exactly what a team needs when they lack young talent.

I get that many of you have doubts about Howie and him hitting on the picks. Like I’ve said, his track record isn’t good in recent years. I certainly won’t disagree on the concerns. But I think you have to move past that as long as the move is reasonable. This is a trade to move back six spots in one round. If you are going to obsess on Howie’s deficiencies, then what happens at pick six is irrelevant because you think he’ll miss on the other picks.

I’m not telling you to let go of the Howie hate. If that’s how you feel so be it. But don’t kill the fun of the draft by obsessing on that. Zach Berman has pointed out that Howie has actually done a good job of building up the Eagles. He struggles to keep them good.

I think this is a terrific move. I’m excited to see what happens at 12 and then next April could be a wild ride if the team does end up with three first round picks. That might cause my brain to explode.

The Eagles should still get a top talent even after moving back. And they add a first round pick to their 2022 arsenal. That’s a darn good start to the weekend.

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