Updated Depth Chart

Posted: April 5th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 231 Comments »

The Eagles have made several moves in the last week. Let’s take a look at the updated depth chart.

WR Alshon Jeffery … Nelson Agholor
WR Torrey Smith … Dorial Green-Beckham
WR Jordan Matthews … Paul Turner
QB Carson Wentz … Nick Foles
RB Darren Sproles … Wendell Smallwood
TE Brent Celek …….. Zach Ertz ……. Trey Burton
LT Jason Peters …… Matt Tobin
LG Isaac Seumalo … Allen Barbre
OC Jason Kelce ……. Stefen Wisniewski
RG Brandon Brooks … Chance Warmack
RT Lane Johnson …… Halapoulivaati Vaitai

DE Brandon Graham …. Marcus Smith
DT Fletcher Cox ……….. Destiny Vaeao
DT Timmy Jernigan ….. Beau Allen
DE Vinny Curry ………… Chris Long
WB Mychal Kendricks … Kamu Grugier-Hill
MB Jordan Hicks ……….. Joe Walker
SB Nigel Bradham ……… Najee Goode
SS Malcolm Jenkins …… Chris Maragos
FS Rodney McLeod ….. Jaylen Watkins
CB Patrick Robinson …. Dwayne Gratz
CB Jalen Mills ………….. C.J. Smith
NB Ron Brooks ………… Aaron Grymes

P Donnie Jones
K Caleb Sturgis
LS Jon Dorenbos

This isn’t exactly the ’85 Bears. but there is plenty to feel good about, especially considering the Eagles still have the draft to build on this with. I highlighted the key new players and these are guys that can make a difference.

One of the disappointments last year was the DL. Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan are great guys and they were easy to cheer for, but neither of them fit the new system nearly as well as I thought they would. I wasn’t expecting dominance, but they combined for 29 starts and just 7.5 sacks. It would be one thing if they were getting tons of attention by blockers, but that wasn’t the case. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox were the guys teams had to gameplan for. Sacks aside, Logan only had 5 TFLs and Barwin struggled vs the run.

Jernigan is a better pass rusher than Logan. Hopefully he will be a better overall fit in the new scheme. Logan was an excellent 3-4 NT and I thought the new system would help him to make more plays, but that really wasn’t the case. Logan is back in the 3-4 and should excel for the Chiefs. Special players like Cox and thrive in any system. Other guys need fit to help them play their best.

Long should be an improvement over Barwin. Long knows how to play in the Wide-9 front. He remains a solid pass rusher. He is older than Barwin, but that’s not critical for someone who will be a rotational player (starter or not).

I don’t think I need to say much about the WRs. Jeffery is a stud. Smith has been a good starter in the past. Agholor and DGB are outstanding underachievers. Let’s hope that changes and/or that it isn’t contagious.

Foles is a better backup QB than Chase Daniel, but I hope he doesn’t get a chance to prove it. If Foles has to start a few games, I would certainly have a lot more confidence in him than Daniel. Foles has shown he can be an effective starter in this league. His time in STL was awful, but he’s only partly to blame for that. He did some good things here in 2013-14 and I would expect him to be solid if he has to play in the future.

Warmack is a lottery ticket. Either Jeff Stoutland will push the right buttons or Warmack will be looking for a job. I have no feel for how this will play out.

CB remains the biggest hole on the roster. Patrick Robinson has a good chance to be a starter, but he’s not such a compelling player that he can count on anything. The Eagles will add at least a pair of CBs in the draft (barring a miracle). The coaches will give everyone a shot to win a job. They want good CB play and don’t care if it is a rookie, C.J. Smith or Robinson. They just want reliable starters.

RB is also a hole, but not nearly the same way. The Eagles have good role players at that spot, but need a starter. A rookie RB can come in and make a difference right away. That is a position that must be addressed, but I’m not as worried about it as I am CB. Finding corners is tough. This is a great class, but half or more of them will bust. That’s just the mathematical reality of the situation.

I can’t wait to see what the Eagles do 3 weeks from now. They have a chance to really help this roster. Find an impact DB and a good RB and the Eagles are looking like a playoff team.

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Shrewd Move

Posted: April 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 168 Comments »

Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas pulled off an interesting move on Tuesday.

The Eagles add a potential starting DT and don’t have to give up a draft pick. That’s pretty impressive. The Eagles do move down 25 slots in the 3rd round and that is a big move in such a deep, quality draft.

Why would the Ravens make such a move?

The Ravens have stockpiled DL in recent drafts. They just signed Brandon Williams to a huge deal. They also have Willie Henry, Brent Urban, Bronson Kaufusi and Carl Davis. All of those guys were taken in the 3rd or 4th round since 2013. Jernigan is about to enter the final year of his deal. He has played well enough to earn a solid contract and the Ravens weren’t going to commit to him financially. By dealing him now, they get something in return.

Jernigan is an excellent addition for the Eagles. He is 6-2, 295. He is strong enough to 2-gap and eat blocks, but he is athletic enough to shoot gaps and make plays. Jernigan won’t turn 25 until September so he is just hitting the prime of his career. The risk for the Eagles is that he becomes a free agent at the end of the year. The Eagles are hoping they like what they see and can sign him to an extension.

In some ways, Jernigan is an upgrade over Bennie Logan. Jernigan has played in 43 games and has 13 sacks. Logan has played in 59 games and has 5.5 sacks. I was actually shocked when I saw that. I figured Logan would have better numbers.

Logan has started 51 games in 4 years so he is a reliable performer. Jernigan started 15 games last year, but was primarily a backup the previous 2 seasons. He started 11 games in 2013 and 2014 combined.

Impressive.

Jernigan is strong enough to hold his ground vs the run. He uses his hands well and is able to shed blocks. He has enough quickness and athleticism to penetrate and make plays. I love his motor. Jernigan might get blocked, but he won’t stay blocked. That’s the kind of tenacious DL who is going to thrive in the Jim Schwartz scheme.

There is some risk with this deal. Jernigan is coming to a new system and might leave when the season is over. The Eagles moved from a Top 75 pick down to the bottom of the 3rd round. That’s a big difference.

Still, I think this is a really good move. You add someone that can start at DT. The Eagles will let him and Beau Allen battle it out for the job. This isn’t a great DT class so there were limited options for replacing Logan. Jernigan could prove to be a terrific fit and this could be a huge steal.

In the past you might have blamed the Eagles for coveting other teams players. This is different. Joe Douglas was in Baltimore when Jernigan was drafted and you have to believe he had a strong hand in the Eagles making this move. Howie is the trader, but Douglas had to be the one pushing the idea and selling the Eagles that Jernigan can be a really strong fit in this scheme.

If you look at this simply…the Eagles got better today.

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Slider?

Posted: April 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 227 Comments »

Jonathan Allen is one of the best prospects in the upcoming draft. He has production, ability, size, character…everything you want. Unfortunately, he also has arthritic shoulders. We don’t know exactly how serious this is, but it obviously isn’t ideal in a kid just heading out of college.

Without the shoulder issue, Allen would be a lock to go Top 5. He still might go that high. But it is possible that Allen could slide. If he is on the board at 14, do the Eagles take him?

The key to this would be the fact that they would have to be comfortable with his shoulders. If they have any real doubts, pass on him and go to the next prospect. If the Eagles have a solid medical grade on him, then you move to the discussion about whether Allen is the right guy to take. It would be incredibly tempting to want to line this guy up beside Fletcher Cox every week.

And the play of the year.

I mean…wow. Just wow.

By the numbers. Allen is 6-3, 286. He had 12 sacks in 2015 and 10.5 sacks in 2016. That is excellent production from a college DT. He isn’t a great athlete at all. His workout numbers are pedestrian.

I think Jim Schwartz would love Allen because of his ability as an interior rusher. Getting to the QB is the key to Schwartz’s defense and the best way to get to a QB is up the middle. As good as Bennie Logan was, he wasn’t a gifted pass rusher. I think that is the key reason the Eagles were willing to let him go. They wanted him back, but he wasn’t a guy to break the bank on.

One of the other benefits to having a guy like Allen in Schwartz’s scheme is that it would make stunts and loops even more dangerous. Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham have both played DT in the Nickel. Fletcher Cox can line up anywhere. Those guys could fly up the field or you could have then running twists and stunts and giving blockers fits.

Some of you will respond that the Eagles need DBs more than DL. That’s true. But what if no CB is rated as high as Allen? Don’t force picks due to need. This is only the 1st round. The Eagles could add Allen and get CBs in other rounds.

I doubt Allen slides down to pick 14, but if he does, I would have no problems with the Eagles taking him. Any time I have a chance to add a pass rusher, I’m all for it. The Eagles had 33 sacks last year. Adding a disruptive force like Allen would boost that total. It would also take pressure off Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and whatever rookies are on the way.

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Making Some Sense

Posted: April 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 127 Comments »

I was a bit surprised last week when we found out the Eagles were bringing Jamal Adams to Philly for a visit. He is the top Safety prospect in the upcoming draft and could go as high as the Top 5. Why were the Eagles looking at him?

Over the weekend I re-watched some of his games to see if there were any clues. And there were.

Notice how much and how well he plays in the slot?

Then I remembered this.

The Eagles love versatile DBs. Adams could play SS, FS or in the slot.

Melfionwu is a notch below him. He is a better athlete than player. With his size and speed, he could make a really good CB. He is 6-4, 224. That’s okay size for a WLB. Melifonwu runs 4.40 and had a 44-inch vertical leap. He is a rare athlete.

The Eagles were also checking out Penn State DB Malik Golden. He began his career as a WR and then spent the last 3 years on defense. PSU mainly used him playing a lot of Cover 2, but they did have him in the slot at times. Golden is 6-0, 200. He ran 4.50 at his Pro Day and tested well. He’s down a couple of notches from the other two, but has the skill set the Eagles like. Golden can play in the box or deep. He can cover in the slot.

There are a couple of other Safeties who have similar abilities. John Johnson from Boston College and Justin Evans from Texas A&M would both make some sense with their CB/S background and versatile skill sets. We haven’t heard anything about the Eagles having interest…yet. Maybe we’ll find something out.

This is a loaded CB class, but it would seem the Eagles also have interest in finding someone who could play the slot at a high level. Not all CBs can play the slot.

Back to Adams for a second. The Eagles may be trying to decide what to do if he falls. They also could be trying to decide if he’s worth trading up for. One of the reasons to bring him in is to “get him on the whiteboard”. That is coachspeak for having him go to the board and breakdown the X’s and O’s of a play. It helps the coaches to see how smart a player is. That’s critical for someone playing Safety or in the slot.

This is all conjecture on my part, but if you connect the dots, it does seem to make sense. We’ll find out more in a few weeks.

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Winning vs Building

Posted: April 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 76 Comments »

In June of 1992 life was good for the Eagles. They were returning one of the great defenses of all time. Randall Cunningham was on the mend and would be healthy for the upcoming season. The team added RB Herschel Walker in free agency. Super Bowl, here we come.

I remember listening to sports radio in the spring/summer of 2004 and John Clayton talked about Jeremiah Trotter returning to the Eagles. I couldn’t believe what a great offseason the Eagles were having. Jevon Kearse. Terrell Owens. Shawn Andrews. Derrick Burgess healthy. All this added to a team that had won 12 games the year before and played in the NFC title game. Super Bowl here we come.

The 1992 team didn’t make it. Jerome Brown died days after the Walker signing. It also hurt that Rich Kotite was in charge of that team. The 2004 team did go to the Super Bowl. I can’t remember how the game turned out so I’ll just assume the Eagles won

The current Eagles team isn’t on the verge of being a Super Bowl team. They are retooling the roster from Chip Kelly’s offense and 3-4 defense to what the current coaching staff is looking for to maximize their schemes and philosophies. In theory, Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas and Doug Pederson should load the roster with young players. Focus on the future.

Life in the NFL isn’t that easy. As I wrote for PE.com, there is a balancing act.

First, there is no set schedule for teams. The Eagles could win 8 games this year. Maybe they win 10 or 11. Maybe they really speed things up and win 12 or more. That is possible. I said in the piece that you shouldn’t make Super Bowl plans, but that doesn’t mean the team can’t surprise us.

I think the Eagles will be a good team this year. We need to see how the draft goes and how healthy they are in August before we can have an idea how good.

If you are at rock bottom like the Browns, then it might make sense to move on from veterans and focus on young guys. The Eagles aren’t anywhere close to that situation. Yes, there are still holes on the roster. But there is also good talent and the serious potential to be a playoff team. Why not take a chance on a few older guys to see if they can help you win an extra game or two?

There is also the simple idea of trying to put together the best possible roster. The Eagles could have focused on adding a DE in the draft and then giving lots of reps to the rookie, Marcus Smith, Steven Means and Alex McCalister. Long gives you a quality veteran. He isn’t going to have 13 sacks and play at an elite level, but he could have 5 to 7 and be a solid part of a rotation.

You have to balance being good this year vs building for the future.

I think the Eagles are in a pretty good place. The best DL is 26-year old Fletcher Cox. The best LB is Jordan Hicks, who will turn 25 in June. The best DB is Malcolm Jenkins. He will turn 30 in December, but can still play well for another couple of years. Carson Wentz is young. So are Lane Johnson and Isaac Seumalo. Zach Ertz is in the prime of his career. The oldest key veteran is LT Jason Peters. He is a 35-year old freak, which I mean in the best possible way.

The Eagles are built to win, now and into the future.

*****

Jimmy Bama wrote a piece about the Broncos having interest in Jason Peters.

Make sure you read that carefully. The Broncos are interested in Peters. The Eagles aren’t shopping him.

Denver doesn’t have a good set of OTs right now. They signed Menelik Watson to play RT. They are projecting last year’s RT, Donald Stephenson, to play LT. They have a young guy named Ty Sambrailo who could play LT. It is easy to see why they might want Peters.

Jimmy does speculate that the Eagles might still be open to dealing Peters.

If the Broncos were willing to cough up, say, a second-round pick for Peters, I think the Eagles would do that in a heartbeat. It might not even take that much.

I could see the Eagles dealing Peters, but only if it was an offer too good to refuse. I think they would politely say “no thanks” if the Broncos offered a 3rd round pick for him. I’m not sure a 2nd round pick would even do it.

Remember what the message has been all offseason. The Eagles are focused on developing Carson Wentz. If you trade his Pro Bowl LT, you better get a strong offer in return. We’ve seen plenty of young QBs ruined by poor protection. The Eagles do have the depth on the OL to make this move, but you only do that if Denver blows you away with an offer. Peters might be 35, but he can play for another year, maybe two. This is a weak OT class in the draft so that also boosts Peters’ value.

I doubt anything comes of this, but this is the time of the year to discuss any and all rumors.

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