Eagles Find a Thumper

Posted: May 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 94 Comments »

Teams around the NFL are fine tuning their rosters. The Skins cut ILB Steven Daniels, their 7th round pick from 2016. And then boom.

I love this move.

Before you get too excited or accuse me of being nuts, this is a depth move. Before Daniels can change the game of football and go to the Hall of Fame with a handful of Super Bowl rings, he has to show he can get healthy and play at the NFL level. The Skins took a chance on him last year, but must have thought he wasn’t going to be healthy since they let him go so quickly.

At his best, Daniels is a very physical MLB. He will knock the crap out of blockers, runners, receivers and any other biological entities that come near him. I called him the most physical player in the 2016 draft.

Daniels is the most physical player in the draft. He hits everything he can. Hard. Daniels only ran 4.86 at the Combine. That’s not good for a LB. But he is smart and instinctive. He makes plays by getting into the right position. The Wide 9 can put pressure on LBs to defeat blockers. Daniels has no problems with that. He will take on and shed blockers.

That first clip is simply glorious. I’m fanning myself off right now.

The Eagles brought Daniels to Philly for a visit last spring. They also had a private workout with him. This is a player they had serious interest in. If he can’t get healthy and doesn’t pan out, so be it. But this guy is an ideal MLB for the Wide-9. He can sit in there all by himself and destroy whatever is closest to him.

If he is healthy and able to earn a roster spot as a STer and backup MLB, Joe Walker could move outside. Walker is the better athlete and could play WLB or SAM. Of course, we need Walker to get healthy as well.

*****

Dave Spadaro interviewed Howie Roseman for PE.com and got some good nuggets.

The Eagles had Top 10 grades on Derek Barnett and Sidney Jones.

The Eagles looked at the Jones picks in the sense of “Would we trade pick 43 for a Top 10 pick next year?”. The answer was a resounding yes.

Howie mentioned that DE Alex McCalister looks very good. He was a 7th round pick last year. How can he look good in these OTAs? McCalister needed to get bigger and stronger more than anything else. You don’t have to see players with their pads on to know who bulked up and looks bigger/better than last year.

Mack Hollins is a player that Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl loved. One of the things that stood out was his attitude and personality. Alpha dog type guy. Howie shared an interesting note. Hollins ran 4.53 at the Combine, but pulled up for the final 10 yards because of an injury. In Howie’s words, “He is 220 pounds and is a 4.4 guy all day long.” Sounds like the Eagles really like this guy.

Howie mentioned that he’s the one who first got excited about Donnel Humphrey. Just kept watching this little guy find ways to produce big numbers every week. No one could stop him. Howie said the coaching staff has a plan for how to use him, but wouldn’t elaborate.

The Eagles feel Nate Gerry could eventually develop into a starting LB, but the key to taking him was a commitment to Dave Fipp to keep giving him good players for the STs units. They think Gerry can be a terrific STer.

Howie mentioned the Eagles liked Elijah Qualls quite a bit and were nervous about whether he would still be on the board when they picked.

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Updated Look at RB

Posted: May 3rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 213 Comments »

The Eagles didn’t get Dalvin Cook or any of the other tailbacks we wanted in the draft. They didn’t sign Jamaal Charles (now a Bronco). There aren’t any rumors of the team trying to trade for a runner. So what is going on?

As Wooderson said in Dazed and Confused, “Patience darlin’, patience.”

The first thing to understand is that the Eagles won’t solve every problem and fill every hole this offseason. I’ve said that a few times, but it bears repeating. Rome wasn’t built in a night, nor a championship football team. The Eagles wanted a stud RB in the draft, but things didn’t go as they wanted. Jeff McLane reported the Eagles tried to move up for Dalvin Cook.

The Eagles attempted to trade up for Cook in the second round, an NFL source said. But, for whatever reason, they didn’t pull off the exchange.

Why not give up the pick and go get Cook? Are they nuts?

The Eagles showed real discipline here and stuck to their evaluations and long term thinking. Cook would have made the team better in 2017, but wasn’t necessarily the better long term move. Think about the past decade. Have the Eagles had a harder time finding RBs or CBs? It should take you half a millisecond to answer…CB.

The Eagles wanted to move up, but only at the right price. You can find RBs all over the place. You have to be careful about putting too many resources into a pick you spend on a RB. Against the Ravens and the #1 run D in the league, Ryan Mathews was 20-128, Byron Marshall 9-22 and Kenjon Barner 3-6. Early in the year, the Eagles dominated the Steelers. Wendell Smallwood was 17-79 and Kenjon Barner 8-42. The Eagles had 6 different RBs run for 20 or more yards in a game. The backs did a good job, but the real key was the OL opening holes.

It would have been a ton of fun to watch Cook running behind that O-line. That would have been glorious. But the price had to be right. RB is the one position where you can truly find players anywhere. The team has not had that same luck with developing or even signing CBs. They had to be able to spend good resources on CBs (if they were available). Sidney Jones is the most talented CB draft pick in more than  decade. There is risk in that pick, but with the Eagles track record, I think rolling the dice was smart if the medical reports were favorable.

Not overpaying for a RB also felt very much like a Ravens move. Ozzie Newsome never panics. He lets the board come to him. He knows there will be weak spots on his team, but is willing to take a chance on the guys already on his roster. He also knows there will be moves to be made in July, August and September.

No one is going to see a lineup of  Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement/Terrell Watson and think the Eagles are done. They would love to upgrade. That could mean a trade for Mark Ingram. That could mean signing a veteran like Rashad Jennings. The Eagles could also sit tight and see how the young guys play this spring and summer.

They will find a long term answer at RB in the next year. The Eagles wanted that player now, but the plans didn’t work out. They will now rely on the players currently here and see how things go.

No need to panic.

Patience darlin’, patience.

*****

I will say that Donnel Pumphrey has grown on me (insert your own growth joke right here). The kid has potential.

I will write a long piece on him. Simply put, there is a lot to like. There isn’t much to dislike, beyond size.

*****

The Eagles wanted to add a developmental QB and they found one.

Very interesting move.

Evans, 6-3, 232, is a talented athlete that did some big things in his short time at Virginia Tech. He is gifted. He should not have come out early. Maybe he needed the money and was desperate. I just hate to see kids come out early that are not ready.

Evans has NFL potential, but needs a lot of work. He has little chance to make the roster this time around. You play him a lot this summer to see how he does and then you stash him on the practice squad.

*****

Shittu flashed good potential in the preseason finale, but doesn’t sound like he was healthy. UDFA Winston Craig is very similar to him, but is more athletic. Craig has to feel better abut his chances of really pushing for a PS spot.

Shittu will be missed.

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Meet the UDFAs

Posted: May 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 181 Comments »

No official announcement as of this morning, but this seems to be the list.

C Tyler Orlosky – 6-3, 298 – West Virginia
RB Corey Clement – 5-10, 220 – Wisconsin
WR Greg Ward – 5-11, 186 – Houston
DT Winston Craig – 6-3, 288 – Richmond
LB Marcus Oliver – 6-1, 236 – Indiana
CB Jomal Wiltz – 5-9, 178 – Iowa State
DB Randall Goforth – 5-10, 190 – UCLA
TE Billy Brown – 6-4, 255 – Shepherd
FS Tre Sullivan – 5-11, 189 – Shepherd
P Cameron Johnston – Ohio State
QB Dakota Prukop – Oregon/Montana State (camp invite)

I have not watched any tape of the bottom 3 guys. Everyone else I’ve seen in action. This won’t be lengthy scouting reports, but more an introduction to these guys and how they fit.

Orlosky was the top overall UDFA to some draft anaylsts. I had him rated as a 4th round pick. Orlosky was a 3-year starter at WV. He has NFL ability, but isn’t special in any way. He has solid size. His snaps need to be quicker. He gets a bit off balance at times and isn’t overly athletic. Orlosky is a grinder, but that’s okay at C. You can get by in there if you’re smart and tough. He’s both of those. I do think he could develop into a future starter, but I wouldn’t say that is likely. He’s going to have to really battle to even make this team.

It is interesting that the top UDFA C signed with the Eagles, who have Jason Kelce and Stefen Wisniewski and Isaac Seumalo already. How did the team convince him to sign here? Will Kelce be dealt this summer?

Clement has NFL size and potential. He is 5-10, 220. He can catch the ball. He can return punts. He’s just not dynamic in any way. There were some character issues with him that hurt his value. There is also a bias against Wisconsin RBs. UW normally puts out good OL. That means the RBs have holes to run through and their job is much easier. There is no doubt Clement benefited from this. At the same time, you don’t run for 1,375 yards as a Senior because the line is good. Clement played a big part in that.

Clement is not as good as Wendell Smallwood was last spring. He’s not as good as Donnel Pumphrey. Don’t pencil him into the lineup quite yet. He has an opportunity in Philly, but Clement has to come in hungry and with a chip on his shoulder. If he’s willing to work his butt off and battle for a job, he can help this team out. The raw talent is there.

At his best, he is a N-S runner. He makes one cut and then gets up the field. He has okay speed for a guy who is 220 pounds. And that clip shows he can break it loose for a big run. Clement has a great opportunity. I hope he can take advantage of it.

Ward was a great QB for Houston. He comes to the Eagles to play WR. Ward has the size and skills to be a good slot receiver. He is more quick than fast, only running 4.59 in the 40. Ward isn’t going to fly downfield, but he is very elusive and could turn short plays into solid gains. Can he make the transition to WR? He has experience as a PR from college so that tells you he has good enough hands that the coaches trusted him in that role. Ward has to show he can catch passes. I’m not worried about him after the catch. In 2015 he averaged 6 yards per carry and ran for 21 TDs. He knows how to run in traffic and make people miss.  Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Draft Review

Posted: April 30th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 348 Comments »

The draft is over. The UDFAs have been signed. Let’s take a look at everything and I’ll offer some thoughts.

The picks:

1 – DE Derek Barnett – Tennessee – 6-3, 259
2 – CB Sidney Jones – Washington – 6-0, 186
3 – CB Rasul Douglas – West Virginia – 6-2, 209
4 – WR Mack Hollins – North Carolina – 6-4, 221
4 – RB Donnel Pumphrey – San Diego State – 5-8, 176
5 – WR Shelton Gibson – West Virginia – 5-11, 191
5 – LB Nate Gerry – Nebraska – 6-2, 218
6 – DT Elijah Qualls – Washington – 6-1, 313

Barnett  can come in and challenge for a starting role right away. We know Brandon Graham will have one spot. Chris Long, Vinny Curry and Barnett will battle for the other spot. Barnett is young, but played a lot of football in his 3 years at Tennessee. He was highly productive. He is not a developmental pick (like Alex McCalister last year or Gerry this year). Barnett doesn’t have to change his body or his position. He’s coming here to contribute right away, whether as a starter or role player. He will get as much playing time as he earns. Or as little.

Should Jones play this year? Jimmy Bama wrote an interesting piece saying the Eagles should sit Jones…but for financial reasons not medical ones. This is an interesting argument that does make a lot of sense. I don’t know if that would be the right decision, though. The ultimate goal with Jones is to develop him as a football player, not being the best long term contractual position. Jones might benefit from getting on the field in 2017, even if we’re talking about being mixed in on a situational basis. Notice I said “might”.

You have multiple things to consider with Jones. First, there is the physical side of his rehab. He needs to get better and eventually go test his leg. He can run full speed on his own, but might benefit from being in a competitive environment like practice or a game. Most players won’t push themselves the same way in a workout as they would when going against another player. There is also the mental part of rehab. Jones has to develop confidence in his leg. That could be a slow process. If he starts that now, it could help him. If he first goes against good competition in the spring of 2018, that would be a long layoff.

There is also the football side. Jones might benefit from playing/practicing some this year. He would have ups and downs, but could learn from that and apply those lessons in 2018.

The Eagles love his long term potential. They are not going to rush him back. That said, they might think getting some action in this year is the best thing for his long term development. The key to all of this is how Jones heals. If there are any setbacks, sitting him the whole year makes a ton of sense. If he feels all the way back by mid-October, that leaves a lot of season to be played. It might be worth it to get him on the field.

I guess the other consideration in all of this is how Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks and Rasul Douglas are playing. If they are actually getting the job done, you may want to leave them alone and not mess with a good thing. This doesn’t seem like a likely scenario, but why ruin things with reality?

Douglas will have a chance to compete for a starting job. I don’t think his transition to the NFL will be as easy as Barnett’s, but he will have much weaker competition. And I do think Douglas has the kind of competitive personality that will help him to battle for a job rather than settling for learning as a rookie. He will want to play.

Hollins will be on the field right away on STs. He can be a situational receiver. They got Bryce Treggs just before the start of the season and mixed him into the offense. Hollins will have a whole offseason and he will have the same type of role. He will be out there to run a few routes, likely with a focus on going deep. Obviously that won’t be all he does, but I think that he’ll run more vertical routes than anything else.

It took me a while to figure out who Hollins is like, but I finally did. He reminds me of a pair of former Chargers WRs. Malcom Floyd and Kasim Osgood were both about 6-5, 210. Floyd was a terrific #2/#3 receiver for years. In 11 years, he caught 321 passes, including 34 TDs. He averaged 17 yards per reception. Floyd never caught more than 56 passes in a season, but he was part of a good passing attack. Osgood only caught 45 passes in his 12-year career. 28 of those came in his first 2 years. At that point he and the Chargers realized he should focus on STs and he was great there for the rest of his career.

Howie Roseman said Hollins is not here just to be a STer. The Eagles see him as potentially a future starter. At his best, he would probably be Floyd, catching 40 passes for 600 yards and scoring 4 or 5 TDs. If he struggles as a receiver, he could still turn out to be someone like Osgood. That’s not ideal for a 4th round pick, but if he stuck around for a decade and was a critical part of a very good STs unit, that is more valuable than you think.

I need to write a long post on Pumphrey. He is too complex a subject to discuss like this. Joe Douglas did make one key point.

It is easy to compare Pumphrey to Lorenzo Booker, the former Eagles minicamp legend. Pumphrey is small, but he is not a finesse runner. Booker (5-10, 191) was completely a finesse runner. He was good in space, but struggled in traffic and didn’t want to get hit. Pumphrey plays bigger than he is. He doesn’t shy from contact. He’s not taking on defender like Leonard Fournette, but isn’t running out of bound or out wide on every play either. He wants every yard he can get.

I still have concerns about spending a 4th round pick on a 176-pound RB, but Joe Douglas is correct in his evaluation that Pumphrey doesn’t play small. That gives him a chance to make it in this league. Attitude plays a huge part. DGB has great size, but doesn’t consistently play big. He will break tackles when he has the ball, but watch him compete for a jump ball against a 5-10 CB and you’d think they were the same size.

The Eagles wanted speed. They got Gibson. Like Hollins, he can stretch the field. There is a big difference in the two guys. Hollins is a vertical threat. Gibson is a threat every time he touches the ball. Not only is he fast, but Gibson is quick and very elusive.

Gibson can be a good situational receiver this year. He could be the KOR as well. Down the road, I think he could be a starting WR.

Can Nate Gerry make the transition from S to LB? The Eagles think so and I agree. He is 6-2, 218. You can play LB in the 225 to 235 range these days. Heck, Willie T. was 6-2, 220 when he came into the league and I’d say he had a pretty darn good career. Gerry isn’t going to get much bigger. He already has a thick neck and that tells you he’s filled out on his frame for the most part. Some guys are his size naturally and others are that size after bulking up. He had to work for his size.

I didn’t like this LB class very much. There just weren’t guys I found compelling. One thing I wanted was a player who used his hands well. You must be able to grab runners and receivers and tackle them. Too many LBs love to hit with their shoulders or use their arms like a club. i prefer LBs that use their hands. Makes you less likely to miss tackles. Gerry did a good job of this and that impressed hem.

He plays with a lot of attitude and that will help him in the transition. LBs have to be tough. It helps when they are mean/nasty. Gerry fits that profile. You watch him play and he looks like a jerk. I love that. It is possible that he won’t make a good transition to LB. He can move back to S. Gerry could be an effective backup in the NFL and could be very good on STs.

I thought DT Elijah Qualls was good value in the 6th round. I had him rated higher. I think the primary reason he fell is size. He’s short at 6-1. He has a lot of bulk on that frame at 313 pounds. And keep in mind that this was him being in good shape for the Combine. Maybe most importantly, he has short arms. They are just a notch under 32 inches.

You want OL and DL to have long arms so they can engage the player across from them and keep that person from getting into their frame. Qualls can get engulfed by blockers due to his short build and/or short arms. This wasn’t a huge problem in college, but the NFL is very different. When you go against the best of the best, every little thing can make a difference. Qualls short build won’t be as much of an issue in the Eagles scheme. He will be allowed to attack off the ball and shoot gaps. His job is to beat blocks rather than taking them on. I’m excited to see how he does in an aggressive scheme.

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This post went longer than expected so I’ll write about the UDFAs later.

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Eagles Finish with DT, Start on UDFAs

Posted: April 30th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 326 Comments »

The Eagles spent their final draft pick on DT Elijah Qualls, a player they had shown interest in for a while. He is 6-1, 313, but don’t think of him as a fat, run-stuffer. Qualls is surprisingly athletic and a terrific fit for the Eagles scheme.

Jim Schwartz wants DL who get to the QB. Qualls had 7.5 sacks over the last 2 years, a solid total for a big DT who wasn’t allowed to attack up the field on a regular basis. Schwartz will turn him loose in Philly.

Qualls offers depth. Beau Allen is rehabbing from an injury, but we don’t know for a fact he’ll be ready to go this season. He’s scheduled to be back in early September, but you cannot count on him. Destiny Vaeao flashed as a rookie, but the  team needed depth and competition. Qualls helps in this area. If he isn’t good enough to make the team, Qualls could spend a year on the practice squad and push for a spot in 2018.

Good pick, in terms of need, value and talent.

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UDFA signings

RB Corey Clement – Wisconsin
C Tyler Orlosky – West Virginia
WR Greg Ward – Houston
DT Winston Craig – Richmond
LB Marcus Oliver – Indiana
CB Jomal Wiltz – Iowa State
TE Billy Brown – Sheperd
CB Tre Sullivan – Sheperd
P Cameron Johnston – Ohio State

Clement is the key addition. He ran for 1,375 yards and 15 TDs this year for the Badgers. Clement is 5-10, 220 and has the potential to be a good NFL RB. The problem is that he’s not special in any way. Ran 4.68, which is average speed for his size. Had a 28.5 VJ, which shows a lack of explosiveness. Was better at his Pro Day, running 4.59 and jumping 32 inches.

There are some character concerns and some durability issues that affected his value, but he is a terrific UDFA signing. Clement gives the Eagles a talented RB who was highly productive in one of the best conferences in college football.

Clement might get cut or he might make the roster and show the Eagles that he deserves reps, not just a roster spot.

Ward is an interesting addition. He had a great season playing QB for the Cougars, but will move to WR in the NFL. Ward is a high character player who did everything in his power to get his team to the national title game. Ward is a good athlete, and is the kind of competitive, athletic player Joe Douglas wants fighting for a roster spot.

I’ll write more on the UDFAs on Sunday.

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