Move Over, Carson!

Posted: April 9th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Move Over, Carson!

Carson Wentz might be the Eagles franchise QB, but only if Luis Perez lets him.

Boom.

No more easy street for Wentz. Having a slacker like Nick Foles behind you is one thing, but having one of the best QBs in the AAF chasing after you is a different story. Wentz better be ready for action.

Joking aside, this is a smart move by the Eagles.

They wanted competition for Nate Sudfeld. The Eagles like Sudfeld, but they can’t just hand him the backup QB job. Finding the right competition was challenging. The Eagles didn’t want to invest in a Ryan Fitzpatrick type for big money. That would have affected the comp pick formula they’ve been watching so closely this year.

Perez has seen action this spring so he will come into the Eagles offseason ready to play. The problem with many young backups is that they haven’t seen much action since the previous summer. That’s not the case with Perez.

Let’s see him in action.

There is good and bad.

Perez makes some tough throws. He has good accuracy. He’s willing to throw into coverage. So many young QBs want their receiver to be wide open. Perez isn’t afraid to take chances. He makes good reads. He puts good touch on his passes.

The bad…he’s just not special physically. Perez doesn’t have much velocity on his throws. He’s not driving the ball downfield with a big arm. While he can move around, he’s not the most mobile or agile QB.

Perez is a long shot to pan out in the NFL, but he does have some good traits.

Is he a good fit for the Eagles? That’s a tough question. Doug Pederson seems to prefer big, strong pocket passers with some mobility. Perez isn’t big or strong. He is a pocket passer with some mobility.

Perez was on the Rams practice squad last September for a few weeks (insert Sean McVay joke here) so he does have a bit of NFL experience. This will be his first chance to play for a Super Bowl-winning head coach.

*****

Perez’s backstory is pretty darn amazing.

Wow.

_


Draft Talk

Posted: April 7th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

We are about three weeks from the draft. Howie Roseman just emailed me the Eagles draft plans, but I know you don’t want me to ruin the element of surprise so I’ll keep them to myself. You really are lucky to have me.

Let’s talk about a variety of players and positions.

Many of you thought I was nuts for having Chauncey Gardner-Johnson last until the second round in my recent mock draft. While he certainly could go in the first round, it isn’t a lock. Here is former NFL scout Bryan Broaddus on the safety position.

He has CGJ down at number six. He has potential Eagles target Darnell Savage as his 8th rated safety. This isn’t to say everyone would agree, but it is always interesting to listen to the opinion of someone who’s actually done the scouting and the picking. Broaddus now works as a writer/analyst for the Cowboys team site. He did a brilliant job of running the Eagles great draft of 1998 (Tra Thomas, Jeremiah Trotter, Ike Reese).

Whether CGJ does fall or not, sure looks like the Eagles will have good options at safety.

*****

I was watching some tape of a defensive prospect recently and kept noticing the RB going against him. That was Josh Jacobs.

I don’t know if the Eagles would spend pick 25 on a RB, but Jacobs would be very tempting. I know the Eagles just traded for Jordan Howard, but there is nothing special about him. Jacobs has the potential to be a star RB.

If you want the simple version, Jacobs can run, catch and block. And he does them all very well.

I focus on two things when it comes to RBs…footwork and vision. The RB needs to be able to see where to go. He also must be able to get there. Beyond that, I like physical runners. Guys who run behind their pads, meaning they keep their shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage and they run with good pad level. Those runners are tougher to tackle. You don’t want runners that are too upright or who run east-west.

Jacobs is 220 pounds. He uses his size and strength to his advantage. He rarely goes down on first contact. He finishes his runs. Jacobs prefers to be the hammer, not the nail. But he has the feet to make tough cuts and to be an elusive runner. He’s not just a straight-line guy that relies purely on size. He reminds me of Edgerrin James. Both were big guys who could be physical or athletic and were gifted receivers.

Some people wonder about the fact Jacobs wasn’t the key runner at Bama. Forget about that. What kind of an NFL prospect is he? Donnel Pumphrey had one of the most productive careers in the history of college football. That hasn’t done him a bit of good at the NFL level. I feel comfortable in making this bold proclamation…Jacobs will be a better NFL RB than Pumphrey. How is that for analysis?

*****

The Eagles are looking at a variety of DEs. L.J. Collier and Maxx Crosby are very different players.

Collier is 6-2, 283. He’s got 34-inch arms and 10-inch hands. He is all about leverage and power.

Watching him get under blockers and just drive them backward is incredibly fun. I could watch that all day long. Collier isn’t a gifted athlete. You wonder if he’ll be able to use power as effectively in the NFL. Doing that to boys is one thing. Doing that to grown men is very different.

I do think Collier would be an excellent fit in the Wide-9 front. That would give him space to generate power before making contact with the OT. Collier should be a second or third round pick.

Crosby is 6-5, 255. He has 32 7/8-inch arms and 9 3/4-inch hands. Crosby is a gifted athlete. He put on quite a show at the Combine and you see that in his game tape as well.

Crosby is quick, agile and explosive. He uses his ability to get around blocks. As you can see, Crosby played in a Wide-9 type look on a regular basis in college so he would be comfortable in the Eagles front.

Collier is the better run defender.

Crosby is more of a playmaker. He got to the QB more often and also forced fumbles, which is a valuable trait for the NFL. I think he will go in the third or fourth round.

*****

One OL not being talked about much is Michael Jordan from Ohio State.

He started at OG for two years and moved to C this season. Jordan has good size at 6-6, 312. Heck with a frame like that, he could possibly play OT. The Eagles love versatile OL so Jordan makes a lot of sense in that respect. The Eagles had a coach work him out at his Pro Day so he’s definitely of some interest.

Jordan could go as high as the second round or he could go as late as the fourth. He’s far from a great prospect, but big, versatile blockers are valuable. I think his future is at OG. Not all teams like big centers.

The Eagles need depth on the interior OL.

_


All For One

Posted: April 4th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Chemistry matters. Structure matters. Leadership matters.

Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson have worked together to build the Eagles into a Super Bowl winner and one of the best organizations in the league. A lot of that success is also due to the play of QB Carson Wentz.

Things aren’t perfect inside of NovaCare, but they are good. The group is working together and the results show on the field.

Go read this piece about the Packers, mostly about former coach Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. Phenomenal writing by Tyler Dunne, who used to be a Packers beat writer. He got sources to go on the record about McCarthy and Rodgers.

The worst-kept secret at 1265 Lombardi Avenue was that Rodgers seemed to loathe his coach from the moment McCarthy was hired.

Nobody holds a grudge in any sport like Rodgers. When it comes to Rodgers, grudges do not merrily float away. They stick. They grow. They refuel.

No, Rodgers would not forget that McCarthy had helped perpetuate his four-and-a-half-hour wait in the NFL draft green room the year prior. His nationally televised embarrassment. McCarthy, then the 49ers offensive coordinator, chose Alex Smith No. 1 overall. Not Rodgers.

No, Rodgers would not take it as a funny accident.

“Aaron’s always had a chip on his shoulder with Mike,” says Ryan Grant, the Packers’ starting running back from 2007 to 2012. “The guy who ended up becoming your coach passed on you when he had a chance. Aaron was upset that Mike passed on him—that Mike actually verbally said that Alex Smith was a better quarterback.”

Wow, just wow.

Now think about Pederson and Wentz. They eat dinner together on Thursdays, in part to go over the gameplan and in part to socialize. Pederson is a former NFL QB so he understands just how important it is for the coach to embrace his star player and to build a strong relationship.

We don’t know how things will be in 2026, when the duo has had a decade together (assuming they are both still here). Maybe they clash by that point. Or maybe they’ll have one of those special relationships that is so rare.

After three years together, Pederson and Wentz remain a happy couple. Pederson gives his star QB plenty of input into the gameplan and freedom on gameday. Wentz works with the coaches and doesn’t publicly question them. He says all the right things when talking to the media.

That article really illustrates the importance of a strong owner. Lurie is hands-on in the right way. He doesn’t micro-manage, but he is involved with big decisions. He has good relationships with his GM, coach and even some players. The Packers didn’t really have anyone for McCarthy and Rodgers to answer to. That made the situation worse.

I wrote a recent piece for PE.com on the benefits of Lurie, Roseman and Pederson working together so well. Late in the Andy Reid era, things were not so harmonious. Reid was trying to be the coach-GM. Roseman was climbing the power ladder and had his share of battles with others. Joe Banner was trying to protect his turf. Lurie was trying to be loyal to a variety of people, who all had conflicting interests. As you remember, that situation didn’t play out so well for anyone.

Thankfully, things are different now.

Pederson just wants to coach so that makes the current situation much easier. He has no interest in being a GM. Roseman has eaten some serious humble pie so he’s not as ruthless as he was previously. Lurie is getting older. Age has a way of changing your perspective on things. We’ll have to see if this structure can continue to be effective. When it comes to ultra-successful people, some of what makes them so successful can eventually hurt them. Human beings tend to be flawed.

It feels like the Eagles have the right formula for sustaining success. Strong owner. The front office is solid. Smart head coach and a good overall staff. There are also some really good leaders in the locker room.

As the Packers story shows us, that can be fragile. The Packers had some amazing talent, including arguably the most talented QB in NFL history. And yet they won a single Super Bowl. They had some bad playoff losses.

It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do this year. Carson Wentz will have a chip on his shoulder. Nick Foles is gone. There will be quite a few guys in the final year of their deal. The coaches have to figure out how to feed a lot of talented skill players on offense.

I expect the team to compete for another title, but there are some situations that could go sideways. That’s why it is so important to have structure and leadership. The Eagles have responded well to rock-bottom moments in each of the past three years.

After the horrible, lifeless loss in Cincinnati in 2016, the team played better down the stretch and won the final two games. After Wentz’s injury in the Rams game in 2017, the Eagles went and won the Super Bowl. Last year the team got demolished in New Orleans. They responded by going 5-1 down the stretch and added a postseason win.

The Eagles are talented, but I also think part of the success is due to strong intangibles. That stuff matters.

Just ask the Packers.

_


Fletch Lives

Posted: April 3rd, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Fletcher Cox has been an amazing player for the Eagles. He was drafted 12th overall back in 2012 and has been a star for the Eagles. He will likely go down as the best DT in team history, unless Derek Landri decides to come out of retirement.

What if I told you the Eagles could draft the next Fletcher Cox? There could be a sequel to Fletch, so to speak.

That doesn’t seem likely down at pick 25, but it is. How? DT Jeffery Simmons had a great year for Mississippi State and was going to be a Top 10 pick, but he tore his ACL while working out to get ready for the Combine. Simmons could slide to pick 20. Or even to 25. Heck, it isn’t a lock that he goes in the first round, but he’s so talented that it feels like someone will take a chance on him.

There are good DTs.

And then there is Simmons.

https://twitter.com/BenFennell_NFL/status/1056409690874277888

He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s powerful. He’s explosive. He’s agile. He’s mean. Are you in love yet?

You can’t help but think of Fletcher Cox when you see Simmons toss aside blockers. Cox does it at the NFL level, Simmons in college. But Simmons has the potential to be every bit as good as Cox is, maybe even better.

That’s all the good stuff.

Now let’s talk about the issues. We’ll start with the ACL since that is current. Most guys come back from ACL injuries. Simmons tore his in February so chances are he would miss half of his rookie season, at the very least. He might miss the whole year. I’ve seen some guys come back in six months and others take almost a full year. He is young so that helps him quite a bit.

The Eagles took a chance on Sidney Jones in 2017 and that hasn’t come close to panning out at this point. He has been up and down, but it is discouraging that he’s not shown the Top 20 talent that we saw in college. He’s good moments in the NFL have been solid, but nothing where you say “That’s the guy we hoped for!”.

Simmons could be Jones, part two.

He also could come back from that injury and have a great career. There aren’t guys like Simmons in every draft. And teams picking down at 25 rarely have a chance to add an impact DT like him.

Aside from the ACL, character is a concern. Simmons hit a young woman multiple times back in March of 2016. He was in high school at the time. Mississippi State still let him come to school and it sounds like this is one of those cases where things actually worked out. Here is a detailed article on the situation. Some of you will not want anything to do with Simmons because of this and that’s fine. Each team has to make up its mind on the individual situation and figure out how to proceed.

The Eagles had dinner with Simmons the night before his Pro Day. They are interested in him. Now, they could have had a terrible experience at dinner and subsequently taken Simmons off the board. Or the coaches could decide this is a young man who has changed significantly since the high school incident and is worth taking a chance on.

I would not be upset with the Eagles for taking a chance on Simmons.

From a football perspective, he is a rare talent and there is always a case to be made for picking those players. The ACL means there is risk, but if the doctors check out the knee and think it will heal, then the reward could easily be worth the risk. Some of you will point out the issues with the Eagles medical staff here. That’s a fair point.

As to character, the fact that Simmons screwed up prior to college and then had a completely clean record for three years makes me more at ease with him. You may disagree, but to me a kid doing something is different than an adult doing it.

About a decade ago, I was talking to a guy at work and made a joke about him going to prison. He made some odd comment about not doing that again. I gave him a puzzled look. He then said he thought he had told me about his past. I was dumbfounded. This was one of the nicest, most clean-cut guys you could ever want to meet. Apparently he got busted on a drug charge at 18 and did a couple of years in prison. You would never know that by being around him now. I always try to keep that in mind when judging draft prospects. Did the mistake define them? Were they able to grow up and move on?

The Eagles security staff and scouts would check Simmons out very thoroughly to make sure nothing else happened and just stayed in the shadows. You must make sure he’s someone you can trust.

I don’t know if Simmons will even make it to pick 25, but if he does, the Eagles have a very interesting decision to make.

*****

The Eagles continue to show serious interest in Jacobs.

Either they really like him or this is one heck of a smokescreen.

_


Mock Reactions

Posted: April 3rd, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Mock Reactions

So I posted my mock draft yesterday. That led to some good comments and questions.

Many of you think I’m nuts for having Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the second round. And you might be right. He could be gone by then. The Eagles are showing interest in a lot of safeties. CGJ isn’t the only guy who could fit in that spot. Put another safety in there if it makes you happy.

When it comes to understanding value prior to the draft, all you can do is try to be reasonable. We know Josh Jacobs isn’t going to be a fourth round pick. That’s just not happening. Does he go in the 20’s or down in the 40’s? We don’t know that. Putting CGJ in the second round isn’t unreasonable. He could drop that far. Remember that every year there are players who go at places we don’t expect.

***

Initially I wanted a DT in the first round. But then I wanted to see how things would go if the Eagles took an OL in that spot. What I found out is that there might not be great options at DT in the late second round. That’s based on my look at things. Rather than force the issue, I focused on talent and fit. The Eagles clearly have interest in adding a S so I went with CGJ. As for Boykin, he just seems exactly like what the Eagles want in a WR so I put him there.

***

Some of you wondered if Chris Lindstrom is worth a first round pick. To me, yes. I don’t know what NFL teams think. I see a guy who has very few holes in his game. He can play G, C or even RT.

That is Lindstrom at RT going against a guy who could very well be a Top 20 pick this year. Don’t think of his as just a G. Lindstrom is versatile, which the Eagles really like.

***

Some of you questioned why there is not OT in this mock. The Eagles feel strongly about Jordan Mailata. I think one of the reasons they brought Jason Peters back is to give Mailata one more year of work so they can decide whether to take a chance on him at LT. If Peters goes down this year, Big V would likely hit the field, but it is possible Mailata could win the backup role. He showed tremendous growth last summer. Now that he’s been around a year, I’m excited as heck to see what he can do.

The Eagles are checking out OTs, but more G/T types than pure LTs.

The Eagles have one of the best, if not the best, OT situations in the league. There just isn’t a need to add a pure OT right now.

***

I’m doing research every night. I just stumbled upon a player the Eagles are checking out…LB Emeke Egbule. This kid is fun to watch.

Please understand that is all highlights so it presents a skewed look at things. But man, you can see the kid’s ability.

He is a gifted pass rusher. This dude can line up at DE and drive OTs backward.

He can cover. Egbule gets good depth on his drops and looks comfortable in space.

The thing that really stood out to me…he’s violent. Egbule has some real pop when he hits. I love LBs that have that trait.

Egbule is probably more of a 4-3 SAM, but he could be a possibility as a MLB when you play so much Nickel in the modern game.

_