How’s He Doing?

Posted: May 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: | 10 Comments »

For my new SB Nation Philly column I took a look at the first two drafts of Howie Roseman.

The point wasn’t to focus on how much I liked/disliked the individual players so much as to review how Roseman handled the drafts.  Too often we judge teams based on what we like and that’s not fair.  You should try to understand what the team is doing and whether they do it well.  I learned this lesson from Bill Polian.  The Colts used to make picks every year that were so far off in value that it was ridiculous.  At some point it hit me that Polian doesn’t care about the other 31 teams.  He’s focused on the players he wants.  He goes and gets them and that’s that.  Polian has had his share of misses, but has also had plenty of hits.  I learned to judge the Colts based on how they think and not how I see their drafts.

TRENDS

* Roseman has taken 13 and 11 players in the two drafts.  Last year we needed a big class.  This year we didn’t need as big a group, but may have gone big due to the questions regarding the signing of UDFAs.  I don’t think taking 10 or more players will be an annual trend, but that’s just a guess on my part.

* Roseman has focused on high character players.  Most of his 24 picks were team captains.  This seems like a trend that will continue.  I’m all for this trend.  Roseman will take a character risk at some point.

* Someone made an interesting point to me about the drafts.  The person told me that Roseman took a lot of players who had real good seasons the year before we drafted them.  I analyzed this notion and there is some truth.  Early in the draft we take players coming off strong seasons.  In the middle and late rounds Roseman has taken players that he feel slipped due to an off final season or a medical concern.

Trevard Lindley – fell to the 4th round after so-so Senior year.  Some thought could have gone as early as 2nd round after Junior year.

Ricky Sapp – fell to the 5th round due to medical concerns about his knee.

Charles Scott – fell to the 6th round after up and down Senior season.  Ran for 1174 yards and 18 TDs the previous year.

Jamar Chaney – fell to the 7th round due to concerns about whether his ankle was damaged or not.

Greg Lloyd – fell to the 7th round after knee injury ruined his Senior year.

There is definite logic to doing this.  All of these players have NFL ability.  They all can play in the NFL.  The question is whether they have come all the way back from their injuries or have the durability to hold up.  We’ll see how these players do this year before we get a feel for how the strategy worked.

* Roseman has also spent mid and late round picks on smaller players.

Kurt Coleman – fell to the 7th round because teams weren’t sure he was big enough for Safety in the NFL.

Dion Lewis – fell to the 5th round because he is only 5’6, 196.

Julian Vandervelde – fell to the 5th round because he’s just under 6’2 (6017).   Small frame for an O-lineman.

Jason Kelce – fell to the 6th round because he was only 280 pounds.

Brian Rolle – fell to the 6th round becasue he was a MLB at 5’9, 218.  Bulked up to 229, but still short.

I don’t think anyone would question the skills of these players or their overall talent level.  If they were a few inches taller, all might have gone in the middle of the draft.  Instead, they fell toward the bottom.  I loved a lot of these players when I studied their game tape so I’m definitely curious to see how they pan out.  Coleman got this trend off to a good start with his play in 2010.

With a couple of drafts under his belt, we can at least figure out what Howie is thinking.  We can’t judge him as an overall GM until we have an offseason this year.  Even then, I’m not sure it’s fair to judge him yet.  The man hasn’t had one normal offseason of full free agency.  Fair or not, we’ll do it so let’s hope Howie makes the right moves.


Sunday Stuff

Posted: May 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: | 13 Comments »

My new PE.com column is about how the lockout will affect the first 5 picks and their ability to contribute right away.  It really is hard to quantify the importance of good coaching by the positional coaches in the NFL.  They can have a huge impact on young players.

If you’ll scroll down in the comments section of the article you’ll see that one of our Eagles brethren has put together some highlight videos for Brian Rolle and Casey Matthews.  It’s always fun to watch the young guys in action and try to imagine what they’ll do when they put on the Eagles uniforms and play in the NFL.

* * * * *

There is still a great deal of angst about RCB.  I understand the worries.  The Eagles haven’t developed a young corner since…Rod Hood?  They did hit a home run when they signed stud free agent Asante Samuel back in 2008.  He has provided the Eagles with a playmaking force at LCB.  Now the hole at RCB must be filled aggressively.

The Eagles passed on CB Jimmy Smith in the 1st round.  He was as NFL ready as it gets.  That is a sign that the Eagles have another player targeted.  They have a plan that they’re confident in.  There are no guarantees, of course.  You can’t make a player sign with you.  You can’t make another team trade with you.  I do think that the fact the Eagles took a CB in the 3rd round that everyone sees as a project is a sign that the team feels confident in their plan for RCB.  There isn’t much of a safety net in place.

The one good thing about this situation is that Howie Roseman has proven to be an aggressive GM.  He will go all out to get his target.  Howie isn’t as value oriented as Joe Banner and Tom Heckert.  It will be interesting to see who Roseman has targeted and how quickly he gets the ball rolling on making the deal.  Howie was very disappointed the Eagles weren’t able to get Julius Peppers last year.  He will do whatever he can to make sure that scenario doesn’t repeat itself.

The Eagles want a stud at RCB.  They will not give the job to Trevard Lindley or Dimitri Patterson or some low level player from another team.  I can’t promise you Howie will land Nnamdi Asomugha or a Pro Bowl player, but we won’t go after a project.  We’ve already got projects of our own.  The goal is to get a player you can plug in immediately and expect to play at a reasonably high level.

People have asked me about who some targets might be, aside from Nnamdi.  It really is hard to say because of the uncertainty with the rules of free agency.  Let’s wait until we find out who will actually be available before we get into who fits and how they fit.


Mel Kiper Ain’t So Wise

Posted: May 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 27 Comments »

I meant to write about this last week, but it got lost in the shuffle.  I was looking around Bleeding Green Nation when I saw a post from Jason where he had Mel Kiper’s draft grade for the Eagles.  The grade was a C+, which is meaningless.  I don’t care what outsiders have to say.  What did bug me was the logic behind the grade.

As to the selection of Watkins, Mel informs us that he was taken early, but that might make sense because the Eagles may feel he can play tackle.  Oh boy.  Mel has been stuck on the notion of the Eagles going for a RT for a while.  Get over the playoff game, Melvin.  Winston Justice had a bum knee and got outplayed by Clay Matthews.  That hardly means you’ve got to drop the guy like a bad habit.  Watkins only went early in regard to the age factor.  He was the #1 Guard on plenty of boards.  We see the #1 G go in the mid-20s on a regular basis.  Watkins is here to be the RG right away.

Mel mentions that Jaiquawn Jarrett “provides depth at safety”.  Really?  We spent pick 54 on a guy for depth?  Jarrett is here to be the SS of the future and to challenge for the job right away.

The worst comment of all came in regard to CB Curtis Marsh, our 3rd round pick.  “…Marsh will be asked to step in early at CB”.  Wow.  Everybody friggin’ knows that Marsh is a project.  The guy started 16 games at CB in the WAC.  He’s here for the future, not 2011.

The problem with the guys who try to put out immediate draft grades on all 32 teams is that they don’t know what is going on with all 32 teams.  That’s why taking your time and trying to understand what each team did is the more prudent way of discussing a team’s draft.

I don’t mind criticism of the Eagles.  Just make it well thought out and insightful.  Had Mel said that taking a 26-year old O-lineman at #23 isn’t good value…that would be a legit argument against Watkins.  Had Mel focused on Jarrett going too early, that would have been a valid point.  Had Mel said that drafting a CB project didn’t make sense for this team, I could live with that.  Instead he made some bizarre comments which show he’s got no feel for what the Eagles are really doing.

* * * * *

Also from last week, PE.com had a 23 minute interview with GM Howie Roseman on the Eagles draft class.   It’s worth the watch.  Roseman doesn’t offer great insight, but has some interesting things to say.

I was pretty curious about Howie when he took over.  I liked Tom Heckert as GM and wasn’t in a rush to let him leave.  One thing that was a problem is that Heckert and Reid thought too much alike.  Both guys are very patient and big picture thinkers.  Howie is more aggressive.  He will roll the dice on players/moves.  That makes him a good counterpoint to Big Red and his way of doing things.  You want people that think differently, but share the same basic values.  Andy and Howie want the same kind of players.  They want the team run pretty similarly.  The fact that Andy is more patient and Howie more aggressive means we’ve got more options on the table, which I think is a good thing.

I’ll be writing a full column on Howie at some point.  Seems like it would be wise to wait for the “offseason” to start to see how he handles the Kolb deal and the RCB situation.

Former Eagles GM Tom Modrak was let go recently by the Bills.  He’s been gone from Philly for about a decade.  I’m not sure he was cut out to be a GM, but he was a good football guy and Tom played a big part in getting this franchise turned around.  He helped scout and choose Donovan McNabb.  There are stories about whether it was him or Reid who pushed for McNabb.  We don’t know the truth.  Tom was definitely involved in the process.

Modrak’s biggest strength was scouting the Eagles and making sure that guys like Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, and Brian Dawkins were all re-signed.  Modrak brought a sense of stability to the franchise.  That was huge back in 1998 and 1999.  For most of the 1990s there was no rhyme or reason to the personnel moves of the Eagles.  Harry Gamble, John Wooten, Dick Daniels, etc. all had good intentions, but the results weren’t what they needed to be.  Modrak was far from perfect, but he and Reid put together a plan and executed it.  That sense of vision and stability was important in getting this franchise headed in the right direction.


Codebreakers

Posted: April 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: | 19 Comments »

I assume that most of you got your history lessons from the movies.  That’s how I know that Mel Gibson led Scotland to conquer the world.  Mel then won the Revolutionary War.  He also is heavily involved in the future.  Why didn’t he retire after Attack Force Z?  His career has been downhill ever since.

The movie Midway taught me a lot of interesting things.  One of them was that the Japanese flooded the radio waves with all kinds of traffic prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This flood of messages would make it extremely difficult for US intelligence to figure out what was going on.  Not only did they have to decipher the messages, they had to figure out what was legit and what wasn’t.

Listening to pre-draft rhetoric by teams is much the same thing.  The Eagles have openly said and done things in recent weeks that serve only one purpose – spreading  mis-information.  The Eagles have also done some things that are completely legitimate.  Figuring out which is which…well, we need a good codebreaker for that.  Or the guy from Lie To Me (if that show still exists).  Let’s try to sort through some of what we’re hearing.

Eagles are open to moving up or back.  This is pretty obvious.  The Eagles haven’t stayed put in any of the last four 1st rounds.  This isn’t so much about needs as it is players.  The Eagles target specific guys and then move around to get them.  Sometimes that is up, sometimes down.  Why use pick 23 on a guy if you can get him at pick 38?  Why hope a player falls to pick 23 when  you can move up and get him?  Find your target and go get him.

The Eagles are getting calls about Mike Kafka.  Weird.  I’m not so sure I buy this.  Mike didn’t put up great numbers last summer, but he did have some good moments.  He showed he is a talented, but young QB that needs more seasoning.  It is possible there’s legit interest in him.  Say a team like the Vikings wants Donovan McNabb.  They could deal for Kafka as the young guy to sit for a couple of years and then be ready to take over as the starter.  There will be a run on QBs and once you get outside the top 7 there is a major drop-off.

It is also possible this is a rumor floated by Reid and the Eagles.  This could be for two reasons.  First, maybe the Eagles are trying to see if there is a market for Kafka.  If there is, that would give Reid the option to take a QB in this draft and deal Kafka when the CBA is resolved.  The flip side of that idea is that Reid offered this nugget to the media to make other teams think that he wants a QB.  If other teams want to draft a QB, they need to jump up to 23 to secure their guy.

The Eagles are getting calls from teams who want #23 so they can draft a QB.  This ties in to the previous bit.  Why announce this unless you are trying to create a market for pick 23?  The fact the Eagles are talking like this sure makes you feel like they want to move down.  Or is this all great mis-direction?

Let’s suppose for a minute the Eagles do want to move back.  Are they hoping to land a 1st rounder for next year or a couple of other mid-round selections for this year?  Howie Roseman is an aggressive GM that likes to make moves so it might drive him crazy to add picks for the future.  He hasn’t had a chance to make any deals.  The extra picks this year would give him the chance to be very active in the middle of the draft.

Eagles will/won’t draft _________ at 23.  Jeff McLane says on Twitter that “Reading in btw lines: #Eagles aren’t drafting an OL or CB in 1st rd despite need and will take DL at No. 23 unless they don’t trade down.”  Possible, but this doesn’t sound like the Eagles.  They don’t tend to think in terms of positions like this.  As I said earlier, they focus on specific players.  I don’t think the team will go for an OT in the 1st round.  That isn’t because they won’t draft an OT early, but I don’t think they see any of the Seniors being such an improvement on Winston Justice that the pick makes sense.  Should Tyron Smith slide to 23, all bets are off.

So what about CB, specifically Jimmy Smith?  The Eagles wanted to draft a CB last year.  The problem was that they didn’t like the group available in the draft as much as they did some of the pass rushers.  They focused instead on DE.  Howie and Andy know they need a CB.  They will add one early, whether that is the 1st or 2nd round.  They know they need someone who can push for a starting job.

Jimmy Smith is the guy who has been linked with the team a lot.  He won’t go in the Top 10, despite having that kind of talent.  Will he make it to 23?  Would the Eagles pass on him?  Could they pass on him?  I think there is a good chance that Smith gets to pick 23.  He does have some character issues that will hurt him.  There is likely to be a run on OL/DL/QBs from 10-22.  There isn’t a gauntlet that Smith would have to get through to reach 23.

Howie was asked about him today and responded that Jimmy “is a good guy to talk to”.   Is this Howie’s way of laying the groundwork for when we pick him?  By speaking positively of him now it lessens some of the draft day paranoia about a guy that is universally considered to have character issues.  At the same time, how often do the Eagles talk about a player they like before the draft with the intention of actually taking that guy?

I have felt for weeks that Smith was the primary target.  The Eagles need a big, physical CB.  Smith is outstanding in press coverage and there isn’t a guy remotely close to him on the roster in terms of his size/skill set.  I won’t be shocked if the Eagles pass on him, but I will be disappointed…depending on what they actually do instead.

Do we know anything for sure?  No.  We’re all guessing.  I think I generally have a good feel for the Eagles, but I’m still scratching my head this year.  Hopefully I’ll have a vision or something like that and all things will be made known to me.  Or may Joe Rochefort can get me the answer.  Either way works for me.

FWIW…here are a couple of nuggets I posted in an Eagles Draft Preview last year:

Let’s talk about trading up. Why do it? The Eagles believe in acquiring top flight players when possible. The thing to do is identify special players and target them. Here are the guys that I think are special:

FS Eric Berry
FS Earl Thomas
DT Ndamukong Suh
OG Mike Iupati
RB CJ Spiller

There are some fringe guys. Rolando McClain might be special to 3-4 teams. Brandon Graham could be special to teams who are okay with his size. These won’t be the top ten picks necessarily because the need for LTs and QBs can throw things off. These players all did special things during the year in terms of production and have the traits that project well to the NFL. They do have issues. Iupati isn’t a gifted pass blocker. Spiller isn’t a great inside runner. McClain has average speed. Graham is a bit shorter than you’d ideally like. Etc. Derrick Morgan has the measurables, but not the production to fit this category. His numbers were good, but not great. I’m not sure how that will affect his value. Is he still the #1 DE or does that lower him just a tad?

You can bet the Eagles will work the phones and try to land a pick to take one of these players. The question is how steep a price we’re willing to pay. If you want to eat steak you don’t expect hamburger prices. The Eagles will give value to get value, but they won’t pull a Ditka and overpay.

* * * * *

Out of this list I want the Eagles to get 4 players…guys I covet (more or less)

RB Ben Tate
RB Charles Scott
WR Andre Roberts
TE Tony Moeaki
OT Jared Veldheer
OL Chris Scott

DE Jerry Hughes
DE Brandon Graham
DE Daniel Te’o Nesheim
DT Torrell Troup
DT Al Woods
LB Sean Lee
ILB Lee Campbell
FS Eric Berry
FS Earl Thomas
SS Kurt Coleman
CB Kyle Wilson
CB Kareem Jackson
CB Devin McCourty