Interesting note from PE.com. The guy who did the SackSEER stuff last year (prediction model for pass rushing prospects) put a blurb about Phillip Hunt in his report for this year. His model predicts good things for Hunt. There are no guarantees. Formulas and statistical models are interesting, but numbers on paper don’t always translate to NFL reality. Still, maybe I undervalued the addition of Hunt. Maybe he can become a good situational rusher for us. I’m definitely more intrigued by him after reading the new report.
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First topic … Casey Matthews.
There wasn’t one question with him, but rather several issues. First, I’m not a Matthews guy. I like Casey, but he’s not a player I’m enamored with. Anyone who saw him play should at least like the guy. I mention him a lot because I think Castillo will be a Matthews guy. I think Casey has the kind of personality that Juan will want in his LBs. When I list him in a mock draft it isn’t because I’m dying for the Eagles to get him. I’m reading into the fact that the Eagles brought him in for a visit and that he fits what I think Castillo wants.
A few people touched on the fact that he’s only being talked about because of his brother. Not true. Clay’s success has impacted Casey, but not the way people think. Both guys got their first college start in 2007, Casey as a Freshman and Clay as a Junior. Casey became a regular starter in the middle of his Sophomore season. Clay didn’t emerge as a regular player until his senior year.
Casey had 3 INTs, 3 sacks, a FF, and 3 PBUs as a Senior. The top ILB in the whole draft, Martez Wilson, had 1 INTs, 4 sacks, 3 FFs, and 4 PBUs this year. Casey’s numbers stack up. He’s not just the product of his brother’s hype. Casey was the leading tackler on the #34 defense in the country and a team that played for the National Title. His brother’s hype didn’t have anything to do with that. Don’t sell Casey short. Good player. Good prospect. He isn’t anything like his brother in terms of NFL ability, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a good starter.
I personally love him as a pass defender and effort guy, but have concerns about his ability to deal with blockers and handle inside run plays. Guess what? A lot of college LBs struggle with those issues. I had serious concerns about Jamar Chaney’s ability to shed blocks. The Eagles coached him up on that and he responded well. Matthews could do the same.
No QB in the mock?
We’ve talked about this a lot. If Andy likes a QB, he’ll take one. We don’t need a QB. Andy looks at QBs every year. The Eagles were the first team to call Brady Quinn’s high school coach about him as a prospect. I’ve mentioned the fact that the Eagles liked Matt Leinart a lot. Andy first noticed Kevin Kolb while watching him as a Freshman in a Friday night game on ESPN. Andy will look high and low for QBs. If he finds one he likes (and the value is right), he’ll take the guy.
What do you think of Mark Herzlich?
Love Herzlich and everything he’s done to overcome cancer and get back on the field. Projecting him to the NFL is tough. The guy from 2008 was a 1st rounder. Question was only how high. I watched several games this year. He was rusty early, but got better as the season went along. He played in the Senior Bowl, but wasn’t impressive. He just looked slow to me.
Mark ran in the 4.9 range at the Combine, which isn’t good for a LB, even one that is 6’3, 244. When a guy looks slow on tape and times slow in a workout, that’s not good. Now you wonder if he’ll ever get faster as he leg continues to get better. If you think he can improve at all, that’s a big deal. Him just getting down to 4.8 would be really good. That’s functional speed.
I don’t think the Eagles will go for him. Juan is putting his focus on findings LBs that run well. He might be willing to make an exception with Herzlich because of his character and playing style, but I’m not counting on it. Herzlich would play SAM for us. Some teams could look at him as an ILB, but I think most people will value him most at SAM. He still has excellent coverage instincts. I think he’ll be a late pick, but I’d love to be wrong. It would be great to see someone take him in the 4th round.
Why in the mock did you have us take a SS? Why no backup FS?
I think Nate Allen will be the starting FS this year. As of now, I’m projecting Kurt Coleman at SS. That leaves Colt Anderson to come off the bench. I certainly hope the Eagles look for a veteran, but we can’t count on that for now. I think the Eagles should go for the highest rated Safety, regardless of FS vs SS. If Nate gets hurt, Kurt can slide to that spot, as he did last year.
Ideally, Nate will be healthy all year and whoever we pick will challenge Kurt and Colt for the other starting Safety job. Remember, this isn’t the old NFL where the SS had to be a ferocious run defender and the FS a ballhawk. More and more we see interchangeable guys at Safety. Offenses do a lot of shifting and motion to create mis-matches. Your SS needs to have solid cover skills. It’s possible the FS will have to move down into the box. He’s got to be able to play the run. Just get me a good Safety and I’m happy.
How does the CBA affect things?
Complicated question. First, I do think that teams have to focus more on need. You don’t know if or when free agency will happen. You can’t assume you’ll find a RG or CB in FA that can come in and start at a high level. You need to try to address them in the draft. Now, that doesn’t mean drastically reaching. You still need to trust your draft board. In my mock draft for ScoutsNotebook I had a few teams reach for need, especially ones with a coach on the hot seat or a team that is ready to contend. I could be dead wrong, but we’ll see what happens. This is unknown territory. Nobody is sure what to expect.
Someone else brought up the point of need and putting resources together to address those positions. Call it quality vs quantity. Why use all the picks? Consolidate them for maximum impact since we have needs and this isn’t a great draft class? I think the Eagles do need to land players who can contribute with the first 3 picks. Beyond that, I’m flexible.
One thing you have to be careful about is listening to guys who say the Eagles are loaded with picks. Yes, the team has 10 picks. 5 have some value, but the last 5 not much. We’re talking:
5th – #149
5th – #152
7th – #227
7th – #237 Comp pick
7th – #240 Comp pick
The picks in rounds 1, 2, 3, and 4 are quality picks. The problem is we need to use most of them to fill some holes. If we had an extra 2nd or 3rd, I’d say let’s use it to move up. That isn’t the case. I don’t think we have the kind of resources to do a whole lot of moving around (aside from player trades). We can’t trade the Comp picks, so even if they did have value we’d be out of luck.
The one wildcard in all of this is undrafted free agents. The Eagles have been pretty good in the Andy Reid era with finding players from UDFAs. As of right now, teams won’t be allowed to sign UDFAs with no CBA in place. We may now use the 7th round picks to take players that we previously would have gone after as UDFAs. Those late picks could have value in that sense. I’m hoping something is worked out so teams can sign UDFAs, but have no idea if that will happen. It would eventually, but I’m talking about sooner rather than later.