Eagles Notebook

Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 67 Comments »

For my SB Nation Philly column, I wrote about the possibility of the Eagles drafting a hybrid DB.  I think the word “hybrid” scares some people.  The commenters over at BGN were ripping me for the idea and the Eagles for a variety of reasons.  I thought the article was pretty good, but I must have done a poor job of communicating my idea.

The Eagles have a natural FS in Nate Allen.  Kurt Coleman is more of a SS type, but isn’t someone you necessarily want in the box.  Jaiquawn Jarrett is still the mystery man.  The calls for the Eagles to add a Safety aren’t something I agree with.  We’ve got young talent there.  What I talked about in the column is the notion of adding Antonio Allen.

He played LB at South Carolina, but will play SS in the NFL.  He is a tough, physical player.  He is a very good run defender.  He is made to play in the box.  What makes him different is that he’s only 6’1, 206 and can still cover.  Most box Safeties are 6’2, 225 types that don’t run well.  Allen isn’t some freak athlete.  I guess you could look at it like he’s an above average SS who just happens to be a very good run defender.  He plays like a LB.  And that is something the Eagles don’t have.  Jarrett was a big hitter in college, but isn’t rugged like Allen.  Taylor Mays was a big hitter at USC, but he was a wuss when you put him in traffic.  When Thomas Davis played SS at Georgia, he was one of the biggest badasses I’ve ever seen.  I thought he might kill an OL and then pull the still-beating heart out of a RB all in one play.  That dude was a LB and that’s where he’s played in the NFL.

Antonio Allen is a S who plays like a LB.  With the Wide-9, it could be very helpful to have a SS who can come up and be an excellent run defender.  He can fight through blockers.  He can get through traffic.  Allen isn’t someone that must play in space to be effective.  That’s Keenan Clayton.  Let him run and he looks like a star.  Put him in traffic and he’s average (or worse).  That might change for Clayton, but it hasn’t so far.  Allen is smaller than him, but a much more physical player.

I would think the Eagles taking a guy like Allen would be something that would thrill most Eagles fans.  That would be a direct signal that the team is focused on improving the run defense.

* * * * *

Now to address some random topics that people asked about.

Developmental QB.  This is a poor QB class.  I was high on Russell Wilson for a while, but now I’m not so sold.  I’d love to add a QB, but I don’t think there are good choices.  Mike Kafka is better than all but a couple of these guys.  You only take a QB if he’s going to be better than Kafka.  The one player who has fascinated me all year is Kellen Moore.  He will be there in the 6th or 7th round.  The problem is that if you take him and he plays well at all at camp/preseason, you’ve got to find a way to put him on your roster.  He wouldn’t make it to the Practice Squad.  If he stinks, you don’t want him.  Still, the guy went 50-3 as a starter and is smart as a whip.  Wouldn’t bug me if the Eagles took a risk on him late just to see what he could do.  Moore probably isn’t good enough, but…

RG3.  Why not move up to get Robert Griffin III?  He’s going to be the #2 pick.  The Rams will sell that to the highest bidder.  It will be a pricey sale.  I just don’t think it makes sense for the Eagles to dump a ton of resources into getting him.  RG3 would sit for sure in 2012 and possibly 2013.  Vick would be looking over his shoulder and that could create some weird locker room tension.  If I thought that we could move up to pick 10 and get him, I’m interested.  I’ve got a feeling the price is going to be steep to get up to #2 and not practical for us.

Brandon Graham.  I was very high on Graham when he came out of Michigan.  The guy led the nation in TFLs as a Senior and then went and dominated the Senior Bowl.  He wasn’t just good…he dominated.  Heck yeah I liked him.  And he’s got the skill set to thrive in the Wide-9.  If he knee gets better, Graham could turn out to be a huge player for us.  The problem is that coming back from an ACL tear and microfracture surgery is very, very hard to do.  No guarantees we’ll ever see the real Brandon Graham again.  One side issue for him last year was conditioning.  He got up in the 280s per Adam Caplan (Eagles Live).  With a gimpy knee, he wasn’t able to go all out in conditioning and get down in the 265-270 range, where he needs to be.  Jim Washburn likes his DEs to be sleek.  He may tell BG to get down to 260.  Brandon is ultra-competitive and that’s one reason I do have some hope that he will get back.  I think he’ll do everything in his power to return to form. 2011 was a brutal year for him.  He starts 2012 with a clean slate and a sense of hope.  Him getting to workout at NovaCare and work with Barry Rubin will be a huge help.  Fingers crossed that BG makes it back.

Chandler Jones.  Some people wondered about the wisdom of the Eagles taking a DE early.  Jones isn’t just a DE.  He’s 6’5, 265.  He’s highly athletic.  We don’t have that guy on the roster.  Jones is strong enough to physically overpower OTs.  I would love to have one DE with a big frame.  I’m not trying to turn us into Gang Green with 6’6, 290 guys on both sides, but it would be nice to have one big DE.  It would not shock me if Jones ended up going in the late 1st round.  Really impressive player.  Huge potential.  I’m not trying to force DL here.  I like the current guys, but this draft has some excellent DL available.  I’d go for a couple while you can get ’em.  We could wait for the 3rd round at DE.  We won’t get a guy like Jones, but there will still be some talent.

Load up on LBs early.  This sounds like a good idea, but just taking guys to take them isn’t wise.  You need to take the right players.  Brian Rolle looks like the WLB of the present and future.  I think you can trust him.  MLB is still a spot I think gets addressed in free agency.  You need to add a SAM early (first 3 rounds).  After that, you can spend another pick, but I don’t think it must be an early one.  The only thing the Eagles must do is add a quality starter at MLB and a talented player at SAM.  We do have some bodies at LB already.  Casey Matthews might turn out to be a good player with a full offseason to workout, learn, practice, and adjust.  I’m curious about Greg Lloyd and if he can really play in the NFL.  Akeem Jordan and Moise Fokou are both under contract.  Both have had some success as starters.  And Jamar Chaney remains a guy the team has some hope for.  Even Keenan Clayton could be in the mix, at least as a role player.  The cupboard isn’t bare.  The key is finding the right MLB for the LB corps to be built around.  You need that one guy to run the show, make tackles, and be the man in the middle.

Upgrading WR.  The Eagles have good talent at WR, but since Jason Avant isn’t getting any faster and Riley Cooper is still a mystery, the team should add a player to the mix.  Assume they keep DeSean or replace him with a big name FA.  Beyond that the team still needs another player with starter type talent.  Avant is a terrific slot receiver, but he’s lost if he has to start.  The new player should challenge Jason for his spot.  I love Avant, but he’s not so special that he gets a free pass.

Tackling.  LB Zach Brown is an erratic tackler and that will hurt his value.  I’ve mentioned that the team could still like him if they think they can teach him to tackle.  You can’t create his kind of athletic ability.  That’s special.  Most people go into a thing about how our coaches can’t teach anyone to tackle due to last year’s problems.  Tackling is something you normally work on in Training Camp.  That didn’t happen as much last year because the coaches were installing the scheme.  So the notion that the coaches can’t teach fundamentals is flawed.  They had a new scheme, new players, and less time to work with.  You saw poor tackling around the league.  The Eagles weren’t the only team to suffer.  If the defense once again misses a bunch of tackles, then there is a major problem with the coaches and players.  There is enough time this offseason to get everything done.

* * * * *

Dan Klausner took a look at an under the radar WR over at ScoutsNotebook.

67 Comments on “Eagles Notebook”

  1. 1 Gregory Post said at 9:36 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Tommy, this may sound like a dumb scenario, but I’m curious as to your opinion. Frazier runs the same West Coast system as the Eagles, and they need weapons aside from Percy Harvin to help out Christian Ponder. The Eagles also need a veteran linebacker and I don’t think Chad Greenway was too happy to get a deal done in Minnesota a year ago but did anyway. Would there be interest in a DeSean Jackson for Chad Greenway + a 4th or 5th round pick? Is this a realistic scenario?

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 11:40 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    I don’t see the Vikings dealing their best LB, but I’d certainly be open to a deal like that if they were interested. I’ve been a big Chad Greenway fan since his days at Iowa.

  3. 3 Sam Lynch said at 9:38 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Man, I really liked college Thomas Davis.

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 11:42 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    He was so much fun to watch. Drives me crazy when people compare all big Safeties to him. Davis was a freak with his style of play. Mean. Violent. Guys like Taylor Mays are bullies that like to hit receivers in the back. Davis would knock the crap out of an OL, face to face. He was genuinely tough. No fear.

  5. 5 Sam Lynch said at 2:37 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Pity he was really too much of a tweener to keep doing that from the safety position in the NFL.

  6. 6 Anonymous said at 9:50 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Hey T
    Been reading rumors on the web that NE might be interested in Djax.Any chance they part with one of their firsts for him? And how about sending AS22 to TB for LaGarrette Blount.We get a bruising runner and create 9mil of cap space and they get a ballhawk……plus they definitely have the cap space

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 10:43 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    NE needs to sign Welker. He won’t be cheap. Their offense was #3 in DVOA this year and the defense was #30. They don’t need another receiver.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 11:04 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    True.But they need a deep threat and can always franchise wes anyway.Branch ain’t scaring anybody….and 85 was a failed experiment

  9. 9 Anonymous said at 11:17 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    If they need a deep threat, I thi j it’s more likely they take a loaner on Randy Moss.

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 11:44 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    NE does need a vertical receiver to add to the mix, but trading for DeSean and paying him big bucks as well as giving a huge deal to Wes Welker seems unlikely. They’ll look for lesser vet or a draft pick as field stretcher. That D does need a lot of help.

  11. 11 Mac said at 2:24 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I was flipping my lid when the Eagles didn’t draft Blount once he got past the 5th round that year. This team could use more of that “punch you in the mouth” attitude. We had a lil bit of it with Weaver but he’s gone now too…

    Forget a first… I’d take a 2nd for Djax if the Pats want him.

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 9:55 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Don’t think you can have enough dline in our system. When Cole and Tapp missed games our rotation was weaker and it showed. Also can’t remember the source but I guess BG has been working his ass off w/ Lamar Woodley and other Michigan alum. Not sure how much stock you can take from that but its a good start.

  13. 13 Anonymous said at 10:00 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Don’t know why they’re rippin ya. You mention it as only a possibility and your logic is sound. Tell them to pound sand. lol.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 11:45 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    I don’t mind criticism. I’m bothered when people miss the point of an article. That means that I’ve not communicated my ideas well enough.

    Occasionally the idea is the problem, but I don’t think so in this case.

  15. 15 Mac said at 2:26 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Def not the case… a 6’1″ 206 guy with ‘tude and athletic ability? Yes Please.

  16. 16 Anonymous said at 10:11 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Just came across your movie post a few days ago. Really liked all the banter from everyone and have a few movies now I need to see.

    One beef though, is that of all the movies mentioned nobody mentioned Never Say Never as being a great flick. That’s just insane to me. Bieber gave an oscar worthy performance.

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 11:46 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Bieber is an American treasure. He’ll get his own post. Or several.

  18. 18 Anonymous said at 10:11 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    “The calls for the Eagles to add a Safety aren’t something I agree with. We’ve got young talent there. “. Gotta disagree with the wording. They have young players, not young “talent”. Jarrett looked badly overmatched and couldn’t outplay Coleman into the lineup, who was subpar, despite his success against some guys that won’t be playing in the league this year. I like Antonio Allen a lot though, so I’m in full agreement with that part of it.

    I’m not sold that Brian Rolle is a starting WLB in the league. In context, he looked like Lance Briggs. Objectively, he was average at best, and got subbed out on passing downs. If they have a chance to nab a guy that could be better, they should take it. Don’t most WLB’s play in the nickel package? This team either thought Casey Matthews was better in coverage, or wanted to find some reason to get him on the field. Looking at the Miami game, and the way Matthews covered, if Matthews is better in coverage, then Rolle is really bad.

    I think the sting of disappointment the 2011 season inflicted is fading a bit for you. I hope it hasn’t faded for the Eagles.

    Re: Zach Brown – it’s not just that he has poor form when tackling, he’s fundamentally uninterested in tackling. He’s not interested in the physical aspect of the game. Maybe a freak athlete at a perimeter position can get away with that, like Randy Moss, or Deion Sanders, but not a LB. Brown can get the best positional coaches in the NFL, but they can’t make him hungry to tackle ballcarriers.

    Re: Chandler Jones – I like your thinking, but isn’t the 2nd round a little high? Jones basically needs to develop an entire repetoire of passrush moves. He’s basically bullrush or speed rush. I like the upside, but he’s going to need some work. Maybe 2nd round is his value, but this draft seems pretty deep for DL.

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 11:51 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    Rolle looked nothing like Lance Briggs. Nothing. Rolle was a solid rookie starter. He wasn’t a star player or anything special. I think he will improve in the offseason and be a better WLB in 2012. What is his ceiling? Not sure. I don’t see him being a star player type, but he could be a quality starter for a while.

    As for 2011’s disappointment fading…no. I’ve had these thoughts from December on. I believe that we need to stick with the young Safeties to see what they can do. If we do address the spot, Antonio Allen is the first guy I’m genuinely interested in.

    We must have a new MLB. I want us to have a talented rookie at SAM competing for the spot. I’m fine with Rolle staying in place. I don’t want 3 new LBs if that can be helped. A rookie at SAM, vet in the middle, and Rolle at WLB could be a quality group.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 12:10 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Rolle is a guy that excels best with people that are good around him. As in that he cannot carry a defense but could be a big factor. At least that is what i believe. And maybe the WLB of the future does not play nickel but rather the SAM because SAM would be better in coverage because they cover tight ends.

  21. 21 Anonymous said at 12:53 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    According to this we are screwed. Better trade McCoy/Vick/Nnamdi/Jenkins/babin/cole/Maclin/peters and just start rebuilding now.

  22. 22 Anonymous said at 2:17 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I don’t think observing that the LB and S spots showed pretty poorly in 2011 is the same as throwing the Eagles chances off a bridge ala George Bailey.

    I was severely disappointed with the LB and Safety play, and the way it unfolded was entirely predictable. I can appreciate that some people are more optimistic than others, but this current group (coaching and front office folks) does not seem to value either of those spots. I’ll be skeptical about their plans until they prove they are willing to address these spots aggressively, and make them better. I don’t see a need to lower my expectations just because it’s unlikely they will.

  23. 23 Anonymous said at 2:32 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    You’re right, and I know the blog is geared toward that type of detailed analysis. Just saying, it’s the offseason, let’s be hopeful that the FO isn’t blind after enduring the past season.
    According to advanced metrics, the amount of bad luck vs. our talent level was severely unbalanced and generally rights itself somewhat the following season. (According to Bill Barnwell’s 2011 season preview on Grantland).

  24. 24 Anonymous said at 10:14 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    “Brian Rolle looks like the WLB of the present and future. I think you can trust him.”

    We heard the exact same comments about Chaney last year. While I like Rolle, I don’t think he played so well that he deserves to go into TC unchallenged. Among MLB, SAM, and WIL, WIL is certainly the least pressing need, and knowing the Eagles, they are unlikely to address it, but Rolle is not so good that we can’t improve at the position.

    “Most people go into a thing about how our coaches can’t teach anyone to tackle due to last year’s problems. Tackling is something you normally work on in Training Camp. That didn’t happen as much last year because the coaches were installing the scheme. So the notion that the coaches can’t teach fundamentals is flawed.”

    You’re right that tackling was a problem throughout the league last year, but I still do not think that means Castillo is a guy you can just assume will be good at teaching fundamentals. Keep in mind, he basically preached that he was going to focus on fundamentals before TC started and throughout the season. From that, you should expect that even if they didn’t truly focus on it, they did spend significant time on it. Furthermore, why should we expect a guy that his spent the majority of his career teaching offensive lineman how to block would be better than any defensive coordinator who has spent significant time in their career teaching how to tackle.

    My point is that while it is possible that Juan and the defensive coaches are able to use TC and the offseason to teach tackling better, indications from last year were certainly not positive, and at least Castillo himself is not a guy that has earned enough credit that you can just assume will be effective at teaching tackling. So while it CAN be the case that they can coach up tackling well, I see no indication that it SHOULD be the case.

  25. 25 Anonymous said at 11:20 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    RE: Rolle

    Tommy have said earlier that Rolle should be challenged. You are right that he didn’t looked like a superstar, but he was solid and in comparison to MLB and SLB Rolle is not a guy we absolutely need to replace.

    And I don’t think we can quite compare him to Chaney. First, Rolle played more games and Chaney, while flashing some, still had problems in coverage. And most importantly Chaney regressed so much it’s unbelievable, it’s like he completely forgot how to tackle.

  26. 26 Anonymous said at 11:37 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    I agree that Rolle isn’t a guy we absolutely need to replace, but he absolutely should be challenged. I’m not saying you have to spend a first or second round pick on a guy to challenge him, but I would be disappointed if they get a guy who projects to be a backup LB and try to sell that as competition.

    In terms of the comparison to Chaney, you are right that we have a much better sample of games from Rolle. Still, he was no more than an average LB last year. Chaney had some moments his rookie season that he looked fantastic. Some people even bought into the idea that you could build a LB core around him. I don’t think there is nearly the same attitude surrounding Rolle. At the end of the day, if he is the starting LB, I wouldn’t be upset. I just don’t think he has done enough to have him penciled in as starter already.

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 11:55 AM on February 17th, 2012:

    No one assumes Juan will be good at teaching tackling. That’s why I said this:

    “If the defense once again misses a bunch of tackles, then there is a major problem with the coaches and players. There is enough time this offseason to get everything done.”

    We don’t know what he can do, but that applies good or bad. He may show that he can teach this year. He may not. We don’t know.

    Chaney started 2 regular season games and 1 playoff game. Rolle started almost the entire year. Bad, bad comparison.

    Challenging Rolle is fine, but I think the team can be comfortable with him as the projected WLB. We need answers at SAM and MLB.

  28. 28 Anonymous said at 2:03 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Clayton and Chaney could both push Rolle at WLB.

    Clayton has obvious skills for the position if he adds 5 lbs and continues to improve his tackling.

    Chaney may be best suited to WLB where he can use his speed and size to run to the ball, doesn’t have to think as much, though his coverage skills need a lot of work, you need more than speed.

    Once you get past David and Brown, who are you going to draft who’d provide more competition? And too many needs to spend a high pick on a WLB when Rolle is more than passable. Spence is Rolle. After that, just pick up the usual crop of fast, undersized LBs who come out of nowhere (like J Williams on the Giants).

  29. 29 Anonymous said at 12:12 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Everyone is clamoring for a vet at MLB.Realistically other than Tulloch(who is way overrated) and Lofton..who do you trust as making a difference at the position this year.If those guys stay with their teams which I suspect they will do u just sign a guy just cause he’ a vet…even. if he may be a bum?…I’m tired of settling as an Iggles fan.If Tulloch or Lofton aren’t available..then the FO has to go get the best MLB prospect in the draft…PERIOD!…That’s LK40.
    Plus let’s get AS22’s 9 mil off the books…..if A team offers a 5th round…just TAKE it..I say and if ur not going to pay Djax..then fine….take the best offer available..which I hope is at least a 3rd and let’s move on!

  30. 30 Virgile - Bubqr said at 12:20 PM on February 17th, 2012:


    While some of the comments you got on your articles, I’m not a huge fan of your Allen idea.

    Safeties play is down around the league. That’s a given, but is that due to a lack of talent ? I really, really don’t think so.

    I’d compare safeties to modern age central midfielders in “soccer” 10 years ago (sorry for non fans) – In the pastt, they had to do one thing well – steal balls (6s) or be a playmaker (10s). Then 4-4-2 with no playmaker became the standard, and so central midfielders were asked to do both – be good defenders, and very adepts ball handlers. That lead to a big need for Gerrard/Vieira type of players, box to box ones, that we still see nowadays in Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Essien…(I could have the same arguments for full backs now with the big change to 4-3-3, but we’re still on IggleBlitz so no more “soccer”)

    Safeties are the same now – They cannot do “one thing” anymore – They have to do both, and apart from the Ed Reed/Polamalu’s in the world, few are able to be good at both. So with the requirements getting bigger, the average level of play (compared to the expectations) have dropped. but a lot of fans don’t see it and seems to think the grass is greener on the other teams (= only their safeties are not performing as expected)

    To me the conclusion is:
    – Don’t draft specialist (in the box safeties, pure centerfielders) high, draft them low hoping they can develop the other aspect
    – Unless a big time talent (E.Thomas, E.Berry) is available, which is not the case on this class, let see what we got first instead of drafting another S in the first 3 rounds. I do think the trend we started to see 4/5 years ago will continue even stronger – Safety will become more and more important, and valued.

    So when I see your description of Allen, I am a bit afraid that we’re drafting a specialist high, that might get exposed quickly in a passing league. I’d rather take a flyer on a physical safety later in the rounds.

  31. 31 Anonymous said at 12:57 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Antonio Allen is at least average in coverage and maybe better. That’s why I like him. He isn’t just a run defender. He can cover.

    I don’t want a one-dimensional player either. Agree on that.

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 2:01 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Coverage as what? If he played LB in college, that’s a big learning curve to play coverage as a SS, not that he can’t do it, but as a rookie?

  33. 33 Anonymous said at 4:30 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    The spread offense dominates college. Everyone learns to play in space. Allen has covered WRs, TEs, and RBs. He played Spur LB, which is a S/LB position. There were times when he was off the ball and sitting in zones or covering man to man.

  34. 34 Daniel Suraci said at 12:23 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    My only concern is that I’m slightly scared to complicate our defense with a hybrid player like that. Juan seemed to have a hard time playing with his toys last year.

  35. 35 Anonymous said at 12:25 PM on February 17th, 2012:


    I understand and agree to some extent with the “no training camp = reduced fundamental work” argument, but even accepting that I have a few questions about tackling:

    Is this really a skill you can learn? In other words, is it that these guys are just “doing it wrong” or is it more that they don’t care to do it right?

    Have there been cases of collegiate players who didn’t tackle well suddenly learning in the NFL?

    Don’t they work on tackling to some extent at major college programs? If someone can’t tackle by their Junior/Senior year in college (football players, I mean), doesn’t that suggest the player either doesn’t like contact or doesn’t get it?

    Other than a positional change where a guy isn’t used to having to tackle as much, shouldn’t these guys know how to tackle or at least be familiar with the prospect after years of competitive football?

    If you can effectively teach tackling that’s certainly encouraging, but sometimes I worry about taking a guy who has everything but tackling ability… particularly a guy who plays a tackling position (LB, S). Kind of like drafting a receiver who does everything well but just needs to work on “catching.”

  36. 36 Anonymous said at 12:34 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    similar question:
    do they work on tackling at all during the game weeks? how about during the bye week?

    the poor tackling seemed to ride with us through most of the season so i would think that they either 1) didnt work on it at all during the season (might be acceptable if they are focusing on scheme and playing the other team) or 2) the players just couldn’t get something right (players don’t know how to tackle or the coaches aren’t teaching it well enough)

  37. 37 mark ryan said at 12:47 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Too expound on your commentary: the new CBA further limits the coaching impact in this area as two-a-days are now gone from training camp and a limit of only 14 full contact padded practices during the regular season (maximum 1 per week). The value of sure tackling college prospects just went up.

  38. 38 Anonymous said at 3:53 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Good question. Sometimes poor tacklers lack technique. Sometimes they lack toughness. Sometimes they just need motivation.

    Brown isn’t a wimp. He will hit. He’s an awkward tackler. He tends to “catch” his targets rather than explode through them. I’m not a big fan of this at all and it’s the primary reason I’m down on him. I do think this can change, but I don’t know if it will.

    Tackling has eroded due to ESPN. People see big hits on the highlight shows. Kids want highlight hits, not fundamental tackles. This isn’t addressed at the HS level because the kids that are really good can get away with hitting (also called cut tackles). Some get away with it in college. The NFL is where they get exposed. I remember Sean Weatherspoon hitting Matt Forte square in the legs last year. Hard. Matt kept on trucking for a long TD. Can’t hit guys like Forte. Must wrap up. And hold on.

    College coaches only have 20 hours a week to work with kids. NFL coaches don’t hit much, if at all, during the season. Tackling is something for training camps. Heck, as bad as things have gotten, colleges ought to offer tackling as a PE course. That way players could practice and get credit for it.

  39. 39 Anonymous said at 4:50 AM on February 18th, 2012:

    God, that play was awesome.

    I’d have it playing on loop near the defensive lockers to provide a constant reminder that we want tacklers, not hitters.


    Eh, I didn’t like it as much when I knew it was coming. Still, that should have been a tackle, but Weatherspoon just didn’t follow through. A lot of guys at all levels think the hit is going to be enough. I remember being guilty of it as a player too. And now I can’t stand it.

  40. 40 Anonymous said at 7:40 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Agreed. If they don’t know how to tackle by the end of their college careers, let ’em play for another team.

  41. 41 Anonymous said at 12:29 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Ok, you’ve talked me into A. Allen for my 3rd round pick. For those paying attention at home, that’s Luke, Jared Crick, Bobby Wagner, and Antonio Allen. D IMPROVES! 4th rd: WR and OL.

  42. 42 Sjampen said at 1:00 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    To me thats Kuechly, Chandler Jones, Joe Adams, Antonio Allen and Keenan Robinson. Feel free to substitute Kuechly for BPA if we get Lofton.

  43. 43 Anonymous said at 1:02 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Wait, where’s Wolfe? He is an All-Lawlor team member.

  44. 44 Anonymous said at 7:46 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Wow, that site has him as a late 2nd. I’m pretty sure most people have him as a 4th – 5th..?

  45. 45 Anonymous said at 8:33 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I think Wolfe is worthy of a 3rd round pick. With a good Combine, maybe he does go in the 2nd.

  46. 46 Anonymous said at 1:04 PM on February 17th, 2012:


    I originally had a very long post on my issues with your mock and these explanations but I erased it because I think my thoughts can more succinctly summed up like this:

    I am tired of the Eagles getting cute with players. I am tired of the Eagles looking at development and being concerned over what the roster will look like in two years. And I am flat out exhausted over the Eagles having no clue what to look for in a LB or worse, not caring and trying to find that “diamond in the rough”.

    It is time to have one worry: who will help win the superbowl.

    They need three linebackers. Not one. Not one hybrid. They need three.

    Rolle, Clayton, Matthews, etc. could be great role players. Ike Reese was a phenomenal nickel LB – irreplaceable even. But that didn’t mean he could (and in fact failed at) playing LB for three downs in the NFL.
    The players you site are good players. Any other year, great draft. This year. No.

    Kuechley in the first. Robinson in the third as you noted. I think the players you noted in the 2nd are compelling. Although if Burfinct or another LB slips, take them instead.

  47. 47 Anonymous said at 2:00 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    The mock was done with us getting a MLB in free agency. Kuechly becomes irrelevant at that point. You definitely need a young, talented guy at SAM.

    You’d then have:

    WLB – Rolle
    MLB – veteran free agent
    SAM – rookie or holdover player … whoever wins battle for job

    I do think that could be a solid set of LBs. This isn’t a case of trying to fix LB with lesser picks. The MLB would be a quality FA. And I’d be willing to spend a 1st rounder on a SAM if there was a player worthy of that. Not the case now. Some player could emerge that is worth a 2nd Rd pick. Travis Lewis is the guy I’m curious about. If so, go get him. I want as good a group of LBs as is, but I do think Rolle last year showed he can be a solid starter. Guys like Matthews and Clayton are backups/role players.

  48. 48 Anonymous said at 2:11 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Yes, I understood that in this mock, the MLB position is settled through FA. What does that mean? Lofton?

    Because frankly, he is only player that I would consider solidifying the position.
    The Eagles have been pretty clear in the past that they don’t value the position and certainly will not pay for it.
    There is no doubt in my mind that they WILL sign a LB but there is also no doubt in my mind that that player will be a 2nd or 3rd tier player that will play for less (money and years).

    In my mind, that is not solidifying the position. That is just more of the same.
    Based on the Ealges MO in the past, the ONLY hope (that I have) to get a real MLB in an Eagles uniform this year is Kuechley.

    Thank you new CBA for making the 15th pick cheap enough that the Eagles could to use it on a LB.

  49. 49 Anonymous said at 3:02 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    What do you suppose the Eagles do then? Conspire with the NFL to force San Fran in to trading Willis to us?

    It sounds like you’ll only be happy if we sign Lofton. Well, what happens if Lofton just decides to re-sign with Atlanta? According to you, the Eagles would receive a failing grade no matter what they’re backup plan is. That’s a pretty dumb way of looking at things considering there are 32 teams and only one Lofton.

  50. 50 Anonymous said at 3:20 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I don’t think you read either of my posts.

    I think I was pretty clear that I think the Eagles need to draft Kuechley because I don’t trust them to address the position in FA.

    But, if the Eagles did conspire with the NFL to aquire Willis, I would be happy with that move.

    Also, for the record, I give them a failing grade at the LB position for the last 10 years, not just one year.

    They have shown a complete incompetence to either evaulate talent or develop talent. Or, as I think is more accurate, they have shown they are reluctant (at best) to pay for talent and instead get by with average players or good players with baggage (coming off a knee injury, etc.)

    We’re aren’t talking about one year here. I feel like this is Groundhog day all over again. At some point, you have to recongnize that these moves aren’t “bad luck”, that going with what we preceive as “plan B” really was “plan A” from the beginning.

  51. 51 Anonymous said at 3:40 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Quality starting MLBs that are scheduled to be available:

    Curtis Lofton
    Stephen Tulloch
    David Hawthorne
    London Fletcher
    D’Qwell Jackson

    2nd tier types:

    Dan Connor
    Jo-Lonn Dunbar

    Can’t guarantee Lofton is a legit target. He will be pricey and Eagles might not want to spend big bucks. Then again, they paid big for Trotter in 2005 ($3M per year I think). Too bad he got old so fast.

  52. 52 Liam Garrett said at 9:45 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I think Larry Grant is a 2nd tier FA LB, too, right?

  53. 53 Anonymous said at 1:57 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Antonio Allen: Problem is you have to live with his growing pains in pass coverage. That counsels against taking him very high since he’d spend his rookie year on STs. In today’s NFL, teams pass 50% out of running formations (and run more out of spread formations) on 1st down. That means you can’t have a SS who’s a complete liability against the pass (or why Michael Lewis moved on, that and his pinball tackling technique). That lowers his value.

    Keenan Clayton: He improved after being exiled to STs, I think the message was delivered. If Rubin can build him up, he’s your “hybrid” at 230-235 lbs with safety speed. Probably can’t cover downfield better than Allen, but can matchup against TEs and bigger, slower WRs (talking to you Plaxico).

    Developmental QB: Moore is just a shorter version of Koy Detmer, more athletic, but the same limitations. UDFA unless we trade out of the 6th. Coleman might be a candidate if he drops late, Thomas out of Oregon if he’s tests like a great athlete and can contribute like Webb while you find out if he can play QB.
    If Weeden falls due to age, I’d take a hard look, sure he’ll be 29, but no mileage and at QB, he should be solid until 34-35, he won’t break down easily.

    Brandon Graham: ACL is routine surgery these days, ACL/MCL a serious problem that shortens careers, ACL/Microfracture surgery, a real unknown but the odds aren’t with him, even if he returns close to 100%, he’ll never make it to a second contract. However, Hunt should improve, he may not be Wake, but he’s legitimate. So drafting a DE should be BPA, not a panic situation. It’s easier to find FA DEs at low cost that fit the wide 9 than other schemes.

    Chandler Jones: I’m not opposed, but I want to see him at the Combine. He’s not a Washburn DE unless he tests out quick and fast, if he’s the next VA he belong somewhere else (and I thought a healthy VA would be a top flight starting LDE). Those 10 sacks in 32 starts bother me. KVB may be a good parallel:

    [2-34] Kyle Vanden Bosch RDE Nebraska 6-4 270
    (4.76 26 4.08 6.82 36 9’11)
    2000: 11-11 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 11.5 stuffs 26 QH, 1ff
    1999: 11-11 37 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 6.5 stuffs 13 QH, 1 PD, 2 ff

    Load up on LBs early: Rookies rarely start, especially the first half of the season. Not sure there is a lock other than Luke this year, guys like Hightower would have a big adjustment, Brown needs a position (would have to beat out Rolle, who’s more physical), Robinson might need a year in the weight room, etc. That’s why you get guys in FA, even second tier FAs, and require your rookies to beat them out in camp. You don’t want to be left holding your … if Matthews can’t cut it. And don’t assume Matthews, Chaney, Lloyd, Clayton won’t make big jumps with a full offseason – most improvement comes from 2nd and 3rd year players, not rookies, especially on defense.

    Upgrading WR: Stop bringing in stiffs for target practice. That’s my advice, look at the jokers they brought to past camps. Now they’ve gotten better, Gibson (6th rd), Amendola (UDFA), last year with Moss, Harper, now they picked up Gilyard. You not only want a top pick, you want to use those 5th and 6th rd picks to buy lottery tickets – WR has become the position where a lot of longshots (Wallace 4th, A Brown 5th, V Cruz UDFA) emerge because so many kids start playing in HS, 7 on 7 in the summer, then passing offenses in college, there are a lot of experienced kids who just haven’t received good coaching but don’t have to start from ground zero.

    Tackling: The new CBA really hurt the Eagles, who traditionally ran one of the toughest camps, to weed out the wimps. Look for Reid to find every loophole needed to work these guys to death and find out who the quitters are, instead of having to wait until December.

  54. 54 Sjampen said at 3:39 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I think you misunderstood the addition of Antonio Allen. I can’t speak for Tommy, but he has made it pretty clear that he is open to improving our safeties, but doesn’t see any opportunities. Landry and Barron are injured for instance.
    I read the article as Allen would be a matchup guy, not our starting SS. Instead of having to use Nnamdi on those special TEs, we use Allen, who isn’t a liability in runsupport. Sort of a cross between a SS and a nickelcorner.

  55. 55 Noah Becker said at 3:50 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    I’m curious about your comment on Riley Cooper being a mystery.

    He’s played/been active for nearly 30 games in the last two years. He’s a passable special teamer with some deceptive speed, as an outside receiver, who doesn’t have enough fight/ability to play the slot or attack a ball at its highest point to be the red zone target (I suspect) the Eagles were hoping for.

    Where’s the mystery?

    Despite his flowing blonde locks and preseason heroics the Eagles should absolutely look to upgrade his position before Avant’s.

  56. 56 Anonymous said at 4:04 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Riley played a lot of baseball. He only lit up in football as a Senior at Florida. He and Vick hit it off in the summer of 2010 on the #2 offense. Riley earned a spot. He then wasn’t able to have an offseason last year. Riley was solid at Lehigh, but he was only used sparingly until midseason. He then got on the field and was up and down.

    Riley has the physical potential to be a good role player. He’s still raw as a receiver. I want to see what he can do with the benefit of passing camps and mini-camps. Receivers can grow a lot because they get a lot of reps and also hands on coaching.

    The mystery with Riley is whether what we see is what we get or if he can actually improve to the point where he is a more polished receiver. Right now he’s making plays based more on raw talent than polished football skills. I believe he’s still got upside. If we don’t see growth in his game this year, you have to think it isn’t going to happen.

  57. 57 Anonymous said at 5:49 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    He was erratic, but he’s a first class athlete, 6’3 222, ran a 6.71 cone, 4.53 40.
    These guys don’t grow on trees.

    Had two great catches last year, the over the shoulder grab in stride on the deep throw and the jump ball that he took away from three defenders. Can’t teach that kind of talent.

    Cooper’s problems are the basics, running the underneath routes, looking the ball into his hands, etc. But he was at Florida, where talented WRs go to die.

    I think he’s a perfect example of a player really hurt by the lockout, what he needs more than anything are reps, reps, reps, run the basic routes a couple thousand times, catch a couple thousand balls, and so on. Get to the point where he doesn’t have to think on the field.

  58. 58 Noah Becker said at 3:21 PM on February 18th, 2012:

    I accept this answer, though I remain skeptical that the room for growth is there.

  59. 59 Anonymous said at 4:05 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Also…by upgrading #3, you’re pushing Jason to #4. And Riley to #5. Jason would be the upgrade over Riley…if that makes sense.

  60. 60 电影之家 said at 5:07 PM on February 17th, 2012:

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  61. 61 Kammich said at 5:14 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    You look at the strengths of the two Super Bowl participants, and what do you see? New England ate up big chunks of yardage and put up a ton of points. New York got after the QB with their pass rush.

    We have the talent and scheme(s) in place to accomplish both of those things very well. Which is why I would definitely be in favor of bolstering the DL depth and adding another talented WR. It is a great FA WR class. It is a great DL draft class. There are a number of options for us to improve in those areas.

    Especially with Washburn’s fondness for rotating the full set of DL… what sounds better? Cole-Patt-Jenkins-Babin; Tapp-Landri-Laws-Parker… or, using Tommy’s mock draft for an example: Cole-Patt-Jenkins-Babin; Tapp-Landri-Fletcher-Jones? You’d have a set of 8 defensive linemen who can absolutely get after the QB every time they put their hands in the dirt. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be Fletcher and Jones. I really like Poe, Thompson and Wolfe at DT. I really like Curry, Cam Johnson and Jake Bequette at DE. There is a lot of depth in this class, a lot of things we could work with.

    We need to take what we do well, and get even better at it. Our offense is top-5 on paper. Draft/sign a good WR, and make it better. Upgrade at FB, and make it better. Our defensive line is top-5 on paper. Get deeper, and make it better. I honestly think we have a better chance at being a division champion-caliber team with this approach as opposed to strictly drafting for need.

  62. 62 Liam Garrett said at 9:59 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Don’t forget Hunt-J.Jones-Haynesworth-Graham. 😉

  63. 63 Joe Malone said at 5:17 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Tommy, why is everyone so down on Keenan Clayton? I understand he is only a Nickel LB, but doesn’t he have the potential to be a very good one if not great one? With the amount of Nickel teams utilize now, I feel like Clayton is a very good asset to have on our team. Throw him in with whatever FA MLB we get and we have a pretty solidified back 7.

  64. 64 Anonymous said at 5:24 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Keenan must prove that he’s tough enough to be on the field, week in and week out. He can’t just be there for games when we want to get creative. Keenan played really well in the 2010 playoff game. That got my hopes up for 2011. He didn’t respond the way Andy wanted. Keenan sat for a long time. Only when he improved at practices and showed up on STs did they work him back into the lineup. I hope he “gets it” now. Clayton could be a really good role player. Must do the little things and be so good the coaches have to find playing time for him. Can’t live off a good game from last month or last year.

  65. 65 Anonymous said at 6:05 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    Here’s some factoids to chew on while thinking about player additions.

    Matt Hasselback, with an ever changing cast of WRs, averaged 25 ppg in 11 playoff games with Seattle, he had Koren Robinson flip out, D Jackson with a knee injury, Engram on and off the field, Stevens with his problems, Alexander who was broken down after 2005, etc. Only constant was Hasselback and Walter Jones over six seasons before it fell apart. Point – you don’t need great talent if you run a good system and have a good OL, you need physical WRs who can catch and a smart QB who’ll get them the ball, but you don’t need elite playmakers. With a better defense Matt might have a ring or two, of his six losses, opponents got 27 points or more in 5 of them (Steelers only got 21 in the SB).

    SF beat NO, NYG beat NE, GB, the three top offenses were stopped by good defense.
    The only top offenses to win SBs, Rams 1999, NE 2004, NO 2009. And NE and STL had good defenses the years they won.
    SD has had a great big play offense, so has the Eagles, what have they won the last 3 years?

    Explosive offenses are not designed for playoffs, because they tend to be more erratic than top defenses. Jon Gruden loved big WRs with great hands who couldn’t break 4.65 with a rocket boost (Rice and Brown in Oakland in their geriatric phase, McCardell, Keyshaun and Jurivicus in TB, Fryar and Chris T might have been his fastest WRs, they could break 4.6).

    Eli has gotten all this exaggerated press, reality check, he was 2 of 7 in the SB in passes over 15 yards, everything else was basically a 1-10 yard throw. This isn’t surprising, it’s exactly what Coughlin had him doing in 2007. Safe throws, chuck it deep off play action, throw it away if there’s nothing there. Let the defense win games. SF had the same idea, unfortunately they had to return punts or we’d be talking about how “clutch” Alex Smith is as a QB.

    Draft defense and receivers with good hands. And depth for the OL. Everything else is luxury items.

  66. 66 b_qazi said at 11:16 PM on February 17th, 2012:

    This is unrelated to the post but, Evan Mathis just posted an “Ask Me Anything” thread on reddit.com

    Thought people here might be interested.

  67. 67 Anthony Hart said at 7:02 PM on February 19th, 2012:

    I think the people on BGN who didn’t like the idea have been turned off by the idea of getting a ‘hybrid’ since Andy has gotten few tweener/hybrid players and they’ve never really worked out.

    On Brown, the general consensus is that he’s a prototype at the WILL position but doesn’t have the strength or tackling ability to play SAM. Do you think he could play SAM or would that be forcing the round peg into the square hole?