Link Day + Q&A

Posted: May 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 32 Comments »

First up, for SB Nation Philly I wrote about the Eagles revamped LB corps.  Is it possible the Eagles have finally figured out LB and made the right moves?

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Earlier this week there was a discussion about Fletcher Cox and Devon Still and trying to understand the difference in production vs rating.  I decided to address that topic in a post for ScoutsNotebook:  Understanding production vs potential/ability.    We’ve got some non-Eagles fans that read the site and the subject should be of interest to everyone.

Feel free to hit me up with follow-up questions.

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Q&A on stuff from earlier today.

Give us more on Wagner over Kendricks.   First off, understand that I like both players a lot.  Cal is one of the teams I almost always enjoy watching.  They have a mixture of good athletes and overachievers.  They run pro style systems.  Kendricks is very much a Cal player.  Good ability + good production, but with a caveat…he’s short.  USC is the school that gets the 6-2 star LBs that go in the 1st round.  Cal gets the 5-11 guy that goes in the 2nd.   I loved watching Kendricks because he didn’t care about USC, Cal, or being 5-11.  He just wanted to go hit the guy with the ball.  He was tough and physical, but played under control.

Wagner just looked like a better pro prospect to me (as an OLB).  Wagner was more smooth and fluid.  He was as comfortable out in space as he was lining up over the RG and rushing the passer, which he did very effectively.  My only real hesitation with Wagner was his level of competition.  Utah State played some good teams, but he only faced a few NFL types.  Sometimes you can get an overly positive read while watching the guys from the mid-majors.

I loved seeing Wagner at the Senior Bowl.  He was very good in practices and the game.  Maybe that is a big difference for me.  I got to see him up close and personal.  Kendricks had to skip the Senior Bowl.

I do think Wagner looked faster on tape.  That could have been affected by the competition he faced.  Wagner’s Pro Day results and Kendricks’ Combine results are very, very similar.  Both guys really can run, jump, lift, etc.  This isn’t a case where either one looked slow or stiff.  We’re talking Porsche vs Ferrari here (for the car nuts, I hope that comparison is acceptable).

Wagner was taken the very next pick after Kendricks went off the board so that is a sign that NFL teams had similar type grades on the 2 guys.  I did prefer Wagner, but not substantially.  This wasn’t like 2000 when the Eagles took Todd Pinkston and I was screaming at the TV about Jerry Porter.  I am very happy to have Kendricks on board.  Good player.

What is the point in having a blitzer at SAM if we don’t blitz much?   Great question.  We did start to blitz more late in the season.  I don’t know if Castillo wants to keep doing that.  Generally Jim Washburn prefers to let his DL attack by themselves.  That said, he worked with Jeff Fisher and plenty of coaches at TEN who liked to mix in the blitz.  If we do want to do more of it, you wants guys who can do it.

One thing to remember here is that coaches adapt to their players.  If Kendricks is good at blitzing, we’re more likely to blitz him.  If he was a brilliant cover guy, you’d rather have him down the field in coverage.

There are no hard and fast rules that say this player must do this, that, or the other.  There are general descriptions.  You then tweak things based on who you have in those roles.

Is it possible to play Ryans outside to take advantage of his size vs TEs?   Doubtful.  He is a stud MLB.  Moving him would not be a wise move.  Keep him in the middle.  He can help cover TEs from MLB.  The SAM doesn’t always have to cover them.

More on Foles.   The Eagles spent a high enough pick on him to let you know they are serious about him.  That said, if he struggles they could still go for an early QB in the 2013 draft and then look at Foles as the backup of the future.  Nick is a guy they think can be “the guy” in the future, but he’s got a lot of learning to do.  He needs to show the Eagles in 2012 that he does have the skills and that he’s headed in the right direction.

How will the NFL adjust if marijuana is legalized?   The NFL is already adjusting.  A positive test used to be a huge concern for prospects.  Now, NFL teams have realized that marijuana uses is much more prevalent than in the past and they judge it differently.  Teams aren’t looking to moralize.  They just want guys that can show up on Sunday and get the job done.  When the NFL shifts it over to be looked at more as something like alcohol (that only gets you in trouble when you commit a crime because of it), teams won’t care all that much.  There could be some anti-weed owners, but I doubt the majority will be against it.  This is all about the law of the land.  Change the laws, change the NFL.

Ernie Sims vs Mychal Kendricks?   Bad comparison.  Sims was a full throttle, damn the torpedoes guy.  He went 100 mph on every snap.  He showed little feel for the game and no instincts.  He was talented, but not skilled.

Kendricks year at ILB did him a lot of good.  He learned to diagnose plays and then move into position.  He showed the ability to move laterally and flow to the ball.  At OLB, he was an attack guy.

Sims never was a read ‘n react guy.  He was an attack guy.  Kendricks is more polished.

M0rton says that Kendricks is more athlete than player.  Umm, no.  He was the Pac-12 DPOY in 2011.  He finished his career with 36.5 TFLs and 4 INTs.  Those aren’t the numbers of a guy who is just a workout warrior.  Kendricks is a good football player who happens to also have good athleticism.

Kendricks and the UW video.   The Kendricks video that I linked to was him playing OLB and up on the LOS.  For us, Kendricks will be off the ball.  I will link to a good video of his from 2011 so you can see him as more of a run defender and see the progress he made as an overall LB.

Kendricks and the Combine.   He ran 4.47 in Indy.  Was that a one-time anomaly?  Draft prospects go to speed camps/performance schools to get ready for the Combine.  Guys tweak their bodies and get a lot of coaching on how to run.  Kendricks might be one of the guys who benefited greatly from this.

I do think he’s fast on tape, but not 4.47 fast.  Kendricks is at his fastest when going downhill.  I didn’t think he showed as much speed when chasing the ball out wide or turning and running up the field.  Understand…I’m not calling the guy slow.  Nothing close to it.  You can see the guy is a fast, athletic LB on just about every play.  4.47 is exceptionally fast.  That’s Patrick Willis fast.  I didn’t think Kendricks played to that speed, expect when attacking.  It could be that the speed camps changed him and we’ll see the speed all over.

32 Comments on “Link Day + Q&A”

  1. 1 GeorgeFleep said at 5:37 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    isnt it true that most LB are faster going downhill than going out wide or up the field? Kendricks interests me because he acts as if the blockers arent even there and manages to run right by in tight spaces.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 8:31 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    What I’m trying to say…and having a hard time explaining…Kendricks looks faster attacking into the backfield than when he’s on the run out in space. It is almost an instinct thing. He sees the QB or RB with the ball in the backfield and it triggers something in him. When he’s chasing after a WR out near the sideline, I just don’t think he looks as fast. This could be me and just a matter of perception.

    I am not saying he’s slow or anything like that. Every player has quirks to his game. You try to figure them out. And who knows…the Eagles may feel completely different than me on that issue.

  3. 3 the guy said at 8:48 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    When I watched those two games of his on Youtube, I noticed the same thing.

    When he was heading for the QB or RB, he looked like the fastest guy on the field. If he was trying to chase them down or take an angle on them, he didn’t look slow, but he didn’t seem very fast. Or at least faster than any other player.

    So I agree with you. Feel free to have some sort of plaque or trophy made up. It’s a common reaction.

  4. 4 GeorgeFleep said at 10:24 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Ah now i get it. well i guess maybe and hopefully that can be coached from nfl coaches. and good thing they are TEs he will be mostly covering, not the fastest players on the offense.

  5. 5 jayanglada said at 11:31 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Re Wagner speed, I found interesting the following from, (analyst not named): “Showed better than expected fluidity and instincts in coverage… A bit heavy-footed and was occasionally beaten to the flanks or down the sideline, leaving questions about whether he has the speed to play outside in the NFL.” (written before Wagner’s pro day.)

    Perhaps, in lateral movements most linebackers seem slower than when attacking upfield.

  6. 6 jayanglada said at 8:00 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    It does seem from Roseman’s remarks that by late December the decision to select Kendricks at 46 or 51 was a slam dunk. If that’s so, the extensive evaluation of Wagner seems like overkill (at the Senior Bowl, Caldwell’s attendance at his pro day, and the visit to Philadelphia). Why spend so much additional time on Wagner when the decision was foreordained?

    There is some sentiment that Lavonte David was the BPA at 46. It’s probably correct that David was the best WILL available, but that seems to miss the point that position value has to be factored into the selection. Just as QBs have more value than centers, arguably SAM has a higher value than WILL because of the broader profile required. Also, a player with more positional versatility has greater value. Wagner and Kendricks, and to a lesser extent Zach Brown, are fits at all three LB slots. That ability to step in for Ryans (achilles re-tear possibility) has real value. So when position value is weighed in to the BPA equation, David may fall short. Apparently, 12 other teams may have agreed.

    You have taught us all the importance of position versatility in your treatment of the Fletcher Cox potential. You pointed out several times that Cox’ utility as a DE and NT, as well as at UT, made him more valuable than a straight UT. Kendricks gets that same benefit.

  7. 7 ian_no_2 said at 5:50 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Kendricks was a good value for where they picked him. There were three leading SAM LBs on the board, and Kendricks was third on my list as many here agree, but I’m glad they picked one of them, someone who performed well in college and fit their scheme.

  8. 8 Derek / IgglesBlog said at 5:54 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    To your point about blitzing, one of the interesting things I’ve seen in FO’s charting stats is evidence that even though we blitzed (much) less frequently last year, we were (much) more effective when we did it. If it keeps working, we’ll keep doing it.

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 6:16 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Great info. And very true.

  10. 10 Yuri said at 7:10 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Is it really surprising? If you do mosly X and occasionally Y because you are better at X, the returns from Y done occasionally will be better than from Y done frequently.

  11. 11 GeorgeFleep said at 7:37 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Great info. And very true. You get the new defensive coordinator job

  12. 12 the guy said at 8:44 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Not so fast… has Yuri even coached an offensive line before?

  13. 13 Steve H said at 12:34 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    He was water boy for the local pee wee team, which makes him almost as qualified as our current DC. I kid I kid, I actually like Juan (as a person) and really hope I can grow to like him as a coach.

  14. 14 Ben Hert said at 8:32 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    I’ll never be able to look at the name “Yuri” in a positive light after spending my childhood playing “C&C: Red Alert”

  15. 15 Yuri said at 7:10 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Is it really surprising? If you do mosly X and occasionally Y because you are better at X, the returns from Y done occasionally will be better than from Y done frequently.

  16. 16 nopain23 said at 5:55 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Hey T
    VC is being hyped as the best pure pass rusher in the does he compare to guys like Irvin,Perry and McClein?
    Also,Kendricks just read your post stating he’s a bum and not worthy to wash Wagner’s jock strap….he wants to have a word with you about that…lol

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 8:34 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    I don’t think of Vinny as the best pure pass rusher. I’d go for Bruce Irvin and Whitney Mercilus over him for that title. McClellin is a football player. He can do it all.

    Tell Mychal I’ll be behind the abandoned K-Mart tonite at midnight. And I’ll be wearing the Labinjo jersey.

  18. 18 Yuri said at 7:03 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    I just want to say, great post on production vs potential.

  19. 19 TommyLawlor said at 8:34 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Thank you sir.

  20. 20 T_S_O_P said at 7:05 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    I agree. Interesting that you bought up 7th round draft pick Matt Cassell, in comparison, Bryce Brown had a hectic college ball life. More over you have Polk (production) over Brown (Potential).

  21. 21 mc_bob said at 7:04 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    It took me about 5 seconds to regret writing the words ‘Ernie Sims.’

  22. 22 TommyLawlor said at 8:37 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    If Kendricks hadn’t played ILB this year…he might have been closer to Sims than we like to think. Mychal does have better instincts (Sims had zero so that’s not hard to do). Sims just never adjusted in his life. He literally just chased the ball 100 mph on every snap. No subtlety to his game.

  23. 23 M0rton said at 7:35 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Here’s the real question: Why Kendricks over Lavonte David?

    David was a far better *football* player than any other LB barring maybe Kuechly over the past 3 years.

    And don’t tell me it’s because David is a WILL and Kendricks can play SAM or MIKE. You take the better player, period.

  24. 24 TommyLawlor said at 8:41 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Z Brown
    L David

    That’s the draft order for the SAM candidates. I was surprised to see David go last from that group, but I think teams had serious concerns about his size. The 3 guys above him all weighed 240 or more. He was 228. That’s important.

    Was David a better player? He was the only guy on the list above who played behind a DL going 2-gap and keeping him free. That let David stay clean and run to the ball. The other plays had to deal with blockers on a regular basis. That can make a difference.

    David lasted all the way to pick 58. A lot of people passed on him.

  25. 25 nopain23 said at 10:57 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    excellent point about taking on blocks!..see it’s info like that makes your blog invaluable and entertaining.i tip my cap to you sir

  26. 26 Arby1 said at 11:39 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    I agree – great point about David staying clean. It’ll be really interesting to see who of these 4 stand out. I ranked them: David, Wagner, Kendricks, Brown.

  27. 27 Cliff said at 12:21 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    Imagine the outcry if we took another lightweight linebacker, too.

  28. 28 M0rton said at 11:40 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    Derrick Brooks was small as well. Size and weight don’t matter as much as you think.

    If one player has better instincts and more talent, these will supercede any advantages gained from a few more pounds on another player’s frame.

    David was simply the most instinctual and productive LB outside of Kuechly in this year’s draft. I am confident that he will have the 2nd best NFL career and maybe even the best NFL career of all of the LBers in this draft class.

    The Eagles will regret passing on him for Kendricks.

  29. 29 Baloophi said at 12:59 PM on May 5th, 2012:

    “The Eagles will regret passing on him for Kendricks.”

    I can’t help but picture you saying this aloud to yourself while stirring a cauldron or sitting on your throne of bones.

    And what happened to Miles Burris?! I thought HE was the LB we were going to regret not taking in the 2nd round. It’s hard to keep track…

    There are 244 players the Eagles didn’t take in this year’s draft. If you cover a different guy every day I think you can still take weekends and holidays off before next year’s draft.

  30. 30 pjxii said at 8:49 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Tommy, I noticed that you didnt answer the one most important question. Did you send Howie your resume?

  31. 31 LiamGarrett said at 11:27 PM on May 4th, 2012:

    Hey, Tommy. I wasn’t able to comment on SB Nation’s website, so I’ll just ask here: I’m confused about exactly what we want at SAM. I think I need examples. What NFL linebackers would be capital-P Perfect for SAM in the Eagles’ current system? It seems like a lot of players that have been mentioned have a serious drawback. Ideally speaking, who would be the best, and why?

  32. 32 Steve H said at 12:45 AM on May 5th, 2012:

    Here is Mcnabb more or less making an ass out of himself again:

    I think he’s a couple years late for all that “unfinished business” nonsense.

    It’s sad when I think back to as recently as 2008, he played so well in those playoff games, especially the Vikings and the Giants. Those were tough, hard nosed, clutch play, gritty smash mouth wins, and Donovan came through when we needed him to.

    It seems like after that his entire career just fell off a cliff and hasn’t stopped yet.