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Points by Suns’ Devin Booker during 130-120 loss to Celtics

Injured former WWE champ Daniel Bryan apprehended a burglar this week, but the Greek god of wrestling tells us all the news surrounding Bryan this week wasn’t good. Achilles Heel also review Battleground, describes the positives and negatives of TNA’s shows in New York and chastises those upset that Bryan won’t be featured on NBC’s upcoming Wrestling XXX special.

Disdain for the two head coaches, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, leaves Eric Fisher without a rooting interest in Super Bowl XLIX.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on whether the Eagles might be better off with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, an unforgettable moment in women’s basketball and the animosity directed toward NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski.

Archive for the ‘Eagles’ Category

Cornering the market

Posted by Gordon Glantz On March - 15 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

We all know what happens when we assume, but let’s work around that for this drill, which is this lifetime Draftnik’s first of what will be several stabs at a seven-round mock draft (one-round mocks are for wimps).

Let’s assume the Eagles’ are done with the heavy lifting phase of free agency and are now focused on the way teams are really built for the long haul, which is the draft.

Let’s also hope Howie Roseman didn’t refuse to trade his first-round pick – No. 14 overall, by virtue of a coin toss that we all know wouldn’t go our way in overtime of a key game – for Brandin Cooks because this year’s draft (April 27-29) is at Philadelphia’s Art Museum steps and the directive was to not have the local fans be disenfranchised during Day 1.

Instead of Cooks, Roseman & Co. brought in the tag team of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. With Jeffery and Smith flanked around slot receiver Jordan Matthews, and with tight ends Zach Ertz and Trey Burton working the middle of the field and Darren Sproles sliding out of the backfield, quarterback Carson Wentz should have plenty of desirable options.

It also means they deployed Vulcan-like logic, by opting – so far – from not diving into the polluted waters of the free agent cornerback class and instead opting to take advantage of the depth at their most-desired position offered by the draft.

The need at receiver is lessened by the signing of Jeffery and Smith, but only to the extent that a high pick need not be spent on one. The running back pool is also deep, so expect at least one back with three-down tools to be picked.

However, as it stands now, there is no position – even a developmental quarterback behind Wentz and Nick Foles or a lineman on either side of the ball – that is off-limits.

That speaks to the state of the team’s development, but also to the possibilities during the first draft in Philadelphia in eons (well, 1961, the year after the last title).

While not being so bold as to project trades, a Roseman specialty during drafts, here is a look of how the draft could shake out (as of now):

Round 1 (Pick 14)

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Although he sustained some second- and third-degree burns in the National Championship game against Clemson, Humphrey is still considered a first-round talent in large part due to his size (6-foot-1, 196 pounds, long arms) and speed (4.49). A five-star recruit out of high school, Humphrey is one of the few who will not be hurt by coming out early. He is the son of former Denver Bronco running back Bobby Humphrey and Barbara May Humphrey, a record-holding track star at Alabama.

Round 2 (Pick 42)

Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC: Maybe a little bit of wishful thinking here that Jackson, probably the best pure athlete of the corner crop, will still be on the board. In other years, he would be long gone, maybe by 20th choice in the first round. However, with the depth at the position, teams are looking for reasons not to draft guys and instead of reasons to talk themselves into it. Jackson is fast (4.43), but a bit more compact, at 5-11 and 185 pounds. Nonetheless, he is seen as raw right now and not shovel-ready. It is likely he is strictly a return man as a rookie. That still might not get him past some better teams at the end of Round 1 that are willing to wait, but it could just as easily send him into the grasp of the Eagles’ claws.

Round 3 (Pick 75)

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma: Before the signings of Jeffery and Smith, this pick could have been a receiver, such as Dede Westbrook from Oklahoma or Cooper Kupp from Eastern Washington. And before bolstering the offensive line by reuniting former first-round pick Chance Warmack with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and bringing back center-guard Stefan Wisniewski, this could have easily been Temple tackle-guard Dion Dawkins or Pitt tackle Adam Bisnowaty. Instead, it becomes a wild card. So, why not go completely wild, and off-the-grid, with Westbrook’s troubled teammate. On the field, Mixon is a three-down back and first-round talent that reminds scouts of Le’Veon Bell. Off the field, he has well-documented issues. Still, despite the troubling video that surfaced of the incident where he punched a woman, he paid the consequences by being suspending for the 2014 season. The question the Eagles, and other teams, need to ask themselves is if they think he will repeat the behavior. He is too much of a risk to go earlier than the third round, and some think he may last until the fourth, but the odds are it won’t happen. One team will take a leap of faith. Why not let it be the Eagles?

Michigan-ButtRound 4 (Pick 118)

Jake Butt (left), TE, Michigan: Jake Butt? B-b-but …? Yeah, we know. He’s hurt and will miss the whole year. We know, they already have three tight ends – Ertz, Burton and Brent Celek. The fact is that this is an ideal scenario, considering that Celek is likely in his final year in Eagle green. Had he not torn his ACL in the Orange Bowl, Butt (6-5, 250) – a double-threat as a receiver and blocker – was looking at being drafted in the late first or early second round. As teams enter the danger zone of Day 3 (Rounds 4-7), the goal is to get NFL players, even if there is time and patience required. Wait a year, and this head-scratcher on the surface becomes one of the safest picks a team could make.

Round 4 (Pick 139)

Davis Webb, QB, California: An ideal developmental quarterback for this situation. Webb began his career at Texas Tech and then transferred to California to fill the void left by Jared Goff and threw for nearly 4,300 yards and 37 touchdowns (six more rushing). He has only played in spread offenses, but has the tools worthy of the investment.

Round 5 (Pick 154)

Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State: Another corner? Yes, another corner. And they are lucky to get this corner, who could slide right in and compete at the slot. He didn’t show well in shorts at the combine, but is a steal at this point in the draft. Kazee was highly productive for the Aztecs (15 turnovers the last two seasons), and there is no reason to believe he can’t compensate for a lack of elite speed (4.54) and size (5-10, 184) with innate in-game instincts and competitiveness.

Round 6 (Pick 196)

Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State It is amazing how the stock of Kazee’s partner in crime has dropped from a likely third- or fourth-round pick before the season. The all-league selection had over 200 tackles the past two seasons and, much like former Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich, makes up for lack of elite athleticism by reading the minds of opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks. When one considers that Mychal Kendricks came off the field in most passing situations, and that he is likely to be released after June 1, a player like Munson – or last year’s seventh-round pick Joe Walker – could handle a two-down role at much cheaper price tag.

Round 7 (Pick 230)

Jahad Thomas, RB, Temple: If you can’t pick crops from your own backyard, what kind of a farmer are you? The Eagles whiffed a year ago by not selecting former Owl Robby Anderson in the late rounds, instead struggling at receiver while Anderson stood out as an undrafted rookie with the New York Jets (42 catches for 14.0 yards per catch, better than either Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham), and they should learn from past mistakes. Thomas may never be a starting running back in the NFL, but he is a Swiss Army Knife who can do enough – run inside or outside, catch the ball out of backfield or in the slot and return both kicks and punts – to provide depth in what may end up being a backfield by committee.

 

Two sides to offseason

Posted by Eric Fisher On March - 14 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2The Eagles desperately needed receivers. They signed free agents Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Check.

The Eagles needed offensive line depth. They signed guard Chance Warmack and brought back guard/center Stefen Wisniewski. Check.

The Eagles needed a better option at backup quarterback than the ridiculously overpaid Chase Daniel. They signed former Eagles starter Nick Foles and released Daniel. Check.

So far this offseason executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has been checking off boxes on the list of Eagles’ needs. But there is still more to go. Much more.

You might have noticed that all of the additions have been on offense. Not only haven’t the Eagles added defensive parts, but they’ve been losing them.

Defensive tackle Bennie Logan signed with the Chiefs. The Eagles released linebacker Connor Barwin to free up room under the salary cap so they could sign Jeffery and Smith. Cornerback Nolan Carroll signed with the Cowboys and cornerback Leodis McKelvin was released.

If you’re counting, that’s four starters on defense who aren’t on the team any longer. The cornerbacks weren’t very good, Logan was hindered by injuries and Barwin didn’t fit into the Eagles’ new 4-3 defensive alignment, but they still need to be replaced. They weren’t bad enough that losing them is addition by subtraction.

Roseman still has plenty of time to replace the departed defenders; however, unless he finds players better than those who left, the Eagles defense won’t be any better than it was last season. And it wasn’t very good last season.

The Eagles hope that Beau Allen, who filled in for Logan when he was hurt last season, will continue to play well as a full-time starter. The problem is that the Eagles don’t have much depth behind Fletcher Cox and Allen. Aziz Shittu, Destiny Vaeao and Justin Hamilton are all inexperienced.

Sticking with the defensive line, who will replace Barwin and play on the opposite side from Brandon Graham? Vinny Curry would be the obvious choice, but he grossly underperformed after receiving a hefty raise and long-term contract extension. Curry finished last season with 2½ sacks, which tied him with Malcom Smith, a bust of a No. 1 draft pick who is another underwhelming option to replace Barwin. Unless Alex McCalister or pass-rushing specialist Steven Means takes a huge step forward, the Eagles may have difficulty replacing Barwin off their current roster. Taylor Hart, another “depth” player, has switched from defensive end to offensive tackle.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts to address cornerback issues through free agency, the Eagles resisted going that route this season. Their lack of space under the salary cap may have dictated that strategy. We’ll never know if that was the reason, but the result is the Eagles have a void at starting cornerback.

If veteran Ron Brooks can recover fully for a season-ending torn quadriceps tendon that ended his last season after six games, that would fill one of the starting cornerback slots. Brooks lined up primarily against slot receivers, but could move outside. Jalen Mills showed spunk during his rookie campaign. He could be a starter. C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes, Dwayne Gratz and Mitchell White are the other cornerbacks under contract. To say that cornerback remains an area of need is a gross understatement.

The good news is that next month’s NFL Draft may be the deepest draft for cornerbacks in this century. The Eagles should be able to get a terrific cornerback with the 14th overall pick, and may even be able to find a future starter in the second or third round.

The problem for the Eagles is they need their new cornerbacks to be starters this season. At the very least, the rookie cornerback needs to cover slot receivers, which would mean being on the field nearly 75 percent of the time. The Eagles also need a defensive end, defensive tackle and probably a running back. That’s a lot to picks that need to pay off in one draft.

Roseman has done a good job of plugging the holes on offense. But he can’t ignore the defense much longer.

 


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