3

Consecutive home runs for Phillies during 8th inning Sunday

With his record-tying performance at the NHL All-Star Game, Jakub Voracek served notice to the rest of the NHL that he is an elite forward. Eric Fisher also re-examines the trades of Jeff Carter and the recently released Mike Richards, tells you which fourth-line forward is contributing on offense and how the Flyers’ schedule provides an opportunity to gain ground in their attempt to climb back into the race for a playoff berth.

During Thursday’s unique dual induction ceremony into the Flyers Hall of Fame, Eric Lindros and John LeClair complemented each other perfectly, just as they did as members of the Legion of Doom.

A trio of transfers helped Temple win six straight games, but an injury to Will Cummings has reminded the Owls which player is the foundation of their success. In this edition of College Hoops Notebook, Eric Fisher also examines Penn’s effort against Villanova, the divergent experiences of a pair of former Saint Joseph’s guards in the NBA and looks back at one of La Salle’s greatest teams.

Archive for the ‘Eagles’ Category

Eagles need to be right

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 23 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2Why is the NFL Draft such a big deal? Because it can be a franchise-changing event.

To mix our sports analogies, you can’t hit a home run every time. Sometimes you have to make the best of what’s available to you, and punch a single to the opposite field. But when there is a hanging curve over the center of the plate, you can’t afford to miss.

Unfortunately, the Eagles have missed quite a bit.

In 2010, the Eagles traded up to No. 13, where they selected Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham. At No. 14, the Seahawks selected Texas safety Earl Thomas, ranked as the second-best 14th pick of the last 50 years on the PhillyPhanatics.com Top 10 list.

No. 14, of course, is where the Eagles are slated to pick Thursday night as the NFL Draft commences at the base of the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They have drafted 14th four times during the past 50 years. The results are mixed, with linebacker Tim Rossovich (1968) being a good pick, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (2006) being a mediocre pick (there wasn’t a lot to choose from that year), and offensive tackle Bernard Williams (1994) and quarterback John Reeves (1972) being poor selections.

It’s not a secret that the Eagles are in the market for a cornerback. It’s also not a secret that this year’s draft is incredibly deep at cornerback. Can you imagine if the Eagles draft the equivalent of Darrelle Revis, whom the Jets selected 14th in 2007?

The question is which cornerback in this year’s draft will become, if not the second coming of Revis, at least an elite NFL cornerback. Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, USC’s Adoree Jackson, LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Washington’s Kevin King and Florida’s Quincy Wilson all could be drafted in the first round. One or two of these cornerbacks, and possibly three, may be gone by the time the Eagles make their pick.

The Eagles must identify which of these cornerbacks has the skills to work the best in their defensive system. If a player who fits is available, they should grab him.

The Eagles should not outsmart themselves and trade down, as they did in 2014, moving down from No. 20 to No. 26 and ending up with linebacker/defensive end Marcus Smith. Even at No. 26, they would have done better by selecting linebacker/safety Deonne Bucannon (No. 27 to Cardinals), receiver Kelvin Benjamin (No. 28 to Panthers) or cornerback Bradley Roby (No. 31 to Broncos).

Trading down in the first round and picking the best of the remaining cornerbacks would demonstrate the Eagles’ lack of confidence in their own ability to select the correct cornerback. Then again, after deciding that 2015 second-round pick Eric Rowe didn’t fit their scheme and trading him last year to the Patriots, where he played a significant percentage of snaps for the Super Bowl champions, perhaps there’s a good reason not to trust the Eagles’ judgment.

Using two of the drafts cited earlier, 2010 and 2014, imagine how much better the Eagles defense would be with the Thomas and Bucannon, the two players selected immediately after Graham and Smith. If the Eagles were firm about selecting a defensive end in 2010, Jason Pierre-Paul, scooped up by the Giants at No. 15, would have been a better choice than Graham.

To make the 2010 trade to get Graham look even worse, in hindsight, the Broncos flipped the 24th pick and ended up with the 22nd pick, where they selected receiver Demaryius Thomas. Who went 24th? Receiver Dez Bryant was selected 24th overall by the Cowboys. One of the third-round picks the Eagles sent to the Broncos was used for receiver Eric Decker – one pick after the Eagles selected defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim.

Would you rather have Graham and Te’o-Nesheim or Bryant and Decker? Or Thomas and Decker? Or Pierre-Paul and Decker? This demonstrates how one draft can alter a franchise’s fortunes.

If we go a little further back in Eagles history, they traded up from No. 31 to No. 15 in 2003 to select defensive end Jerome McDougle, one spot before the Steelers selected safety Troy Polamalu. In 1996, the Eagles selected guard Jermane Mayberry at No. 25, one spot before the Ravens selected linebacker Ray Lewis.

The missed opportunities don’t only plague the Eagles. In the 1985 NFL Draft, the Cheifs selected tight end Ethan Horton at No. 15, one pick before the 49ers selected Jerry Rice. The Eagles selected offensive tackle Kevin Allen, a huge bust, at No. 9. Imagine how the Eagles’ fortunes might have been different if they had selected Jerry Rice to line up opposite Mike Quick, an outstanding pick at No. 20 in 1982.

How important is it to make the right pick? In 2005, the Packers drafted quarterback Aaron Rodgers at No. 24, one pick before the Redskins selected quarter Jason Campbell. Imagine how the fortunes of those franchises might have been different if the Packers had selected Campbell and the Redskins took Rodgers.

Let’s go way back in Eagles history to hammer home this point. In the 1969 Draft, the Eagles selected running back Leroy Keyes at No. 3, one spot before the Steelers chose future Hall of Fame defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene.

The Keyes-instead-of-Greene draft was a franchise-altering mistake, as were the 2010 and, arguably, the 2014 first-round trades and selections. The Eagles can’t afford a similar mistake in Thursday’s first round.

A draft this deep in quality defensive players presents the opportunity for a home run.

The Eagles can’t afford to swing and miss.

Eagles’ eyes on future

Posted by Gordon Glantz On April - 23 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The first round receives all of the attention. But the picks made on Friday and Saturday are also incredibly important.

As you know from my mock draft, which you undoubtedly already read, I think the Eagles will select Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the 14th overall pick in the first round.

And now for the Eagles picks in rounds 2 through 7, where the limelight gets increasingly dim but the core of championship teams are built.

Second Round (43rd Overall)

Desmond King, CB/S, Iowa: In my second mock draft, I had the Eagles rolling the dice on Washington corner Sidney Jones, who was ticketed not only for the first round but as a possibility at No. 14 for the Birds. But the well-rounded Jones, whose lack of weaknesses was his biggest strength, ruptured his Achilles on Pro Day and has plummeted well beyond this point. With the Eagles reportedly dangling Malcolm Jenkins as trade bait in the offseason, his future in midnight – or Kelly – green is in doubt beyond this year. King – a consensus All-American and winner of the Jim Thorpe Award – is considered a younger version of Jenkins, who came into the league as a corner before transitioning to a safety who can line up in the slot on an as-needed basis. In almost any other year, King would be definite second-half-of-the-first-round pick (and could be this year, too). He is a bit short at 5-10, but is a stout 206 pounds and runs a 4.55 40. He has excellent ball skills – 11 interceptions the last two seasons, including 8 as a junior before teams went away from him in 2016 – and is a secure tackler who can return punts.

Third Round (99th overall)

Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson: This would have been the place for a running back. Joe Mixon, baggage and all, will likely be gone – and probably somewhere between when the Eagles originally picked in the third (74th) and where they dropped to in order to pick up Timmy Jernigan from Baltimore to fill the void left by the departure of Bennie Logan. As fate would have it, the Eagles are still forced to double down at defensive tackle because third tackle Beau Allen injured himself working out and likely won’t be ready to try and give it a go until after the season commences. They reportedly love James Conner, a cancer survivor who will be the first Pitt running back drafted since the Eagles took Dion Lewis back in the fifth round in 2011, but reality knocks. Fortunately, there should be a run on intriguing interior defensive linemen as Day 2 closes. Watkins (6-3½, 312 pounds, with some room to get to 320), unlike Eddie Vanderdoes of UCLA, has come on strong as his career progressed, topping it off with 10½ sacks in 2016.

Alabama-JacksonFourth Round (118th overall)

Eddie Jackson, FS, Alabama: While it would be within the realm of logic to take a third cornerback, there is a concern about long-range safety depth. In Jackson, sort of an unsung hero in Alabama’s vaunted defense, they get a player – like King, the Eagles’ second-round selection – who could play some corner, at least in the slot, as well as in center field. Unlike King, Jackson (left), a teammate of Eagles’ projected first round pick Marlon Humphrey, is more of a safety than a corner and not quite as physical. Still, with solid size (6-0, 201) and OK speed (4.55), he comes fairly shovel-ready after starting three years for the Crimson Tide – one at corner, two at safety after a mid-career ACL injury that likely hurts his draft stock. A team captain, he is considered a high-character player as well.

Fourth Round (139th overall)

Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois: I’m not convinced that the opening day roster will include Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham – or maybe not even Jordan Mattews, who could be draft day trade bait. Two of the three will be here, but not all three. Every year, a receiver goes on Day 2 (second and third round) that has short- and long-term impact beyond one taken on Day 1. And one goes on Day 3 that makes everyone shake their heads at the impact. Because of all the spread offenses in college football, assessing receivers has become an inexact science. That said, Gollady seems to have the right package to maybe be “that guy,” so why can’t the Eagles be “that team” that gets him? He began his career at North Dakota before transferring, meaning he learned two playbooks. He has size (6-4, 218) and decent speed (4.52) and has excelled in both the slot and outside. While considered semi-developmental, despite catching 87 passes last year, there is a clear upside here.

Fifth Round (155th overall)

Joe Williams, RB, Utah: And, like receiver, there is always that late-round running back who everyone regrets passing on. From Larry Brown to Wilbert Montgomery to Terrell Davis to Jamal Anderson, the list is long and grows every year. After the fact, the other 31 teams realize the obvious reasons why they missed the proverbial boat. In the case of Williams, there are two clear factors. He lacks wear and tear, having only carried the load one year – and that was after “retiring” from football because he was unhappy as a part of a running back by committee. He rejoined the squad after some injuries and was a one-man wrecking crew from October on, finishing the year with 1,407 yards – at 6.7 yards per tote – and scoring 10 times. This was in 7 games. He chewed up a UCLA defense with several players who will be drafted for 332 yards on 29 carries. Although he is 5-10½ and 202 pounds, he runs with power inside, can turn the corner and has breakaway speed (4.41). His hiatus will likely cause some question his commitment and, in a deep running back class, push him down to the middle of Day 3. That means he gets drafted later than his talent dictates.

Sixth Round (194th overall)

Calvin Munson, LB, San Diego State: I had this highly productive and versatile ‘backer in my first mock draft, and it hurt so much to leave him out of the second that I had to bring him back. Considering Mychal Kendricks is likely on the express train out of town, and that the Eagles were lacking depth at linebacker already, they should consider themselves fortunate that Munson is not taken seriously as a pro prospect despite being at the epicenter of one of the nation’s best defenses. He can play inside and outside, and his nose for the ball will make him so invaluable on special teams that maybe Bryan Braman will become expendable. Munson also pitches for the Aztecs and was considered a pro prospect coming out of high school. Therefore, when the Phillies expand their roster in September, he could be a two-sport athlete and come out of the bullpen.

Seventh Round (230th overall)

Zack Johnson, OG, North Dakota State: While there will be strong sentiment to go with Kutztown’s Jordan Morgan, a Philadelphia native and Gene Upshaw winner as the nation’s best Division II offensive lineman, Johnson makes more sense. A three-year starter at left guard after missing 2014 with a knee issue, he is a former protector of Carson Wentz. If you think that doesn’t count for something around the NovaCare Complex, think again. Plus, he is bigger than Morgan (6-4, 346 compared to 6-2½, 309) and, for what it’s worth, ran a better 40 (5.25 to 5.39).

SUMMARY

The general theme here is players who have an arrow pointing up, as opposed to sideways. Their best football – particularly in the cases of Humphrey, Watkins, Golladay and Williams – is still ahead of them, especially with NFL coaching and training. It would be a shock if no trades were made, even if they were of the variety of the pre-draft made with Baltimore to acquire Jernigan. Deals don’t have be Player A for Pick(s) B. Roseman could deal Agholor and the sixth for a fifth, or Kendricks and one of the two fourths for a third. There could be a move into the Top 10, which would wreak of a PR stunt because the Eagles are the home team for the draft, but a trade back 5-10 slots in the first for more picks is the more likely option if they don’t stay put at No. 14. If the eight picks are all kept, right where they are, all needs are not addressed, this leads us to our next subject …

And no, kids, class is not dismissed.

One can always mine for natural resources with undrafted free agents.

Because the Eagles felt the need to recycle Matt McGloin as a third quarterback behind Wentz and Nick Foles, the need to draft a long-range developmental quarterback this year diminished. But a fourth arm is always needed for camp, and that QB could always impress enough to land on the practice squad and replace McGloin the following year.

There’s Temple’s Phillip “Don’t Call Me P.J.” Walker, although several other teams have invited the Owls’ all-time passing leader for individual workouts, meaning he would be a higher priority elsewhere. If Penn’s Alex Torgersen goes undrafted, he would be a likely fit. If not, they can stay within the Ivy League with the likes of Columbia’s Skyler “Son of Marty” Mornhinweg or Princeton’s Chad Kanoff.

The Eagles also did not draft a tight end. Sticking with the Ivy League theme, there is Harvard’s Anthony Firkser, who is a bit undersized (6-2, 230) but runs a 4.75 and has been productive. Another would be Pitt’s Scott Orndoff, whose speed (4.82) hurts his draft stock despite intriguing size (6-4½, 253) and production (35 receptions, 579 yards, 16.5 yards per catch) and five scores. He is also a solid in-line blocker.

A center is also likely to be brought in. Clemson’s Jay Guillermo is 6-2, 310 and has winning in his veins.

At running back, Temple’s Jahad Thomas may or not get drafted. If not, given his versatility, he is worth a look. Ditto for fellow Owls Praise Martin-Oguike, who would need to transition for defensive end to outside linebacker, and Avery Williams, who need to shift from outside linebacker to strong safety.

Villanova’s Austin Calitro (inside linebacker) and Brad Seaton (offensive tackle) are also worthy of consideration.

Another FCS player that may be intriguing is William & Mary offensive tackle Jerry Ugokwe, who is 6-7 and 321 pounds and may have to move inside as a pro.

Also keep an eye peeled for Penn State linebacker Brandon Bell, a Mays Landing, N.J. native who may not get drafted but could easily make a team.


(click on logo above for 2012 season schedule and ticket opportunities)

Eagles fans boo selection of Donovan McNabb