Eagles Wake-Up Call: Welcome To the Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Combine kicks off today at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are three things I’ll be keeping an eye on in the next few days.

Dion Jordan buzz – This is going to be an unusual draft. Normally, analysts are able to do a pretty good job of mocking the first few selections, but this year, there seems to be little consensus.

Which is why Dion Jordan should be on your radar. The 6-7, 241-pound DE/OLB from Oregon could generate some buzz this week.

“I kind of like Dion Jordan who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith-type player,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. “He’s only about 240 pounds, but he’s 6-7. He’s got frightening athletic skills, and he’s a year away. He would be a situational pass-rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he’s going to be a perennial All-Pro. I really like the kid. But, again, that’s a little bit of a risk – reward. You’re betting on this kid two years from now.”

The Eagles probably don’t have to do a lot more homework on Jordan, considering he played for Chip Kelly and Jerry Azzinaro.

“It would be wonderful to be back under his wing, to continue to learn from him,” Jordan told CSNNW.com about the prospect of potentially playing for Azzinaro. “He’s done a good job not only with me, but with a bunch of players who’ve gone to the NFL.”

E.J. Manuel’s stock – The draft process continues for the Florida State QB. Manuel had an excellent showing at the Senior Bowl and said he’d love to play for Kelly. Mayock projected him as a third- or fourth-round pick, but Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks he could go higher.

Manuel is going to have a chance to prove he’s capable of being a first-round pick. He’s probably not as athletic as, say, Colin Kaepernick, but he’s still pretty athletic, and he’ll be able to show that to people. This combine is very important for him, especially with regard to the physical testing that he’ll get to take part in.

And here’s NFL Films’ Greg Cosell on Manuel, via Yahoo Sports:

“Of the top six or seven quarterbacks in this class, he’s the only one who can run read-option. It will be interesting to see if that raises his value. But again, it gets back to throwing the football. I think he has an easy delivery, and the ball comes out with velocity. He was under center more than people think — I think people just assume that he was in the shotgun all the time. There were throws I saw that did have anticipation and good accuracy. He’s got a high release point. At times, he’s a little scattershot, and we’ll see where that goes. His ball position is too high, and that will be changed in the NFL.”

The corner class – It would be a surprise if the Eagles didn’t take a corner in the draft. But the question is: How soon?

Alabama’s Dee Milliner seems to be the consensus top CB available, but is his ceiling high enough to be a top-five pick? Milliner will have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder after the Combine, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Dee Milliner, for me, is a guy that if he runs fast, he can become a top 10 guy,” Mayock said. “And most people think he already is. I don’t. I love him as a player, love him on tape. I think he’s more like the 20th pick in the draft, if I had to put a number on him. However, if he runs sub-4.5, I think he’s going to be a top 10 pick.”

It’s not just Milliner. Some of the second-tier corners like Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks and Washington’s Desmond Trufant could boost their stock too this week.

WHAT YOU MISSED

What’s in store for the Eagles’ defense? Here are three leftovers to chew on.

With an MBA in hand, Eagles defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron puts his off-the-field skills to use.

If he can hold on to the football, Bryce Brown should get plenty of opportunities in 2013.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com lists NFC veterans who could be released, including Nnamdi Asomugha:

With $4 million of his scheduled $15 million salary guaranteed, the Eagles could try to work out a pay cut to keep Asomugha. More likely: They cut ties after two straight disappointing seasons.

In an ESPN.com article, Bill Polian looks at team needs for all 32 teams:

Two factors will dictate the Eagles’ offseason targets: the cap and new head coach Chip Kelly’s assessment of the roster. Both will be critical here. But regardless of Kelly’s schemes, it seems pretty clear that an upgrade at cornerback and offensive tackle appear to be needed. An O-line that yielded 48 sacks is certainly a big area of concern.

COMING UP

We expect to hear from Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman today. Keep it here for updates throughout the day.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • JofreyRice

    Jeez, seems to me that projecting another 20 pounds onto Jordan might be a bit much. He’s already up 20 pounds from where he was at Oregon. Not too many guys put on that much weight and remain as effective. Trent Cole did it, but that’s about the only guy I can think of, and his game was never about speed or athleticism, anyway.

    I think if you take Jordan at #4, you can’t count on him putting on 20 pounds–what if he’s a hard gainer like Jevon Kearse or Aaron Maybin? You have to be comfortable with his abilities right now.

    Milliner has a bum shoulder that needs surgery. I wonder if he’s still a top 10 pick if he runs a sub 4.5 40?

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      I don’t think you take Jordan at 4. If he’s really your guy you should trade back, stay in the top 10-15., but get another mid rounder.

      Personally (and I can say this with ease as an armchair GM), I think if you take Jordan in the first round he’s gotta contribute more than just a situational pass rusher. If you take him here, he should be your SAM.

      • JofreyRice

        As a fellow armchair GM, I agree with you. The Eagles are not a team that can afford to ease people in. They need starters right now, and ones that can play at a competent level right away–with hopefully an eye toward development into a very good player down the line. I’m not sure that Jordan is viewed the way that Mayock portrays it, though, and I’m not sure he even lasts to 10-15. I’ve read several things touting him as the best 3-4 OLB in the draft. I think Mayock is projecting him to a 4-3 end in the mold of Julius Peppers or something. I’m not sure he’s going to be that. He’s pretty damn unique, in his skillset.

        I’m wondering if the best move is to stay put and pick Vaccaro. An impact safety makes a huge difference for a defense. Vaccaro fits the bill of being able to start right away, and projects as a guy with the skills to become special down the road. I think he’s way better than Mark Barron, who went in the top 10 last year, and think he’s got better coverage skills than Eric Berry, who went really high.

        • GGeagle

          here is the thing. Right now when it looks like you can trade back to 9 and still land jOrdn while acquiring extra picks..but that kid could light up the combine and easily become a coveted top 5 player.

          It’s actually simple..Chip knows him, if Chip thinks we can’t pass him up and really believes in him, and if Gamble who just arrived for LINEBACKERVILLE California believes that Jones will be his Philly ADRIEN…and if McGovern who knows a thing or two about what a college LB prospect who will be a stud at the next level looks like, after coaching Kuechly in college….If those 3 Men believe that Dion Jordan will be a Freak all pro in the NFL, than we have to have him, especially when you consider he plays a very important position in our new scheme, whether it’s a hybrid or 3-4……Linebackers are no longer second class MEH citizens in Philly. They need to be the new horses of our D..which is a good thing, when they athletically the LightHeavyweight version of NFL athletes…in terms of having power of heavyweights, and speed of a welterweight. they are probably the best athletes on the field, which made it a crime that we have been undervaluing them for so long….Now, they are important!! As it should be,,,,so important that we get an extra one on the field….YAY!!! Good times. if Chip,McGovern,and Gamble believe we have to have Dion Jordan, than I’m all for it. I trust that those three know what they are doing….can’t really say that about the last regime.

      • GGeagle

        ADAM, who care what he contributes next year if 3 years from now he becomes a perennial all pro?

  • theycallmerob

    “Keep it here for updates throughout the day.”

    As if we’d go anywhere else.

    • Graham

      hahahahahahaha

  • aub32

    I like the thought of taking Jordan. He seems to fit the definition of a 4-3 under SAM LB. He has pass rushing ability, and the athleticism and height to cover TEs. Also, we could probably trade back with either ARZ or SD if Joeckel is still on the board and get him. I don’t see anyone in the top 10 going after him.

    • GGeagle

      Rex ryAn is not stupid as he looks!

  • Jack Waggoner

    We’re looking at a bunch of good players at the top, but they are guys who in last year’s draft would probably have gone in the teens. If a guy coming out this year was as good as Fletcher Cox was coming into last year, he’d be in the top 4. Look at this guy everybody seems to want, Star Lotuleilei or however you spell it. He’s a good player, would love to have him, but compare him to a guy like Suh when he came out of school and it’s not even close.

    Maybe the combine helps clear some of this up about some of the top prospects, where we can see who has the ability to really be the great player we need.

  • nicksaenz1

    Lots of insightful comments to complement the always fantastic reporting. I think Ggeagle had a great point about McGovern. The guy knows a thing or two about pro caliber LBs as does the man who helped build the best LB crew in the game today out in SF. They’ll know whether Jordan is they guy, and they if they pick him, I’ll trust that this guy is going to be a stud. Someone posted about taking Vaccaro being better than other safeties in the last two drafts in certain respects and it’s hard to argue that point as well. The point is, we have so many needs this draft. While this draft isn’t deep in the “skill position” players, it appears to be deep in D/O-Line, with some depth at LB & DB, all of which we need. I hate repeating the Andy special, but I think this is a case where trading down closer to 10 in order to get a second 2nd rd pick is good decision. A lot of holes requires a lot of filling. If these coaches are all the teachers we keep hearing, best way to move forward is through the draft with coachable guys w/ very selective FA.

    • GGeagle

      Thanks…I expecT something like this:
      1) Dion
      2) Trufant cb
      3)Brandon Williams NT
      4)Phillip Thomas Safety
      5)Travis Kelce TE
      6)Luke Marqurdt OT
      7) Dexter McCoil S STEAL OF THE DRAFT
      7)Cooper Taylor S

      • nicksaenz1

        I’m not bold enough to make such predictions. Free agency starting March 12 will likely change some of this.

  • Rick H

    Sheil, PLEASE STOP with using Greg Cosell as a reference point as if he is some astute former GM! Seriously Sheil i can pick a guy in the the last row at the Linc that started his pre game party 10 hours before the game then and reference him as a football guru.Cosell got his name via Jaworski and that is it. Shirttail holder of Jaworski. Mayock is the complete opposite end of Cosell. He is one of the very best!