Eagles Prospect Watch: Van Noy, Urban And Ford

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl

If Kyle Van Noy decided out of high school that he’d rather catch passes than bat them down, there’s a chance he might have teamed up with Chip Kelly.

The BYU outside linebacker prospect was recruited by Oregon (then coached by Mike Bellotti) to play wide receiver, but ultimately opted for the defensive side of the ball.

“Teams were going both sides a lot,” Van Noy said. “I had some offers that had me playing receiver and then I had some playing at outside linebacker. So I was recruited at a couple different positions, which was nice. It gave me a choice.”

Looking back, it’s tough to argue that Van Noy (6-3 1/4, 244 pounds) made the wrong decision. He had a fantastic career with the Cougars and was one of the most versatile defensive players on the field down at the Senior Bowl. Read more »

Senior Bowl Diary: Searching For a Safety

NCAA Football: Gildan New Mexico Bowl-Washington State vs Colorado State

Every time Howie Roseman meets with the media this offseason, he knows one topic that is guaranteed to surface: the Eagles’ plan at safety.

It’s become an annual tradition to a certain extent. The Eagles have tried time and again – through the draft, trades and free agency – to fill the two safety spots, but have been largely unsuccessful.

In 2013, Patrick Chung struggled throughout, while Nate Allen showed some improvement. Earl Wolff battled a knee injury and made rookie mistakes, but proved his athleticism translates to the NFL level.

Overall, though, safety is high on the need list this offseason. The Eagles could take a shot at one of the top free-agent options like Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd or Cleveland’s T.J. Ward. Or they could find a prospect or two in the draft. Read more »

Senior Bowl Diary: Attaochu Could Be a Fit

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech

MOBILE, Ala. - Jeremiah Attaochu considers himself a problem-solver.

So when the Georgia Tech outside linebacker was in Nashville, Tenn. for the Music City Bowl last month and discovered there was no microwave to cook his chicken wings in his hotel, he decided to use other resources. Read more »

Senior Bowl Diary: Murphy Passes ‘Big People’ Test

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Stanford vs Michigan State

MOBILE, Ala. – Trent Murphy doesn’t really find Oregon’s offense all that complicated.

The Stanford outside linebacker was part of a defense that limited the Ducks to 20 and 14 points the last two years – both Cardinal victories.

“Oregon’s scheme works really well for what they do,” Murphy said. “But it’s all based on number count of how many players are in the box, how many players are out of the box and then they either throw it out or run the gun-read up inside. And fortunate for Stanford players, we can count as well so we usually have it all figured out.”

Even though his Stanford career is now over, Murphy clearly will take the rivalry with him to the NFL. And at the next level, there’s a chance he could be playing for the designer of that Oregon offense, Chip Kelly. Read more »

Senior Bowl Diary: Kelly, Coaches Get Involved

NCAA Football: Compass Bowl-Vanderbilt vs Houston

MOBILE, Ala. – For NFL scouting departments, preparing for the draft is a year-round job.

For coaching staffs, though, that’s not the case.

Eagles coaches had last week off, some time to relax and recharge after a long and promising season. This week they turned the page to the offseason. Chip Kelly and his staff are at the Senior Bowl watching practices, interviewing prospects and working off a list provided to them by Howie Roseman.

“You want to make sure that you’re putting in front of him [Kelly] players that fit what he’s looking for and that he can evaluate them as well,” Roseman said. “Our first job as a personnel department is to try and narrow it down. We spend a lot of time on 600 guys, making it down to 400, making it down to 200, making it down to a manageable number for our coaches. We do that, and there’s a lot of trust on their part of us doing that, making sure that when they come out here and go: ‘Hey why isn’t this guy on my list?’ We can explain it pretty quickly to them why we got rid of that guy and why we’ve narrowed it down.”
Read more »

Wake-Up Call: ‘I’d Never Seen Coach Kelly Cry’

Eagles Coach Chip Kelly Facing Field

MOBILE, Ala. – When Josh Huff saw Chip Kelly’s face, he knew something was up.

This was last January. Kelly had just decided to take the Eagles’ head-coaching job, but before the news leaked publicly, he wanted to address his players at Oregon.

“We were just about to start our winter workouts and he came in. I knew right then there was something going on because he’d never come into our winter workouts,” Huff said. “I could just see the look on his face and he was just distraught. But he came in, gathered us up and he was just saying he wanted the challenge in the NFL. And I couldn’t do nothing but thank him for what he’s done.”

The emotion was something Huff hadn’t previously witnessed from the coach he played under for three seasons.

“I’d never seen Coach Kelly cry up until that point,” he said. “When you see a man cry like that, that means he cares about that program, he cares about his players. And I care just as much about him as he cares about me.” Read more »

Senior Bowl Diary: The Weigh-In

MOBILE, Ala. – When the prospect hears his name called, he makes the slow walk from behind the curtain to the middle of the stage.

There stands a black backdrop with a Senior Bowl official waiting. The prospect is dressed in nothing but black Under Armour spandex shorts. He faces a room of hundreds in attendance – scouts, GMs, coaches, personnel people, media, etc. The official makes sure the prospect stands up straight, but doesn’t tilt his head up.

“6-0-0-5,” he announces.

Measurements are taken to the eighth-of-an-inch. This particular prospect is 6-0 5/8. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Cosell On Barkley, Wolff

Greg Cosell of NFL Films recently joined Doug Farrar’s Shutdown Corner podcast to review the drafts of all four NFC East teams.

Click here to listen to the podcast on iTunes. Eagles talk starts around the 35:25 mark.

Cosell talked about several of the Eagles’ rookies, including fourth-round pick Matt Barkley. During the pre-draft process, he questioned Barkley’s arm strength, but Cosell identified another issue with the Eagles’ rookie.

“A bigger concern I had with Barkley when I watched him on film… I did not think he had really quick feet,” Cosell said. “And that bothered me almost as much, if not more, than the fact that he doesn’t have a great arm. Everybody knows that. But I didn’t think he had really quick feet. And I think that that’s a hindrance because I think in this league, especially if you don’t have a big arm, you need to have explosive lower body movement, and I didn’t see that with Matt Barkley.”

Farrar also asked Cosell what his friend Ron Jaworski thought of Barkley.

“He didn’t think that highly of him,” Cosell said. “It’s the arm strength issue.”

Chip Kelly has said he’s not asking his quarterbacks to knock over milk cartons at the county fair. But Cosell pointed out arm strength isn’t as important in college as it is in the NFL, suggesting that’s something Kelly might have to learn on the job.

On the other side of the ball, Cosell said he really liked fifth-round pick Earl Wolff.

“I think this kid is a really intriguing player,” he said. “They used him near the line of scrimmage, they used him deep. I thought that he showed very good build-up speed in pursuit. I thought that he was a smart, aware player. I really, really liked this kid.

“I think this kid is a classic case of someone who by his second year will be an NFL starter, will be a good player, and he’ll play for years as a starter in the NFL as a safety.”

If Cosell is right with his assessment, Wolff might have a chance to earn serious playing time as a rookie.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Matt Barkley thinks he’s very much in the mix to be the starter.

Nick Foles too. “I’m not here to be a backup,” said the second-year quarterback.

General manager Howie Roseman explained that Michael Vick has known all along there would be a QB competition.

My 90-man, five-tiered analysis of the Eagles’ roster going into camp.

T-Mac has all your training camp details.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

In case you missed it over the weekend, great column by the Daily News’ Rich Hofmann on how Eagles training camp has evolved over the years:

The summer highlight was a trip to suburban Detroit, where the Eagles scrimmaged with the Lions for a few days before the first exhibition game. To say that Ryan was a boorish guest was to insult boors. He complained about the accommodations, and the towels, and his players started brawls with the Lions in practice. For his final act, Ryan never showed the Lions his 46 defense in practice, but then unfurled it in the game, along with a bunch of blitzes that just wrecked what was supposed to be a gentlemanly, vanilla preseason opener.

Derrick Gunn of Comcast SportsNet thinks Vick will end up winning the job:

I believe Vick will open the season under center, but because of either poor play or injury, he will be replaced with Foles by the halfway point of the season. And Foles could be on a short leash with Barkley in his shadow.

COMING UP

Rookies and select veterans practice this afternoon at 2:25. We’ll hear from Vick and Kelly.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Scout: Lane Johnson ‘Not Ready For Prime Time’

Not everyone is sold on Eagles first-round pick Lane Johnson.

In an NFL.com piece, Albert Breer writes that some around the league have their doubts about the Oklahoma offensive tackle:

While most evaluators see Johnson as a good system fit for Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly — because Kelly needs linemen who are in shape and can run — one scout working the Big 12 said Johnson is “not ready for prime time,” an opinion that is shared in some corners of the NFL. Proof comes in the form of the two teams drafting in the top dozen who shied away from Johnson after sniffing around the left-tackle market. The San Diego Chargers, for one, simply didn’t see it, considering Johnson too much of a projection to trade up for. The Miami Dolphins, on the other hand, did deal up with Johnson still on the board — and then simply went in another direction.

Of course, Chip Kelly fully admitted after the pick that Johnson is a “raw” prospect. The Eagles were impressed with his skill set and athleticism. Now it will be up to the coaching staff to help Johnson maximize his potential in the NFL.

It should go without saying that different scouts and evaluators are going to have different opinions on prospects. For example, here’s what one executive told Paul Domowitch of the Daily News about Johnson:

“It’s hard to find fault with this pick. We had him as the third guy on our board. He’s a really good athlete. He’s only played the position for a couple of years, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he plays or by his knowledge. We had him in for a visit and he was very impressive. Really smart. They can plug him in at right tackle now, and when (Jason) Peters eventually leaves, he can move over and replace him and they won’t miss a beat.

And finally, Bob McGinn’s pre-draft write-ups in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel are always must-read. A couple scouts had fairly positive things to say about Johnson, but one had his doubts:

“I think he’s a fraud,” a third scout said. “He can’t run block. I don’t think he plays strong. I don’t think he moves guys.”

The other factor here is that there were questions about many of the other prospects taken after Johnson (Ziggy Ansah, Tavon Austin, etc.).

It’s tough to find fault with the process. The Eagles spent months getting their draft board together and rating their top four prospects. The player they landed on was Johnson. We’ll know in a few years whether they were correct in expecting his upside to outweigh his question marks.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Weekend Reading: Eagles Are NFL’s ‘Biggest Mystery’

Rounding up links today for some Eagles weekend reading…

SI.com’s Don Banks hands out his offseason superlatives. He names the Eagles as his biggest mystery team:

With a minimum of eight new starters, a rookie NFL head coach, and someone other than Andy Reid calling the shots in Philly for the first time since Bill Clinton was in his second term, the Eagles have more unknowns than any team in the league. New is everywhere you look in Philadelphia — which is the newest development of all for a team that had led the league in stability for seemingly forever.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has the Eagles 23rd in his power rankings:

Philadelphia is yet another club that just completed an exemplary draft. Whether or not you’re on the Matt Barkley train, the fact this team got him at 98th overall is notable. Philadelphia filled needs all over the place with savvy picks, starting, of course, with offensive tackle Lane Johnson, who should step in and start immediately. Tight end Zach Ertz should get on the field plenty, whether he starts or not. Ditto Bennie Logan on the defensive line.

The 2013 draft is now in the rear-view mirror, which means it’s OK to talk about 2014 prospects. Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com put out a list of his top-50 prospects. His top-rated QB is Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater:

A tough-minded, intelligent passer, Bridgewater has the athleticism, arm strength and overall “feel” that NFL scouts look for in the position.

Bridgewater (6-3, 220) completed 68.5 percent of his passes last year for 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He’ll be a junior in 2013.

Another name to keep an eye on is Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (6-1, 225). Boyd is No. 4 on Josh Norris’ Rotoworld list of top senior prospects:

No one improved more between the 2011 and 2012 season than Boyd. Last year he was able to recognize and avoid pressure much more efficiently while making better decisions downfield. Boyd likely would have been my top QB in the 2013 Draft.

Boyd, a true dual-threat option, completed 67.2 percent of his attempts for 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also ran for 514 yards and 10 TDs.

And finally, there’s Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com takes a look at Manziel’s NFL potential and reveals that the QB has huge hands and has studied Michael Vick:

A&M quarterbacks coach Tom Rossley, who spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and served as Favre’s offensive coordinator in Green Bay, told Aggiesports.com, “[Manziel] has huge hands and I can’t tell you how important that is in the NFL. He has a quick release and is a lot more accurate than given credit for. I don’t see his size being a hindrance. He is bigger than Russell Wilson and bigger than Drew Brees. I think he can be better.”

Manziel has only played one year, but is eligible for the draft after 2013 because he red-shirted in 2011.

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