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.


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.


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.


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

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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 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.

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Weekend Reading: Eagles Are NFL’s ‘Biggest Mystery’

Rounding up links today for some Eagles weekend reading…’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 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 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 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, “[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.

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Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Here is another installment of three Eagles numbers that matter.

18 – The number Eagles third-round pick Bennie Logan wore at LSU. The significance?

“The number 18 is a great thing that is given to a player who displays great leadership on and off the field,” Logan said. “[Guys who have] great character, handle their business and go to class, don’t cause any problems or anything like that. It’s voted on by the coaching staff, the equipment staff and the training room staff. So if you have friends on the football team, they can’t vote for you because they like you. It’s strictly given to you by [the coaching staff].”

Little traditions like this are what make college football great.

I’m not the kind of guy who claims to really know athletes based on a series of 10-minute interviews, but by all accounts, Logan is the epitome of a high-character guy. Chip Kelly identified two of the Eagles’ picks as prospects who blew him away during Combine interviews: Logan and Matt Barkley.

“When you’ve got a guy in your room that’s going to provide that kind of leadership, it’s important,” LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis said, via “It’s important to help your young guys learn how to practice, and leadership is not just in the games. It’s every day. It’s every minute you’re on the field, and when you’ve got a guy like Bennie Logan in your room, he’s going to set the tempo.”

I’ve got to do some more homework on Logan to figure out where he fits in, but the Eagles have spots up for grabs on the defensive line. If he’s as impressive as those around him say he is, the rookie should get a chance to contribute in his first season.

And in case you were wondering, Logan will wear No. 96 with the Eagles

52.38 – Barkley’s completion percentage on deep balls (20 or more yards downfield) last season, as calculated by Second Round Stats. There’s a lot more to arm strength than just getting the ball downfield, but it’s still noteworthy that Barkley actually improved on these throws after completing just 40.63 percent of his attempts as a junior.

Overall, Barkley’s completion percentage dropped from 69.1 percent as a junior to 63.6 percent as a senior. Per Second Round Stats, the main reason was that he didn’t complete screens at the same rate. In 2011, Barkley completed 94.34 of his attempts at or behind the line of scrimmage. In 2012, that number was just 85 percent.

He also didn’t throw as many screens last year as some of the other top QB prospects. Geno Smith, for example, threw behind the line of scrimmage on 33.1 percent of his attempts. For Barkley, that number was just 17.5 percent.

44 – The number of times LeSean McCoy broke a tackle last year, according to Football Outsiders. That was tops in the league. McCoy led the NFL in this category in 2011 as well. The site defines broken tackles as the following: “Either the ballcarrier escapes from the grasp of the defender, or the defender is in good position for a tackle but the ballcarrier jukes him out of his shoes.”

In terms of percentages, McCoy broke a tackle on 17.3 percent of his touches, third-best in the league, behind Pittsburgh’s Isaac Redman (18.6 percent) and Atlanta’s Jacquizz Rodgers (17.7 percent).

Also worth noting is the player who finished ninth: Bryce Brown (13.3 percent).

Football Outsiders took a look at quarterbacks too. Michael Vick finished fourth with eight broken tackles, behind Cam Newton (21!), Russell Wilson (13) and Robert Griffin III (12). In terms of Houdinis, defined as plays where a quarterback escapes a sack, Vick had seven, behind only Newton (10) and Wilson (10).

And finally, as a team, the Eagles broke a tackle on 8 percent of their offensive plays, the highest mark in the league. That speaks to the elusiveness of their skill-position players, but also, the struggles of the offensive line.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Gamble’s Input ‘Really Valuable’

Chip Kelly wasn’t the only new face in the draft room for the Eagles this year.

In mid-February, the team brought Tom Gamble in as vice president of player personnel.

Asked about Gamble’s input, Kelly said, “It was really valuable. I knew Tommy from when he was with the 49ers because he was on our campus all the time at Oregon.”

“I’ve seen and had the chance to interact with Tom and talk to him about personnel and a lot of different things for the last six years. I go back to when Tommy was looking at kids when I was at New Hampshire. I’ve known Tom as a personnel guy in this league for a long time. When the opportunity for him to come on board came about, it wasn’t like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I was very familiar with him and very familiar with his work. I thought he was a great fit and we were fortunate to get him. His familiarity, not only with the Eagles, because he had been here before, but with Howie [Roseman] and also myself and some of the guys on our staff that knew him. If you’re a college football coach, you know who Tommy Gamble is because he has been on your campus looking at players for a long, long time. I think that familiarity helped with us getting along together.”

It’s been a period of dramatic change at the NovaCare Complex. As recently as the 2012 draft, Joe Banner was the Eagles’ president, and Andy Reid was the head coach.

Roseman is the most prominent name still remaining. Earlier this offseason, owner Jeffrey Lurie absolved the GM of any blame for the 2010 and 2011 drafts. Roseman will instead be judged on 2012 and 2013. He acknowledged that he’s never been a part of so much change since joining the Eagles 13 years ago.

“Definitely not. I’ve been here and we’ve had the same people here for a long time,” Roseman said. “You think about a year ago this time, who we had in the building and who we have in now, and it’s dramatic at every level. So I’d be disingenuous if I told you that I’ve been through it before and it was business as usual.

“But that’s what makes it so impressive about getting on the same page so quickly. And that’s not only with Coach and I. But it’s the personnel staff. We have a new video department. We have a lot of new things in this building. And it’s exciting for the future of this football team.”

Kelly, Roseman and Gamble. Working under Lurie, they’re the men in charge of setting the course for the new era of Eagles football.


T-Mac looks at the logic behind Kelly’s actions.

The NFL is looking into the Russel Shepard claims, Tim reports.

Breaking down the similarities and differences between the Lane Johnson pick and the Danny Watkins pick.


Paul Domowitch of the Daily News has an excellent piece up where he talks to a player personnel executive about the Eagles’ picks. Here’s what the source said about seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer:

This is a helluva value pick here. We had him as a late-five. Some teams I talked to had him higher than that. Speed was the obvious concern. Ran a 4.65. But he plays faster than that. Tight in the hips and doesn’t have great recovery speed. But he’s got really good hand-eye coordination. Had seven interceptions as a nickel last year, which is where he’s going to play at this level. Eventually, I could see him being moved to safety. He’s going to help them right away on special teams. He was a gunner on their punt coverage unit and also can return kicks. He needs to get a little stronger. He only did the 225-bench eight times. I know he’s a corner, but that’s still pretty bad.

Brian Solomon over at offers his take on the Matt Barkley pick:

If Barkley does win the starting job, the offense would certainly cater more around his strengths and the read-option would be relegated to a side show. But the one thing that’s tough for me to accept is that there was that much foresight in the selection of a fourth round player. To suggest that the Barkley pick — which Kelly himself admits he didn’t expect to make — speaks some broader truth about the planned direction of the offense may be reading too much into it.

Meanwhile, the 2013 edition of the Eagles cheerleaders swimsuit calendar will be photographed in New Jersey to support revitalization efforts of the shore after Hurricane Sandy. All net proceeds from the shoot will be donated to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, which has raised over $32 million from more than 22,900 donors. More details to come, but the shoot will take place between May 6 and May 9.


Still plenty to dissect from the draft.

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On the Lane Johnson/Danny Watkins Comparison

Eagles fans never forget.

Just last week, during ESPN’s 30 for 30, Elway To Marino, a reader Tweeted me, saying he threw his remote across the room when footage was shown of the Eagles selecting running back Michael Haddix with the No. 8 pick in 1983. A graphic scrolled across the screen during the film, explaining that Haddix had the lowest yards-per-carry average (3.0) in the history of the NFL.

To make matters worse, of the 20 players selected after Haddix in the first round that year, four went on to have Hall of Fame careers: Bruce Matthews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Darrell Green.

So when the Eagles used the No. 4 pick last week on Lane Johnson, some fans couldn’t help but take a stroll down memory lane and ask: Did the Birds just take another Danny Watkins?

There is one primary reason to compare the two: experience.

If we look just at offensive line experience, Watkins actually had more than Johnson entering the league. He played two years at Butte (Junior) College and then two more at Baylor. Johnson, on the other hand, has a total of two years – both at Oklahoma. He had never played offensive tackle before in his life.

But there’s a little more to it than that. Watkins had never played football until 2007 when he was 23-years-old. He was 26 when he was drafted and asked to move from tackle to guard. He turns 29 in November and faces an uncertain future with the team that took him 23rd overall.

I went back and looked at some of the things written about Watkins when the Eagles drafted him. While most believed he was a really good prospect, this line from’s scouting report stood out:

Raw football player that does not always recognize stunts and blitzes and can get caught out of position.

That’s a pretty good summation of his issues through two years in the NFL.

Johnson, meanwhile, turns 23 this month. He comes from a football town in East Texas. His stepdad coached at the high school level, and he’s been playing the game since he was a kid – just not always as an offensive lineman.

Johnson most notably played quarterback in high school and in junior college.

“When you’re a quarterback, you know where people are on the field,” Johnson said. “You know your protections and you know the defensive alignments. Now, playing tackle, it’s easier to see things and you have a greater appreciation for protecting the quarterback because I know how it feels to get sacked on your blind side when you obviously can’t see it.”

There’s also the issue of athleticism. Watkins was considered a good athlete, but Johnson is off the charts.

The site has a terrific graphic showing Johnson’s measurables compared to other offensive tackles. He’s in the 96th percentile or higher in the 40-yard dash, the 10-yard dash, the 3-cone drill, the vertical jump and the broad jump. Those things don’t always translate to the field, but clearly, there are tools to work with.

The Eagles were able to watch tape on Johnson at both right tackle (junior year) and left tackle (senior year). Chip Kelly is friendly with Bob Stoops and was able to speak to him “extensively” about Johnson’s makeup and work habits.

All of this is to say there are differences between Johnson and Watkins as prospects. But it’s fair to acknowledge that Johnson is no slam dunk. Kelly admitted as much when he called Johnson “raw” last week and talked about his upside. His stock rose significantly after the season (Senior Bowl, Combine, etc.).

Part of the selection had to do with who else was available. Guys like Ziggy Ansah, Barkevious Mingo and Tavon Austin have their own question marks.

The Eagles evaluated the talent available and went with the guy they graded the highest. Now it’s up to the coaching staff to draw the most out of him. There’s always the chance that Johnson fails to meet expectations, but from this perspective, the thought process seems sound.

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Three Draft Leftovers From Kelly, Roseman

Here are three leftovers from post-draft interviews with Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman.

1. Yesterday, we discussed Kelly’s position-specific measurables for draft prospects. But what else were the Eagles looking for in the players they drafted?

Well, for one, football smarts. By all accounts, Kelly’s offense will have a lot to do with making pre-snap adjustments at the line of scrimmage. That’s not only on the quarterback. Everybody will be expected to be on the same page.

“I think it’s a huge part of it,” Kelly said. “There’s a very cerebral part to this game that I don’t know if people sometimes give enough credit to. It’s about making good decisions. Dumb people do dumb things. Smart people rarely do dumb things.

“Part of the evaluation that goes along with how fast does someone runs a 40 or how fast does someone run a short shuttle or how strong is he, is the evaluation of them processing [information]. How do they make decisions? Can you count on them day in and day out? Are they dependable? And those are huge components to making decisions. It’s not just a stop-watch and a bench press. There’s so much more that goes into it. Trying to figure out the intangibles.”

Part of trying to figure those things out is the interview process. Kelly was able to use his relationships with college coaches, but he also got to interview prospects during private workouts, visits to the team facility and at the Combine.

In Indianapolis, he identified two players in particular – Matt Barkley and third-round pick Bennie Logan – as guys who just knocked the interview out of the park.

“I heard a guy [say], and I’m not taking credit for it, but when people fail or high draft picks fail, it’s one of two reasons. It’s either intelligence or intangibles,” Kelly said. “So we spend a lot of time in our evaluation on the intelligence and on the intangibles. We felt we had to hit on that. I hope these guys, they fit what we’re looking for.

“You do have to make great decisions, split-second decisions when you’re on the football field, so understanding how they can handle things, how they learn and do they understand the scheme is important to us.”

2. There’s also the matter of where the players came from. All eight draft picks played in four BCS conferences: four from the Pac-12, two from the Big 12, one from the SEC and one from the ACC. The truth is, if you look up and down draft boards, that’s what you’re going to find. According to Jon Solomon of, only 26 of the 254 players selected (or 10.2 percent) came from non-BCS schools.

Still, according to Roseman, the Eagles are pretty committed to sticking with big programs, for the most part.

“I believe strongly you have to get them where they make them,” he said. “It’s more of the exception that guys come from small schools and make it. I think as you study successful payers in this league, you’re looking at exception. And when you start to become a team of exceptions, you start to have a problem. And I think that is something that is a philosophy of ours and it’s important to us.”

Kelly said specifically that the SEC produces top-level defensive linemen, which sets the conference apart.

In the past two years, the Eagles have only selected one player (Vinny Curry, Marshall) from a non-BCS school.

3. A word of caution about over-using the term value in regards to draft choices. Bill Parcells had the famous line about being what your record says you are.

A similar rule applies to the draft. For example, the Eagles are drawing plenty of praise for grabbing Barkley and Jordan Poyer after they “slipped.” But what exactly does that mean?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have an issue with either pick. But think about it. In a QB-starved league, Barkley was passed over 97 times. With teams always needing cornerback help, Poyer was passed over 217 times.

So I asked Roseman: When you have a prospect high on your board, and he keeps falling, don’t you hesitate and think, maybe the 31 other teams know something you don’t know?

“I will now,” Roseman said with a laugh, not really answering the question. “I hadn’t really thought about it that way.”

But he’s not a dumb guy, so of course that thought has crossed his mind.

Teams spend several months putting together their draft boards. Countless hours of scouting, film study, meetings, the Senior Bowl, the Combine, Pro Days, private workouts, team visits, etc. By the time the draft rolls around, they have to have confidence with how their draft board is set up. There’s no time to second-guess evaluations once the selections are under way. That’s how you probably get into trouble.

But still, something to keep in mind the next time you hear that a prospect has slipped.

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No-22: What Zach Ertz Brings To the Eagles

Many of you have asked for All-22 breakdowns of the Eagles’ draft picks.

Unfortunately, the coaches’ tape is not available to the media or the public. So instead, we’ll use the TV footage from the great cut-ups that the fine folks of put together.

We’ll start with second-round pick Zach Ertz. I watched three of his games – against Cal, Notre Dame and Oregon. Below is what I saw.

It’s impossible to ignore the size of the 6-5, 249-pound tight end out of Stanford. On this play, he lines up in the slot to the right and finds a soft spot in the zone against Cal.

As you can see, a defender is closing in, but Ertz does a good job of making the catch and taking a big hit.

But that’s just where the fun begins. The defender can’t get Ertz down. In fact, Ertz knocks his helmet off, and the Cal player ends up on the ground while his teammates close in and finally make the tackle.

Lots to like about that kind of physicality from your tight end.

Pre-snap movement is going to be important with Ertz, and really, it figures to be important for the entire Eagles’ offense. You can see in this play that he starts off in the backfield before motioning to the right.

This looks like a run all the way. Stanford’s personnel is two running backs and three tight ends with no one split out wide. But instead, it’s play-action, and you can see how wide open Ertz is.

Off of the TV footage, I couldn’t tell exactly what happened with Cal’s defense, but clearly there was confusion or a blown coverage. Either way, a good example of how Ertz can be moved around, much like James Casey.

As you know, the tight end position has changed, and Ertz has the ability to play the “big receiver” role too. Here, he’s split out wide.

It’s a one-on-one matchup against a safety. There’s no help over the top. Ertz runs a post, creates separation and is wide open for the touchdown.

And it’s not as if he was going against some stiff. Josh Hill, the safety, also played some corner and some nickel for the Golden Bears. He was an honorable mention All-Pac 12 selection last season and recently signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals.

Ertz has been lauded for his route-running, and that’s what appeared to be the difference here.

This is the play Chip Kelly and Ertz talked about last week – a game-tying touchdown grab to force overtime last season against the Ducks.

What I like here is that Ertz doesn’t necessarily need to be open to make a play. He’s lined up one-on-one against cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (5-10, 190), a first-team All-Pac 12 performer last season.

This is a still shot when the ball’s in the air. It’s a classic 50-50 ball, with the corner all over Ertz.

But the tight end has a 7-inch height advantage and shows strong hands, coming down with the ball for the touchdown.

Speaking of strong hands, Ertz showed them here too. I counted a couple drops in the games I watched, but there were also several plays where he helped the quarterback out and made difficult catches, specifically on plays where he had to get low.

Here’s a shot from the game against Notre Dame.

Overall, Ertz brings size and length that has (for the most part) been missing from the Eagles’ offense. He does an excellent job of using that size when defenders are on his back on slants and other routes.

Ertz is capable of winning jump-balls and will likely draw his share of pass interference/holding penalties as safeties try to keep him in check. He doesn’t have elite speed, but does a good job of using his athleticism.

There are inconsistencies in Ertz’s run blocking. At times, he did an excellent job. In other instances, not so much. But when you talk to people around the league, they’ll tell you that very few tight ends grade out as above-average blockers coming out of college. The potential is there with Ertz. It’ll just be the coaches’ jobs to draw it out of him.

Kelly has said all along that he doesn’t want one-dimensional players. Ertz has the ability to line up in a variety of spots and can create mismatches with pre-snap movement. He’s another movable chess piece for Kelly to work with.

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Vick, Foles And Barkley: Assessing the QB Situation

There are a lot of questions about what’s going on with Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ QB situation, especially after the team spent a fourth-round pick on Matt Barkley over the weekend.

So here’s my attempt to make sense of it all (or at least some of it). Let’s go player-by-player, starting with the new guy.


I was as surprised as anyone that the Eagles moved up a few spots in the fourth round and took Barkley. To be honest, when I was doing my draft prep, I thought there was no chance of him landing in Philly.

But I was wrong (hey, it happens).

It’s important to look at where Barkley was drafted. Some are running with the storyline that the Eagles have found their quarterback of the future, arguing that the selection will greatly affect the moves they make going forward. But in reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Take a look around the league at the other 31 projected starting quarterbacks – 23 were first-round picks, and three were second-rounders. Only five – Matt Schaub (third round), Russell Wilson (third round), Tom Brady (sixth round), Matt Flynn (seventh round) and Tony Romo (undrafted) – were taken after the second round.

If you make the qualifier the fourth round (when Barkley was taken) or later, you’re left with three QBs – Brady, Flynn and Romo.

Let’s look at it a different way. From 2008 to 2012, 38 quarterbacks were taken in the third round or later. Forget performance. Guess how many have even started more than eight games? Three: Colt McCoy, John Skelton and Wilson. In the last five years, only one quarterback (Skelton) taken in the fourth round or later has started more than eight games.

So, what’s my point? The Eagles did not take Barkley with the expectation that he would become their quarterback of the future. They saw value with him in the fourth round, and they pulled the trigger. I have no problem with that. Perhaps he’ll end up surprising like Schaub, Wilson, Brady or Romo. After all, at one point, Barkley was thought to have first-round tools.

But that’s not the expectation. The truth is that, given where he was selected, if Barkley gives the Eagles a bunch of good years as a backup, the pick should be considered a successful one.

This was not about the Eagles finding their QB of the future. This was about giving themselves options. They don’t have a clear No. 1 QB on their roster. Maybe Michael Vick will be a better fit in Kelly’s system. Maybe Nick Foles will show improvement with a better offensive line. Maybe Barkley will surprise and prove to be the QB many thought he was after the 2012 season.

But the other scenario is that none of the above happens, and the Eagles find themselves in a similar situation next offseason, looking to draft a quarterback in the first or second round.


Foles should have been happy when he heard about the Barkley selection.

All offseason, Kelly and Howie Roseman have said the team’s plan was to see what it had in Foles. And that message was not just for public consumption. It was communicated privately to Foles’ camp and to other teams that might have had interest in trading for him.

Maybe Foles believed them all along and was comfortable with his standing on the team. But if it were me, I would have had some doubt in the back of my mind after the Eagles decided to bring Vick back. The Barkley pick, though, showed Kelly is willing to have some flexibility when it comes to the quarterback position. The Eagles spent a fourth-round pick on a QB with limited mobility. That means they’re open to giving Foles a shot.

Sure, you can say he now has more competition, and that’s true. But if Foles doesn’t think he can beat out Barkley, then that’s on him. This was about getting a fair shake. And by all accounts, Foles is going to have a chance to earn the starting nod this offseason.


The idea that the Barkley pick means Vick will be cut is silly. For starters, the Eagles have already paid him $3.5 million when they didn’t have to. They could have been off the hook completely and just cut him earlier this offseason. Vick is now due an additional base salary of $3.5 million that will be paid throughout the course of the season. There’s really no reason to cut him now.

The other factor that can’t be overlooked is he’s the only QB out of the three listed here who can run the read-option. While Kelly’s actions show that he’s willing to go with a quarterback who can’t run, he certainly is not opposed to having one who has the ability to make plays with his feet. That’s assuming, of course, that Vick proves capable in other areas like accuracy and decision-making.

Chris Brown of Grantland wrote a piece on Kelly and the Eagles’ offense yesterday. Here’s a point that relates to Vick:

But this line of thinking still has to be tempered with a bit of realism. Kelly is clearly bright, committed, and open-minded, but the idea that he can step into the NFL and run any offense — spread, pro-style, West Coast, Coryell, Wing-T — seems implausible. He shredded college football running a very specific attack based on very specific principles, and the mathematical advantage he gained from having his quarterback be at least some kind of a threat to run was a central tenet. He might be able to adapt his offense to his players and coaches, but this is not the same thing as continuing and growing what worked at Oregon.

We don’t know exactly what kind of offense Kelly is going to run. We know that the Eagles are going to run no-huddle and push tempo. We know that they’re going to rely on a running game and athletic offensive linemen. But beyond those things, scheme will very much depend on personnel, and more specifically, the quarterback. Remember, Kelly has had a total of three practices so far. He’s nowhere close to making any final decisions.

Also remember that Vick only signed a one-year deal. All along, he seemed like a “band-aid” option until Kelly found his quarterback of the future. The drafting of Barkley does not change that.

Vick will have his chance to win the starting job, but he won’t be handed anything.

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