Eagles Add LB Goode, Release Acho

The Eagles made another roster move this afternoon, claiming linebacker Najee Goode off waivers from the Bucs and releasing Emmanuel Acho.

Goode (6-0, 244) was a fifth-round pick by Tampa in 2012. He was active for three games as a rookie, but only played three defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He ran a 4.64 at the Combine and had a 35-inch vertical leap. You can see how those numbers stacked up to other linebackers right here.

Goode started at middle linebacker in the Bucs’ preseason finale and had a pick-six.

The West Virginia product had 87 tackles (14 for loss), five sacks and an interception as a senior. He earned All-Big East first-team honors in 2011 and played all three linebacker positions for the Mountaineers.

Here’s a snippet from NFL.com on Goode as a draft prospect:

Goode is a bit of a tweener in that he bounced from inside to outside linebacker in his career at West Virginia. NFL teams will face the same dilemma West Virginia did when deciding where to play him. He played outside for much of his career, serving as the flow tackler for a defense that featured classmate Bruce Irvin at outside linebacker. Goode had a solid year working from the inside and can clash with top offensive linemen. He has 3-4 and 4-3 base defense versatility as well, which makes him a late-round prospect.

Acho had an excellent preseason, and Chip Kelly raved about his smarts after the finale against the Jets. Also of note is that the Eagles decided to keep Casey Matthews instead of Acho. Matthews has not shown anything on the defensive side of the ball, but did have 14 special-teams tackles last year, second on the team to only Akeem Jordan.

Overall, the Eagles have five inside linebackers on the roster: Goode, Matthews, undrafted free agent Jake Knott, along with starters DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks.

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Ten Takeaways From Howie Roseman

Vinny CurryYesterday, we took a look at what Howie Roseman had to say about Danny Watkins. But the Eagles’ GM touched on a variety of other topics during a session with reporters at the NovaCare Complex.

Here are 10 items that stood out.

1. The Eagles only have three outside linebackers on the roster: Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. Barwin is the only true 3-4 OLB among that group. Chip Kelly and Roseman parted ways with Chris McCoy, Everette Brown and Travis Long. When asked for his thoughts on the Eagles’ depth at that spot, Roseman provided an interesting response.

“We look at a guy like Vinny Curry, and you talk about a guy who can rush the passer,” Roseman said. “If he stood up, he can set the edge. He can do some of the things that the outside linebacker does.”

Curry bulked up in the offseason and has been practicing all summer at defensive end.

“And then when you talk about a Casey Matthews possibly if you got in a bind in a game, he could play outside,” Roseman said. “When Chip talked about the versatility of the back of the roster, we didn’t want to duplicate a lot of skills. So that’s what made some of the choices at the back of the roster, maybe some guys who played well in the preseason but maybe they were duplicating the skills that some of the guys we had. Did it make sense to keep them or try to find guys that did some different things?”

The guess here is that the Eagles will be looking for outside linebacker help from other teams.

2. I mentioned Cole above. Roseman might have offered a hint about how the veteran will be used in the regular season.

“A lot of times, what you see in preseason is working on not only the things they do well, but also the weaknesses to get a sense of what guys can really do,” he said. “As you know, things change during the regular season.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Cole was on the field for 41 passing downs in the preseason, and he dropped back into coverage 39 percent of the time. Given that he didn’t exactly look comfortable doing so, perhaps Roseman is suggesting Cole will be more of a pass-rusher in the regular season. We’ll find out shortly.

3. As for the roster overall, expect the team to be active in the next few days.

“We’ll continue to look for ways to upgrade this team,” Roseman said. “So, as we sit here, it’s a constant evaluation. It’s a constant evaluation of the back of the roster. If we have opportunities to continue to add some young players that we think will help our team, if we get that opportunity, we’re gonna look at it.

“We’re prepared. We have a draft board set up. We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on guys that we thought would be on the bubble. And so we’ve just gotta see who’s really out there.”

4. One area to keep an eye on is cornerback. The Eagles went heavy with six: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes and Jordan Poyer.

“You want to put your coach in position to win games here in the early part of the year,” Roseman said. “You’ve got a couple guys who are coming back from some injuries and haven’t played in a little bit. And then you talked about Poyer. And Poyer was affected by not having the offseason. You saw that he kept coming on, not only in games, but in practice. He’s instinctive, he’s tough, he’s physical, he’s got size to him. So we just felt like he was a guy we wanted to grow with and have here. Obviously, you look at the numbers there and you see six corners and there’s some uncertainty just because you’ve got to have availability at that spot.”

Marsh and Hughes both suffered hand injuries in the preseason, but Roseman said they’re “not long-term injuries at all.” He indicated that the team expects both guys back “shortly.”

5. The Eagles have nine players on the roster left from the 2010 and 2011 drafts: Curtis Marsh, Casey Matthews, Alex Henery, Julian Vandervelde, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, Nate Allen, Riley Cooper and Kurt Coleman.

The projected starters from that group are Kelce, possibly Allen and Cooper, who is only filling in because Jeremy Maclin went down.

Asked if those two drafts set the franchise back, Roseman said: “I think that’s probably a fair question. When you have drafts that don’t work out, you’ve gotta find those players somewhere else. Like I said when we started this, the big part taking from that is that we are forced to look and figure out the ways to do things and the way we have done things over a long period of time, and then where our team was and evolve from that. And I think that’s the positive to be taken out of it.”

6. The Eagles provided a bit of a surprise at wide receiver, cutting Russell Shepard and Greg Salas, while keeping Jeff Maehl.

“Tough decisions at the wide receiver spot,” Roseman said. “When we traded for Jeff, we knew that he was a guy who could play inside or out. He was a safety in high school when Coach recruited him. And so you knew that he would bring something to special teams as well.

“And then when you talk about the roster, I think it’s an evolving process too. How it looks today, to tell you that it’s gonna look like that in Week 10, we’re gonna be constantly on the lookout. We’re trying to build this team, and we’re trying to get players that we think can be here for a long time. We’re open to things that we think could make us better.”

Translation: Maehl might not be here in a few days. The Eagles could add a back-of-the-roster wide receiver from another team.

7. While there was plenty of talk about the 2010 and 2011 drafts, Roseman did suggest that he thinks the Eagles found some good core players in 2012, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.

“When you talk about Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks, I don’t see any reason why those guys shouldn’t be big-time players in this league,” he said. “Between what’s in their body, physically, you’re talking about guys who have the traits to do it. And then they work really hard. And then there’s nothing I’ve seen out here or on the field during games that says they shouldn’t take this step from first- or second-year guys to really be core members of our defense for a long time.”

8. The Eagles have three undrafted free agents from this class on the roster: offensive lineman Matt Tobin, defensive lineman Damion Square and linebacker Jake Knott.

Roseman said it was evident as soon as the pads went on that Square was a violent technician who had a good chance to stick.

He also praised Tobin’s versatility.

“He’s probably a four-position backup if you put him on gameday active,” Roseman said. “And I’m not so sure that he couldn’t play center too.”

He added that Knott would have definitely been drafted if not for the shoulder problems.

“You go through the draft-day decisions and Jake was a guy that we were really considering taking in all three of those seventh-round picks,” Roseman said. “We feel very fortunate to get him. His character and football intelligence, he’s a good player.”

9. The Eagles went with Emil Igwenagu over Clay Harbor for the final tight end spot. The reason?

“We were looking for different skill sets in the back of the roster,” Roseman said. “So some of the conversations we had about the fourth outside linebacker applies at this moment to the tight end spot. And we didn’t feel like there was another guy on the roster who was as good as a point of attack blocker. He’s a physical guy. We also felt like those other three guys were good receiving threats.”

10. Roseman made a good point about why it’s tough to trade near the cut-down deadline.

“The problem is it’s very rare to find someone to offer you a player and to not think that player’s gonna get cut,” he said. “When you’re in March and April, you know that there’s a long time so people are gonna hang on to them and maybe they’re telling the truth: ‘Hey, I’ll hang on to him if I don’t get what I’m looking for.’ But this time of the year, everyone’s basically calling each other’s bluff.”

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Roster Analysis: Evaluating the Eagles’ Defense

Jordan PoyerIf you missed the offense, click here.

Now for the position-by-position look at what the Eagles’ defense looks like after initial cuts to 53.

Defensive line (7): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Clifton Geathers, Damion Square, Vinny Curry.

Chip Kelly has indicated that the plan will likely be to keep six defensive linemen active on gamedays and rotate them in. Cox (RDE), Sopoaga (NT) and Thornton (LDE) figure to be the starters. If Logan performs like he did in the preseason, he’ll be pushing for major snaps from the get-go.

Curry might have been the Eagles’ best defensive player in the preseason, but no one in the organization has indicated that he will have a major role in his second season. This is just a situation where we have to wait and see what happens in Week 1. That will tell us what the coaches really think of Curry.

Either Square or Geathers will likely be a gameday inactive. Square, an undrafted free agent, beat out seventh-round pick David King. Both Square and Geathers took snaps at defensive end and nose tackle in the spring.

Outside linebacker (3): Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham.

Assuming he’s healthy and well-conditioned, Barwin’s not going to get many snaps off this season. He’s the only true 3-4 outside linebacker on the roster.

If the preseason was any indication, Cole will start at ROLB, and Graham will rotate in. The Eagles got rid of every other outside linebacker on the roster, including Chris McCoy, whom many (present company included) thought had a good shot to make it.

Howie Roseman was asked about depth here and said Curry could play outside linebacker in a pinch. He mentioned Casey Matthews’ name too. Obviously, those are not ideal options, so don’t be surprised if the Eagles add a player here in the coming days.

Inside linebacker (5): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho, Casey Matthews.

Ryans and Kendricks are the unquestioned starters and will rarely come off the field.

It will be interesting to see who’s active on gamedays from this group. Acho might be the best backup option should Ryans or Kendricks go down. Matthews didn’t seem to show much progress defensively in the preseason, but he had 14 special-teams tackles a year ago, second on the team.

And Knott is a bit of a wild card. The coaching staff and organization seem to love the undrafted free agent out of Iowa State. But they’ll have to determine if he’s ready to dress on gamedays from the get-go.

Cornerback (6): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes, Jordan Poyer.

I guess the Eagles were going for strength in numbers. The secondary is a giant question mark, but the team currently has 11 defensive backs on the roster.

Williams and Fletcher figure to start, with Boykin serving as the nickel. Marsh and Hughes both have hand injuries, but Roseman indicated neither is expected to be out for a considerable amount of time.

Poyer missed much of the spring because of NCAA rules, but came on late in camp, and the Eagles didn’t want to give up on the seventh-round pick.

Don’t be surprised if the team shakes things up here if other cornerback options become available.

Safeties (5): Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman.

Chung has one starting spot locked down. The other will be occupied by either Allen or Wolff.

Anderson is an ace special-teamer and will be active on gamedays. Chip Kelly raved about Coleman after the final preseason game.

Once again, not an ideal set of options, but the Eagles will try to piece something together at safety with these five guys.

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Ten Eagles On the Roster Bubble

Danny WatkinsBy 6 p.m. Saturday, the Eagles have to cut 22 players and get their roster down to 53. Many of the bubble guys will get a chance to make one final impression Thursday night, as Chip Kelly acknowledged there’s still “a lot up in the air.”

New offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaching staff and new personnel. Kelly’s moves this weekend will tell us a lot about his roster-building philosophy. Keeping that in mind, here are 10 players whose future with the franchise hangs in the balance as we approach cut-down day.

1. Danny Watkins, OG – The 2011 first-round pick got a fresh start with new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, but it doesn’t seem like he’s made a strong impression. Watkins is currently a backup guard and has been passed on the depth chart by veteran Allen Barbre. Kelly wants versatility in his backups, but so far, Watkins has only played guard. As T-Mac reported yesterday, Watkins is due $1.1M in guaranteed money. But with Barbre looking like a keeper and the team needing a backup center, Watkins, who turns 29 in November, could still be out of a spot.

2. Michael Bamiro, OT – The Eagles had to compete with other teams to sign Bamiro earlier this summer. Some reports suggested he would have been a mid-round pick had he entered the draft. The question the Birds have to weigh is whether or not they’d be safe stashing Bamiro on the practice squad. The Eagles have some tackle depth. Barbre can play out there, and Todd Herremans could slide over in a pinch. The team also expects Dennis Kelly to return from back surgery at some point. Bamiro might be a nice option for the bottom of the roster. He would likely be a weekly inactive, but has plenty of upside for down the road.

3. Julian Vandervelde, G/C – It’s been a bumpy journey for the 2011 fifth-round pick. He spent his rookie season on the active roster, was cut last summer, spent a couple days with the Tampa Bay Bucs and then returned to the Eagles. He entered the league as a guard, but has been learning the center position the past two years. If the preseason is any indication, he has a good shot of sticking around as Jason Kelce’s backup. The Eagles’ other options for that spot are Dallas Reynolds and Matt Tennant.

4. Greg Salas, WR - The Eagles didn’t make any moves to add receivers after Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn went down with season-ending ACL injuries. Salas had an excellent camp and flashed during the first two preseason games. He could be competing with Russell Shepard for the fifth receiver spot. Or the Eagles could decide to keep them both.

5. Russell Shepard, WR – He showed some good YAC ability during last week’s game, catching two balls for 38 yards. With Shepard, there is once again the practice squad question. There’s no doubt that the Eagles like his talent, but he went undrafted and could probably use some seasoning before he’s ready to contribute. Special teams is a factor here too. Shepard looks like a willing contributor and made a nice tackle in coverage against Carolina.

6. Clay Harbor, TE/WR - Kelly has been trying to find a spot for the fourth-year tight end. He’s been getting reps at wide receiver and has played there each of the last two preseason games. The truth is, when then Eagles spread it out in Kelly’s offense, there’s often not much of a difference between a wide receiver and a tight end. Kelly prides himself on being prepared for every situation. Harbor’s versatility could be enough to make him stick.

7. Chris McCoy, OLB – The CFL product started off the preseason well, but was not good last week against the Jaguars. The Eagles are somewhat thin at the position. Kelly said ideally, the team would keep four outside linebackers. They’ve got Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham as virtual locks. This one will likely come down to who else is available. McCoy could be an initial keeper, but if the Eagles see an outside linebacker they like cut from another team, he could be released.

8. Casey Matthews, ILB – Kelly said he’d like to keep four inside linebackers also. The starters are in place with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Matthews, Jake Knott and Emmanuel Acho are competing for spots. Knott is probably the favorite among that group. What we wrote about McCoy could apply here too. The Eagles could add an inside linebacker from another team’s cut list. But Matthews’ special-teams production (14 tackles last year) could help him earn a spot.

9. Clifton Geathers/Damion Square, DL – I cheated a bit here and included these two together. And really, they could both end up making it. The plan for the Eagles on gamedays seems to be to rotate six players on the defensive line. Right now, the five most likely are: Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry. The sixth could be either Geathers or Square, with the other as a potential inactive. Square drew praise early in the preseason, but did not play well last week. Geathers had his best performance against Jacksonville. Both have played nose tackle, along with defensive end.

10. Kurt Coleman, S – The fourth-year player’s chances of making the roster increased when the Eagles released Kenny Phillips. But he’s still no lock to make it. Coleman hasn’t rotated in with the starters much, and the decision on whether to keep him or not will likely depend on if Kelly is comfortable keeping five safeties. Patrick Chung, Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff seem like locks. Colt Anderson has an excellent shot of sticking because of his special-teams ability. That means Coleman could be the odd man out.

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Eagles Lose LB Jason Phillips, Add Travis Long

Eagles linebacker Jason Phillips went down today with a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the 2013 season.

The 27-year-old was added as a free agent this offseason, in large part for his special-teams prowess. Phillips led the Carolina Panthers last year with 16 special-teams tackles. Today’s injury occurred during a kickoff coverage drill.

Phillips figured to add depth behind DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks, but the Eagles will now have to look elsewhere for that.

The options on the roster are: Jamar Chaney, Casey MatthewsEmmanuel Acho and Jake Knott.

Matthews had 14 special-teams tackles last year and played for Kelly at Oregon. Chaney has experience (23 starts), but he’s squarely on the roster bubble.

Acho was acquired from the Browns in the Dion Lewis trade. He’s mixed in with the twos a little bit this week.

And Knott is a sleeper to watch. An undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, he has a legitimate shot of making the team with a strong camp and preseason.

Update: The Eagles have placed Phillips on injured reserve and added outside linebacker Travis Long. Long (6-4, 245) is an undrafted free agent out of Washington State.

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Eagles Depth Chart Outlook: Inside Linebackers

Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal KendricksThis is the third in a series. Throughout the next week or two, we’ll take a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ roster. Click here for yesterday’s piece on the cornerbacks and here for a breakdown of the safeties.

Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times Picayune provided a league-wide breakdown earlier this offseason to see how many teams used a 3-4 in 2012.

He found there were a total of 14 that ran a 3-4 or some kind of hybrid.

With the Eagles making the switch in 2013, it’s worth looking at the way those 3-4 teams constructed their rosters. And in the case of today’s post, how many linebackers they kept.

I took a look at all 14 rosters after initial cuts last summer and found that, on average, 3-4 teams kept 8.1 linebackers. The numbers ranged from as few as six (more “hybrid” teams) to as many as 10.

Today, we’ll tackle the Eagles’ inside linebackers and we’ll examine the outside LBs in the next post.

DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks should hold down the starting jobs. But there are certainly depth spots up for grabs.

The team signed Jason Phillips in free agency. They also traded for Emmanuel Acho and have Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews returning from last year’s squad. The Eagles didn’t use a draft pick on an inside linebacker, but they did sign undrafted free agent Jake Knott out of Iowa State.

Here’s a look at the inside linebackers on the roster:

 
Height
Weight
Age
Years/Starts
Emmanuel Acho6-2240221/0
Jamar Chaney6-0242263/23
Mychal Kendricks6-0240221/14
Jake Knott6-2243220/0
Casey Matthews6-1240242/4
Jason Phillips6-1240274/2
DeMeco Ryans6-1247287/102

Pencil ‘em in: Ryans, Kendricks.

In 2012, the secondary was a mess, and the defensive line never got its act together. But Ryans quietly had a very productive year and brought stability to the middle of the Eagles’ defense. According to team stats, he finished with 115 solo tackles and 16 tackles for loss. No Eagles player under Andy Reid (14 years) had a higher total in either category.

Ryans wasn’t perfect. He had some issues in coverage, and even against the run later in the year. But overall, he was really good, playing 1,014 out of a possible 1,015 snaps in the Eagles’ final 15 games, according to Pro Football Focus. There are questions about how Ryans fits in a 3-4, but as I wrote earlier this offseason, I think he’s going to be just fine.

Kendricks isn’t the biggest guy and at times has trouble getting off blocks. But my guess is Chip Kelly and Billy Davis will appreciate what they have in him. The second-year player has a versatile skill set, with the ability to play the run and, more importantly, cover. In other words, he’s not someone you have to worry about taking off the field in sub packages, giving the Eagles an advantage when opposing offenses push tempo. The new scheme could play to Kendricks’ strength and allow him to run free and attack the ball-carrier.

Barring injury, it would be a slight upset if Ryans and Kendricks aren’t the team’s starting inside linebackers to start the season.

Fighting for spots: Phillips, Matthews, Chaney, Knott, Acho.

There are plenty of things to take into consideration here: depth, upside and special teams.

Phillips is a player the Eagles targeted and signed in free agency. He led the Panthers with 16 special-teams tackles last year. There’s still plenty of time between now and the start of the season, but he would seem to have a good shot of making the 53-man roster.

Matthews obviously has a history with Kelly from his days at Oregon, but more importantly, he showed some special-teams chops last year. Matthews finished fourth on the team in special-teams points, behind Colt Anderson, Alex Henery and Akeem Jordan. His 14 special-teams tackles were second to only Jordan. However, he hasn’t shown much as a backup linebacker on defense.

Chaney has the most experience on defense out of this group. He provides versatility, but has not been productive. He’ll have to find some way to impress the coaches this offseason to earn a spot.

Knott is a player to watch. He has good size (6-2, 243) and was a productive college player, earning All-Big 12 honors as a senior. He has dealt with a shoulder injury, but played special teams in college and has a chance to stick.

Not a lot to go by with Acho. He didn’t see any game action last year, and the Eagles acquired him from Cleveland in the Dion Lewis trade.

We don’t know how many inside linebackers the Eagles plan on keeping. If the number is four, the five players in this group will be fighting for two spots. And it’s not out of the question that the Eagles add a player or two in the coming months. Either way, there will be plenty of competition and jobs to be won or lost between now and the start of the season.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Casey Matthews Feeling Chipper

Casey Matthews cut off his locks and is sporting a fresh new look. Time to change things up, he said.

That has pretty much been the mantra of the Eagles this offseason. The organization — the city — is dizzy with all the alterations Chip Kelly is making. What is foreign to most, though, feels quite familiar to the former Duck linebacker.

“Practices are the exact same from college. Up-tempo, fast, music playing,” said Matthews. “Meetings — pretty much everything — all the way to nutrition, and coming off and getting the smoothies and snacks. It worked for him there, so why can’t it work here?”

Matthews didn’t have any inside scoop on the Kelly hire despite his Oregon ties. ESPN was on in the background while he was working out back on January 16 (which happens to be his birthday) when the news broke. He got a call from Kelly that weekend. The coach told him that he would be running things similarly to the way he did at Oregon, and that he was bringing the up-tempo pace with him.

“I thought he was going to have to adjust just a little bit, just because you are dealing with NFL players who are older, but he has a specific way he wants things done,” said Matthews. “He put a lot of research behind everything he does. He has the sleep monitors to tell us how long we have been asleep. We’ve got the heart-rate monitors, too, just stuff like that.”

Matthews added that the defensive scheme has been “tweaked” but there seems to be some similarities to what he played in at Oregon.

His teammates have had plenty of questions for him, anxious to know about Kelly and his unique style.

“Shady has been asking me the most,” Matthews noted with a smile.

For a player facing an uncertain future in Philadelphia, this is probably the best-case scenario. Matthews gets his old coach, and knows what to expect where others do not. But that will only take him so far.

“I’m sure it can’t hurt having your college coach but you have to put in the work and learn the scheme,” he said. “He’s not going to play favorites.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil breaks down the 2013 Eagles schedule. He has the Birds going 14-2.

LeSean McCoy says Kelly’s offense “is like a freaking track meet.”

In the latest Twitter Mailbag, we talk Dion Jordan, tackles and trade scenarios.

Kapadia checks in on the state of the offensive line.

A hungry Vinny Curry gets a shot at defensive end.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has released his top 50 prospects in this year’s draft. His top five, in order: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei and Jordan. On Lotulelei:

 Lotulelei seems to have been given a clean bill of health following a scare at the NFL Scouting Combine. Many have compared him to Haloti Ngata, but I actually think he is a poor man’s Ndamukong Suh. He can play in either scheme, but he’s best suited to play DE in the 3-4.

Jason La Canfora doesn’t seem to have the same tackle ranking as most.

There is going to be an early run on tackles — Joeckel, Fisher and rising tackle D.J. Fluker, who I continue to hear the Cardinals are high on — are all likely to go in the first seven picks. While some teams are down on Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson, enough feel he is relatively safe that I expect him to go in the first half of the first round.

This is what one agent told LaCanfora:

“This is the weirdest draft I’ve ever been a part of. We looked at those initial grades and seven of the top 10 grades went to linemen. There were literally no skill players. I’ve never seen anything like it. We have no idea how it will play out next week. I don’t think anyone does.”

COMING UP

EJ Manuel checks in with his latest draft diary entry, plus much more draft coverage.

What’s Left From the McNabb And Kolb Trades?

As recently as last offseason, it looked like the assets acquired in the Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb trades would play a major role in re-shaping the Eagles’ defense.

But looking ahead to 2013, that probably won’t end up being the case.

It was three years ago on Easter Sunday that the Birds shipped McNabb to the Redskins in exchange for a second-round pick in 2010, along with a conditional third- or fourth-rounder in 2011.

With the second-round pick (37th overall), the Eagles selected safety Nate Allen, who has been a disappointment in his first three seasons. At the end of last year, Allen was benched in favor of Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson. The Eagles added Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips in the offseason. And they very well could draft a safety later this month, meaning Allen will be competing for a roster spot.

The other pick from the McNabb trade ended up being a fourth-rounder (No. 104 overall) in 2011. But the Eagles traded that selection to the Bucs (who took tight end Luke Stocker). In exchange, the Birds moved down 12 spots and selected linebacker Casey Matthews. They also received a fourth-round draft choice in 2012 from Tampa.

The Eagles started Matthews at middle linebacker as a rookie, moved him to SAM, benched him and then got him back into the rotation at the end of the year. In 2012, he was a complete non-factor on defense, playing 45 total snaps, per Pro Football Focus. Matthews did have 14 special-teams tackles (second on the team). He too will be fighting for a roster spot.

As for the 2012 fourth-rounder from Tampa, the Eagles used that pick as part of the package to land DeMeco Ryans. The two teams also swapped third-round picks (Nos. 76 and 88).

So overall, the Eagles used compensation from the McNabb trade for Allen, Matthews and to a large degree, Ryans.

Kolb, meanwhile, recently signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Bills, his third team in four seasons. When the Eagles dealt him to the Cardinals, they got cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick in return. Rodgers-Cromartie is gone after two disappointing seasons, having signed with the Broncos as a free agent.

The Eagles ended up trading the second-round pick from the Kolb deal, moving down eight spots and selecting Vinny Curry. They also got a fourth-rounder from the Packers and took Brandon Boykin. Curry barely played in 2012 (89 snaps), and the Eagles will have to figure out where he fits in Billy Davis’ new defense.

Boykin looks like he’ll be a solid option as a nickel corner, and there’s a chance he could get a shot to play outside.

So overall for Kolb, they landed Rodgers-Cromartie, Curry and Boykin.

The question now is: Which of the players the Eagles landed for the two QBs figure into the team’s plans going forward?

As we mentioned above, Allen and Matthews will be fighting for roster spots. Curry is an unknown, given his limited action as a rookie and scheme fit. Ryans is a key piece, who played really well in 2012. And Boykin figures to be a solid contributor as well.

In other words, the Eagles basically got two starters on defense (when you consider how much they play nickel) for the two quarterbacks.

No one would argue that the Birds got the short end of either of the two trades – especially when you consider that McNabb threw 18 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his post-Eagles career, while Kolb started just 14 games for the Cardinals.

We won’t know the true results from the deals until we see if Curry, Allen and Matthews can contribute in the coming seasons. But clearly, Andy Reid, Howie Roseman and company could have done more with the compensation the team received in return.

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Eagles Snap Counts: Washburn’s Final Rotation

Here’s a look at Eagles snap counts from Sunday night’s loss to the Cowboys. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Bryce Brown5689%
Stanley Havili58%
Dion Lewis58%

There’s no easing Bryce Brown in at running back. Andy Reid is taking advantage of those fresh legs as the rookie played 89 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Of course, Brown’s costly fumble came in the fourth quarter, and Reid said focusing on ball security becomes more difficult when a player is tired.

Even with LeSean McCoy out, Dion Lewis only played five snaps. And the Eagles ran mostly out of single-back sets as Stanley Havili also played five snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin6197%
Riley Cooper6298%
Jason Avant5181%
Damaris Johnson58%
Brent Celek5587%
Clay Harbor1524%

Riley Cooper got the start and played all but one snap. He made a great play on a 15-yard touchdown and also caught a slant for 16 yards early on.

Clay Harbor played 15 snaps and was a non-factor. Damaris Johnson played just five snaps on offense, but had the 98-yard punt return for a touchdown.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole4468%
Cullen Jenkins3757%
Mike Patterson3655%
Brandon Graham3148%
Cedric Thornton2945%
Derek Landri2843%
Darryl Tapp2437%
Fletcher Cox2031%
Vinny Curry1929%
Phillip Hunt812%

When Jim Washburn was hired, we heard all about the rotation he liked to utilize. Four men in, four men out throughout the game to keep fresh bodies going after the quarterback. With the Eagles often going with nine or 10 defensive linemen on gamedays, the rotation grew. Even though Brandon Graham got the start, he played just 48 percent of the team’s snaps. Graham produced with 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits. Vinny Curry played 19 snaps. That number should increase down the stretch.

With Washburn out, it’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles continue to rotate linemen or just play their best guys more. Players like Graham, Fletcher Cox and Curry could surely benefit from more playing time in the final four games.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans6498%
Mychal Kendricks6397%
Akeem Jordan2945%
Casey Matthews812%

Nothing really noteworthy at linebacker. Casey Matthews saw some snaps when DeMeco Ryans went down briefly and was also on the field in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha6092%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie5686%
Brandon Boykin2742%
Curtis Marsh46%
Nate Allen6498%
Kurt Coleman5585%

This group continues to be a complete disaster. As I mentioned last week, we’re looking at a complete overhaul in 2013. Reid was asked if the backups deserve a shot at this point, but the truth is, the Eagles don’t have a lot of talented young players at either cornerback or safety. Curtis Marsh could maybe see some added snaps, but beyond that? Who’s he going to play? David Sims?

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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‘We’re Not Going To Be Predictable Anymore’

Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Todd Bowles.There were varying degrees of willingness to talk about the Todd Bowles/Juan Castillo shake-up in the Eagles’ locker room Monday. Jason Babin, for example, has never been more skittish about a subject in his two years in Philadelphia. Others forced you to read between the lines.

There were a few revealing moments, however.

The biggest one came from backup linebacker Casey Matthews, who relayed Bowles’ message to the defense upon taking the reins.

“The biggest thing he said is, ‘We’re not going to predictable anymore.’ That’s what Coach said,” Matthews revealed, the obvious implication being that the ‘D’ was predictable under Castillo.

“We’re basically still running the same stuff. A couple tweaks. Coach Bowles said he’s not here to revamp the defense. We’re running the same stuff he just wants us to play together.”

That was the common thought from player to player: that Bowles would not be overhauling the defense; just some minor alterations to the scheme.

There was no evidence of any player being outraged by Castillo’s firing, and some are feeling reinvigorated.

“It’s a whole new season for us,” said Kurt Coleman. “We have 10 games to really prove ourselves and prove our worth to ourselves and these fans, and to the whole NFL. We’re not achieving our full potential, I feel like. We look at the last two years and we haven’t been able to do it, whether that be because of closing out games or what not. But we have 10 games to really prove ourselves and that starts this week.”

One concern is that Bowles, while having a wealth of coaching experience on the defensive side of the ball, has never called a game. Or has he?

“In the grand scheme of things, I think he was helping make play calls throughout this year,” said Coleman.

“I have all the confidence in him. He’s a smart coach, he really is. He’s going to do his due diligence in understanding the game as far as how the offense is going to attack us. And you have to be able to adjust throughout the game, and I think he is going to do a great job with that.”

Several players expressed sympathy for Castillo, whom they had grown to respect as a man. But all seem to feel that Bowles is ready for the role of defensive coordinator.

“He’s well respected,” said Matthews. “He’s been on the defensive side for a while and Juan came over from the offense. A lot of people, especially vets, you don’t know if they’re qualified and stuff like that. But I think Todd will get it done.”

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