Twitter Mailbag: The Latest On Lane

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Happy Fourth of July to our football family.

We are approaching the two-year mark here at Birds 24/7 (Our first post was on July 23, 2012). The site has been blessed with a smart and loyal and passionate readership since Day 1. We are very proud of the community that has been created and are looking forward to sharing in this upcoming season with you. For now, enjoy the holiday. We have a couple posts scheduled for the weekend in case you need to scratch that itch. Knowing you, you will. That’s why we get along so well.

Now onto the mailbag: Read more »

Twitter Mailbag: On Robinson, Dion And CBs

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For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

I can see Robinson as a fit. He’s a big (6-3, 220), physical receiver who got it done in multiple ways on the college level. As Sheil points out, 28 percent of his catches last season came on screens, and he averaged over 14 yards after the catch on those plays.(The quick receiver screens were a pretty big part of Chip Kelly‘s offense last year.) The Penn State product is a reliable pass-catcher who will fight for the ball downfield and provide a nice option in the red zone. Plenty to like even if he’s not a burner. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Jordan And the OLB Spot

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When you look at the roster, outside linebacker is the position that screams at you.

The Eagles have needs in several areas. They are thin at wide receiver after releasing DeSean Jackson. The hunt for an effective safety duo is ongoing. It’s essential that they build depth at cornerback, inside linebacker and along the offensive front. But outside linebacker is the spot that requires the most immediate attention. Read more »

Twitter Mailbag: On Sproles And Trade Winds

Darren Sproles
For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

A lot happening on the Eagles front. Let’s get right to it.

I like it. The Eagles dealt Isaac Sopoaga and a sixth-round pick to New England for a fifth-rounder, and used that to acquire Darren Sproles. Seems like good value to me.

More than that, I think he can be very effective in Chip Kelly‘s scheme. Read more »

Riddick: Eagles Pulling Away From Division

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Louis Riddick spent five years with the Eagles, including three as the team’s director of pro personnel.

He now works as an analyst for ESPN, but has been keeping a close eye on his former employer and likes what he’s seeing.

Speaking to the Jon & Sean Show on 97.5 The Fanatic, Riddick said he believes the Eagles are separating themselves from the rest of the NFC East with their recent moves. Read more »

Dion Jordan And the OLB Market

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins

Indianapolis — Just getting settled in here at the combine. It feels like the NFL has just taken over the city. There were several Eagles assistant coaches on my flight; sat across the way from a couple Philly scouts while grabbing a bite to eat downtown; even had a conversation with Juan Castillo at baggage claim. Coaches, agents and personnel men everywhere. It’s all happening.

We’ll have plenty of notes and nuggets to pass along in the coming days. Meanwhile, wanted to touch on a series of tweets from former Eagles director of pro personnel Louis Riddick that caught my attention while waiting for the plane to take off. Read more »

Eagles Draft Predictions: McManus Vs. Kapadia

It’s time for the first annual Birds 24/7 Draft Predictions, where Sheil and I lay it all on the line in a fight for bragging rights. Kapadia is still stinging from his sound defeat in our 53-man projections battle back in training camp. Let’s see if he can get on the scoreboard.

Q: Will they draft a quarterback? If so, who?

Sheil: It just feels like they have to. I don’t think Geno Smith is going to get out of the top-15, and I don’t think EJ Manuel is going to be available at No. 35. So where does that leave the Eagles?

Two names to watch: Zac Dysert (6-3, 231) out of Miami (Ohio) and Matt Scott (6-2, 213) out of Arizona. I’ll flip a coin and go with Scott. At the very least, he can replace Dennis Dixon on the roster and give you someone who can run the spread option.

By the way, McManus, I don’t think we can have Manuel continue his diary entries as a member of the Jets, Bills or Jaguars. That just won’t fly with our audience. You probably want to get on the phone with Scott or Dysert and set up something new.

Tim: Who needs a Dysert diary when we have Nicky Foles?

I think the Eagles would pick either Smith or Manuel if the price is right, but the draft will likely fall in such a way where they’ll end up taking a quarterback in the latter rounds instead. My guess is they grab Scott, especially if he’s available in the fourth round. He needs some work, but he has a skill set that Kelly may be drawn to, and he can hang in the background while Foles and Mike Vick run the show for now.

Sadly, we agree.

Q: What will they do at No. 4?

Sheil: I’m going to pull a bit of a surprise here and say they draft Florida defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd. My guess is that the top of their board looks like this: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Dion Jordan. The problem? I think all of those players are going to be gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock.

The Eagles will be deciding between guys like Floyd, Lane Johnson, Ziggy Ansah and Star Lotulelei. If they really are committed to taking the best player available, I think it’s Floyd. He brings versatility to the defensive line, is only 20 years old and can team up with Fletcher Cox to form the core of your defense for years to come.

I can’t wait to re-read this around 8:30 tonight and realize what a dope I am.

Tim: You don’t have to wait until tonight to figure that out. (Rimshot.)

My pick is Jordan. I agree Fisher and Joeckel are gone. Then the Raiders are on the clock (assuming they stick at three) and will likely do something insane. I’m betting on Jordan being there, and the Eagles pulling the trigger.

Here is what I find interesting, though, Sheil: There is a chance that both Jordan and Johnson are there at 4, and one of them is guaranteed to be available. There have been serious rumblings about the Birds trading back. So out of Jordan and Johnson, they must not like one enough to grab at 4, right? Which one is it?

If they do move back, I change my pick to Star.

Q: Should Tavon Austin be a consideration?

Sheil: Well, I know you believe the Eagles’ receiving corps is the worst unit assembled in the past 25 years. But I also know you’ll probably slam your head against your desk if they add another target who is under 6 feet. Man, tonight is going to be fun.

I think we are probably over-thinking things with Austin. He’s fast (4.34 40), can line up anywhere (out wide, slot, backfield) and was ridiculously productive in college. In other words, of course Kelly is going to want to consider him!

And the truth is, he makes sense on many levels. Jeremy Maclin is in the final year of his contract, and Jason Avant (who is 30) doesn’t seem to possess the skill set Kelly covets.

If the Eagles think Austin can hold up (and he has said he’s never been injured in the last eight years), they’ll absolutely consider him in the first round. Size is the issue. Austin is 5-8, 174. Wes Welker was 21 pounds heavier when he came out of college. Percy Harvin was 18 pounds heavier. I don’t think the Eagles will take him at No. 4, but if they trade down, he should be near the top of the list of possibilities.

Tim: How about all the late Eagles-Austin buzz?

Loving it. Yes, Austin should be a consideration. He is the automatic front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, yes? This crop of talent lacks sure-fire studs, right? I think Kelly would have a ball with him. One connected person I talked to thinks the receiver goes in the 8-12 range. Would I be shocked if the Eagles trade back, and the Commish calls out Austin’s name when they are on the clock? Nope.

Q: Name one Day 3 prospect who will be an Eagle.

Sheil: Ready for this one, T-Mac? Joe Kruger, DE, Utah. Philadelphia continues its tradition of getting the lesser-known brother! Sure, the Browns signed Paul, but the Eagles were just waiting to pounce on Joe. The 6-6, 269-pounder has long arms (34 3/8-inches) and ran a 4.83 40. He’s projected to go somewhere between Rounds 4 and 6.

Tim: Look at you going with the Kruger. I’ll throw you two tight ends. I could see them taking Florida’s Jordan Reed in the third round. A late-round name to watch is Pittsburgh’s Mike Shanahan. He is a wide receiver converting to tight end. The Eagles have apparently shown a little interest.

Q: What’s one bold Eagles prediction?

Sheil: The Birds will draft a wide receiver or tight end in the first three rounds.

Free agency was spent building up the defense (aside from James Casey), but it’s time for Kelly to start adding his kind of guys on offense. I mentioned the team’s wide receiver situation above. Chances are they don’t take Austin in the first, but the team could certainly address the position in the second or third rounds.

Tight end is also an option. It seems like the Eagles have worked out every tight end prospect in the draft. There are plenty of versatile options who can line up in different spots and stretch the field. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles grab one on Friday evening.

Tim: I am not so sure the experiment of moving Trent Cole and Brandon Graham to linebacker (particularly Cole) is going to work all that well. They are going to need some ‘backers that can play in space. That’s part of my thinking in picking Jordan. If not him, they’ll try to address outside linebacker somewhere along the line.

Also, I think they grab two corners.

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Eagles Draft Cheat Sheet: Defensive Options

If you missed part one on the offense, click here.

Now, for the defense. Here are 23 potential first-round prospects to round out the top-40. With each name, you’ll find a short description on how he might fit with the Eagles, along with the likelihood of the player ending up in Philadelphia.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Sharrif Floyd, Florida – I’ve really struggled with determining whether he could be an option for the Eagles. On one hand, pretty much everyone agrees that Floyd is best suited as a 3-technique (lining up between the guard and tackle) defensive tackle in a 4-3. Floyd’s strengths are his quickness and ability to burst into the backfield and be disruptive. That’s negated in a classic 3-4. Then again, not all 3-4s are created the same, and we don’t know exactly what the Eagles plan on running. Floyd (6-3, 297) is only 20-years-old, from Philadelphia and could quite possibly be the “best player available” at No. 4 when the Eagles are on the clock. My sense is that the Eagles won’t want to spend a high pick on a player who might not be a perfect scheme fit, especially since they’re essentially building from the ground up. But I won’t rule Floyd out completely. Teaming him up with Fletcher Cox on the interior in pass-rushing situations would give opposing offensive lines fits.

** Note: I changed my mind a bit on Floyd. Details here.

Sheldon Richardson, Missouri – The write-up for Richardson (6-2, 294) is similar. He seems best suited as a 4-3 DT, but does bring some versatility to the table. In a 3-4, he would be a 5-tech defensive end. I watched one game where he lined up all over the place, often standing up in a two-point stance across from the guard and center before rushing the quarterback. Richardson is not tall, but he has long arms (34 1/2-inches). Don’t think he’s on the Eagles’ radar at No. 4, but can’t rule him out if they trade down.

Star Lotulelei, Utah – There are no scheme questions with Lotulelei (6-2, 311). He can play the nose or 5-technique in a 3-4 and can be an interior pass-rusher in sub packages. Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart issue at the Combine, but Howie Roseman said he’s been cleared by the Eagles. Still, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, at least three teams have taken him off their boards. If Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Dion Jordan are all off the board at No. 4, Lotulelei could be an option. He could also be a candidate if the Eagles trade down.

Sylvester Williams, North Carolina – You can see why evaluators and analysts really like this group of defensive linemen. Lots of first-round talent. Williams (6-3, 313) can play in multiple spots on the defensive line, including nose tackle. I don’t think he’s a first-round target, but he could be an option at No. 35 in the second round.

Jesse Williams, Alabama – Absolutely a name to watch at No. 35, as I mentioned yesterday. Greg Cosell of NFL Films said recently that he doesn’t see a huge difference between Lotulelei and Williams (6-3, 323). It’s no secret that the Eagles are in need of bodies on the defensive line, and Williams can play either the nose or 5-technique.

Bjoern Werner, Florida State – Everything I’ve read projects the 6-3, 266-pounder as a 4-3 defensive end. Nothing I’ve heard suggests he’s a scheme-flexible player who could play outside linebacker in a 3-4. In other words, don’t think he’s an option for the Eagles.

Datone Jones, UCLA – Another potential second-round target. Jones (6-4, 283) can play 5-technique in a 3-4 and move inside in four-man fronts.

Margus Hunt, SMU – And one more second-round target. We wrote about him yesterday too. You won’t find too many humans who are 6-8, 277 and can run a 4.60 40. Hunt would play the 5-technique defensive end spot, although I’m not sure how versatile he would be.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Dion Jordan, Oregon – I think there’s a pretty good chance we might be over-thinking things with Jordan. He has length (6-6, 248), versatility, upside, and Kelly loves his make-up. If Fisher and Joeckel go off the board in the top three, and the Eagles stay put, I’d label him the favorite to be the pick. At the very least, you get a movable piece on defense, who can rush the passer and cover at a high level. And his ceiling is a double-digit sack guy off the edge.

Ziggy Ansah, BYU – Let’s start with numbers: 6-5, 271, 4.63 40, 35 1/8-inch arms. If Ansah, a native of Ghana, had started playing football two or three years earlier, he might be the consensus top pick in the draft. But he only started playing the game after years of soccer, basketball and track. And he ended up with only one year of real playing time at the D-1 level. In other words, he’s incredibly raw (and will turn 24 in May).

Ansah seems best-suited to play defensive end in a 4-3, but I included him in the outside linebackers category here. Given his size and athleticism, he could probably rush the passer from multiple spots in a four-man front. It’s easy to label him a Combine creation, but the truth is Ansah is just new to the game. Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com put up a good post about Ansah, and I agree with him. If I had to pick a side right now, I’d say he’s more likely to have a really good career than be a bust. And with his length and versatility, I’m not ready to rule him out as a surprise pick for the Eagles at No. 4.

Tank Carradine, Florida State – Ansah is my sleeper if the Eagles stay at No. 4. Carradine is my sleeper if they trade down. At 6-4, 276 with 33 3/4-inch arms, he has the size and athleticism to play in a variety of spots – DE or DT in a four-man front, rush linebacker in a 3-4. The question with Carradine has been medical. He tore his ACL in November, and the Eagles reportedly had him in for one of their 30 official visits. If healthy, many analysts believe he could end up being the best pass-rusher in the draft. You might not see him up high in a lot of mocks, but don’t be surprised if Carradine goes in the top half of the first round Thursday night.

Barkevious Mingo, LSU – Another pass-rushing outside linebacker. I have a difficult time seeing the Eagles going with Mingo (6-4, 241) over Jordan, but I’ve been wrong before. If the Birds trade down, though, he could be an option.

Jarvis Jones, Georgia – He was the most productive defensive player in college football last year. Playing in the SEC, Jones led the nation with 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles. He has the spinal stenosis issue and did not test well at the Combine. Jones (6-2, 245) doesn’t have the measurables Kelly seems to find appealing. But he falls in the “just a football player” category. It’ll be fascinating to see how his career plays out, but I don’t see the Eagles using their first-round pick on Jones.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Alex Ogletree, Georgia – If I’m being honest here, I have no clue how many inside linebackers are going to go off the board in the first 40 picks, but I only included Ogletree. He’s had several “character” issues, including a DUI arrest in February, but Ogletree (6-2, 242) will likely be one of the first inside linebackers off the board. I don’t expect the Eagles to take an inside linebacker early, but a couple other names to know are Kansas State’s Arthur Brown (6-0, 241, brother of Bryce) and LSU’s Kevin Minter (6-0, 246).

CORNERBACKS

Dee Milliner, Alabama – Has a cornerback body (6-0, 201) and ran a 4.37 at the Combine. The only thing I’ve seen people question about his game is his backpedal. Milliner also required shoulder surgery this offseason, but remember that he played through the injury in the final four games last year and participated in the Combine. Only two corners in the last 10 drafts have been taken in the first five picks, and they both had return ability. Milliner could be an option for the Eagles if they trade down.

D.J. Hayden, Houston – Mike Mayock and Cosell both have him as the top corner in the draft. Hayden (5-11, 191) nearly lost his life after a collision in practice last November, but seems to now be in the clear (I know, easy for me to say). He has good size, good athleticism and is expected to be a first-round pick. As for the Eagles, same line as above. If they trade back, corner could be an option.

Xavier Rhodes, Florida State - If the Eagles prefer bigger corners, Rhodes (6-1, 210) could be a fit. The three-year starter for the Seminoles ran a 4.43 at the Combine. Again, expected to go in the first round, so I’m not sure the Eagles will be in a position to draft him.

Desmond Trufant, Washington – Kelly should be familiar with Trufant from his time in the Pac-12. The four-year starter clocked a 4.38 at the Combine, and Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports recently compared him to Asante Samuel. Trufant could land in the back end of the first round, but if he slips to 35, the Eagles could take a look at him.

Jamar Taylor, Boise State – The draft projection for Taylor (5-11, 192) is similar. He ran a 4.39 at the Combine and should get a look from CB-needy teams at the bottom of the first round. But if Taylor is still on the board Friday night, the Eagles could take him.

SAFETY

Kenny Vaccaro, Texas – One of these years, the Eagles have to hit on a safety, right? Vaccaro (6-0, 214) has the versatility to come up and play the slot or hang back and play center-field. He’s expected to be a first-round pick and could be an option if the Eagles trade back (I know, I sound like a broken record). The guess here is that they address safety later in the draft.

Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International - Some believe he could be a better prospect than Vaccaro. Cyprien (6-0, 217) has similar measurables to Vaccaro and will likely go in the second half of the first round. He’d be a fit with the Eagles, but they probably won’t be in position to take him.

Eric Reid, LSU – Safety rankings likely vary quite a bit, depending on the team, but Roseman has said there are a lot of starting-caliber players at the position this year. Reid (6-1, 213) ran a 4.53 at the Combine, but there are some questions about his versatility (specifically in coverage). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com said teams are split on Reid. It’s difficult to guess how the Eagles have their safeties ranked, but Reid could be an option at No. 35.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Examining Three Draft Scenarios

Chip Kelly’s response drew laughter, but there was actually probably some truth behind his words.

“Yeah, and I get bored,” Kelly said last week, when asked about the process of working through different draft scenarios with Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ personnel team.

“To be honest with you, when they give you a million different scenarios, I think the same thing in the back of my mind.  What if one team will trade 17 picks for us? You would say that would never happen. But the New Orleans Saints did it for Ricky Williams, so you have to talk about it. So we talk about it.”

Kelly is only three months into his tenure, but the sense here is that he’s at his happiest when he’s on the field coaching, or in the meeting room with his staff working on offensive concepts and X’s and O’s.

April in the NFL, however, is draft season. And that means teams are making sure they’re ready for any and all scenarios – specifically in the first round.

So while there continues to be uncertainty at the top, even though we’re only one day away, let’s go over three potential scenarios and try to sort out what each could mean for the Eagles.

SCENARIO 1

1. Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
2. Dion Jordan (OLB, Oregon)
3. Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)

What do the Eagles do? This is probably the most appealing scenario for the Birds. The simple solution is to pick Central Michigan Eric Fisher and call it a day. And my guess is that’s probably what the Eagles would do.

But if Fisher is still on the board at No. 4, Roseman’s phone is going to be ringing. If he gets offers from a team like the Cardinals (No. 7), the Chargers (No. 11) or the Dolphins (No. 12), he will at least listen. If the Eagles have Fisher rated much higher than other prospects on their board, they probably won’t make a deal. If they have him lumped in a tier with several other guys, they’ll think about it, if the compensation is right.

Note that this scenario is basically the same if the Chiefs take Fisher. The decision would then just come down to whether to draft Joeckel or trade the pick.

SCENARIO 2

1. Joeckel
2. Fisher
3. Floyd

What do the Eagles do? As I’ve said before, this scenario comes down to what the team thinks Jordan is capable of as a pass-rusher. I’m not saying that’s all he would do in their scheme, but that’s the determining factor in whether you think he’s worthy of the No. 4 pick. We know he has traits that Kelly values: He’s long and he’s versatile. We also know Kelly loves him from a character/make-up standpoint (unless he has just been blatantly lying).

With Joeckel and Fisher off the board, my guess in this scenario is that the Eagles go with Jordan over guys like Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and Utah DT Star Lotulelei. And while it’s less likely that Roseman gets calls from other teams under this scenario, it’s possible that someone wants to sneak up to grab Johnson.

It’s even possible that a team sees Jordan as one of the few prospects in the class with elite upside as a pass-rusher and wants to move up to take him.

SCENARIO 3

1. Joeckel
2. Jordan
3. Fisher

What do the Eagles do? This is the trickiest situation for the Birds. Note that even if the Raiders don’t take Fisher at No. 3, they could trade the pick to a team that does want him.

We wrote yesterday about how Roseman will talk to different GMs before Thursday and get trades in place should the board fall a certain way. My guess is that this was the primary scenario he called about. If the Eagles were to stay put, they could go with Johnson or Lotulelei.

But there certainly are wild cards. Remember, we know very little about the team’s exact defensive scheme. Perhaps someone like Floyd or even Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson would actually fit better than we think. Maybe they see BYU DE Ziggy Ansah as a movable chess piece. Perhaps they see upside in LSU OLB Barkevious Mingo. Or maybe they stun everyone and just take West Virginia WR Tavon Austin.

Again, my sense is the Eagles would like to trade down if Joeckel, Jordan and Fisher are off the board. But if they can’t find a partner and stay put, my guess is they go with Johnson and solidify the offensive line.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Are the trade winds blowing? Here are some thoughts on the latest Eagles-related draft buzz.

Enough about the first round. What about Day 2? Here are 15 potential Eagles targets.

The latest mock draft roundup shows there’s still no consensus on the Eagles’ pick.

Greg Cosell offered up some high praise for Jordan.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Albert Breer of NFL Network writes about Kelly’s approach:

“It’s high energy and high efficiency in everything you do,” said Bellotti, who became Oregon’s athletic director in 2009, when Kelly was elevated to succeed him. “In meetings, it’s not just looking at the play. It’s, ‘Here’s what happened, here’s why,’ and it’s coming rapid fire. And there’s competition in everything you do. He did it on the field, but with everything else, too, it’s, ‘How can get I better? Did I learn something watching that other guy get coached?’ It starts with the players. He empowers the players to be the best.”

The three words you hear most: Win the day.

Fullback Leonard Weaver retired as an Eagle yesterday. From the Daily News’ Les Bowen:

“It’s just been a great honor to be here. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed,” he said.

He said he felt he was embraced here because he understood the fans, and played with heart.

“They work hard. They’re going to talk bad about you. They’re gritty. They’re going to tell you to your face what time it is, but at the same time, they’re going to get it done,” he said.

Liz Spikol over on the Property blog takes a look at DeSean Jackson’s new pad and notices an ex-Eagle selling his Old City condo.

And finally, Janine White introduces the new Eagles cheerleading squad over on The Philly Post.

COMING UP

We’ll be churning out draft content, with pieces on Tavon Austin and a complete first-round cheat sheet. A reminder too that we’ll be hosting live chats for all three days of the draft as we report from the NovaCare Complex.

And T-Mac will be representing the Eagles in ESPN’s mock draft today so be sure to tune in. I’m offering him 20 bucks to go with “Sheil Kapadia, little-used slot receiver out of Ball-So-Hard U.”

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