Eagles Wake-Up Call: A Cowboys Slant On the Draft

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Howie Roseman loves talking about the board.

It’s all about setting the board, analyzing the board and staying true to the board. Spend months ranking the players, form some kind of consensus, and making final decisions during draft weekend should be relatively simple.

Of course, reporters and fans have never been privy to the Eagles’ board.

But this year, once again, we get to see how one team had its players ranked.

Jerry Jones gave interviews in front of the Cowboys’ draft board, and the writers at BloggingTheBoys.com were able to cobble together a complete picture of how Dallas had its prospects ranked.

So, what did Jones and company think of the players the Eagles ended up landing? They probably view the Lane Johnson pick as a slight reach. The Cowboys had Johnson as their third-rated tackle and had a first-round grade on him. But they had Alabama CB Dee Milliner, Florida DT Sharrif Floyd, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper and Alabama guard Chance Warmack ranked ahead of him. Johnson was their seventh overall prospect.

The Cowboys had definite interest in the Eagles’ next three picks.

It probably did not bother them when the Eagles took Stanford tight end Zach Ertz with the 35th pick. The Cowboys had Ertz as the No. 27 player on their board, but they had San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar at No. 25. Dallas ended up selecting Escobar with the 47th overall pick.

In the third round, the Eagles grabbed LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan with the No. 67 pick. Dallas liked Logan; he was the 51st player on the Cowboys’ board.

And perhaps the most interesting revelation was how the Cowboys had their quarterbacks ranked. They did not have a first-round grade on any of the signal-callers, but the top two QBs on their board were Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and USC’s Matt Barkley. Nassib was the Cowboys’ 28th-ranked player, and Barkley was 31st. Those players went 110th and 98th, respectively. EJ Manuel was the No. 16 overall pick, but the Cowboys had a fourth-round grade on him.

The Cowboys’ board had 132 players on it, and none of the four players the Eagles took after the fourth round – Earl Wolff, Jordan Poyer, Joe Kruger and David King - was considered draftable, according to Dallas’ standards.

WHAT YOU MISSED

An All-22 look at Connor Barwin, along with some thoughts on how he might fit in with the Eagles.

T-Mac talks Kenny Phillips, Barkley and more in his Twitter Mailbag.

What they’re saying about the Eagles includes Bryce Brown buzz, a Jason Peters ranking and more.

Brandon Graham is down to 260 pounds and has a personal nutritionist.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Phillips is not back practicing with the team, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Geoff Mosher:

But the 26-year-old former Giants safety is expected to participate in the team’s final camp, a June 4-6 mandatory camp that will wrap up the first spring season under new coach Chip Kelly, according to a source close to Phillips.

Ed Kracz of PhillyBurbs.com caught up with undrafted free agent receiver Russell Shepard:

“When players have so much success early and don’t go through rough stages, you fail once you get in the NFL, you fail once you have a couple years in the NFL. Going through what I went through at LSU, it prepared me for life after football, it prepared me for life after LSU. In the NFL, you have up and down years, days, dropped balls, you’re going to miss passes, but the great ones are ones who bounce back from tough plays.”

COMING UP

Practice is open today. We’ll have it covered.

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Scout: Lane Johnson ‘Not Ready For Prime Time’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What They’re Saying About the Eagles

Here’s the weekly roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

Evan Silva of Rotoworld offers up post-draft lineup rankings. He’s got the Birds 25th:

The strengths of this defense are a deep group of pass rushers, Cox, and the two inside linebackers. Fletcher has plus talent, but couldn’t even keep the Rams’ nickel corner job last year. Williams was one of the NFL’s most oft-burned cornerbacks. Phillips and Chung are rehab projects. Barwin has three sacks over his last 21 games, and Sopoaga is a rotational two-down run stuffer at best. This rebuilt group is likely to struggle in both run and pass defense.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com talked to an offensive coordinator of a perennial playoff team about Matt Barkley:

“I’m not sure what to make of this,” said our coach. “I don’t know how this style of quarterback fits that coach and the offense he runs.”

Well, former coach Tony Dungy is one who believes Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia could resemble the K-Gun that Ted Marchibroda operated in Buffalo in the 1990s, with quick play selections and a quarterback who was more accurate than mobile. Jim Kelly couldn’t run, and neither can Barkley. But Barkley can lead, proving it as a four-year starter in high school and again in college.

Nate Davis of USA Today gives the Eagles a C for their draft:

T Lane Johnson (No. 4 overall) projects as a special player and, given his rare athleticism, is uniquely qualified for Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense. However, until the curtain goes up on Kelly’s attack — and the revamped defense — we’re not going to claim we understand how all this fits … or if making a move for QB Matt Barkley was the right thing to do.

Mike Tanier of SportsOnEarth.com offers his take on the Birds’ draft:

Follow this thread of reasoning: Kelly was a great hire because of his unique, unstoppable system; Barkley does not fit that system, but that is no problem, because Kelly is an offensive genius who can run any system he wants; we know this even though no one has seen him run any other offense, because no one watches New Hampshire or Johns Hopkins. Has the thread taken you clear around in a circle? Good.

Dan Pompei of the National Football Post takes a look at some of the best undrafted free agents, including Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonnet:

This was a highly productive small school player who needs to prove he can make a step up against better competition. Ray Graham signing with the Texans also was a nice pickup, as was Michael Ford with the Bears.

In an ESPN.com piece, Matt Bowen lists Stanford tight end Zach Ertz and the Eagles as one of the draft’s best fits:

Ertz is what I call the “move guy” in Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back) when he is on the field with veteran tight end Brent Celek. In the playbook, we can label Ertz as the “U” or the “F.” He’s a tight end with an H-back skill set that can align off the ball in a wing set, in the slot, the backfield or as a backside “X” receiver (think slant or fade here). Various alignments which give the quarterback positive matchups in the passing game.

Bryce Brown talked to USA Today about playing in the league at the same time as his brother, Arthur, who was drafted by the Ravens:

“I love my brother and could not be happier for him,” the Eagles backup tailback said. “He has been there for me every step of the way, as a brother, friend and teammate.

“We always shared a dream of playing in the NFL together. To know that it’s actually happening now is just surreal.’

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, Matt Barkley returned to USC for without insurance:

Two sources told ESPN.com that Barkley returned for his senior season without insurance. While that might seem crazy, the standard insurance policy issued to players is a total disability policy, meaning that the only reason to collect is on a career-ending injury. But by failing to take out insurance Barkley couldn’t protect himself from dropping in the draft. Loss of value insurance can only be written when paired with the disability policy.

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

Rounding up links today for some Eagles weekend reading…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 ESPN.com. “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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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 NFL.com’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 Mockdraftable.com 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 AL.com, 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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What They’re Saying: Peter King, Draft Grades And More

We rounded up some reaction to the Eagles’ draft yesterday, but there’s plenty more trickling in today.

So here’s a look what analysts around the country are saying about the Birds.

SI.com’s Peter King weighs in with his thoughts:

Two Philly thoughts: I have no idea what Chip Kelly’s going to do on offense, and I think he likes it that way. If two of his three quarterbacks (Nick Foles and Matt Barkley) are pocket guys, is he really going to make his quarterback pocket a movable feast? I think Tony Dungy’s right (his son played for Kelly at Oregon) when he says he expects Kelly’s NFL offense to be like Buffalo’s under Jim Kelly — very fast-paced, but not necessarily with a quarterback who has to run to win … And from the amount of fact-finding Eagles GM Howie Roseman has been doing over the past couple of months on switching to the 3-4 defense, I was surprised Philadelphia, which had five picks in top 200, used only one on a front-seven player, defensive tackle Bennie Logan of LSU, the 67th overall pick.

Evan Silva of Rotoworld.com gives the Eagles a C+:

Ertz can stretch the field vertically and creates downfield separation better than consensus top tight end Tyler Eifert. Logan and Barkley were odd picks because the former’s fit is questionable in Philly’s new three-man front and Barkley lacks athleticism in addition to starting-caliber arm strength. All of Philly’s rookies look like good values — particularly Kruger and Poyer — but this haul included a lot of head scratchers. I still feel confident saying the Eagles’ roster improved with this draft, and quite possibly significantly.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com thinks the Matt Barkley pick means Michael Vick’s days are numbered:

Only there is a certainty, and it’s this: With the addition of Matt Barkley, the Eagles just found their successor to Michael Vick.

It may be now. It may be later. But it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen for the right reason: Coach Chip Kelly can’t win with a quarterback who commits the mistakes Vick does. Over the last three years, the guy fumbled 32 times, or more than any quarterback but one.

Chris Burke of SI.com gives the Eagles a B+:

Until we know more about Chip Kelly’s plans, let’s just chalk the Matt Barkley pickup to finding a potential first-round QB at No. 98. The rest of this class figures to be more important in 2013. No one more so than OT Lane Johnson, who has the athleticism to thrive under Kelly. TE Zach Ertz could be a dangerous weapon in this offense, too. Defensively, expect DT Bennie Logan to help and CB Jordan Poyer to possibly prove the steal of the draft.

SI.com’s Don Banks names the Zach Ertz pick as one he loved from Friday:

Philadelphia getting Stanford tight end Zach Ertz with the third pick of the second round, giving the Eagles a young pass catcher who will help whoever wins the team’s starting quarterback job.

Jennifer Floyd Engel of FoxSports.com gives the Eagle a B:

Call me crazy or call me consistent. What I like most is getting the free-falling USC QB Matt Barkley in the fourth round. Chip Kelly knows him, and I still like his chances of being a good pro and life raft if Mike Vick falters.

Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com gives the Birds a D:

I’m cool with the selection of Oklahoma tackle Lane Johnson at No. 4 overall. I’m not nearly as fond of using a second-round pick on Stanford tight end Zach Ertz with Brent Celek and James Casey already on the roster nor with the Eagles spending a fourth-round choice on Barkley with Nick Foles already serving as Michael Vick’s backup.

Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports gives the Eagles a B:

The start of this draft was much stronger than the end of it. Johnson comes in as a starter to immediately help an offensive line that was a mess last season because of injury and inexperience. Ertz is a great weapon in the mold of Jason Witten who will pair with Brent Celek to provide the Eagles with ample opportunity for an explosive two-tight end set. The combo of Ertz, Celek, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick could be really fun in Chip Kelly’s offense. Where things went sideways was in the middle of the draft with Logan, who is an underachiever, and Barkley, who was overrated and not altogether necessary. The fact that Philly traded up to get Barkley when it already had second-year passer Nick Foles is perplexing.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com gives the Eagles an A-:

While Barkley does not possess elite straight-line speed, he does have the intelligence to make decisions quickly as well as excellent accuracy while on the move, making him a potentially very nice fit in this offense. The USC product possesses the best combination of the three traits that I’ve found to be the best indicators of future success in the NFL — accuracy, anticipation and awareness — and I believe he’ll prove his doubters wrong and emerge as the most successful of the 2013 quarterback class. Of the Eagles other day three selections, I really like the schematic fits of Utah defensive end Joe Kruger and Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer, two more highly productive Pac-12 performers whom Kelly (and GM Howie Roseman) know well.

The Eagles fall in the “Honorable Mention” category of Bucky Brooks’ evaluations on NFL.com:

Much of the focus on the Eagles’ draft revolves around a surprising selection of Matt Barkley to begin Day 3, but Chip Kelly and Co. deserve credit for picking up elite players at every turn. OT Lane Johnson and TE Zach Ertz were among the best at their respective positions in this draft; both players will make immediate contributions as first-year starters or vital backups. Earl Wolff is a hidden gem with starting potential. He definitely could provide a boost to the Eagles’ back end as a rookie.

Marc Sessler of NFL.com ranks rookie QBs based on their chances of success. He’s got Barkley sixth:

You have to love Barkley’s fire. He’s agitated, he feels overlooked, he’s itching to prove the NFL community wrong. Landing in Philly was a stunner. On paper, Barkley doesn’t mesh with coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced attack, but the Eagles coach has stressed that scheme alone won’t dominate his thinking. Still, Barkley is lost in a crowded quarterback room, where he’ll be challenged to separate himself.

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Reviewing the Eagles’ Draft, Pick-By-Pick

While many of you stuck with Birds 24/7 all weekend (much appreciated), we realize others were probably in and out, spending time with family, watching the Phillies sweep the Mets, etc.

So here’s your one-stop shop for what you missed – a list of all the Eagles’ selections and a quick review for each pick. There will obviously be much more to come all week.

In all, the Eagles took eight players – three on offense and five on defense. By position, three defensive linemen, one offensive lineman, one tight end, one quarterback, one cornerback and one safety.

Every player the Eagles drafted was from a BCS conference.

Round 1, Pick 4: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

The lowdown – When the Miami Dolphins traded up to the No. 3 spot with the Oakland Raiders, most assumed they were going to take Johnson. But instead, the Dolphins took Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan. That made the pick an easy one for the Eagles. They didn’t get many calls for the No. 4 pick, and there are strong indications that they had Jordan ranked ahead of Johnson on their board. But with the way things fell, they were more than happy to grab the 6-6, 303-pound tackle.

Johnson played quarterback in high school and in junior college. The Sooners offered him a scholarship to play tight end. But Johnson kept growing, eventually moving to defensive end and then offensive line. He played right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior. During the pre-draft process, Johnson’s Combine performance was off the charts. The expectation is that he’ll start at right tackle, and Todd Herremans will move back inside to guard.

Birds 24/7 coverageBackground on Johnson, Johnson on his journey, Mel Kiper Jr., Jon Gruden and Greg Cosell on the Johnson pick, Bob Stoops with some generous praise for Johnson, a story about Johnson’s eating habits, Johnson and the bear-wrestling caper.

Round 2, Pick 35: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford

The lowdown – The Eagles have no plans of using a fullback and instead are loading up on tight ends, who Kelly believes can be movable chess pieces on offense. They signed James Casey in free agency and drafted the 6-5, 249-pound Ertz in the second round. Ertz’ best game in college came against Oregon last year when he caught 11 balls for 106 yards and a game-tying touchdown that forced overtime. Stanford ended up beating Chip Kelly and the Ducks for their only loss of the season.

The expectation is that the Eagles’ offense will use several different personnel groups, including more multiple tight-end sets with Ertz, Casey and Brent Celek on the roster.

Birds 24/7 coverage – Kelly calls Ertz a matchup nightmare, how Ertz caught Kelly’s eye, Mayock and Kiper on the Ertz selection.

Round 3, Pick 67: Bennie Logan, DL, LSU

The lowdown – With the departure of Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Darryl Tapp and Jason Babin, the Eagles needed bodies on the defensive line. Logan (6-2, 309) helped fill that need. He competed against Birds’ offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland in college, and Logan blew the Eagles away during his interview at the Combine.

The Eagles believe he can be a three-down player, although it’s unclear exactly where he’ll fit. Logan said he played mostly the 3-technique (DT in a 4-3) in college. He’s not the tallest guy, but is long with 34-inch arms. He should compete for significant playing right away, given the current state of the roster.

Birds 24/7 coverage – Kelly explains the Logan pick, Mayock and others weigh in on Logan.

Round 4, Pick 98: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

The lowdown – The stunner of the group. The Eagles had Barkley (6-2, 227) ranked in their top-50, so when he was available at the start of Day 3, they traded up with the Jaguars and took the USC signal-caller. Barkley was considered a first-round prospect in 2012, but he returned to school for his senior season, and his stock slipped dramatically. Barkley joins Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Dennis Dixon and GJ Kinne at the position. Kelly said he’ll hold an open competition at quarterback, but Vick and Foles are the favorites to win the starting job.

Birds 24/7 coverage – Kelly explains the Barkley pick, Barkley’s arm strength will be a topic of discussion, Barkley did not expect to land in Philly, Barkley on Gruden’s QB Camp, what the Barkley pick says about Kelly.

Round 5, Pick 136: Earl Wolff, S, NC State

The lowdown – This was a talented class of safeties, but because of the way the picks fell, the Eagles didn’t address the position until the fifth round. Wolff (5-11, 209) ran a 4.44 at the Combine, the second-fastest time by a safety in the past three years. The Eagles have Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips, Colt Anderson and Wolff on the roster. But the rookie has a chance of starting if he impresses coaches in the offseason.

Birds 24/7 coverage – Wolff’s Mom is from Philadelphia, and Mike Mayock tabbed him as a sleeper before the draft.

Round 7, Pick 212: Joe Kruger, DL, Utah

The lowdown – He was one of the team’s 30 official visits. Kruger (6-6, 269), the brother of Paul, decided to leave school after his junior season. He’s only 20-years-old, and the Eagles believe he has the frame to put weight on and play on the defensive line. Kruger played up at the line of scrimmage, but also dropped back at times, coming up with a pick-six in college. He figures to compete for time with guys like Cedric Thornton, Logan and Vinny Curry on the defensive line.

Birds 24/7 coverage – Kruger thinks he brings a versatile skill set to the Eagles’ defense.

Round 7, Pick 218: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

The lowdown – I thought the Eagles would take a cornerback much earlier, but that’s not how the board fell. Poyer (6-0, 191) was No. 85 on Mayock’s top-100 list, but the Eagles were able to get him at No. 218. He was tied for second in the nation last year with seven interceptions, but did not test well at the Combine. He has the ability to play outside, inside or even back at safety. And Poyer was both a gunner and a returner on special teams. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher have to be considered the favorites to start, with Brandon Boykin in the slot. But Poyer will get his chance to compete for playing time and has a great shot of making the roster.

Birds 24/7 coverage – Poyer talks about why he slipped and addresses an off-the-field incident.

Round 7, Pick 239: David King, DE, Oklahoma

The lowdown – Another defensive lineman with length. The Eagles opened and closed with players from Oklahoma, making King (6-5, 286) their final pick. He figures to see time at the 5-technique, and Kelly said King ran a 4.64 at his workout.

The Eagles have also agreed to terms with nine undrafted free agents.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Draft Grades Start To Roll In

Eagles draft grades have started to roll in. Below is a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Birds’ selections. We’ll have more reaction during the week.

Dan Pompei of the National Football Post lists the Eagles as one of the teams that helped itself the most:

The first two picks, Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz, were right on. And the Eagles selected three players who each could have easily been chosen two rounds earlier in Matt Barkley (fourth), Earl Wolff (fifth) and Jordan Poyer (seventh). Said one personnel director, “No way should Barkley have fallen that far.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. gives the Eagles a B+. He gave them an A for value and a B for needs:

Matt Barkley also piled up huge numbers versus Oregon, and was the first pick taken in Round 4 (I once said I thought Barkley was a future first pick — maybe I meant in Round 4?). Kelly wants competition at QB, and Barkley is going to come in ready to compete. Bennie Logan fits as a potential 3-4 DE or even a nose tackle, and Earl Wolff offers some depth at safety. They needed a corner and got another guy Kelly knows, Jordan Poyer from Oregon State. Joe Kruger isn’t fast, but he could provide a pass rush in this system. Overall, I like what the Eagles accomplished.

The Eagles were one of eight teams that got a B+ or better from Kiper.

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano says the Eagles made the best pick in the division with their selection of Lane Johnson at No. 4 overall:

In the absence of any earth-shaking moves in the early rounds by NFC East teams, I’m going to have to go with the Eagles taking tackle Lane Johnson at No. 4. They probably could have traded down and out of the pick, but this was a draft in which six offensive linemen went in the first 11 picks, and the value of the third-best tackle with the fourth pick was worth hanging in there. After what happened to their offensive line with injuries in 2012, the Eagles were wise to load up there, taking an athletic player who can start at right tackle right away and maybe move to left tackle down the road once Jason Peters is done.

Stony Brook’s Miguel Maysonet made ESPN.com’s list of top-10 undrafted free agents. The Eagles agreed to terms with Maysonet.

Maysonet was one of our favorite Day 3 sleepers. He has a low center of gravity and runs with above-average balance and lateral agility. In addition, he brings some versatility as a pass catcher out of the backfield. It won’t be surprising if Maysonet is the next late-round/free-agent running back to become a big-time contributor in the league.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com names the Eagles one of his three winners:

This club did more than just get great value in the fourth round. Matt Barkley aside, first-round selection Lane Johnson should start immediately. Meanwhile, not only will second-round choice Zach Ertz push tight end Brent Celek, he’ll make the offense more versatile overall. Third-round selection Bennie Logan provides ample insurance for the club’s free-agent investment in nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.

With center Jason Kelce coming back from injury, and with Johnson now in the mix, that Eagles front five — which also includes Jason Peters, Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans — looks a whole lot better.

Don Banks of SI.com offers his thoughts on the Barkley pick:

In reality, what Saturday’s biggest draft headline means is Kelly and the Eagles are ready to fit their offense around what Barkley does best. He doesn’t have the biggest arm, and he probably isn’t the best guy to run a lot of read-option looks, but he doesn’t have to be a jackrabbit to direct an up-tempo attack. Kelly admired Barkley’s football smarts, his competitiveness, and his ability to see the field and make quick and accurate decisions. Think Tom Brady and you start to get the real model for what Kelly is after in his goal of running as many plays as possible in a game, and Barkley’s 40 time has little to do with the equation.

Chris Burke of SI.com thinks the Eagles got a steal in the seventh round with cornerback Jordan Poyer:

How did this happen? Poyer seemed to be firmly planted in the second tier of cornerbacks in this draft, below Dee Milliner, Desmond Trufant or Xavier Rhodes but certainly worthy of Day 2 consideration. Instead, Poyer somehow slipped into Round 7. Philadelphia won’t regret giving him a shot there.

Burke gives the Eagles an A- for their selection of Johnson:

Kelly will try to work his offense around the pieces he has, but adding even more athleticism to an already athletic group will make the transition that much easier.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com gives the Eagles a B- for the Johnson pick:

They have so many other issues, but he’s a good athlete who will be better in the NFL. I like the pick.

Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports calls Michael Vick one of his draft winners:

Like Rex Ryan, Vick was a winner Thursday when the Eagles drafted Lane Johnson to rebuild the offensive line. Like Ryan, things got even better in the second and fourth rounds. First, Philadelphia drafted tight end Zach Ertz, giving Vick another big-time weapon and a guy the Eagles can pair with Brent Celek for some tasty two-tight end formations. In the fourth round, the Eagles traded up to get Matt Barkley. Sure, Barkley may be no better than a backup, but he’s going to be competition for current No. 2 Nick Foles. In other words, the perception that the competition for time was between Vick and Foles just got really blurry. That can only help Vick.

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