Linebackers took center stage along with defensive linemen at the combine Monday. Some notes to pass along:
– Could the Eagles be within striking distance of UCLA’s Anthony Barr on draft day? Mike Mayock, for one, doesn’t believe Barr is a top-10 player.
UCLA’s Anthony Barr is Mayock’s No. 3 linebacker, but Mayock doesn’t think Barr is a top-10 pick. While Barr is a good pass rusher, Mayock said that “when he doesn’t win with speed,” he has issues. Mayock also said Barr is best against the run as a chaser: “He’s not real strong at the point of attack.”
Some pundits disagree. Mel Kiper, as an example, has Barr going sixth overall.
The 6-4, 255-pounder out of UCLA recorded 23.5 sacks and 41.5 tackles for a loss over the last two seasons while playing outside linebacker. This after starting his college career on the offensive side of the ball as a running back and wide receiver. He estimated that he dropped into coverage about 30 percent of the time last season, and said he fared pretty well. Rushing the passer, though, is his primary objective. Read more »
INDIANAPOLIS — You could hardly see Colt Lyerla through the thicket of reporters and cameras. He was seated at a round table inside the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday, surrounded by a large contingent of media that were firing off one probing question after the next. Once through the throng there he was, face flush, hands clasped tightly together in between his knees, revisiting a past that he is trying to escape.
“Probably the night I spent in jail,” responded Lyerla, when asked about the moment he realized his football career might be over. “That was huge for me, and like I said, it gave me time to self-reflect and realize that’s a place I never want to be again.” Read more »
A record 98 underclassmen have declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. Within that wave lies a group of talented receivers that has enriched the position significantly.
“When you talk about the underclassmen, that’s where the guts of this draft is. Last year was more senior-heavy,” said Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for the Eagles. “This year we’re talking about 9-10 underclass wide receivers that are first, second-round players in my opinion.”
Jeremiah sees seven receivers being selected in the first round, which would be the most since 2004. And they are: Sammy Watkins (junior, Clemson), Mike Evans (redshirt sophomore, Texas A&M), Kelvin Benjamin (redshirt sophomore, Florida State), Marqise Lee (junior, USC), Paul Richardson (redshirt junior, Colorado), Jarvis Landry (junior, LSU) and Davante Adams (redshirt sophomore, Fresno State).
Mel Kiper, incredibly, has nine going in the first round in his latest mock draft. (He projects LSU junior Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Eagles at 22.)
Howie Roseman agrees with the sentiment that this is a strong class of wideouts, and must decide how much — if at all — that will impact some key decisions that are before him.
Read more »
Mel Kiper Jr. held a conference call with media members Thursday and touched on several subjects that could interest Eagles fans. Some highlights:
(Note: I linked to some film of each of the players mentioned, courtesy of DraftBreakdown, in case you want to study any of them a bit more.)
– Kiper is very high on this wide receiver class. He has nine going in the first round alone, and thinks quality will still be there later in the draft.
“There’s going to be an opportunity I think at wide receiver to see guys in the third, fourth, fifth round get it done. That’s going to be a very deep position with 19 underclassmen coming out at that spot.” Read more »
Mychal Kendricks was in the midst of a rough patch and in need of a boost back in mid-September when his phone rang.
“I was getting a massage and I picked up…and it was my Pop Warner coach,” Kendricks told Jim Rome last week in New York. “And he just told me, ‘Man, just go out there and own the field like I know you can. Get that pep in your step. When you take the field, know that you own it.’
“It was good for me, man. Every game I went into after that, I just told myself, ‘Take the field with confidence. Own this [thing].’ ” Read more »
Chip Kelly regularly held quarterback competitions during his time at Oregon. He did the same in his first year on the job in Philadelphia. Kelly was asked if that process is no longer needed considering Nick Foles established himself with a monster 2013 season.
“No, there’s always competition, and I think you can ask Nick that, too,” said Kelly. “I think everybody kind of feeds off of that, and they understand that. And then if you also have a guy that’s not competing to be the starter with Nick, then what if Nick gets hurt and then all of a sudden the other guy goes, ‘Oh, my God, I’m not ready to play because I thought Nick was going to be the guy.’ It’s a cliché, but you are a chin strap away from playing in this league and when your opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of that.”
A chin strap away. That’s one of the more frequently-used Chipisms, as Kelly often talks about the need to have two good quarterbacks on your roster in the NFL. One of the significant questions facing the Eagles this offseason is whether Matt Barkley can be the man to push Foles in camp, and step in capably if the situation arises. Read more »
Back in early October, Michael Vick made a bold prediction regarding rookie tight end Zach Ertz.
“There are three players that I told that they would be great players in this league: I always told Alge Crumpler that he was going to be great, I always told Shady McCoy that he was going to be a great player in this league, and I always told Roddy White. And now I’m saying Zach Ertz. And I think in time, he will be one of the best tight ends in this game.”
Ertz had all of five NFL catches at that point. Still working through a learning curve — steepened by his inability to participate in the offseason program because of graduation rules — the Stanford product played a limited role initially. He was featured more as the year went on and ended with 36 catches for 469 yards with four touchdowns. While we still have a ways to go before determining whether Vick’s intuition is correct, it’s fair to say that there are encouraging signs. Read more »
The Eagles need to improve their pass rush and Brian Orakpo is largely considered the top outside linebacker on the free-agent market, so we figured we would take a closer look to see if this is a potential fit.
Why it works
Orakpo (6-4, 257 pounds) is 27 years old, which falls within Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman‘s preferred age range. They want to bring in players who can not only contribute now but also be a part of the core moving forward, and Orakpo seemingly fits the bill. After dealing with a pec injury that cost him most of 2012, he played in 15 games this past season and finished with 10 sacks, nine stuffs, two fumble recoveries and 29 hurries. He was named to his third Pro Bowl. Read more »
One of the great things about the NFL is how one week, one series, one pass can alter perception.
How many times have you gone into a Sunday feeling one way about a team or player, only to walk away with a fresh perspective? Sometimes, that happens even if the team or player in question isn’t part of the proceedings. Take Nick Foles, for instance.
Even though he hasn’t played since January 4th, the conversation around Foles continues to evolve as the playoffs unfold. He is being compared to Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson — in many circles, favorably. An argument I have heard several times since the NFC Championship Game is that Kaepernick and Wilson are beneficiaries of a strong supporting cast, and that Foles would be as successful (maybe more successful) if he was backed by the type of nasty defense that the Niners and Seahawks enjoy. Kaepernick’s three turnovers on San Francisco’s final three drives in the NFC Championship game are helping to fuel this conversation.
It’s a dangerous leap to make. Read more »
Before scaring the hell out of Erin Andrews and setting social media ablaze with his unfiltered thoughts on Michael Crabtree, Richard Sherman made the play of the game. Despite the corner’s assertions, Crabtree is far from mediocre. Yet Sherman stayed stride-for-stride with the receiver down the right sideline, turned his body, leapt into the air and stretched out his left arm to deflect a would-be go-ahead touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick. Malcolm Smith came up with the interception, securing the Seahawks’ spot in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“There are not many guys who can make a play on this ball,” said Troy Aikman as the Seattle crowd boomed in the background.
Chip Kelly frequently calls the NFL a player’s league, and that sequence with under 30 ticks remaining Sunday night demonstrated his point. The fate of two franchises came down to a one-on-one matchup. If Sherman doesn’t get his paw on that ball, the Niners are playing for the title in New Jersey in two weeks. But he did, so the Seahawks advance. Read more »