Kiper: Eagles ‘Hit The Jackpot With Matthews’

Eagles Draft 2015
Photo Credit: Eric Hartline - USA Today

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline – USA Today

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. held a conference call Thursday and praised the Eagles selection of Jordan Matthews last year. Despite hitting on that pick, he thinks that wide receiver is the Eagles number one priority going into draft night on April 30.

Kiper explained that the Eagles’ stockpile of bodies at the cornerback position doesn’t make that hole as much of a need as some other places.

“The put themselves in a position with [Byron] Maxwell coming in, with [Walter] Thurmond coming in, that they don’t have to take the cornerback early on,” Kiper said. “They’re a team right now that could go several directions. You think about if they want an offensive linemen, an outside linebacker, if you want a receiver, I think that could be a possibility now for them, wide receiver.”

Kiper is very optimistic about the future Matthews. Read more »

What They’re Saying About The Eagles

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Here is a rundown of what the national media are saying about the Eagles:

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com rates Marcus Smith as the second-most disappointing rookie of 2014, behind 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward:

When the Philadelphia Eagles went out on a limb and took him in the first round, there was a lot of people who wondered if they reached for him because I didn’t necessarily see a first-round player, but you take him there and you expect him to be a significant contributor. He only played 74 snaps as a rookie, registering one tackle. That is not the kind of production you need from a first-round pick. He couldn’t work his way into the rotation, in year two it has to be better or the criticism will not only be levied at Marcus Smith, but it will come down on Chip Kelly for wasting a first-round pick on a guy that doesn’t give you significant contributions.

Read more »

Eagles Rookie Review: Player-By-Player Breakdown

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Below is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ rookie class performed in 2014 and what to expect going forward.

Marcus Smith (1st round, 26th overall)

He got on the field in eight of 16 games. Smith was inactive twice and a DNP-coach’s decision six times. In all, the Eagles’ first-round pick played just 68 snaps all season.

Smith started the season at outside linebacker, but switched to inside linebacker after the Eagles were decimated by injuries. At times, Billy Davis tried to use him in a specialized role in sub packages, but Smith’s head appeared to be spinning, and that experiment didn’t last. Read more »

Eagles Notes: Mariota’s Stock And Grading the ’14 Draft

Matthew Emmons / USA Today

Matthew Emmons / USA Today

MOBILE, Ala. — There seems to be a new Marcus Mariota rumor every day.

The latest has an AFC scout telling NFL.com that he expects Mariota to slide on draft day:

The scoop: “All these teams high in the draft are all going to see the same things on tape with Mariota, and I’ll bet he starts to fall on draft day. Once that happens, (Philadelphia Eagles coach) Chip (Kelly) will mortgage the future to go get him. If he misses on him, (Kelly) can just bolt back to college.” — AFC scout.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this is just one man’s opinion, but there have been multiple suggestions that Mariota might not end up being a top-five pick. Read more »

A Different Side Of Marcus Smith

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

MOBILE, Ala. — When Lorenzo Mauldin thinks about his former roommate at Louisville, Marcus Smith, he doesn’t see a first-round pick who couldn’t get on the field as a rookie.

He doesn’t see a bust or a player who is destined to fail at the NFL level. Rather, he thinks of former walk-on Dominique Dishman.

The way Mauldin tells it, things weren’t going well for Dishman at Louisville, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue playing football. That’s when Smith stepped in.

“We actually had a walk-on on our team, and he quit,” Mauldin explined. “Marcus got into his head a little bit and started talking to him about how God has a plan for him and everything. He had the talent, so he had to go out there and show it. He had to work a little harder because he was a walk-on. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Clinton-Dix And the Six

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

We were reminded during Sunday’s NFC Championship Game of the Eagles’ pre-draft flirtations with Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Ed Maryonwitz, the Eagles’ assistant director of player of personnel who once led Alabama’s recruiting efforts, sent Clinton-Dix an article about the team’s interest in him during the lead-up to the draft, to which the safety replied, ‘Come get me, please. Whatever it takes.’ ”

Clinton-Dix was still available when Arizona — holding the 20th pick — went on the clock. Receiver Brandin Cooks was, too. Those were the only two of the Eagles’ targeted six still remaining. (Most agree that the desirable six were Cooks, Clinton-Dix, Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham, Jr., Kyle Fuller and C.J. Mosley). To ensure they landed one of them, the Eagles would have to part with a third-round pick to move into the Cardinals’ spot. Instead, they stood pat. The Saints offered their third to get from 27 to 20 and grabbed Cooks. Green Bay followed by taking Clinton-Dix. And the Eagles went to Plan B, which included trading back and selecting Marcus Smith. Read more »

An Eagles Slant To the Wild Card Round

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Like many of you, I spent the weekend watching four playoff games and fell into the habit of viewing many things through an Eagles lens.

Keeping that in mind, here are five thoughts, along with a flurry of observations. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: An Opportunity For Graham

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline - USA Today

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline – USA Today

Brandon Graham‘s fifth season with the Eagles is nearing its end. The rookie contract that has tied him to Philadelphia — for better or for worse, in good times and in bad — is about to expire.

Most of the good has come of late.  Graham has made peace with the ghosts of expectations unmet and has adapted to his new position to become a productive part of the Eagles’  attack. He has 5.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 14 quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles on the season while playing a shade under 40 percent of the snaps.

Somewhat apropos of the way his pro career has gone, Graham’s playing time is set to spike just as the sand threatens to drain out of the hourglass. Trent Cole is expected to miss at least one week with a broken hand, meaning Graham jumps into the starting lineup for the first time since 2012.

“This is a big opportunity for me to really show what I can do with more snaps. I’m excited to just be able to go compete and get better with my teammates,” said Graham. Read more »

Smith’s Development “Stifled” By Switch

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

It was out of necessity that Marcus Smith II was shuffled from outside linebacker to inside linebacker earlier this year, and it is out of necessity that he is now being shuffled back to his original position.

Trent Cole broke his hand against Dallas and is expected to be sidelined for at least one week. That means Brandon Graham steps into the starter’s role while Smith figures to be the next man in.

“I expect to get some snaps. I’m not sure how many snaps I’ll get but I’m sure to get action,” said Smith. “Hopefully go out there, run around and just make a play.”

Smith is currently practicing at the Predator position, so he’ll likely rotate in for Graham at times. Bryan Braman is the other option at outside linebacker.

Smith was moved inside back in September after Mychal Kendricks and Najee Goode went down with injuries. He was already having a difficult time acclimating to the pro level, and now had to do so while learning a new position. The results haven’t been good. Smith has appeared in six games and has played just 74 snaps, totaling one tackle and one quarterback hurry.

“We set him back by moving him inside, but we needed that because of all the injuries we had at inside,” said Billy Davis. Read more »

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