Eagles Wake-Up Call: On the 2014 Draft Class

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Today’s question comes from reader Jeffrey via email. He had a lot to say, so I will just paraphrase here to give you the gist:

I was reading your roster projection, and it made me think about what a colossal failure the 2014 draft has been. Other than Jordan Matthews and Beau Allen, it was total trash. Champions pick Pro Bowlers on Day 3 and don’t totally blow first-round picks. Chip Kelly’s player selection in the draft could be his undoing. Would love to hear your thoughts.

We projected roles for rookies last week, so might as well go over second-year players today. Here’s a player-by-player look at where things stand with the guys taken in the 2014 draft.

Marcus Smith, OLB – I have joked all offseason that I’m the only person on his bandwagon if anybody wants to give me company. The truth is there are not a lot of positives to point to so far. Only one first-round pick played fewer snaps than Smith last season. He jumped around from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. And this spring he’s battled a groin injury. Best-case scenario for 2015 is that Smith improves and gets on the field as the third outside linebacker behind Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Maybe he flashes pass-rushing potential, displays his versatility and competes for a starting spot in 2016.

But there are obviously no guarantees that those things happen. Smith has the measurables and appears to have the work ethic. It is just a matter of putting it all together. If he gets beaten out by Travis Long for the No. 3 OLB job, the cries of “bust” will be deafening. Read more »

Notes: Marcus Smith Nearing Return

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Marcus Smith has spent most of OTAs working off to the side with trainers.

He injured his right groin on the second day of spring practice, he said, and has been essentially a spectator since. After a rookie year full of frustrations, it wasn’t exactly the start to 2015 he was looking for.

“I was just like, ‘Something else. It’s gotta be something else,’ ” said Smith. “But I’m glad it happened now rather than later.”

The second-year outside linebacker did work in on some individual drills Monday and expects to participate in team drills come Wednesday. Read more »

What They’re Saying About The Eagles

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Here is what the national media have to say about Chip Kelly’s squad this week.

FoxSports.com lists Marcus Smith as one of the second-year players who needs to make a huge leap:

Projected as an outside linebacker, Smith struggled so badly that he was moved inside by season’s end. Smith has added 15 pounds this offseason in hopes the added bulk and strength will help get him snaps at a deep position for the Eagles.

Read more »

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 »

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