The 2017 NFL Draft Will Be in Philadelphia

A grey NFL Draft helmet and a football

The set-up at City Hall before the announcement the 2017 NFL Draft would be held in Philadelphia | Photo: Dan McQuade

This is Philadelphia sports, and things can’t be easy. So of course it’s happening this way: The NFL Draft is returning to Philadelphia next year for the first time since 1961. The Eagles do not have a first-round pick.

The draft will begin on April 27th and run through the 29th, and will be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The NFL said draftees will walk up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art when they are selected. Just like Rocky!

“How cool is this!” Ron Jaworski said to the assembled media at City Hall today. “About a post-pattern from here, eighty years ago the first NFL Draft was held. And guess what: We’re back, Philadelphia!”

The NFL Draft was held in New York between 1965 and 2014, but a few years ago the NFL decided to make it more of a fan-focused experience. It was held in Chicago’s Grant Park and Auditorium Theatre the past two years. Read more »

It Looks Like the NFL Draft Will Be in Philly Next Year

The NFL draft logo side by side with the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Benjamin Franklin Parkway photo by Spike Brennan (license)

Per several reports, it seems like the NFL Draft will be in Philadelphia in 2017.

In early July, Wendy Ruderman quoted Bob Brady saying it was a done deal to hold the draft at a temporary stage and arena on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said the city hadn’t signed anything, but Brady was insistent: “We are going to showcase the city for the whole country again, and we’ll have thousands of visitors coming in here and all the players, all the sports teams, and all the coaches and managers will all be around. It will be great.” Read more »

Eagles Open Thread: NFL Draft, Day 3

(Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.)

(Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.)

UPDATE: The Eagles traded back in the sixth round to pick up an additional seventh-round selection.

Day 3 of the NFL Draft is underway, as the Eagles are expected to be on the clock five times today. Read more »

Philly’s Ibraheim Campbell Is a Real-Deal NFL Prospect at Safety

IBRAHEIM-CAMPBELL-JERRY-LAI-USA-TODAY-SPORTS-940X540It looked like Northwestern was going to lose. Notre Dame led the Wildcats by two scores with just over four minutes to play. But the Fighting Irish had picked up two first downs and looked poised to run out the clock. Then Ibraheim Campbell stepped in.

Or, rather, laid into Notre Dame senior Cam McDaniel, forcing a fumble the Wildcats recovered. It was a devastating turnaround. “The amount of self-hatred I had after the game,” McDaniel — who had fumbled just once in his career previously — said later. “It wrecked me, it really did.” Northwestern drove down the field for a tying field goal, and upset the Fighting Irish on another field goal in OT.

Campbell forced two fumbles in that contest, Northwestern’s first game against ND since a famous upset in 1995. Now, the Wildcats have a winning streak against the Fighting Irish — their first since 1962. “It’s the reason that you play college football, to go into those environments, to get those opportunities,” Campbell said via phone earlier this week. “Those College GameDay moments.”

The Germantown native is hoping to move to a bigger stage soon: Campbell is a top safety prospect in this year’s NFL Draft. At the NFL combine, he has a chance to help (or hurt) his draft prospects with a good performance.

Read more »

Weekend Reading: Draft Edition

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

The draft is just over a month away. We’ll be kicking our coverage into high gear beginning this week. Let’s start with a look at who the draftniks are linking to the Eagles: Read more »

Cosell On Receiver Fits For Chip

Odell Beckham

Whether DeSean Jackson is on the roster or not, chances are the Eagles will be tempted to pull the trigger on a number of quality wideouts throughout the draft.

“I think we’re going to be sitting there in every round and there’s going to be a receiver we  like,” said Howie Roseman at the combine. “It’s just going to happen that way…Guys will be pushed back because of the quality and the depth of the class.”

Add NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell to the long list of analysts and executives that are calling this the best receiver crop in recent memory. Out of this group, which are the best fits for Chip Kelly and the Eagles offense? We asked Cosell for his take, and he offered four names to consider.
Read more »

Eagles Select Lane Johnson With No. 4 Pick

By the early look of things, all three of the elite tackle prospects were going to be off the board before the Eagles even got on the clock. Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel went 1 and 2, and the O-line needy Dolphins traded into the third slot, presumably to land Lane Johnson. Instead, they grabbed Chip Kelly‘s old student, Dion Jordan. 

They would have a chance to land a tackle after all.

“We thought he was the most athletic tackle we’ve seen,” said Kelly of his first draft pick as Eagles head coach. “He has a huge upside. He hasn’t played a ton of offensive tackle but he has played the right side and the left side so he has experience at both sides.

“The game is won up front. He’s a tough, physical guy and that’s what I think we were looking for as we went into this draft. It’s an exciting thing when you can target people and get what you’re looking for.”

Kelly said that the three tackles and Jordan were the top four players on their board. As it turned out, those prospects went 1-4. In Johnson, they get an intriguing athlete that has more question marks than Fisher and Joeckel because of his lack of experience. But Johnson believes he is ready to start right away.

“I think I am. Yes sir,” he said.

As far as whether he has a preference of playing on the right or left side, he said, “I really don’t care. I’m trying to be as balanced as possible. Whatever coach Kelly and [the team]  needs, I’m going to do it.”

If Johnson is capable of playing early on he could man the right tackle post, kicking Todd Herremans inside.

The 6-6, 303-pounder played quarterback in high school and didn’t draw much recruiting attention, eventually landing at Kilgore (junior) College. But Johnson kept filling out his frame and was moved to tight end in the spring. By that time, he had bulked up from 220 pounds to 255.

Oklahoma offered him a scholarship, and Johnson red-shirted in 2009 as a tight end. He kept putting on weight and was now up to 270. The coaching staff decided another position switch was in order, moving him to defensive end.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The Sooners suffered an injury on their offensive line, and Bob Stoops asked Johnson if he wanted to give tackle a shot.

“I kind of asked him. I said, ‘Come on, Lane.’ He was a big d-end, we loved him there to be honest with you,” said Stoops. “But I could tell. I said, ‘Big Lane you’re 270 and I can tell you could be more. How are you managing it at 270 playing d-end?’

“I asked our strength coach, what will it take for him to be 300 pounds? He said, ‘Only a couple weeks and a cheeseburger.’ Sure enough, that’s what happened.”

Stoops said they knew after two practices that he had found his home. Johnson played right tackle as a junior and left tackle as a senior.

“I think he is ready, but he is raw,” said Kelly. “And it’s a draft of raw guys. Luke Joeckel is a three-year player…It just seems that’s how this draft fell out. We look at raw as a positive, not a negative because if he’s doing what he’s doing now and he has only played really two years on the offensive line…just what the upside is. We felt his ceiling was probably the highest. That’s the intriguing thing.”

Johnson shot up mock drafts after excelling during the pre-draft process.  Adam Caplan said he’s never seen a more dominant performance at the Senior Bowl.

A look at Johnson in action below.

Sheil Kapadia contributed to this story.

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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