Thursday, February 18, 2010

Draft Talk


I get a lot of questions about the Eagles and the draft.  I'm going to answer a few that seem to be of the most interest. 

RE:  Maurkice Pouncey / Jamaal Jackson / C position  

I don't know what the Eagles are going to do at C.  Jamaal Jackson tore his ACL late in the year.  Everyone assumes that means that he's going to miss 2010.  Maybe.  People point to Stacy Andrews struggles since he had a similar injury and time frame.  There is one huge difference.  Jamaal only has to rehab.  Stacy moved to a new city and joined a new team.  He had to learn a different offense.  He had to adjust to a different blocking scheme.  He also had to adjust to a new position.  That's a lot for a healthy guy, let alone someone coming off a December ACL injury. 

Jamaal might be ready for the 2010 season.  He might not.  There's no telling how his rehab will go.  Because of that uncertainty we do need a good backup plan.  Nick Cole played mostly G in the last couple of seasons.  He was brought here to play Center, so the team obviously feels like he can do that.  Nick will get a high RFA tender so he isn't going to be switching teams.  The Eagles can project him as the starting C for now.  Mike McGlynn has spent plenty of time learning C over the last two seasons.  He could challenge for the job, but is a complete unknown at the NFL level.  Before you make too much of that remember that both Hank and Jamaal were unknowns who rode the bench before they got the job.  And each guy did get the job only because the guy in front of him got hurt. 

The Eagles ask a lot of the C.  He has to make line calls and blocking adjustments.  He has to be able to anchor in pass pro.  We like to do a lot of reach blocking, which requires lateral quickness and good hands.  We use a lot of screen passes so mobility is important.  I'm just not sure any rookie is going to be a great fit for the what we like to do.  Maurkice Pouncey is the top C prospect in the draft.  He has the kind of size we like, but is only a Junior and needs some work.  I would not be comfortable with the Eagles spending a 1st rounder on him and expecting Maurkice to start right away. 

RE:  Stacy Andrews

Why ask him to take a pay cut?  Couple of thoughts.  The Eagles are all about value.  They had no problem with paying him big money for his services.  However, they got very little out of him last year and the reduction is probably tied to that fact.  You don't feel bad about asking for some help since he got a lot of money for very little playing time. 

Second thought...maybe the Eagles are trying to make some financial plans so that they can make a big move in FA.  There is no Salary Cap, but teams still have budgets.  Take Westy and Kevin Curtis off the books.  Add in some money from Stacy and you're in the $12-14M range.  If this logic is true it means that we are going to take a run at ... PLAXICO BURRESS !!!  Okay, I'm probably off with that, but bribing the guards would be costly and that's where I figured most of the money would go. 

RE:  Vlad Ducasse

I've mentioned Vlad a few times as a guy the Eagles could like.  One of the things you have to consider when evaluating the draft is how the players fit on the roster.  You like to draft for the future, so that players can develop and be ready when called upon.  It looks like we'll have a solid starting O-line in place.  We could use an OL to develop for the future. We had several guys battling injuries last year.  Who knows what the future holds for the blockers we have in place?

Heck, think short term.  We know Jason Peters isn't like Tra Thomas when it comes to durability.  Tra played through all kinds of back pain over the years.  He struggled at times, but was better than any option we had.  Jason missed some time last year with small stuff.  If he goes down for a month we're in trouble.  One of the things that hurt the O-line was the shuffling we had to do due to injuries.  King Dunlap didn't look good in his one game (OAK), although matching up with Seymour was the worst case scenario for King. 

Ducasse could play either T spot or G.  We love versatile OL.  He has the kind of size and athletic background we like.  He uses his hands well and has a powerful hand punch. I'm not sure that I'd be all that excited by picking a blocker at 24, but it is a possibility. 

RE:  Backup RB / Staphon Johnson

Westy is almost sure to be cut.  He's due big money and coming off a year when he was hurt.  Bringing him back at a reduced salary doesn't make a lot of sense.  Backup RBs normally need to play on STs.  Westy covered kicks as a rookie, but not since.  LeSean McCoy is going to be the starter in 2010.  He does need a good backup.  We might go for a veteran, but also could look to the draft.  This isn't a strong class of RBs, but there are several who fit our needs. 

Someone asked about Staphon Johnson of USC.  He has some size and power.  He was a good Red Zone runner this year.  I don't think he has the athletic ability we're looking for.  Ben Tate is my favorite RB.  I'm also interested in LeGarrette Blount, Lonyae Miller, and Montario Hardesty.  CJ Spiller is the only early player that could be of interest.  He's likely to be long gone by 24.  Spiller is a great receiver, good runner, and dynamic KOR/PR.  You don't pass on that guy unless you have a full stable of backs. 

RE:  Reshad Jones

This is a Safety that I've talked about recently.  Here is a -Link- to watch some highlights.  Yes, he's big, but I think he is athletic enough to play FS for us. 

RE:  Safety

I get quite a few questions about different candidates at FS.  In 2008 we took Quintin Demps.  He had played FS and CB in college.  He was very productive and then went and ran a 4.35 at the Combine.  He seemed like an ideal FS candidate in the mid-rounds.  Demps had a good rookie year, but got complacent and lost his job last summer. 

We drafted Macho Harris last year, unsure whether to play him at FS or CB.  Macho was slow for CB, but that was his position coming out of Va Tech.  He impressed the coaches all spring and summer and stole the FS job from Demps and Sean Jones.  Macho was okay, but you could tell he was a rookie adjusting to the NFL and a new position.  He showed promise, but didn't do enough to nail down the job for the future. 

I don't want us to take a FS for the heck of it.  I only want a "sure thing" type of player.  What I mean by that is that I don't want any projects.  I don't want guys with major question marks.  I'll pass on Taylor Mays.  I don't want to find out that he can't make plays.  I'll pass on Chad Jones.  Great athlete, but I want someone who has started for at least 2 full years at Safety.  You have to understand what we're talking about.  Safety is a position where instincts and the mental side of things are just as critical as the physical attributes.  Small, slow guys like Ryan Clark and Jim Leonhard are good starters while bigger, faster guys sit on the bench or fall out of the league.  Ryan and Jim are smart, instinctive players. 

With that in mind, I really prefer Nate Allen (3 year starter at FS) and Reshad Jones (28 game starter at S).  Both guys have a good combination of size, athletic ability, physicality, and cover skills.  Earl Thomas is a great athlete, but tackling and size are major concerns.  He's only a RS-Soph.  That bugs me.  The Eagles may feel different.  I want players, not projects.  I know I'd be passing on guys with great upside, but Safety is full of talented failures. 

RE:  Eric Norwood

 I get quite a few questions about Eric.  Here's the deal.  He's 6'1, 252.  Eric played some DE early in his career before moving to LB.  He is at his best attacking off the LOS.  Eric has a nose for the ball and has made a lot of plays, especially in big games.  I loved him as a college player. 

Projecting him to the NFL is tricky.  I don't see him as a MLB.  He lacks the ideal frame for SAM.  He lacks the athletic ability for WLB.  I think he would be best suited for ILB in a 3-4.  That would limit the area he needed to cover.  It would also allow him to blitz a decent amount of the time.  I think Eric could be a terrific player if the right coach gets him.  In a fantasy world he becomes a Tedy Bruschi type (moved from DL to ILB in the NFL).  I don't like Eric for the Eagles.  I just don't see a position where he fits well. 

RE:  SAM / hybrid guys

Chris Gocong might be done as our SAM.  People wonder about the wisdom of taking a DE and trying to convert him.  Plenty of guys have made the move over the years.  Carlos Emmons as a DE in college.  He made the move to LB.  Mike Vrabel was a DE at Ohio State.  He's played LB in the 3-4 and 4-3 in the NFL with good success.  Jarrett Johnson of the Ravens played DE at Alabama.  Julian Peterson was a DE in college. 

Just because Chris hasn't panned out doesn't mean we can't try another conversion guy.  I understand the hesitance.  We'd all love a great SAM.  The problem is that SAM linebackers are hard to find.  Most guys that go 6'3, 250 and have some athletic ability end up at DE.  That means most of the time you either go for an undersized guy or a conversion guy. 

The Eagles have Moise Fokou penciled in as the SAM for now.  Gocong could get that job back.  We could make a pro move or go for someone like AJ Edds in the draft.  For now, though, we're leaning toward Fokou.  He is undersized, but is a very active defender and shows the ability to play in space.  I'm sure the Eagles will have him bulk up some in the offseason, but he'll never get over 240.  He doesn't look like that kind of guy. 

I think the Eagles are keeping an open mind.  They'll see what players are available before making any final decisions. 


Here is a link to a list of Draft Sleepers.  This isn't my own list.  I figured I'd mix in the insane ramblings of some other guy in case you are tired of my lunacy. 


Myron said...

Two things Tommy:

1.) Someone else mentioned this somehwere, and it makes some sense: how about signing Kevin Mawhue (sp) from the Titans to a 1 or 2 year deal? He's really old, but he's still playing at a high level, and maybe the offensive line could use a veteran anchoring the line and providing some leadership. Of course, it'd only be a stopgap until they can develop another center, or Jackson comes back.

2.) I saw this on your scoutsnotebookblog site: why not just tell Chris Gocong to bulk up a bit in the offseason and start HIM @ LDE? Supposedly he was a great pass-rusher in his college days, and there's reason to believe he could still be effective if he lined up in a three-point stance in the NFL. It's clear that the transition to LB has not suited him well, and that's fine, because some guys just are more effective lining up in a three-point-stance and rushing the QB instead of dropping back into coverage. Look at Kampmann in GB. Could the solution to our LDE problems possibly be in place already in Gocong?

Myron said...

Also, one last thing about the safety situation:

I know you're not high on Taylor Mays, and neither are alot of other draftniks, and rightfully so: he's pretty poor in man coverage.

But look at the Tampa-2 system run by Tony Dungy during his tenures with the Bucs and the Colts. Tell me that a hard-hitting enforcer that runs a 4.4 40 like Mays would not thrive in that kind of system? As long as he's not asked to drop back and cover guys very often, and instead is allowed to build a head of steam and wallop guys that wander into the middle of the field, he could find success as the next Bob Sanders or John Lynch.

I know the Eagles don't run this system currently, but PERHAPS now that you have Dick Jauron on the staff, with his preference for Cover-2 schemes, and you have McDermott running the show now, who seems to be more open to experimentation with different schemes than Jim Johnson ever was, and you realize that both Jauron and McDermott were defensive backs when they played the game themselves (cornerback and safety, respectively)... Maybe they experiment with the Tampa-2 themselves, and covet Mays as their enforcer safety?

How would you feel about Mays if you knew he'd be used in the John Lynch role in a Tampa-2 system?

Tommy Lawlor said...

Mawae could be brought in to play C for 2010. The Eagles won't give him big bucks, but if the price was right that could be of interest.

Gocong was a 3rd Rd pick. He hasn't worked ideally at LB, but the notion that he can move to DE and thrive is iffy. Jason Babin has similar size. He was a 1st round pick. He's struggled to make it at DE.

People want to assume that Chris can be a really good DE, but he might struggle there.

I'm open to giving him a chance, but keep the expectations realistic.

Don't underestimate the value he has at LB. Chris has 40 starts. If Fokou gets hurt turning to Gocong at SAM wouldn't be a bad thing.

Tommy Lawlor said...

The Cover 2 and Tampa 2 are different things. The Cover 2 is run by many teams. That keeps the CBs playing up. It has the FS and SS playing deep, splitting the deep area of the field in 2.

The Tampa 2 is the Cover 2 scheme mixed in with undersized players where there is an emphasis on speed rather than size.

We might play more Cover 2, but I doubt we're going Tampa 2.

I do think Mays would be an ideal fit in the Cover 2. He is fast. He excels when sitting back and then attacking targets in front of him.

Netherman said...

Nice vid on Reshad Jones...obviously that was only highlights...why isn't he rated higher? What is the knock on him that keeps him from being a 1st rounder?

Cliff said...

If the coaches thought Gocong could be a good pass rusher with his hand down, we would've seen more of it this season, I think.

Gocong is NOT the answer at LDE. He's simply not better than Parker and that's the point... we need someone better than Parker.

izzylangfan said...

The video on Reshad Jones is impressive. He is a hard hitter, hard runner and fights for the ball which seems to find him frequently. Can he really be a second round pick, especially where the Eagles pick in round two? We wouldn't draft him at 24 would we? So mightn't we have to trade up in round two or maybe get a high second for McNabb, or Vick plus another pick.

Myron said...

So, if McDermott and Jauron decide to shift the defense to a more Cover-2-centric model, might Mays be a good prospect for us then?

I mean, he is a 6'3" 230lb guy who runs a 4.3-4.4 40. That's crazy. In his highlight films you see him sprint across the field and cover massive chunks of ground in an instant.

Can you just imagine that guy in run support, flying upfield into the box, and then taking out running backs with his massive frame coming at them at full speed? And imagine the possibilities if McD decides to use him on a safety blitz: his speed and size coming off the edge after the opposing quarterback? Are you kidding me?

It's a shame he isn't better in coverage, otherwise he could be the ultimate safety prospect.

Mr_Boomy said...

Tommy can you list down about 10 players that you predicted that they would excel in the NFL and they actually did and 10 who didn't.

I wanna see "Biggest hits and misses of Tommy".

If you add those who you undervalued them would be nice tho.

Thanks Tommy

T_S_O_P said...

Any thoughts on Joique Bell? We have done so well with "French" skill position players the ,last 2 years.

T_S_O_P said...

Tommy, I am sure that you have mentioned him somewhere before. Maybe not? J'Marcus Webb has the size we like and the the college connection that might mean the Eagles may take a look late on Sunday if not Monday. Have you seen anything of this guy? Maybe I should ask this over in the the appropriate thread on the EMB?

PS I am awaking from my "it's pointless with Marty" slumber, and shall be asking more questions on the obscure players (as always).

Cliff said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how Shawn Andrews pans out this off-season. Obviously, I have no expectations for him, but what if he's healthy?

He seems to understand that he needs to work his butt off. That's a good sign. Can Andrews be the Winston Justice of 2010? Wow.