Friday, April 16, 2010

Play It Safe


I had a discussion with Matt Alkire on Wednesday evening about what the Eagles could and/or should do in the 1st round.  One of the points I brought out was to forget about our needs and focus on the available prospects.

We allowed 27 TDs last year.  We have a hole at RCB.  The initial thought is to go get the best CB available.  That's logical, but not necessarily the right way to think.  Joe Haden and Kyle Wilson are the top CB prospects.  Both guys are good players.  I'm especially fond of Wilson.  Still, neither guy is special.  Not even close.

Flip over to the Safety position.  There are a pair of unique talents in Eric Berry and Earl Thomas.  These guys aren't just the highest ranked players at Safety.  They are special players.  You can refer to them as playmakers, difference makers, weapons...whatever you like.  Just know that Earl and Eric are off in their own category. 

We've talked quite a bit on here about how much we all covet Berry.  I posted some scenarios the other day for how we could get him if he slides toward the 9 or 10 spot.   Unfortunately, no matter what scenario you come up with, the notion of us landing Mr. Berry is a major longshot.

Thomas is a bit of a mystery.  Mike Mayock likes him more than Berry and would spend a pretty high pick on Earl.  I mention that because there could easily be a team that feels the same way.

10. JAX
12. MIA
14. SEA
15. NYG
16. TEN
17. SF
20. HOU
21. CIN

Any of those teams could grab Earl.  The Giants did sign Antrel Rolle, but their Safety play last year was dreadful.  Kenny Phillips knee is no lock to be good in 2010.  Don't rule out FS for them. 

Having Earl get through that gauntlet of teams isn't real likely.  The question is how much we covet him.  I have no idea what the Eagles think of Earl.  I haven't heard his name mentioned by anyone in the know.  I'm simply making an assumption, one that seems pretty logical.

If the Eagles do in fact like Earl and see him as the kind of playmaker we desperately need in the middle of our defense, then it will be up to Andy Reid and Howie Roseman to decide how badly they want him.  You can bet our guys will be working the phones.

I'm not going to get into specifics right here.  We've got multiple landing spots to talk about and all kinds of tradeable picks.  The point is that we've built up a deep group of picks and that gives us freedom.  With multiple picks in rounds 2-4 you feel less stressed by the notion of making a move.

We have holes to fill on the roster so I don't want us putting together some massive ransom to move up.  I am willing to use one of the extra picks to help us land a special talent at the FS position.  I have no problem with Big Red and Howie being aggressive.  I just hate the thought of overpaying with so many good players in the middle of the draft. 

I've talked about Thomas quite a bit this year.  His tackling against big RBs can be a major issue.  That gets pushed aside because of his speed, range, instincts, hands, and athletic ability.  Earl has great ball skills and simply makes a ton of plays.  Putting him at FS would potentially be a great move.  We had a playmaker in the middle of the secondary from 1996-2008.  That spoiled us.  Having JAGs in 2009 wasn't a lot of fun.  I appreciate the need for a playmaker in there.  Also having someone that runs well and covers ground is very appealing.  Earl takes good angles in pursuit.  Think how different the first Dallas game might have been if we'd tackled Miles Austin at the 20 or 10 instead of letting him go for the TD.  A good FS can clean up a lot of mistakes.

We're less than a week until the action gets started.  Until then we'll just keep talking, guessing, and arguing for our guy. 


Worst sub-headline ever?  The Dolphins traded for Brandon Marshall.  That could very well make WR/KOR Ted Ginn expendable (right Rambo?).  Ted could be of definite interest if the price is right.  Miami doesn't seem real high on Ted.  If they shop him and get poor offers, that could put him on the bargain rack.  I'd love to get him with a 6th round pick or something like that.  We could use a KOR and backup WR.  Bobby April game-planned for how to stop Ginn for 3 years while both men were in the AFC East.  I'm sure Howie and Louis Riddick will talk to Bobby to get his thoughts on whether Ginn is worth calling about.


Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson visited Philly the other day.  He could be a good late round target.  Earliest he goes is late 4th.  Could be anywhere in rounds 5-7.  He can run and throw.  Has good size.  Solid passer.  Didn't have a great year, but a lot of his weapons were hurt or suspended.  Kevin Kolb came to Philly back in 2007 for a pre-draft visit.  Zac won't be taken early.  He's not that good of a prospect.  I do like the fact we're really checking him out.  He's our type of QB and might be a great value pick. 


RE:  what if Dez Bryant falls

Trade the pick to someone who needs a WR.  Don't take a headache at a strong position.  That's getting too cute with BPA.

RE:  loss of Heckert on draft weekend

I think Howie has been preparing for this for a couple of years.  Andy wouldn't have let Tom leave if he didn't feel we were prepared.  That doesn't mean there won't be any issues.  Any time you have change there will be some mistakes.  Let's hope that any issues that arise are of the small variety and don't affect the overall class in any significant way.

RE:  prediction about a player that is likely to become an Eagle

Tough question.  Let me think about that.


Cliff said...

I know everyone's sort of talked about this before, but what about using Vick on draft day to trade up? When we look at these teams standing in the way between us and Earl Thomas or Eric Berry, would any of them be interested in Vick + #24 (and whatever)?

arby said...

It seems like a lot of draft prognosticators have Thomas going in the top 10 now. Would love to have him on our team but it seems like a steep ransom would be likely.

If we stayed pat and didn't make any trades (even more unlikely...), here's one possible scenario:

#24: Devin McCourty CB
#37: Nate Allen FS
#55: John Jerry G
#70: Ben Tate RB
#87: Corey Wooten DE
#105: Carlton Mitchell WR
#121: A.J. Edds OLB
#137: Zac Robinson QB
#200: Clifton Geathers DE
plus 2 comps in 7th rd.

I think this would be a pretty good haul and there's a good chance they all could be available at these spots. We don't get our dedicated pass rusher or a DT but we fill a lot of other needs

Edward said...


I'd be quite suprised if Wooten and Edds fell that far though it'd be fantastic if they did. Switch Ben Tate for a player like Akwasi owuso-ansah and carlton mitchell for a WLB like Rennie Curran and that draft would be incredible.

arby said...

@ Edward

You're right - Wooten probably won't last that long but since we went out and got Tapp, I suspect we won't take a DE in the 1st rd. Tommy has Wooten ranked 53rd while GBNreport has him at 86th - I guess because of injury concerns. Tommy has AJ Edds at 97 while GBN has him at 122. I'm guessing we won't wait that long to address something as critical as SAM. I also like Akwasi - I'd love to get taller and faster at CB and could easily see us taking 2 CB's. Also, we probably won't address WR until later...

Kevin said...

I've been flip-flopping the past couple of weeks.

On the one hand, this team doesn't need depth (already has the best depth in the NFL), but star players. If we could add another elite playe on defense, we could be scary good.
On the other hand, this draft is STACKED from rounds2-4 where the true value of the draft is. If we can add 3 solid starters we're set for the next 5 years.

Because of that, I'm pretty much comfortable with whatever direction we go in as long as it doesn't involve WR in the first 4 RDs, Griffen/Dunlap/OT in RD1 and no John Jerry.

My ideal scenario is still Eric Berry falls to #10 and we trade up with our 2 3rds...then use our 2 rounders on top CB + top RB. 4 & 5ths used for depth.

Mike said...


I honestly would not be ok with dealing two 3rds to move to #10, even for Eric Berry. Eric Berry has a chance to be something special, but he also has a chance to be average (his floor). In the top 10 he will command a big contract...and to me 3 picks in the top 100 and a huge contract is too much for one player.

I would much rather see us roll the dice on a couple of players in the 3rd round who might have a little lower ceiling, but will most likely pan out into a good player getting paid much less than Berry.

On top of this, I don't think two picks is required to get to #10 considering what the Browns took last year and this most likely being the last year before a rookie pay scale.

Steven said...

Just curious.

Have the Eagles ever made a draft choice that you absolutely hated? Someone who you thought the Eagles reached for and had no shot of being a good player?

Mike said...


I never really had high hopes for Bryan Smith. he was a 3rd round pick that perplexed me...alot like the Raiders taking Heyward-Bey over Maclin.

AD said...

Hey Tommie, I was wondering if you have scouted Robert Johnson FS, Utah. He seems to be popping-up all over the scouting reports as a real sleeper pick for the third round, with the Bears seemingly real intrested.

With Juron as our secondary coach I think the eagles will look at someone like this who is raw yet athletic and coachable. The more I look the more I like this player.

Kevin said...

Again, I won't fault the Eagles for moving up or down the draft board. I trust their drafting.


Picks I hated (At the time)
- Kevin Kolb, Freddie Mitchell, Max Jean-Gilles, David Bergeron and Jeremy Maclin.

Jason said...


Just curious, but what was the logic behind hating the Jeremy Maclin pick? In terms of value, he was a great pick. In terms of positional need, yea, there were probably other positions with greater need, but WR was certainly not a set position. Did you actually hate the pick, or was it you coveted someone else that we passed up on to take Maclin?

Kevin said...

Couple of things I didn't like about Maclin.
1) We had a small speed WR in DSJ. If we were going WR early, I wanted Nicks. Case in point, Maclin isn't a red-zone threat and doesn't catch as well in traffic. I felt that Nicks was simply a better "fit" in our offense. Hated to see the Giants pick him.
2) I still maintain that Oher had the best value at our spot. He and Peters would have set the o-line for years. Given that at the time, Justice was a complete bust, Stacey was coming off a torn ACL and Shawn had his back/depression issues, Oher would have made a ton of sense.

Truth be told, heading into the 1st round, I wanted Knowshon Moreno or Malcolm Jenkins. I'm happy to be wrong at this point :)

Pitmanite said...

It looks like Cliff and I might be eating a super-sized plate of crow for complaining about people talking about getting Eric Berry. I can probably speak for both of us and say this is a case where we'd both love to be proven wrong.

I know this isn't anything new from Peter, since we've talked about it here, but thought I'd pass along the link.

Chris said...

Trading for Ginn as a KR/backup WR appears to be out:

I'd love to see the Eagles trade up to get Berry or Thomas but I don't want them giving up the farm (more than 2 picks) as they have a lot of holes to fill. I really hope they get 2 decent CBs that can tackle and a good LB (Sean Lee or A.J. Edds). If they draft well on D, this team can be really good for a while with their young offensive weapons.

Kevin said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I really don't see where all these "holes" are. We need a RBC & a FS. That's it. We have everything else.

Mike said...


I agree, although I think we need a RB, a kick returner (Desean is too valuable for that role), another DE/DT and another LB. I think the LB can be late, def not in the first 2 rounds.

Pete said...

Love the blog. Great insider info.

Wanted to share this post I found. It's a GREAT post that shows how likely it is a player drafted by Andy Reid will be successful, based on the player's position and where they are picked in the draft. A bunch of really good insights.

Chris said...


Our D last year wasn't close to our D in previous years. We need to make that like our offense (a lot of young talent).

Which holes? I'd say a FS, 2 CBs (one to replace Sheldon and another to supplement Asante). Why the 2nd to back up Asante? Because now everyone knows you can throw WR screens at him all day long and you can make decent yardage. He won't press. I'd say a strongside LB, someone who can cover and fight through blocks. It'd be nice to have a DE opposite Cole but not the biggest priority.

On offense, I'd say another guard or maybe another center. (Nick) Cole is serviceable at guard, less so at center. When he has to play center, that means MJG plays guard and he gets abused.

Steven said...

The picks I hated:

Kevin Kolb: McNabb was only 30 yrs old at the time. Our team finished 10-6 and were poised to be a good team next year. We had needs at MLB, S and TE. We passed up Greg Olsen, Paul Pozlousny, and Chris Houston. I also didnt know Kevin Kolb, and I couldnt say his name for atleast two weeks without saying kevin f@##@ing Kolb.

Bryan Smith: I had no clue who he was and when I looked him up I found out that he was a 230lb DE who was expected to go in the 6th round. We also passed up on Dujuan Morgan who I thought would be a decent player.

Mike McGlynn: I didnt hate the pick but I wanted Carl Nicks.

Stewart Bradley: I googled his name after the Eagles draft him and I saw this:

Cornelius Ingram: I wasnt annoyed with the Eagles drafting Ingram, I was annoyed that they didnt draft anyone in 3rd and 4th round (Sean Nelson, James Casey, Chase Coffman, Travis Beckam).

*That being said, Thank God im not an Eagles scout. Sometimes fans think they know more than the team and I tend to be one of them.

AKBowden said...

I hated the Tony Hunt pick. I'm wrong about a lot, but I had the running backs pretty well-pegged that year. Thought Hunt would never play a snap in the NFL. Too slow, no moves, no vision. Thought his good Senior Bowl was due to the blocking and liked the way Choice and Forsett looked much more in that game.

I also didn't like the Bunkley pick. Really wanted the Birds to move up to get a shot at Ngata. Wrote a way-too long drunken post on the EMB about it pre-draft.

But I'm no Nostradamus. I wasn't a big fan of the Maclin pick and even hated on him a little through the preseason and first few games. Didn't like the Avant pick at the time. Thought he had no upside and that he wouldn't be able to produce against better athletes.

My dumbest prediction was that Chauncey Stovall would make the roster and contribute as an UDFA.

Myron said...

"We had a playmaker in the middle of the secondary from 1996-2008."

To be fair, though, Dawk was never really a "playmaker" in the traditional, interception sort of way.

What he did was solidify the backfield and clean up every mistake guys in front of him made.

Earl Thomas is a player of a different sort. He's more of a traditional "playmaker" in the Asante Samuel, interception vein, and not a "solidify the middle" Dawkins way.

I'm beginning to wonder if you can't just get that same level of solid performance from one of the 2nd round prospects like Nate Allen or Morgan Burnett.

Myron said...

Also, Tommy, what do you think of Peter King's assertion that he "knows" the Eagles want to move up into the top 10 to grab Eric Berry or Earl Thomas?

"2. I think the Eagles want to come up.

Let me rephrase that -- I know they want to come up. The Eagles are in a very small club, teams that want to jump up from low in the first round to the upper half. I believe Philly wants one of the two safeties in the draft -- Eric Berry of Tennessee or Earl Thomas of Texas. With the 24th, 35th, 55th and 70th picks, the Eagles absolutely have the ammo to move up."

Is this just speculation on Peter King's part or does he really know something we don't know here?

I mean, I could have easily speculated that the Eagles have the ammo to move up into the top 10, but that doesn't mean I know anything that everyone else doesn't know.

AKBowden said...

I think you're selling Dawk just a bit short Myron.

He may not have always had enormously high interception totals, but I believe he forced fumbles at a historically high rate. I believe that during his career, no other NFL player has as many interceptions+forced fumbles.

A defender who causes turnovers with great frequency is pretty much the definition of "playmaker."

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: What holes?

Mostly depth. We have starting possibilities at RCB, FS, and WLB.

We need depth at DE, LB, LT, RB, WR, QB. We might need it at DT if we deal Laws. We might need depth at CB. I have no idea how much the Eagles truly like Pope or Patterson.

RE: Dawk

He wasn't a ballhawk, but he was a playmaker. FFs, sacks, INTs, PDs, and preventing TDs. More than one way to skin a cat. Normally I'm not in favor of going up high after a Safety, but this just might be the year to do it.

RE: hated picks?

Sadly, I think like the Eagles so I like most of what they do. I didn't like Tony Hunt. Why get an un-athletic workhorse RB for a passing team? Bryan Smith went too early, but I knew plenty about him and liked his potential.

I hated the MJG pick. Not my cup of tea. I hated Paul Fanaika last year. Wasted pick, based on our style of play.

I actually wasn't enamored with Maclin. I feared giving Big Red and Marty another toy to work with. I coveted Hakeem Nicks. Whatever happened to him? Must have been cut by someone because I sure don't recall him scoring any TDs on SNF games this year.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Peter King

I don't know what he knows about what the Eagles think or feel.

I'm hearing all kinds of stuff in regard to the Eagles. One thing I know that Pete may or may not is that our guys do a ton of calling prior to the draft. We like to be aggressive. The only way to do that is to make calls and develop trade scenarios before the draft.

Pete could have talked to 3 GMs that all mentioned us calling about moving up. He could deduce that we are definitely wanting to move up. That's logical, but not 100% true.

I do think there are 3 main trade up targets.

1. Eric Berry
2. Earl Thomas

I'm only guessing right now. This isn't insider info. I'm curious to see who you guys think the 3rd target is.

Edward said...

Yes please!

Edward said...

I want to say Joe Haden but thats too obvious, Derrick Morgan maybe but i'm thinking not. Could be a tackle and i'd guess Trent Williams but naaah. Maybe McCoy or Suh but i really doubt they'd want to spend that much to go up and get ANOTHER DT. I'm gonna say Jason Pierre-Paul just because i don't trust the Eagles taste in DE's.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Rocky McIntosh

I was surprised that he wasn't part of the McNabb trade. I kept thinking we were going to hear his name when the deal was finalized. The fact that didn't happen makes me wonder if he's a player we like.


One-year wonder with reportedly some character issues. Not Eagles material (most likely), but definitely not trade-up material.

AKBowden said...

The third trade-up target has to be Iupati. It feels to me like he would appeal to Andy the same way Shawn Andrews did. A massive guy with some upside (doesn't have much technique).

Edward said...

I only went Pierre-Paul because of our McDougle and Bryan Smith heritage. He's not a player i want, as much as Iupati could be great. Where would we play him??

Tommy Lawlor said...

Iupati isn't the 3rd target. There is still an outside shot he could slide to 24.

Think of someone who's likely to be a Top 15 player.

bp said...

If there's someone else they're thinking about moving up for, I imagine it would pretty much have to be one of the OTs, Haden, or Wilson. While Morgan would've made some sense before the Tapp acquisition, stylistically at least they seem like fairly similar players. An athletic speed rusher like Pierre-Paul might still make some sense, but with his number of question marks I don't imagine they'd be all that enamored with him. Having two starting DEs (in Cole and Tapp) both solid against the run, we could be at least a little intrigued by the idea of a beast like Dan Williams, freeing up Bunk to be more of a 1-gap pass rusher, but I don't imagine that's a scenario we'd be likely to trade up for.

Ultimately, I think if Berry makes it to 10, we make a strong push for him there. If Haden or Thomas make it past San Fran at 13, we think about jumping up to 14 before the Giants and Tennessee, both of whom are likely to go defense. I'm not sure whether or not we'd move up for Wilson. If all of our guys (Berry, Haden, Thomas, Wilson, and possibly Iupati) are gone by 24, I see us trading down to 29 (so the Jets can come up in front of ARZ and BLT for Odrick, Kindle or Hughes), and taking McCourty.

Edward said...

Can't be Rolando McClain he just doesn't fit with our current group of Linebackers. Gonna guess the more predictable pick, Joe Haden?

Fun game this!

AKBowden said...

CJ Spiller? Westbrook 2.0 but with more speed?

Jared Odrick: Interior disruptor with more length than any of our current DTs, and that might also be able to play LDE on run downs.

bp said...

With our love of homerun threats, I suppose Spiller's always a possibility (which scares me).

bp said...

The thought of us trading up for Spiller reminded me that I meant to ask you Tommy, if we might possibly bite on Ryan Matthews should he slip to 37.

BR987 said...

Anthony Davis

Dollar Brand said...

Spiller would be my guess as well. Hmmmm. I just hope the Eagles pick in the first otherwise it will be a looong wait until Friday.

Mike said...


My guess for player #3 is Derrick Morgan. We covet top DEs enough to pull the trigger on him if he slides to 14.

arby said...

Put me down for Spiller too. You mentioned you liked him a lot about a month ago.

as for "hated" picks: Tony Hunt and Ryan Moats. I wanted Michael Bush and Marion Barber who each went in the following round. I think that was the 1st year(Moats/Barber) I started following the draft! Do you think the Eagles have a tendency to over-think sometimes?

Tommy Lawlor said...

" Mike said...

My guess for player #3 is Derrick Morgan. We covet top DEs enough to pull the trigger on him if he slides to 14."

Give this man a cigar.

Several of you mentioned Morgan, but then talked yourself out of it. I did the same thing recently when thinking of the situation.

Then I happened to go back and re-read some old posts on the EMB where I answered draft questions a few months back.

One comment I made was about how perfect Derrick Morgan is for us. He has the size we love at 6'3, 270 (approx). Not tiny, but still very athletic. Great motor. Productive. Can play either side. Got some time at DT in certain sets.

I think the Eagles love Darryl Tapp, but the Eagles are greedy when it comes to the D-line. We're one injury away from having Juqua starting at LDE...or RDE. The horror. The horror.

If Morgan gets to a certain spot and the price is right, we could very well go for him.

This is all just a guess on my part. The only player we'll come close to breaking the bank for is Berry. We'll pay fair price for Thomas and Morgan. Beyond that I think we're value shopping or trading back.

Tommy Lawlor said...

"Do you think the Eagles have a tendency to over-think sometimes?"

I don't think so. I think the Eagles are guilty of believing they can change players through good coaching and lots of practice. Sounds good on paper, but doesn't always work when you're dealing with humans. The fact Tony Hunt has been banished to Siberia tells you that something was up with him. Lost his love for the game? Didn't handle the competition for PT well? Heck if I know.

We have to give the Eagles credit for bulking up Trent and making him a top pass rusher. They turned Shawn Andrews into a good pass blocker. They taught Maclin how to run routes. They got Demps to tackle. And so on.

We are willing to take some risks because Andy believes so strongly in his coaching staff. We have more hits than misses, but that doesn't mean that the failures don't haunt you. See Gocong's cover skills, for example.

Cliff said...

Someone asked about Eagles picks they hate and nobody said MATT MCCOY????

What the hell is wrong with you people.

Tommy Lawlor said...

I loved Matt McCoy. I can't tell you how excited I was when we made that pick.

I remember reading about Matt in January of his draft year. I knew the name, but vaguely at best. I popped a tape in and was blown away by how much fun he was to watch. That kid played with so much heart and emotion that I immediately fell in love with him.

My favorite moment ever came in a game when some blocker knocked the crap out of Matt. Guy just unloaded on him. Matt jumped up...but was excited, not angry. He patted the guy on the butt and genuinely seemed stoked that some guy had gotten this awesome hit. I've never seen anything like that in a game. It was like something from a movie.

Matt left school early to help his mom financially. I don't think he had the emotional toughness and business-like approach that you need in the NFL. Matt was playing the game he loved, but it was no longer about the game. The NFL is a job. He just didn't handle that well.

Cliff said...

My comment about McCoy has more to do with all the crap he got on TATE than anything else. He also had some nagging injuries that really hurt his ability to develop, if I recall correctly.

Myron said...

Tommy, you mention Derrick Morgan as a prospect the Eagles might covet...

Why not Brandon Graham? I would think he's the prototypical Eagles DE - small, quick and tenacious.

Do you agree with me that if all of the elite DBs are off the board at #24 (Berry, Thomas, Haden, and Wilson) that they should select Jerry Hughes or Brandon Graham (or Everson Griffen if both are also gone) with the #24th pick and then just target one of the 2nd tier CBs in the second round like Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty, or Brandon Ghee?

I really hope they go BPA (DE, OL, LB) with #24 instead of reaching for a DB if all of the elite prospects are gone.

Tommy Lawlor said...

I'm sure the Eagles like Brandon Graham. It isn't out of the realm of possibility for him to make it to 24. He's likely to go in the 15-20 range, but could slide. He doesn't have long arms or a great frame.

Earl, Eric, and Derrick are prospects that seem almost certain to go in the Top 15. You basically have to come up with an aggressive plan and target them.

Guys like Graham, Iupati, and Kyle Wilson are definite targets. Any of those guys could make it to 24 if a couple of things go our way. You don't have to break the bank for them. We still could move up, but going up a few spots is drastically different than moving 14 spots.

Damon said...

Tommy do you think we go after one of Oakland's lbs?

Tommy Lawlor said...

I think Thomas Howard is a possibility, but I haven't heard a word about who the Eagles like. I wish I knew and could tell you guys something or at least offer a hint. I've got nothing when it comes to LBs.

Steven said...


I felt the same way about Maclin. I though he was bust in the preseason and in the beginning of the season. Now I think he might end up being a better WR than DeSean. A;so was any one else annoyed that the Eagles didnt draft defense until the 5th round last year?

Anyway, I found this picture online

It felt kind of wierd

Myron said...

Whoa. I was just looking over recently, and I realized that both Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham were drafted with the #37 pick in their respective draft years.

So the Eagles trade Donovan McNabb for the same pick used to draft Jaworski and Cunnningham. Ominous? A hopeful portent? Meaningless? Who knows?