Saturday, May 16, 2015

Eagles 2015 Projected Depth Chart-Offense

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports, I recently came across the projected depth chart for the Eagles' offense heading into the 2015 season as copied below.

• Wide Receiver
1. Nelson Agholor
2. Josh Huff

• Wide Receiver
1. Riley Cooper
2. Jeff Maehl

• Wide Receiver
1. Jordan Matthews
2. Miles Austin

• Left Offensive Tackle
1. Jason Peters
2. Andrew Gardner

• Left Offensive Guard
1. Evan Mathis
2. Dennis Kelly

• Center
1. Jason Kelce
2. David Molk

• Right Offensive Guard
1. Matt Tobin
2. Josh Andrews

• Right Offensive Tackle
1. Lane Johnson
2. Allen Barbre

• Tight End
1. Zach Ertz
2. Brent Celek

• Quarterback
1. Sam Bradford
2. Mark Sanchez

• Running Back
1. DeMarco Murray
2. Ryan Mathews

My first thought was that things look pretty good... On Paper!!!! My next thought was that this unit should be able to put some serious points on the board if all the No. 1's on this list can stay on the field for the full 16-game regular season schedule. Most importantly this would include the Eagles' new starting quarterback Sam Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray.

Bradford has been injury plagued for most of his NFL career and before Murray had his break-out season in 2014, he also missed time due to injury. The other concern from a health standpoint is the offensive line. In Chip Kelly's first season as head coach, the starting five lineman played as a complete unit almost the entire season. Last year this was more like a MASH unit as multiple injuries took their toll as the season wore on. The starting five on this year's list looks pretty solid, but depth remains a major concern seeing how Kelly decided not to address this need in the recent NFL Draft.

The Eagles' receiving corps has also been altered over the past year with the departure of DeSean Jackson in the 2014 offseason and Jeremy Maclin this offseason. The Birds have to hope that second-year vet Jordan Matthews continues to develop as an emerging star in this league and that first round draft pick Nelson Agholor can make an immediate impact right out of the gate. The tight end situation remains solid and the Eagles still have Darren Sproules as another weapon.

Like I already said, things look good on paper and if everything goes according to plan I would expect this unit to once again be one of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL. Next week, I will take a closer side at the other side of the ball with a defense that has also gone through somewhat of a makeover especially in the secondary.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Eagles 2015 Draft- Final Grades

I decided to take an entire week to go through all the facts and figures of last week's NFL Draft before releasing my official report card for the Eagles in Chip Kelly's first foray as both head coach and as the team's director of personnel. I broke things down by a few general categories as well as issuing an overall final grade.

Meeting Team Needs: B+

I really like the first round selection of former USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor. This position was a pressing need with the departure of Jeremy Maclin through free agency. One knock on Agholor is his overall speed, but he does bring a high-level of versatility to the table that should work perfectly with Kelly's inovative offensive scheme.

Moving-up to get cornerback Eric Rowe from Utah in the second round also helped this grade, especially since he was considered to be first-round talent by many draft experts. This also helped to fill a pressing need to add some immediate depth into a recently revamped defensive secondary that has been a thorn in the side of this defense for the past few seasons.

Kelly decided to stick with defensive players with his next four picks. While you cannot go wrong by adding even more depth to this side of the ball, Kelly missed-out on getting an easy A in this category by not picking-up at least one offensive lineman.

Creativity: C-

This was Kelly's lowest grade simply because of all the hype he created heading into this draft. Some experts had him trading away all his picks and half his current starters to go out and get his former quarterback at Oregon, Marcus Mariota. Instead, he decided to play things pretty much by the book in what turned into a very methodical seven rounds of picks.

Diversity: C+

Once again, I like the fact that Kelly used most of his picks to add some key depth to the Eagles' biggest weakness during his tenure with this team. However, adding three cornerbacks may have been one two many and inside linebacker was not a pressing need given the depth and talent of the players he already had on the roster at this position. I do like the fact that Kelly decided to draft players on the criteria of what they can bring to the team instead of the actual position they play, but lets hope that he can move some of these new additions around to make an immediate impact this upcoming season.

Adding Character Players: A

I may be getting a bit ahead of myself in this category, but on the surface, it appears that all six draft picks are players that not only have a high motor on the field, but also have the ability to be quality additions to the locker room. Kelly has already shown his complete lack of patience for guys that are more concerned with their overall stats as compared to the final score of a game. The release of DeSean Jackson was a prime example of this philosophy last season and the departure of LeSean McCoy this year continues to prove that there is no "I in Team" in Philadelphia.

Overall Grade: B+

Taking everything into consideration, I really like the direction that Kelly took in this draft. While some Eagles' fans may have been disappointed that he did not make a huge splash by pulling-out all the stops to move-up to get Mariota, I took Kelly at his word that he would not mortgage his team's future to make this deal happen. Love him or hate him, Chip Kelly continues to mold this team into his vision of what it will take to bring a championship to this title-starved franchise. Lets all hope that the six players he just added to the roster turn out to be a big step in the right direction to finally achieving this lofty goal.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

NFL Draft Prop Bet Picks

I have no idea what Chip Kelly has up his sleeve for tonight's first round of the NFL Draft as well as for the other six rounds on Friday and Saturday so I am not even going to attempt to post my final mock draft as originally planned because I happen to truly believe it would be a tremendous waist of time. This will be his third draft as the Eagles' head coach, but his first as a general manager with complete control of all player personnel decisions so anything can happen between now and when Tampa Bay is "on the clock" with the first overall pick.

What I did decide to do is make a few picks on some of the numerous betting props that have been released in conjunction with tonight's opening round.The first set of betting odds deal with the eventual draft position for some of the top prospects in this year's draft. I decided to zero-in on Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and Georgia running back Todd Gurley as two of my top picks.

The betting odds that Cooper is selected before the sixth overall pick of the first round are set at -120 and they remain the same that he is picked higher than that. Most draft experts are confident that the Oakland Raiders will select Cooper with the fourth overall pick and I happen to agree. The names and faces with this franchise may have changed since the days when owner Al Davis made all of the personnel decisions, but I believe the general philosophy of drafting speedy wide receivers has not. Cooper is widely considered the best prospect at wide receiver in a very deep pool of talent and more than worthy of being a top five pick.

I also took a hard look at the betting odds for Gurley's draft position which were set at -120 for both UNDER or OVER 15.5. Draft guru Todd McShay had him going to the New York Jets on one of his most recent mock drafts, while his counterpart Mel Kiper Jr. has Gurley falling to Cleveland with the 19th pick of the first round. I am not sure what the Jets are going to do with that pick, but I am going to side with McShay that Gurley is "off the board" by the time Houston is "on the clock" with pick No. 16.

Running backs rarely get picked in the first round since many teams feel they can find a quality runner in the later rounds of the draft. While I do think that Gurley breaks the mold in this year's draft, I am going with the UNDER 1.5 at +500 on total running backs taken in the first round. Even though the money line odds on the OVER have skyrocketed to -1000, I still think he will be the only player at that position to go in the first 32 picks. The next best running back on the board is Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, who is projected by many draft experts to go late in the first round, but I am not buying it. Offensive and defensive linemen are always in high demand and this draft is extremely deep in wide receivers and quality defensive backs. Gordon would be a steal for any team that does draft him, but it will not be in the first round.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Betting on Tim Tebow as an Eagle

Anyone who follows sports betting knows that between the betting odds that the Las Vegas sportsbooks release along with the ones posted on any number of different offshore books, you can pretty much wager on just about anything. A perfect example are the current Tim Tebow prop bet odds that just released concerning his tenure as the newest member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

I am beginning to think that the Birds' head coach Chip Kelly gets bored if he is not the topic of conversation around the NFL at least once a week, so he vaulted is team back into the media spotlight this past Monday by signing former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and Florida standout to a one year contract.

Tebow has been out of the league since the 2013 preseason and he has not appeared in an NFL regular season game since the 2012 season, but none the less, Kelly believes that he is just the guy to revitalize the career one of the most polarizing players to ever play the position of quarterback in the NFL. I do not get paid to make those kind of decisions so maybe Kelly knows something that has completely escaped the personnel departments of 31 other NFL teams.

Now that Tebow is an Eagle, I will actually root for him to make the team's 53-man roster heading into the 2015 regular season, but I am not sure I am ready to bet on it. The betting odds he gets cut before the team's first preseason game on Aug. 13 have been set at +200 and the odds go up to +280 he actually makes it through the final cuts to earn a regular spot on the team.

Assuming Tebow is available to play come opening day, the betting odds that he records a passing touchdown in the regular season are set at +500, which are the same odds that he runs the ball in for score. The final player prop on the board sets the betting odds at +2500 that he actually gets traded from the Eagles.

Maybe Kelly has some grand scheme to utilize Tebow in some other position in his offensive scheme. You can bet on this as well with odds set for what position he lines up in for his first play in the NFL regular season. The best odds on the board are set at -600 for quarterback. The next best odds are +400 he lines up as a wide receiver or tight end and they go up to +500 he lines up at running back or plays on special teams. The longest odds on the board is that Tebow lines up on the other side of the ball on defense at +2500. I would not rule out any of these options with Kelly pulling the strings on this team.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Is Landon Collins the Eagles' Next First Round Pick?

Chip Kelly has quickly gained a reputation among NFL head coaches as someone that marches to a different beat when it comes to personnel decisions for his team. Last year he had no qualms about releasing wide receiver DeShawn Jackson even though he was coming off his best season as a pro. This year, he has really shaken things up by trading away his starting quarterback and running back while letting his top receiver depart via free agency. Given these past moves, speculation is still running high that Kelly is cooking-up some kind of draft-day trade or trades to land his former quarterback from his coaching days at Oregon, Marcus Mariota.

Most of the talk about making such a bold move is based on pure speculation and when you start reading about how the Eagles are going to trade for Johnny Maziel and Cleveland's first-round pick as part of this Mariota scheme it is time to seriously start checking the sources. I personally think that Kelly is going to play things pretty close to the vest on April 30 and select the best available player that fits the biggest need with the 20th overall pick in this year's draft.

Both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay get paid quite a bit of money as the top two NFL Draft experts in the country. This time of year they are regulars on ESPN with their mock draft projections and football fans all over the country tune-in to see which player their favorite team is going to draft in the first round. Both of these NFL Draft guru's have Philadelphia selecting Alabama safety Landon Collins in the first round.

This makes perfect sense to me given the recent departure of Nate Allen to Oakland via free agency along with the fact that the Eagles do not have someone in place to fill his shoes. Kelly has already given the defensive secondary a complete makeover with the addition of cornerbacks' Byron Maxwell from Seattle and Walter Thurmond III from the New York Giants while also saying goodbye to Bradley Fletcher, who is now in New England. This all combines to make safety the team's top overall need heading into the draft.

Collins is a logical choice given his athleticism and skill set. Another plus would be his ability to immediately fit in perfectly with defensive coordinator Billy Davis's scheme. He stands 6-foot-0, 228 lbs. and with the build of an outside linebacker he can provide both pass coverage as well as help against the run. The Eagles have not had an imposing figure at the safety position since Brian Dawkins roamed the secondary and right now (on paper) Collins appears to fit the bill.