Saturday, April 14, 2018

Eagles Lincs NFL Mock Draft 1.0

In an effort to expedite my first mock draft ahead of the actual 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas on April 26-28, I have decided to jump to the last pick of the first round which is normally reserved for the previous season's Super Bowl Champion.

I have to be honest when it comes to this year's draft. I am woefully behind the curve since the Eagles are picking last in the first round. In previous years, I would normally be immersed in charting all the top prospects, breaking down Philly's biggest needs and grading the players that might be on the board when Howie Roseman and Co. go on the clock. This year, I am still busy watching the replay of Super Bowl LII and pinching myself to let me know that the final score was in the Eagles' favor.

Two years ago, it was classic Roseman wheelin' and dealin' to land Carson Wentz with the second overall pick. If you would go back over my draft posts on this blog for the 2016 proceedings, you would find that I was not too keen on what the Birds gave up to get their franchise quarterback. You would also realize why I am doing what I do and Roseman does what he does.

Last year's draft filled a big hole in the defensive line with the addition of Derek Barnett. He did not win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, but he was instrumental in helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title in 52 years. I had Philly taking running back Dalvin Cook with that pick, but he ended up going to Minnesota early in the second round.

Looking ahead to this year's draft, the buzz in town is that the Eagles are taking a very close look at LSU running back Derrius Guise at No. 32. There is a chance he will be off the board by then given that quite a few mock drafts have him going earlier in the round. However, if is is on the board when Philly goes on the clock in Big D with the last pick of the first round, Guise would be my top pick as well.

Last year's amazing Super Bowl run through the top teams in the league proved that you can never have too many backs running the ball. I love Jay Ajayi as the lead back and Corey Clement proved he can play at the next level. We might even see long-time veteran Darren Sproles using his soon-to-be 35-year old legs to make some more plays for the Birds.

The addition of Guise would make an already potent running game that much better considering that Philly was ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards per game last season. Building a team from the inside out on both sides of the ball and churning up the clock with the run are two of the main reasons why Philadelphia is the current NFL Super Bowl Champion. From what I have seen from Guise during his playing days for LSU, he could go a long way towards helping the Eagles stay at the top of the heap in their title defense.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Eagles Tweak Roster for Another Super Bowl Run

The good news about winning a Super Bowl is being world champs in arguably the top sports league around the globe. I am sure I would get some push back from die-hard basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer fans out there, but even people that do not follow sports have a passing interest in the NFL and more importantly the biggest single-day sports event of the year.

The bad news about winning a Super Bowl is you have nowhere to go but down unless you win another one the following season. While every Eagles' fan has a strong appreciation for what this season's group of players were able to accomplish, keeping this exact same group intact for another run in 2018 is not feasible given the complexities of the NFL's salary cap system.

Winning a Super Bowl can be a very costly proposition as evident in Philadelphia's cap situation heading into the offseason. Team vice president and the chief architect behind this team's roster, Howie Roseman will really earn his keep this year as he tries to keep the team competitive enough to make another championship run.

The Eagles were well over the current NFL salary cap heading into the league's new business year, so right off the bat there were cap casualties including wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was traded just weeks after the parade on Broad Street. Also gone are tight ends' Brent Celek and Trey Burton to free up cap space. More recently, Philly decided to part ways with Vin Curry after failing to come to terms on a restructured contract.

The biggest editions to the team were defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and wide receiver Mike Wallace. Roseman was also able to work his magic in restructuring deals for a few current players to free up some more space within the cap, most notably tight end Zach Ertz.

One of the biggest reasons the Eagles were able to make that huge leap from a 7-9 record in 2016 to Super Bowl glory this past season was Roseman's decision to build this team from the inside out along with the help of head coach Doug Pederson. Philly has one of the best offensive and defensive fronts in the NFL which allow the rest of the team to excel at their positions as well.

Looking ahead to this year's draft, the Eagles have the 32nd pick in the first round followed by two picks in the fourth round and one in each of the final three rounds. They will probably go with the best available player with each selection regardless of position to add even more depth to this championship roster.

The biggest question mark heading into next season will be the health of Carson Wentz's rebuilt left knee, but if Nick Foles is still on the roster he has more than proven he is a very capable backup. The ground game will be anchored by Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement with LeGarrette Blount moving on. Wallace could fill the spot Smith vacated at wide receiver and do not be surprised if the Eagles draft a tight end with their first round pick as the new backup to Ertz. Cornerback Patrick Robinson has also found employment elsewhere, but look for second-year vet Sidney Jones to step up his game after missing most of his rookie season due to injury.

Roseman will continue to tweak Philadelphia's roster with additions and subtractions here and there. You never know what kind of future deals he is likely to pull off given his keen instinct for filling the team's most pressing needs. In the final analysis, Eagles' fans waited 51 years to see our beloved Birds win their first Super Bowl title. I am sure we can easily wait 10 months to add a second world title to the mix.






Saturday, February 24, 2018

An Early Look at the Eagles’ 2018 Draft

The annual NFL Draft over the past two seasons played an integral role in the Eagles’ recent run to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. At the top of the list was a series of trades that allowed Philadelphia to select quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick of the 2016 draft. This gave the Eagles stability at their most important position. What Wentz has been able to accomplish in his first two seasons has laid the groundwork for a potential Super Bowl run every season he remains under center.

Going back to the 2016 draft, this was the first time that the duo of team vice president Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson worked together on the personnel decisions for the team. Fast forward to the team’s second pick in the fifth round when it selected TCU offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. He stepped in for Jason Peters early in the season and stepped up his game to fill a huge hole in the offensive line. In the seventh round they added safety Jalen Mills, who has gone on to become a key addition to the defensive secondary.

Moving on to last year’s draft, the Eagles went with defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round. Playing on one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, he made enough plays as a rookie to justify such a high pick. Cornerback Sidney Jones was a reach in the second round given his injury status, but he is the type of player that can make a huge contribution next season and hopefully for years to come. Mack Hollins was added in the fourth round to give the wide receiving corps some additional depth. He ended the regular season with 16 receptions for 226 yards and one score. This was well down the list on the team’s stat list, but productive none the less.

Turning to this year’s draft, Philly will have to wait until the final pick of the first round to go on the clock. One of the biggest areas of need would be on the offensive line even if Peters returns as the starting left tackle. Roseman and Pederson have done an excellent job of building this team from the inside out with a solid line on both sides of the ball.

Given that the Eagles will not pick again until the fourth round, their first-round pick could be the best available player at any number of positions. Some draft gurus have Philly taking Georgia running back Sony Michel at No. 32, but I still believe that it will be an addition up front. I would not rule out a defensive end or linebacker to add even more depth to one of the team’s strongest areas.

When it comes to the first of two fourth-round picks, I could see Pederson going with the best tight end on the board. Zack Ertz has developed into one of the best players at that position in the NFL, but Brent Celek is getting up there in years and early reports have Trey Burton testing the free agent market.

After that, it will come down to the best available player for the remainder of the picks, which include the second pick in the fourth round as well as two fifth-round picks and one more in the sixth. The dynamic duo of Roseman and Pederson have quite a bit less to work with in their third draft together, but the confidence level is rather high that they will make the most of the situation.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hey Philly, Buy that Eagle a Beer!

Before Philadelphia’s amazing run to its first Super Bowl title in franchise history even got out of the gate, Eagles’ right tackle Lane Johnson made the following statement back in August in an interview with ESPN.

“I have a lot to prove to this city. I think if we have a few big years and make the playoffs, if we win a Super Bowl, I’m giving out beer to everybody.”

Following Sunday’s amazing 41-33 victory against New England and against all odds as underdogs throughout the entire postseason, the good folks at Bud Light backed him up by announcing that they would buy everyone in Philadelphia a beer via Thursday’s celebration parade.

Philadelphia should be the ones buying this entire team a beer. Multiple beers for the rest of the time that each member of this team remains in the City of Brotherly Love. In fact, I would go as far to say that the entire 53-man active roster, anyone on IR, the practice squad, coaching staff and anyone else employed by Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles organization should never have to buy a drink again at any drinking establishment inside the five-county Philadelphia area. Throw in my old stompin’ ground in the Lehigh Valley, South Jersey and the entire state of Delaware for good measure.

The 2017 Eagles accomplished what 51 other team rosters could not. Two teams came close in 1980 and 2004 with Super Bowl appearances, but neither of those squads could seal the deal with everything on the line even with their starting quarterback (Ron Jaworski in ’80 and Donovan McNabb in ’04) on the field.

There were a few other good runs over the years, but somewhere along the line they all came up short.

I was hoping for a NFC East title this season after new head coach Doug Pederson led this team to seven wins in 2016 with first-year quarterback Carson Wentz at the helm. In my wildest dreams, I never expected to add a NFC Championship to the mix, let alone that oh so elusive Super Bowl title.

The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles will go down as being one of the best ‘teams’ to ever win a world title in the true sense of what being a team is all about. New England head coach Bill Belichick became well known for his simple mantra of ‘know your role, do your job’ and the Eagles followed that edict to a tee to beat the Patriots at their own game.

There are no egos on the 2017 Eagles. There are a number of great players, but no superstars that put their individual goals ahead of the collective goals of the group. You never heard a world from LeGarrette Blount when the Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi. Carson Wentz went out of his way to help Nick Foles prepare for this epic run while it seems apparent that Tom Brady did his best to run his backup Jimmy Garoppolo out of town.

Change is inevitable in the NFL and next season’s roster is bound to have a few new faces and a few missing from this year’s team. You wish you could hold time in a bottle and keep everything the same. However, that will (and probably should not) be the case.

The good news is that the basic core of this team will remain intact along with its heart and its sole. Doug Pederson should immediately be given a long-term contract (or at least longer than his current deal) and Howie Roseman should be given a huge raise. Signing existing free agents already on the team should be a top priority as opposed to shopping the market for players from other teams and keeping Nick Foles on the roster until Carson Wentz is 100 percent ready to go should be the plan at the quarterback position.

It is going to be a fun offseason for Eagles’ fans even if we have to wait until the 32nd pick of the first round of the draft for Philly to be ‘on the clock’. Wouldn’t you just love that to be the case every single year.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Eagles Head into Super Bowl LII with a Zero Margin for Error

I have covered this Sunday’s Super Bowl LII showdown between our beloved Philadelphia Eagles and the reigning champion New England Patriots from every possible angle in more than a dozen articles I have written for my various sports betting sites over the past two weeks. One of my goals in this thorough analysis of stats, facts and trends was to find a way that the Eagles could finally bring home a Super Bowl title against a team that has made a habit of winning world titles over the past 18 seasons with Bill Belichick in place as the team’s head coach and Tom Brady under center as quarterback.

This may be a rather obvious conclusion, but the only way I see Philly winning this game is with a mistake-free performance that is capable of scoring more than 24 points while holding New England to no more than this exact same amount. This means no interceptions, no fumbles, no bad penalties. It also means that head coach Doug Pederson must orchestrate a perfect game plan and quarterback Nick Foles has to execute it. It also means that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz must find a way to keep constant pressure on Brady with just his front four rushers to keep as many players in coverage as possible. Finally, if the Eagles are finally going to taste Super Bowl glory, they will have to play a full 60 minutes of football or longer in overtime if necessary to seal the deal.

Playing with a zero margin of error is not easy to do against the Cleveland Browns let alone the New England Patriots, but that does not mean that Philly cannot pull off that third upset in a row. More than a few fans at Sunday’s game were expecting to cheer on the hometown Vikings and we all know how that turned out.

I have stopped short of making an actual prediction of which team wins this game since I honestly believe this matchup is too close to call. My homer pick would be the Eagles, but there is a reason why New England is going for its sixth Super Bowl in the Belichick/Brady era. The one pick I will make is that the final score will be 28-24. For my complete game preview of Super Bowl LII in one of my articles for SportsBettingStats.com, please check out the link below.

LINK: Super Bowl LII Game Preview