Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eagles set to go after Byron Maxwell in Free Agency

The Seattle Seahawks two straight trips to the Super Bowl were built around a defense that featured one of the best secondaries in the league. It appears that the Eagles may be looking to rebuild their porous defensive backfield with one of the cornerstones of that Seattle defense by signing Byron Maxwell, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10.

This move would make all the sense in the world for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the need is there after the Eagles gave-up a NFL-high 72 pass plays of 20 yards of more this past season. Maxwell caught head coach Chip Kelly's eye in Philadelphia's 24-14 loss to the Seahawks this past season after he played a key role in keeping his high-powered offense from converting on nine of 11 third-down opportunities in that game.

The second reason on the list would be Maxwell's prototypical size and cover ability that would fit perfectly into defensive coordinator Billy Davis's current scheme. The Eagles do not have a premier cover corner and Maxwell would fit the bill. He would also bring a much needed physical presence at the line of scrimmage that has been extremely lacking in this defensive backfield in recent years.

Another reason why going after Maxwell would make a ton of sense is it would free up Kelly to pursue other team needs with the 20th pick in the opening round of this year's NFL Draft. The offensive line needs to be addressed as well as the safety position on defense. More and more experts are expecting Philly to make some kind of move to go after former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. If that is the case, Kelly is going to need to fill certain holes through free agency in light of the fact that he will probably have to mortgage this year's draft (and possibly the next few) to move up high enough to land his former signal caller when he was still coaching the Ducks.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eagles' Mock Draft 1.0 Update- February 21

This year's NFL Draft will take place from April 30 to May 2 and there is already a pretty wide variance among football experts as to what the Eagles will do with the 20th overall pick in the first round.

There is still widespread speculation that third-year head coach Chip Kelly will wheel and deal his way into position to draft Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, but for the purpose of this discussion, I am going to assume Philly stays put at No. 20 for its opening pick. A panel of four experts with all have the Birds taking a cornerback at this spot, but there are four different names on that list.

I would not consider myself a top expert when it comes to the NFL Draft, but I am smart enough to know that filling a pressing need with the best available player on the board should always be one of the top priorities especially when it comes to the first round. Cornerback is a pressing need with this team, so I would have to agree that this is the direction that Kelly should go in when his Eagles are finally "on the clock". Some of the names that are on this short list of defensive backs include PJ Williams from Florida State, Jalen Collins from LSU and Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest.

The player I have on my list in my first ever Eagles' mock draft is Washington cornerback Marcus Peters. I am not just saying this because he is also on the ultimate draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s board for the Eagles in his current mock draft, I actually think he would be the best fit for the Birds' defensive scheme. There are some off-field character issues that would have to be addressed, but the value is there in Peters' ability to make an impact from Day 1 as a playmaker with excellent ball skills. Given Kelly's obvious affinity for players from the Pac-12 also adds some credibility to this pick.

I have not studied the draft deep enough yet to come up with my official picks for the later rounds, but I would start looking at the outside linebacker, running back and possibly even the quarterback position in the second round. All told, the Eagles should head into this year's draft with eight total picks including two in the fourth round. In the coming weeks, I will be digging deep into the current draft class to come up with a complete list of players for all of the Eagles' picks so stay tuned...

Friday, February 13, 2015

What to do about the Eagles' quarterback situation ?

The biggest topic of conversation this offseason surrounding the Eagles has to do with their starting quarterback situation. Right off the bat, I would like to go on record as saying that Mark Sanchez is obviously not the answer, but I think everyone outside the "Sanchise" himself was aware of that. The bigger question at hand is with Philly's incumbent starter Nick Foles. If he is not the long-term answer, then head coach Chip Kelly has some tough decisions to make between now and this season's NFL Draft to figure out who is?

Most football experts continue to insist that Kelly would love to have Marcus Mariota in the fold after coaching the gifted quarterback at Oregon, but are we so sure that he has given up on Foles' ability to become a franchise quarterback in this league? Maybe I am still clinging to the third-year vet's stellar performance in the 2013 season when he led the Birds to a NFC East title.

Anyone who has read my blog on a regular basis would know that I have always been a big Nick Foles' fan and I still believe he has a great chance to be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. I also know that his problems last season can be corrected starting with taking better care of the ball. Eagles' fans are notorious for having short memories when it comes to this team, but there is a reason why Foles was able to throw 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions in that 2013 run to a division title. I am not making any excuses for last year's major regression to 13 scoring strikes verse 10 picks in eight starts, I am simply stating that it is hard to make an accurate evaluation of Foles' future potential on a sampling of just 21 games under Kelly's tutelage.

Turning to the situation of Kelly trying to wheel and deal his way to landing Mariota, my question is has Chip come right out and said that this is his plan? I realize he would keep something this big as close to the vest as possible, but he is also smart enough to realize just how dangerous it can be to mortgage your future by giving-up a number of top draft picks or key veterans to land just one player. Go ask Washington how that plan worked with RG III.

I am not doubting that Mariota can quickly turn into a big-time quarterback in this league, but I also know that there are no guarantees he will. Maybe, by some stroke of fate, he will continue to fall in the draft after being projected as the No. 1 overall pick. Right now both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have him going sixth to the New York Jets, but it is hard to believe he would fall all the way to 20th, which is where the Eagles will be on the clock in the first round.

A third option would be to select a different quarterback either in the first round or later in the draft. Kelly's early success in the NFL has been built around a system that is tailored towards his starting quarterback's strengths, but having one that would be more mobile in the same vein as Seattle's Russell Wilson could turn a very good offense into a championship-caliber one.

One name that is starting to gain some traction in the mock draft circuit is former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. He immediately fits the mold given that he played his college ball in the Pac-12. We all know about Kelly's affinity for this conference with some of his past personnel moves. Hundley has the prototypical size to succeed at the next level at 6-foot-3, 227 lbs. He has also proven that he is mobile with 644 rushing yards this past season to go along with 3,155 passing yards and 22 touchdown throws. He completed an impressive 69.1 percent of his 392 attempts and he was only intercepted five times.

Whatever Kelly decides to do about the Eagles' quarterback situation remains to be seen and it should continue be a lively topic of conversation over the next few months. As far as my two cents on the matter, I would still give Foles the benefit of the doubt and draft Hundley as a viable alternative a bit down the road if things do not pan out. That is unless Mariota somehow fall into the Eagles' lap at a much lower cost.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Super Bowl 50 Futures: Shopping for the Best Odds

Most of the major sportsbooks have already released their initial betting odds for next season's Super Bowl and while the good news is that the Eagles are in the top 10 pretty much across the board, the bad news is that Dallas is still favored ahead them to win it all.

We all know that a lot can happen between now and opening day of the 2015 season in early September, but often times you can find some solid value in these betting odds given that they are primarily based on past performance as opposed to future potential. I recently put a piece together for Doc's Sports where I not only took a closer look at the numbers to try and uncover where the best value lies, I also shopped the odds between three major sportsbooks; Bovada, BetOnline and Sportsbook to really enhance the value of any early wagers.

The following is a link to the article

Super Bowl 50 Futures: Shopping for the Best Betting Odds