Sunday, March 27, 2016

Eagles Eyeing a Quarterback in Next Month's Draft

The wheeling and dealing days of Chip Kelly are long gone, but that has not stopped the Eagles from being front and center in the rumor mill when it comes to this year's NFL Draft. The latest scoop out of South Philly has the Birds trading up from the eighth spot in the first round to try and land a future franchise quarterback such a North Dakota State's Carson Wentz or California's Jared Goff.

The rational for such a move would make sense if you believe that one of these two players has what it takes for long run at the next level, but Philadelphia's areas of need are still wide enough that you would probably have to give-up far too much to make it happen. To put this rumor in its proper perspective, the Eagles were mentioned as being one of four teams that would be interested in trading up for Tennessee's No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Much of the information surrounding any team's plans for its first round pick should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Posturing and deception are an art form this time of the year as all 32 NFL teams are trying to improve their situation at the expense of the other 31. Chances are you will not know what the Eagles are going with their first round pick until the first day of this year's draft on Thursday, April 28. My plans are to keep my ears to the ground in an effort to wade through all the misinformation that is released over the next few weeks to find a few tidbits of truth that might tip the Eagles' hand as to their true plans.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Eagles 2016 NFL Draft Update

The 2016 NFL Draft is less than 40 days away and speculation over which player the Eagles will select with the eighth overall pick continues to grow. Some of the expert draft gurus have the Birds taking Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott when they are officially on the clock come Thursday, April 28, while Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley's name has also been thrown into the mix. Only time will tell which way general manger Howie Roseman and new head coach Doug Pederson will turn with that first pick, but given the Eagles' improved position through a trade with Miami they now have a golden opportunity to make a major impact on the future course of the team.

Offensive line is an obvious area of need with an aging Jason Peters occupying the crucial left tackle position, but the idea of adding a quality running back like Elliott is an intriguing thought. A third player on the short list of candidates is Florida cornerback Vernon Hardgreaves and that is no big surprise given the issues the Eagles have had over the past few seasons defending against the pass. All three of these players are currently ranked in Scout's Inc Top 10 list so their addition to the team would be an automatic upgrade at that position, but it still begs the question of who else might be out there as a worthy choice at such a lofty spot in the draft?

Going back over the team's last few first round picks you find names such as wide receiver Nelson Agholor in 2015, defensive end Marcus Smith the season before and offensive tackle Lane Johnson in 2013. The team's first overall pick in 2012 was defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and in 2011 the Eagles made offensive guard Danny Watkins their first overall pick. Flash forward to today's roster and you will find that Cox, Johnson, Smith and Agholar remain on the team with mixed results. I am still scratching my head over the Marcus Smith pick and it is still too early to rule out Agholor as being a legitimate No. 2 receiver in the NFL. Johnson has done a respectable job in his first few seasons and he could eventually anchor that crucial left tackle spot on the line. Cox has been a solid performer on the defensive side of the line so all-in-all the Eagles have done a fairly decent job with their top picks.

Time will only tell how this year's No. 1 choice works out and it could very well define the Roseman/Pederson tenure in Philadelphia. As a die-hard fan I will always remain optimistic that any move the team makes will take us one step closer to the promised land of Super Bowl glory, but I also have to remain realistic that there is still quite a bit of work to be done to actually get there.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Eagles Fill Some Pressing Needs Early in Free Agency

NFL free agency is just four days old and the Eagles have been one of the more active teams in the league when it has come to wheeling and dealing for some new player personnel. Philadelphia's general manager Howie Roseman has made it loud and clear that he is the new sheriff in town with Chip Kelly vanquished to the Left Coast while new head coach Doug Pederson made his presence known by raiding his former boss Andy Reid's roster in Kansas City to find a suitable backup to Sam Bradford at the quarterback position.

Looking at the sum total of the early moves the new regime in Philly have made, I would have to give them a grade of E for Effort. They were able to plug a huge hole in their offensive line with the addition of guard Brandon Brooks from Houston. They also added some depth to their defensive backfield by signing safety Rodney McLeod, who was previously with St. Louis and former Buffalo cornerback Ron Brooks.

The most interesting addition to the roster this week was quarterback Chase Daniel, who was Reid's backup to Alex Smith in Kansas City. This could be a really good fit given that Pederson is extremely familiar with Daniel's capabilities as a potential starter someday down the road. Roseman used a good chunk of team owner Jeffery Lurie's money to land the seven-year vet out of Missouri, but you have to pay a high price these days for quarterbacks given the lack of depth at that position.

Among the many departures from the nest this week that included former high-priced free agents DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell was quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Sanchise became expendable with the addition of Daniel so he was traded to Denver for a conditional draft pick in 2017.

All-in-all it was a pretty good week in Eagleland as the duo of Roseman and Pederson continue to reshape the team in their image as opposed to the Chip Kelly edition that was put in place this time last year. I especially like what Roseman has been able to do for the team's position in the upcoming draft. They have already moved up in the first round to the No. 8 spot through the trade with Miami for Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonzo. Trading an unhappy Murray to Tennessee added an undisclosed draft pick (most likely a fourth rounder), but more importantly it freed-up some cap space for future deals so stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Eagles Start to Clean House Heading into Free Agency

As quickly as Chip Kelly blew-up the Eagles' roster this time last season with numerous trades and free agent signings that added the likes of linebacker Kiko Alonzo and cornerback Byron Maxwell on defense and running back DeMarco Murray on offense, the reinstated regime of General Manager Howie Roseman with Doug Perderson at the helm as head coach has decided to quickly purge the team of these three players heading in the start of the new NFL year on March 10.

The loss of these three players will have much more of an impact on the team's salary cap situation than on the team's performance on the field next season with none of these highly touted additions making much of an impact in their only season in Philadelphia. The Eagles' offseason strategy so far has been to lock-up the players they believe can help this team get back to the playoffs such as tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz and quarterback Sam Bradford by signing them to new contracts. That is all well and good, but there are quite a few holes to fill on both sides of the ball to actually make that plan a reality.

The Eagles also said goodbye to linebacker DeMeco Ryans and wide receiver Riley Cooper and they have also let it be known that they are open to trade offers for the other running back they acquired last year, Ryan Mathews. The one thing we already know for sure is that the Birds will be heading into a second-straight season with quite a few new faces on the roster.

Despite all of these early moves, I cannot help but get the feeling that the fun is just getting started with free agency and the college draft right around the corner.