Eagles

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

This is one of the best weeks of college football as several conferences hold their championship games.

The Eagles are sitting pretty at 10-1, but will certainly have an eye on a bunch of NFL draft prospects in action today.

Here are six players to watch in the early games.

No. 20 Memphis at No. 14 UCF - 12 p.m., ABC
No. 3 - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis, senior (5-11/190)

Size obviously isn't Miller's strong point, but he is mighty explosive. After recording 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, Miller has 1,212 yards and another 14 TDs so far this season. He's also been dangerous as a runner and as a punt returner. He's a pure playmaker. Just get the ball in his hands and clear a path. 

No. 18 - Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF, senior (6-1/223)
Griffin is by far the coolest story in all of college football. A birth defect forced Griffin to have his left hand amputated at 4 years old. He hasn't let that stand in his way, winning AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season. He's stood out yet again this season, recording 56 total tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and an interception. If you haven't watched Griffin yet, make sure you tune in.
 

No. 11 TCU at No. 3 Oklahoma - 12:30 p.m., FOX
No. 78 - Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma, junior (6-8/345)

Brown is an enormous human, but don't be fooled by his appearance. He's actually an outstanding athlete. Brown weighed 415 pounds in high school, but has dropped the weight and was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season. He's likely a late first-round pick. He's an obvious mauler in the run game but has really improved as a pass protector.

No. 32 - Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard has been a tackling machine for TCU. While playing mostly safety as a sophomore, Howard recorded 107 tackles, then amassed 130 last year while transitioning to linebacker. He's missed the last two games with an injury (he's expected to play today), but still has 83 tackles on the season, including a 13-tackle game in the Hornfrog's lost to the Sooners a few weeks ago. He has a nose for the football and outstanding instincts.


No. 6 Georgia at No. 2 Auburn - 4 p.m., CBS
No. 3 - Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia, junior (6-1/225)
While the Bulldogs' running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are certainly worth keeping an eye on, Smith is the prospect that should most intrigue the Eagles. Smith has wreaked havoc this season, recording 100 tackles (8 1/2 for loss), and 4 1/2 sacks. He's a sideline-to-sideline ‘backer that always seems to be around the ball. He could certainly be an option late in the first round.

No. 71 - Braden Smith, OL, Auburn, senior (6-6/303)
Smith has a ton of experience playing in the loaded SEC. He's built like a tackle but has spent the majority of his collegiate career at guard. He made the All-SEC freshman team and was named to the All-SEC first team as a junior. Smith was part of an impressive effort by the Tigers' in their upset of Alabama last week. He'll face another stiff test against the Bulldogs this week.

Stefen Wisniewski heads Eagles' inactives vs Giants

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Stefen Wisniewski heads Eagles' inactives vs Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Eagles will be without their starting left guard Sunday afternoon against the Giants. 

Stefen Wisniewski (ankle) is officially inactive. Either Chance Warmack or Isaac Seumalo will play in his place. 

Wisniewski came into the weekend listed as questionable after he injured his ankle during the first half of last Sunday's game in Los Angeles. After Wisniewski came out against the Rams, he was replaced by  Warmack and then Seumalo. Both struggled against L.A. and Aaron Donald. 

Since joining the Eagles as a free agent, Wisniewski had played in all 29 games with the team. He earned the starting left guard job earlier this season. 

Joining Wisniewski among the Eagles' inactive players are Rasul Douglas, Wendell Smallwood, Marcus Johnson, Steven Means, Elijah Qualls and Dannell Ellerbe.  

Nick Foles will obviously get the start at quarterback and Nate Sudfeld will be the backup. This is the first time Sudfeld will be active for an NFL game. 

With Wiz out, offensive tackle Will Beatty is active for the first time as an Eagle. Douglas, the third-round rookie who played well when given a chance this season, is inactive for the first time since the season opener. 

Bryan Braman, who was brought back this week, is active and should immediately play a role on special teams. 

For the Giants, safety Landon Collins, who came into the weekend listed as doubtful, is active. 

Eagles-Giants thoughts, starting to solve the Nick Foles mystery

Eagles-Giants thoughts, starting to solve the Nick Foles mystery

Eagles-Giants
1 p.m. on FOX
Eagles -8

A game that until recently looked like a speedbump on the Eagles’ path to the playoffs has all of a sudden become a matchup of intrigue and mystery.

NFC East rivalry or not, the 11-2 Eagles were expected to dispatch the 2-11 Giants with relative ease, and still very well may. However, the season’s second meeting between the two teams has taken on a decidedly different feel now that it will feature Nick Foles under center for the Birds.

It’s become appointment viewing for an Eagles fan base collectively holding its breath, hoping to catch a glimpse into whether Foles possesses the ability to lead the team deep into the postseason.

Foles has made 36 career NFL starts — seven more than the quarterback he replaces, Carson Wentz — and has appeared in 46 games total, most of that with the Eagles. Nonetheless, the sixth-year veteran is viewed as something of an unknown entity. Foles was productive for several seasons, even historically prolific, but also lost a pair of starting jobs, nearly playing himself out of the league along the way.

Now in his second stint with the Eagles, the question is which version of Foles are the Eagles getting this time around, and can they still reach the Super Bowl with a new signal caller? We will begin to get some answers Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

In a position to succeed
Regardless of whether Foles is up to the challenge, it wouldn’t hurt the Eagles’ chances if they were able to finish what they started and earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. That could actually happen as early as Sunday.

A win over the Giants and a Vikings loss to the Bengals would be enough to clinch a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Even if the Vikings don’t lose this week, the Eagles can secure the top seed in the conference with any two wins over the Giants, Raiders or Cowboys over the final three games. Of the three remaining opponents, only the Cowboys are currently above .500 at 7-6.

In other words, Foles shouldn’t have to do much heavy lifting until the postseason, while the Eagles can make his job a little easier in January if they take care of business down the stretch.

With a little help from his friends
Foles has been under the microscope all week, and the backup quarterback has been examined from just about every angle. There’s nothing much more to say about the Eagles from the offense’s standpoint, at least until we’ve seen it in action.

The group that’s flying under the radar in the aftermath of the injury to Wentz is the defense. Even the unit’s role in last week’s 43-35 win over the Rams has been overlooked to a degree, despite coming up huge in the fourth quarter.

After allowing the Rams to go up and down the field for the better part of the contest, the Eagles made two pivotal stops after Wentz’s exit. A Chris Long strip sack set up the game-winning field goal and that was followed by a quick three-and-out that allowed Foles and the offense to milk nearly the entire final two minutes of regulation.

That was against the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL, and though the Eagles did surrender 35 points, the defense stepped up when it mattered.

Wentz might be out, but the Eagles’ defense still ranks first against the run, 13th against the pass, fourth in total yards, fifth in scoring and is tied for third in takeaways entering the week. This isn’t all about Foles and the offense. They are more than capable of limiting or completely shutting down an opponent.

Coming up short?
The one area of the offense that might be worth keeping an eye out moving forward is on third downs. The Eagles are third in the NFL with a 45.3 percent conversion rate, and Wentz just seemed to have a knack for making something happen even during third-and-long situations, often keeping the play alive or simply making a clutch throw.

Foles did find Nelson Agholor for a huge third-down conversion against the Rams, but Wentz has been uncanny in those situations. Foles is far less likely to extend a play with his feet, and he’s far more willing to make a safe throw to a checkdown receiver and live with a punt.

Perhaps more than anything else this season, that ability to keep drives alive was what made Wentz so dangerous and so difficult to defend. When it seemed the Eagles’ backs were against the wall, he’d throw a strike, or run around and find somebody or pick up the first down himself.

No matter what happens, the offense won’t be the same without Wentz. The guy is special. But on third down, in particular, there was a feeling no distance was too far, and a conversion was inevitable — and on occasion, it would break the will of opposing defenses.

The Eagles better get used to the idea of running on first and second down to create manageable thirds, punting when it’s not there and playing defense. Foles will do fine, but he’s not quite an unstoppable force, unlike Wentz.