Eagles

Brady's SB flaw, Pederson's staff, and more in Roob's observations

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Brady's SB flaw, Pederson's staff, and more in Roob's observations

A shocking lack of big Super Bowl plays by Tom Brady, Big V's resurgence, Doug's Pederson’s coaching staff vs. Andy Reid’s and one of the most mind-blowing Nick Foles stats you'll ever see.

It's all right here in Wednesday's edition of Roob's 10 random Eagles Super Bowl observations!

Only 11 more to go before kickoff!

1. The Eagles’ ability to virtually eliminate big plays by opposing offenses has been huge in their surge to the Super Bowl. The first four games of the season, the Eagles allowed eight plays of 35 yards or more. In 14 games since, they’ve allowed five, including just one in their last four games and none in the playoffs. They’re the only team in the playoffs that hasn’t allowed at least one 35-yard play. With the coverage the Eagles are getting from the corners and the pressure they’re getting up front, it’s just going to be very tough to put together a big play against this defense.  

2. Which brings us to this: Brady has thrown 309 passes in his seven Super Bowls, completing 207 of them, but he has only one career Super Bowl completion of 35 yards or more. That was a 52-yarder to Deion Branch against the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston. His next-longest Super Bowl completion is a 33-yarder to Daniel Graham in the same game. And those are his only career Super Bowl completions of 30 yards. That's fascinating to me. Donovan McNabb in his one Super Bowl had more 35-yard completions (two) than Brady has in seven. Heck, Antwaan Randle El has just as many, and he was a wide receiver who threw one pass. Interesting. I don't know how many 75-yard drives you're going to manage against this Eagles defense without at least one chunk play. If the Patriots stay true to their Super Bowl history and Brady focuses on high-percentage, low-yardage plays, I think that's good news for the Eagles' defense.

3. If you re-watch the Vikings game again, keep an eye on Jalen Mills. We haven't talked about him much this week, but he was money Sunday night. He allowed just two completions for 15 yards — seven- and eight-yarders to Stefon Diggs in the second quarter. Other than that, he gave up nothing. This kid has come so far. Gotta root for a seventh-round pick who wasn't even supposed to make an NFL roster, who never backs down from any player or any situation.

4. Someone asked Malcolm Jenkins Wednesday who the most fun one or two guys on the team are, and Jenkins' answer was honest and moving and really sheds some light into just what makes this team tick: "There’s not one or two guys. Everybody by nature just enjoys being around here, enjoys each other, has a good time, and nobody’s asking them to change that. We understand that this season in the NFL is a grind and we put a lot of work in here, a lot of hours, so when we get the opportunity to play or spend time with each other outside this building, we’re going to have fun. We’re going to enjoy our time together. Because the fact of the matter is that at the end of the season, this team will never be the same. No team in the NFL will ever be the same. So in this finite moment that we have, we’re going to enjoy it.”

5. After his first couple games, a lot of fans out there decided Halapoulivaati Vaitai can't play. After the Raiders and Cowboys games, I got too many tweets to count suggesting that Nate Sudfeld should start against the Falcons because Foles was struggling so badly. Remember Patrick Robinson's summer? Fans wanted him cut before training camp was halfway over. Now all three are key guys on a Super Bowl team. I hope people remember this next time a guy is struggling: Players can and do get better. They grow more comfortable in the scheme. They improve their technique working with position coaches. Their confidence grows. They learn what it takes to be a pro. Sometimes something just clicks and you never know how long it's going to take. It's hard to be patient sometimes, but there are very few NFL players who are stars or even finished products right away. Just keep that in mind next time you're about to tweet to me that some rookie "CAN'T PLAY." Maybe not. But in a year or two? In a week or a month? He just may be starting on a Super Bowl team.

6. Which leads me to this: Vaitai played extremely well Sunday (see story). Did not allow a single pressure. Like Mills, another second-year pro who's come a remarkably long way. It was Big V's best game as pro.

7. We always talk about how important turnover ratio is, and it always is. But it’s magnified in the Super Bowl. The Eagles were able to beat the Falcons two weeks ago despite being minus-two, but that was the Falcons. In the Super Bowl, you're almost never going to get away with that. Consider this: Teams that are plus-one or better in turnover differential are 33-7 in Super Bowl history. Pretty strong odds.

8. Reid's original coaching staff included Jim Johnson, John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Pat Shurmur, Ron Rivera, Sean McDermott, Rod Dowhower, Juan Castillo and Steve Spagnuolo. And you can really make a case that Pederson's original coaching staff is every darn bit as good.

9. Somebody asked me this week how mad Carson Wentz must be that he's missing out on playing in a Super Bowl. But you know what? I don't think there's a jealous or envious bone in the dude's body. Knowing Wentz, I'll bet he's just happy for Foles and his other teammates. He's the ultimate team guy, and I'll bet he'll be just as happy if the Eagles win it without him as he would be if they won it with him.

10. Mind-blowing Foles Stat of the Day: Foles had four completions of 36 yards or more in the span of 11 passes spanning the second and third quarters Sunday. That's more than he had in his previous 361 pass attempts in parts of 17 games over three seasons for three teams (three).

Eagles Stay or Go Part 1 — Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett

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Eagles Stay or Go Part 1 — Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett

In the first part of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. We'll go alphabetically  Part 1 is Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett. 

Nelson Agholor
Roob: Agholor has gone from being a giant question mark going into last season to a relative bargain in 2018 with a $2.983 million cap figure in a contract year. Agholor was one of many heartwarming stories on the 2017 Eagles, with a breakthrough season and a dynamite Super Bowl. At some point in the next year, the Eagles and Agholor will agree on a long-term, multi-million deal. He's only 24 years old and he's going to be the centerpiece of this receiving corps for years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: In a year, we've gone from talking about possibly moving on from Agholor to now starting to think about a contract extension. Really. Because of the slow start in his career, Agholor is entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2018; he'll have a cap number of just under $3 million, which is now a steal. Remember, the Eagles can use a fifth-year option to keep him in town in 2019 if they can't reach a new deal. Agholor was that good in 2017. He caught 62 passes for 768 yards. He had just 21 fewer receiving yards than Alshon Jeffery. And in the Super Bowl, Agholor caught nine balls for 84 yards. He offers the Eagles a shifty, quick player in the slot and he became a dynamic player after the catch in his third NFL season.  

Verdict: STAYS

Jay Ajayi
Roob: It will be interesting to see how the Eagles' running backs all line up next year. When training camp started last summer, LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey were the main guys, and by the end of the season, only one of them was on the field. My hunch is that Ajayi and Corey Clement will be the lead backs in 2018. Ajayi was very good after joining the Eagles, but he really sold me with his postseason performance — 184 yards and a 4.4 average in the three playoff games. Eventually, the Eagles will have to make a decision, since his contract is also up after 2018. But I'd love to see what he can do behind this offensive line with a full training camp and a full season.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He came into the fold during the season and picked up everything pretty quickly. Now just imagine how much better he'll be with an entire offseason in Doug Pederson's scheme. He's going to be the Eagles' feature back in 2018 and he'll be the feature back for cheap as he enters the final year on his rookie contract. Now, trying to figure out an extension with him might be tricky, especially because of his chronic knee issue, but that's a problem to deal with later. 

Verdict: STAYS

Beau Allen
Roob: Allen became a pretty significant part of the Eagles' defensive line the second half of the year and played almost as many snaps as Tim Jernigan the last couple months of the season. He's a no-nonsense run stuffer but a solid interior lineman. He'll become an unrestricted free agent this spring, but I would think the Eagles could get him back with a cap-friendly deal. It's possible there's a team out there that will bowl over Allen with a big-money offer, but I doubt it. And if the numbers are equal, I'd expect him to re-sign here.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It's a shame that Allen tore his pec while working out last spring because before that, the Eagles were working on an extension with the rotational defensive lineman. But since then, the team has re-signed Jernigan and has a ton of money locked up in the defensive line. And now Allen is going to be an unrestricted free agent. While it's true that the Birds really value their D-line, how much can they really spend on a backup player? It might be time for them to draft one instead and let Allen walk. After proving himself in Jim Schwartz's 4-3 scheme, Allen should have plenty of teams with his choice of scheme. 

Verdict: GOES

Kenjon Barner
Roob:
 If the Eagles cut ties with Blount, Sproles and Pumphrey, Barner could be back as a returner and third running back behind Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. Barner actually finished 10th in the NFL at 8.9 yards per punt return after joining the Eagles a month into the season. He's not a bad guy to have around. But I think Sproles wants to be here and would be willing to give the Eagles a hometown discount to play one final NFL season and serve as a third back and returner.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Barner was on the street to start the season until Sproles went down and the Eagles brought Barner back. He became the team's top punt and kick returner but put up modest numbers in both areas. Barner will be 29 before the 2018 season starts and he's never really made a huge impact in the NFL. If he was able to really take control of the returner jobs and be great at it, maybe the Eagles would sign him again to bring him back. Hey, maybe there will be some goodwill after winning the Super Bowl, but it's probably not worth it. 

Verdict: GOES

Derek Barnett
Roob: Barnett is going to be a stud. You could just see him get better and better as the season went on. He had a couple lulls, but every rookie does. After being held without a sack in his first five games, Barnett had five in the Eagles' last 11 games and added another sack, along with a forced fumble and a rather important fumble recovery in the postseason. His six total sacks, including the postseason, were actually fourth-most in franchise history by a rookie and most by a rookie defensive end since Derrick Burgess had seven back in 2001. Barnett's going to be around for quite a while.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: The Eagles' 2017 first-round pick didn't have a monster rookie season. He didn't go out and get double-digit sacks, but he was solid all year and showed flashes of becoming a great pass rusher. Five sacks as a rookie in a rotational role aren't too shabby either. Oh yeah, he also recovered the fumble after Brandon Graham's strip sack in the Super Bowl. Barnett is only going to get better and has the potential to be a star in the NFL. 

Verdict: STAYS

Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

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Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

Mock draft season is here. The Super Bowl Champion Eagles will hold the No. 32 overall pick. Here is Paul Hudrick's mock draft 1.0 to get you ready for the 2018 NFL draft in Arlington, Texas. 

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC (6-4/220)
Darnold has work to do mechanically, but his intangibles are off the charts. Mentally and as a leader, he has what it takes to make it in Cleveland. He'd benefit from watching behind DeShon Kizer to start the season.

2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6-4/218)
If it were me, Rosen is the guy if I'm taking at quarterback. His footwork and toughness in the pocket are second to none in this draft. There are questions about his maturity, but moments like this make me believe he'll be just fine.

3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (6-4/275)
The Colts need an impact pass rusher and Chubb is the best there is in this draft. He's also a nasty customer, something Indy could use a little more of.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (5-11/223)
You already drafted your future franchise QB, now give him a serious weapon to work with. Sure, there are things Barkley needs to improve on, but he has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro.

5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame (6-5/329)
With Darnold and Rosen gone, the Broncos pick the best offensive lineman in the draft. Of all the players in the draft, Nelson seems like the most can't-miss prospect. He has the potential to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (6-1/220)
This is where things get interesting. You might look at Mayfield and think his antics and off-the-field issues wouldn't fly in New York. I look at it like this: What prospect has dealt with more scrutiny over the past year than Mayfield? I see a Kirk Cousins-like QB with a little more attitude.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama (6-1/201)
This is a perfect fit. Fitzpatrick is a versatile DB who will help fix the Bucs' biggest flaw. Fitzpatrick can cover, has excellent range and he's physical. Easily the best safety in this draft.

8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (6-1/190)
When mock drafts first started coming out, Ridley wasn't regarded as a top-10 pick. I have no idea why. This guy has it all. He's an explosive and precise route runner who can be effective catching balls all over the field. He's a true No. 1 receiver, which the Bears desperately need.

9/10. Oakland Raiders (coin flip) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (6-1/225)
Smith earned being a top-10 pick after his play during the CFP. He's a monster. He plays sideline-to-sideline and will be a welcome addition to a Raiders' defense that has some pieces but has struggled.

9/10. San Francisco 49ers (coin flip) – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (6-1/192)
Jackson fits the mold of the modern corner with his length and ability to press. He's also showed the ability to play off and excel in zone. The 49ers will be an intriguing team next season and Jackson will add to that.

11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (6-5/250)
Edmunds possesses unbelievable size and athletic ability. He'll excel at blitzing and covering tight ends at the next level.

12. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas (6-6/320)
The Bengals clearly made a mistake in letting Andrew Whitworth go to the Rams. Their first step in rectifying that would be to take the best tackle in the draft.

13. Washington Redskins – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (6-5/223)
You've all likely heard it by now: Allen has all the physical tools, he just needs work. Well, it's absolutely true. From a physical standpoint, there isn't a more gifted QB in this draft. Give him a couple seasons to sit behind Alex Smith and hope Jay Gruden can get the most out of Allen.

14. Green Bay Packers – Arden Key, EDGE, LSU (6-6/265)
Key was a beast his sophomore season (11 sacks), before a junior year mired by injuries and inconsistency. He has all the tools to be a disruptive NFL edge rusher. Can the Packers get it out of him?

15. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma (6-8/360)
With the top four quarterbacks off the board, the Cardinals look to bolster their offensive line. Brown is a road grader that should help pave the way for star RB David Johnson. Does Brown have enough athleticism to play the left side? I believe he does.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (6-4/218)
Sutton is an interesting case. He has great size and is pretty quick for a bigger receiver. He dominated in the American Conference and should test well at the combine. His stock could rise, but he'd be a great fit for the Ravens.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington (6-4/344)
Putting Vea on the inside with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside seems unfair. He's the most athletic 344-pounder I've ever seen.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Derwin James, S, Florida State (6-3/215)
James was once thought of as a top-10 talent but struggled last season coming off an injury. He's the type of physical, versatile player that will thrive in Seattle and possibly replace Kam Chancellor.

19. Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (6-2/308)
Payne showed how disruptive and dominant he can be in the National Championship Game. If the Cowboys can get that player to show up every week, he'll be giving the Eagles trouble for years.

20. Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA (6-6/255)
There may not be a player riding a bigger hype train than Davenport. He has great measurables, was extremely productive and should test well. The Lions are perpetually in need of pass rushers.

21. Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (6-2/282)
There are a few mocks out there that have Hurst ahead of Payne. I will say that Hurst was a more consistent player this season, but Payne is younger and has a bigger upside. Still, Hurst should help the Bills immediately.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (6-1/190)
Like Jackson, Oliver fits the mold of the prototypical NFL corner. He also fits the mold of what head coach Sean McDermott has looked for in his corners.

23. Los Angeles Rams – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU (5-10/191)
I'm not as high on Ward as others. I thought he got bullied by bigger receivers. With that said, he has excellent footwork and speed to mirror receivers up and down the field.

24. Carolina Panthers – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College (6-3/250)
Landry would've probably gone around this range if he'd come out last year (16 1/2 sacks). He wasn't as productive this season (five sacks) but is certainly worth a shot here for the Panthers.

25. Tennessee Titans - Billy Price, C, OSU (6-4/312)
The Titans have bookend tackles but could use help in the middle. Price's issue might be that he's a little too aggressive at times. Better than the alternative. He's tough, athletic and plays with an edge.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP (6-2/348)
Hernandez is the second-best guard in this draft. He had a nice week at Senior Bowl that will likely make him first-rounder.

27. New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (6-3/234)
Evans would've looked great in midnight green, but I don't see any way he gets to pick 32. Recruited as a pass rusher, Evans became an inside 'backer for Nick Saban. That versatility should serve him well as a 4-3 OLB.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (6-1/203)
I like Davis more than Ward, but going off the hype, I'll mock Davis here. Joe Haden doesn't seem like a candidate to return for the Steelers and they could use more help at corner.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (6-3/200)
The Jags are giving Blake Bortles another shot. Taking Jackson hedges their bets. No doubt Jackson has work to do with his mechanics and accuracy (though he's much improved), but putting him in the same backfield as Leonard Fournette with a dominant defense would be awfully intriguing.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia (6-2/300)
The Vikings' O-line was vastly improved in 2017, but could still use more help. Wynn provides versatility, having played left tackle for the Bulldogs but projecting as a guard at the next level.

31. New England Patriots – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (5-11/191)
This is an interesting spot. If Rob Gronkowski decides to retire, look for South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert as a possibility. With Malcolm Butler on his way out, Hughes could make a solid tandem with Stephon Gilmore.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (6-4/291)
If Beau Allen leaves in free agency, the Eagles are left with Destiny Vaeao and 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls at DT. With Jim Schwartz's D-line rotation, they'll need more depth and competition at the position. Enter Bryan. Don't be fooled by the lack of production (four sacks in 2017), Bryan has impressive physical traits that will translate to the NFL. He's an attacking style player, the perfect fit for Schwartz's scheme. He's got a quick first step and consistently blows offensive lineman off the ball. Asking him to be a rotational piece, especially in pass rush situations, would be the ideal way to bring him along.