Eagles

2017 NFL draft: Zangaro's round-by-round targets for Eagles

2017 NFL draft: Zangaro's round-by-round targets for Eagles

Sidney Jones, the corner from Washington, was going to be my pick. 

At the combine, he separated himself as the top corner in this draft and would have been a great pick for the Eagles at 14. There was a good chance he would be the best player available and he would fill an immediate need. 

So much for that. At his pro day this weekend, Jones tore his Achilles and with it, the top corner in this draft was lost. The Eagles won't be taking him in the first round. Now, maybe they could grab him in a later round if they're OK with a redshirt year, but it's pretty clear the Eagles have an immediate need at the position. Maybe they'll be out on him entirely. 

With the best corner off the board, how does it change the draft? 

Here's a round-by-round look at some Eagles draft targets:

Round 1: No. 14

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (6-0, 193)
You're already mad at me because there's no way Lattimore is still on the board at 14. And you might be right. Many think he'll come off in the top 10. But if teams are concerned about his hamstrings -- and they'd have a legitimate fear -- maybe he falls to the Eagles in the middle of the first round. Clearly a first-round talent but there are questions about his health. 

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (5-10, 210)
Here's the guy every fan seems to want. I think Leonard Fournette would be a waste in Philly because of Doug Pederson's offense, but Cook would fit really well. He has the potential to be a true three-down guy who can be featured in the offense. Is he Zeke Elliott? No. But there aren't many who are.

Ray Didinger made the argument Monday for why, if Cook is available at 14, the Eagles should take him instead of a corner.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (6-4, 218)
Even though the Eagles went out and picked up a couple free agent wideouts, they aren't married to them long-term, so the chance for a WR is still pretty good. Williams is a big target, just like Alshon Jeffery. If the team brings him in, he'll have a chance to learn from the player the Eagles would hope he grows to be. 

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee (6-3, 259)
Barnett will probably be off the board by this point, but if he isn't, the Eagles should pounce. No, defensive end isn't the biggest need, but it's still a need. The Eagles cut Connor Barwin and right now have Vinny Curry in the starting lineup with Marcus Smith as the top backup. Barnett could grow into an elite pass-rusher. 

Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (5-11, 192)
Some are going to say this is too early for White, but I think he's going to be a first-round pick. By the time the draft comes, I don't think it would be crazy to think of him as a pick around 14. He could reunite with Jalen Mills in Philly. 

Round 2: No. 43

Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA (6-0, 206)
While Florida's Teez Tabor ran a sluggish 4.6-plus 40 time, Moreau was incredible at the combine, running a 4.35. That time is even more impressive considering his pretty big frame. He's a great athlete and could make an immediate impact in Philly. 

Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State (6-1, 209)
The Nittany Lions' star ran a 4.42 at the combine and has impressive college tape that backs it. He's worked himself into being a second-round pick. 

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee (5-10, 214)
Apparently, Kamara could end up being a first-round pick. The problem with Kamara is the lack of tape. He didn't play much in college, so he's more of a projection. Still, this could be good value if he's still there.

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (6-0, 200)
After his underwhelming performance at the combine, who knows where Tabor will come off the board. But he's super confident and aggressive, something the Eagles really seem to like in their cornerbacks. 

Round 3: No. 74

Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State (6-4, 255)
Willis had a really good showing at the combine, so it's possible he's moved up into the second round. If he's still there in the third, he'd be a great addition to the Eagles. He's a heckuva athlete -- 4.53 in the 40, 24 bench reps and a 39-inch vertical. 

Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (6-0, 202)
Awuzie seems like he has the kind of versatility the Eagles look for in their defensive backs. He can play all three positions -- corner, slot and safety. He certainly helped himself at the combine, where the Eagles met with him. 

Chad Hansen, WR, Cal (6-2, 202)
Carson Wentz got a chance to work out with Hansen while in California last month, so maybe he can fill the Eagles in. Hansen is a pretty good athlete who could be a solid backup piece for the Eagles. 

Round 4: No. 119, 139 

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU (6-0, 212)
Williams is a unique player who could be a real steal in the fourth round. It's tough to find running backs in these rounds who become true three-down guys, but Williams has that potential. 

Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (6-7, 318)
Davenport is a local kid from Paulsboro High School in South Jersey. He has great size and good athleticism for it. He's a little raw, but in a weak OT draft class, might be worth one of the fourth-round picks. 

Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech (5-11, 199)
A fast receiver and returner who is a former teammate of Paul Turner's. It's fair to wonder about the level of competition he faced, but the numbers are certainly there. 

Round 5: No. 155 

Corn Elder, CB, Miami (5-10, 183)
The Eagles look for competitive corners and Elder definitely fits that. He's only 5-10, but he's feisty. Even if he's just a slot guy in the NFL, he could be a good one. 

Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M (6-3, 194)
Pretty good speed for his size. Ran a 4.52 at the combine. He is a solid deep threat, something the Eagles desperately need. 

Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma (6-2, 310)
Concerns about concussions in 2015 and 2016 are real. But with Bennie Logan now in Kansas City, the Eagles will need help on the interior line. 

Round 6: No. 194 

Bryan Cox Jr., DE, Florida (6-3, 265)
Yeah, the son of that Bryan Cox. A thumb injury ended his 2016 season, which could help him last a little longer in the draft. He definitely could help the Eagles at defensive end. 

Jordan Evans, ILB, Oklahoma (6-2, 232)
Evans wasn't invited to the combine, which was slightly surprising. He really stood out at the Oklahoma pro day, running a 4.51, with a vert of 38.5. Not a pressing need, but at this point, the Eagles could pick up a backup and big special teams contributor. 

Round 7: No. 230 

Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia (6-1, 268)
He's going to be called a "tweener" by plenty, but he's strong and aggressive. Just a little raw. 

Freddie Stevenson, FB, Florida State (6-0, 234)
Pederson might not be in a huge rush to add a fullback to his team, but it could help the offense. And why not get one with the final pick in the draft?

Eagles-Cowboys predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Cowboys predictions by our (cough) experts

The Birds are back.

And fresh off the bye week, they hop right into a doozy Sunday night against the divisional rival Cowboys at AT&T Stadium (8:30 p.m./NBC).

Will the Eagles (8-1) push their win streak to eight games? Or will the Cowboys (5-4) answer the bell at home and keep things interesting in the NFC East?

Here are our expert predictions for the Week 11 matchup:

Reuben Frank (9-0)
Eagles 38, Cowboys 11. Usually, I work my way up to the actual prediction and try to build up a tremendous level of anticipation with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about matchups, trends, analytics and whatnot before getting around to the pick. 

But not this week. I’m not messing around here. The Eagles are going to crush this team. 

Here’s a stat I love: Since 2000, the Cowboys have lost 21 games by at least 22 points. Ten of them — almost half — have been against the Eagles. And five of their seven home losses since 2000 by 22 or more points have been at the hands of the Eagles. Don’t believe me?

2000 at Texas Stadium — Eagles 41, Cowboys 14
2001 at the Vet — Eagles 40, Cowboys 18
2001 at Texas Stadium — Eagles 36, Cowboys 3
2002 at the Vet — Eagles 44, Cowboys 13
2002 at Texas Stadium — Eagles 27, Cowboys 3
2003 at the Linc — Eagles 36, Cowboys 10
2004 at Texas Stadium — Eagles 49, Cowboys 21
2008 at the Linc — Eagles 44, Cowboys 6
2011 at the Linc — Eagles 34, Cowboys 7
2014 at AT&T Stadium — Eagles 33, Cowboys 10

Big Red used to crush the Cowboys, didn't he? Even soon-to-be-Florida head coach Chip Kelly had himself a rout of the Cowboys — it got the Eagles to 9-3 on Thanksgiving Day in 2014. 

So here’s the funny thing: I picked 38-11 and then decided to change my prediction to the averages of those 10 routs and it turned out to be … 38-11. That's fate. Eagles will return to Philly Monday morning 9-1 with an eight-game winning streak and a virtual lock on the NFC East. This one's going to be fun!

Eagles 38, Cowboys 11

Dave Zangaro (7-2)
No Sean Lee. No Ezekiel Elliott. And a banged-up Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith (at best). 

Even if all of them were completely healthy, I'd probably lean toward picking the Eagles. Without them? No-brainer. 

Now, maybe the Eagles come out of the bye week a little rusty. It could happen after a long layoff, especially after a flight to North Texas for the game. But the Eagles have proven time and time again that their focus just isn't an issue. There's no reason to expect that to be a problem Sunday night. 

And the Birds are getting healthy. Ronald Darby is back. As well as the Eagles' other corners fared while he was gone, there's a reason he's a starter. And they get back Zach Ertz, who just happens to be one of their most important offensive weapons. 

Games against division rivals are not normally easy, so maybe the Eagles don't blow them out. But I think this is a win. 

Eagles 27, Cowboys 20 

Derrick Gunn (8-1)
Now that their bye week is over, the Eagles are focused on wrapping up the NFC East. Dallas is licking its wounds after getting manhandled down in Atlanta. Elliott is serving his suspension. Lee is out with a hamstring injury, and the Pro Bowler Smith is ailing with a groin injury. 

It all sounds too easy for the Birds, but with Prescott on the other side, they’re not about to overlook this one. And they still remember what happened in Dallas last season.

Without Elliott and Smith, trying to establish a ground game against the Eagles’ top-ranked run defense will be near impossible. 

Dallas is 0-2 in games Lee hasn't played in this season. 

Carson Wentz will spread the wealth through the air, and now that Jay Ajayi has had extended time to get familiar with the offense, the Birds' running attack should be even more diversified. 

If the Eagles' defense can make the Cowboys' offense one-dimensional, it's game over.

Eagles 27, Cowboys 17

Ray Didinger (8-1)
The Otho Davis Scholarship Fund dinner was held this week, honoring the late Eagles trainer and awarding scholarships to students pursuing careers in sports medicine. The room was full of former Eagles players and Philadelphia fans and, of course, there was a lot of conversation about Sunday's big game against Dallas.

The confidence level was high. I heard a dozen variations on "This will be a blowout." The thinking goes something like this: No Elliott, no chance for the Cowboys. Their pitiful performance in last week's loss to Atlanta was all the evidence the Eagles fans needed. And, yes, if that same Cowboys team shows up Sunday night, the Eagles will be in fine shape.

But my guess is the Cowboys will play much better this week at home. I'm still not sure it will be enough because right now the Eagles are playing better than any team in the NFL. I'll take the Eagles, which will virtually wrap up the division title, but I don't think it will be as easy as some folks think.

Eagles 28, Cowboys 20

Andrew Kulp (8-1)
With all their injuries and suspensions, the Cowboys really don't look so hot. 

Arguably their three best players — Smith, Elliott and Lee — are all out. They won't be able to run the ball, they'll struggle to protect Prescott, and the defense will struggle to slow down Wentz and the Eagles' offense.

All the stuff about this being a division rival on the road or the possibility of the Eagles coming off their bye week flat are going to fade pretty quickly with one simple reality. The Cowboys are an inferior opponent right now. Maybe not 49ers bad, or even Broncos bad, but at this point, they could struggle to finish .500.

Eagles 38, Cowboys 23

Corey Seidman (6-3)
No Zeke, no Lee, maybe no Smith, banged-up Bryant … the Cowboys are oozing with "nobody believes in us" potential this Sunday night. And just when one team is so undermanned that all hope looks lost (see: Giants-Broncos earlier this season), things turn out in an unexpected way.

Still, I'm not taking the Cowboys in this game. If they had Zeke, I think I would. But Alfred Morris is in that Rob Kelley mold of plodding running back who tends to struggle against the Eagles, and that'll make the Cowboys' offense one-dimensional. With Bryant at less than 100 percent, I just don't see Dallas keeping the pace.

Eagles 34, Cowboys 17

Doug Pederson uses last season's losing streak to motivate Eagles

ap-doug-pederson-eagles.jpg
AP Images

Doug Pederson uses last season's losing streak to motivate Eagles

This time last year? The Eagles actually still had a winning record and were thinking playoffs.
 
Then disaster.
 
The Eagles were 5-4 going into Week 10 a year ago and proceeded to lose their next five games, the first three in blowout fashion.
 
It was the Eagles' longest losing streak since an eight-game streak in 2012, Andy Reid's last year, and third longest since a seven-game streak spanning 1998 and 1999.
 
More importantly, it was the team's longest losing streak that began with a winning record that late in a season since the notorious 1994 collapse in Rich Kotite's final season — a 7-2 start turned into a 7-9 finish.
 
A losing streak like that can either destroy a team's character or make it even stronger.
 
And Doug Pederson knew it could go either way.
 
"I look back at that, and I just kept reminding the team that you put in the hard work and the preparation, and you believe in each other, you believe in yourself, you trust the process, and that's not cliché," he said Friday.
 
"You have to trust what I'm talking about, what the coaches are talking about, and just stick together, and there's no pointing fingers. That's what they did. They hung together."
 
That losing streak began with a home loss to Seattle. Although the final score was 26-15, it was a 26-7 game until a Dorial Green-Beckham touchdown in the final minutes. (Really.)
 
After that came a 27-13 loss to the Packers at the Linc and then the low point, an embarrassing 32-14 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati, a game the Eagles trailed 29-0 late in the third quarter.
 
"That was sort of a defining moment at that point," Pederson said. "I guess we were as low as we were going to be as a team and organization coming out of that game. The guys responded well.
 
"(The) messaging was the same. We practiced the same after that. Lot of pride, too. Lot of pride in the coaches. Lot of pride in the players and this organization. …
 
"We needed to change it. We needed to fix it. Even though we didn't win a couple games after that, you saw steady improvement (and then) we figured out a way at the end of the season to win those two games and finish on a high note."
 
The Eagles rebounded to show some fight in close losses to the Redskins and Ravens, then closed out the season with wins over the Giants and the Cowboys. Granted, the Dallas win was over a bunch of scrubs, but after a five-game losing streak, any win was welcome.
 
Pederson said Friday that pushing through that five-game losing streak and coming out and staying together as a team was instrumental in this team's 8-1 start going into Sunday night in Dallas.
 
"I think it directly affects the team this season," he said. "Things happen for a reason, and you learn from them, especially in this business. And really, in life in general. Things happen, and you learn from them. You make the necessary corrections and you move on.
 
"You don't dwell in the past, but you remember, and you reflect from time to time. So I think it's a direct correlation to where the team is today, learning how to finish games and learning how to play together and understanding that they are a good football team."
 
The Eagles are atop every NFL poll these days. They have the NFL's best record and share the longest winning streak with the Saints, and Pederson said it's not always easy for the players to ignore all the praise being lavished on them.
 
"Well, it is hard because the team, rightfully so, is being praised in a lot of areas and they're well deserved of the credit and the praise," he said.
 
"But at the same time, we understand that we can't look past this week. We can't look past this game. It's a division game on the road, national spotlight again. It's two teams that are undefeated in the NFC East. I'd like to say that every game is important, but none more important than the one we're faced with Sunday night."
 
Sunday night starts a very difficult stretch, with four of the next five games on the road and three of those road games against teams with winning records.
 
A year ago, the Eagles were 1-7 on the road, finishing with seven straight losses.
 
This year, they go into AT&T Stadium Sunday 3-1 away from Philly.
 
"Four out of the next five weeks we're traveling, it's kind of like the start of the season," Pederson said.
 
"This is sort of a tough stretch, but at the same time, it's one that we welcome. If we want to separate and become a good football team and a consistent winner in this league, these are the stretches that you have to go through and find ways to win games."