Bill Griggs

2 players who belong on Eagles' combine watch list

usa-isaiah-wynn-jaylen-samuels.jpg
USA Today Images

2 players who belong on Eagles' combine watch list

With five of the Eagles' six draft picks being in the fourth round or later, Howie Roseman and his scouting team have the task of doing more with less. 

Here are some players to watch out for on Day 1 of the NFL combine.

OL Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
This year's offensive line group is arguably the deepest position. These O-linemen have versatility, which is important in Doug Pederson's system. 

Wynn could be the most versatile offensive interior player in this year's draft. He started 15 games at tackle in 2017 and has bounced around from tackle to guard and even tight end during college. With his shorter 6-2 frame, a move inside to guard or even center in the NFL would suit him best.  

You draft him and you have an experienced, All-SEC lineman who can learn from experienced starters, fill in when one of those starters gets hurt, or replace a starter like Stefen Wisniewski or even Jason Kelce down the road. 

With 100 selections coming between the Eagles' first- and fourth-round picks, Wynn could give you the best value at pick 32.

What to watch from Wynn at the combine? 
His 40-yard dash. Yes, I'm saying watch the 40-yard dash of a 300-pound lineman. Truth is, the 40-yard dash, when broken up into splits of 10 yards, serves a purpose. The first 10 yards can tell you how much explosiveness you have out of a compact position like a three-point stance. Wynn is great at pulling and blocking in space. Showcasing fast splits could result in a smooth move from tackle techniques to guard or even center. 

• • •

RB/WR/TE/offensive weapon Jaylen Samuels (NC State)
So many question marks. Not based off talent evaluation, but rather what position he will play at the next level. An easy comparison is Trey Burton. 

Samuels (2014-17 at NC State): 202 receptions, 1,855 yards, 19 receiving TDs; 403 rushing yards, 5.2 YPC, 12 rush TDs

Burton (2010-13 at Florida): 107 receptions, 976 yards, four receiving TDs; 720 rushing yards, 4.7 YPC, 16 rush TDs

Yes, Burton carried the ball in college. So did Samuels. Samuels, however, at 5-11 is smaller than Burton (6-3). For that reason, Senior Bowl coaches elected to give him reps at running back. Here is a taste of him at practice.

With moves like that, I can see him as a target for the Eagles. Remember, 34-year-old Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount and Kenjon Barner are all able to test the free-agent market and the Birds are a little cap-strapped.

Another thing to account for when watching Samuels this weekend is Pederson. Pederson does a great job of keeping defensive coordinators on their heels by constantly switching looks and personnel. NC State's offense is similar in manufacturing matchups it can exploit and Samuels excelled very much in that role. Being an Eagles weapon in the backfield or out in space could be the most natural fit for him.

What to watch of Samuels at the combine? 
Everything. We already know he will run fast, but his performance in route-running drills will be the determining factor of where a team values him.

Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz faces tough test vs. deceptive Panthers' defense

usa-carson-wentz-eagles.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz faces tough test vs. deceptive Panthers' defense

Carson Wentz has been great through the first five games of the season. In the sixth, he will see something from the Panthers' defense that could confuse him if he's not ready. Unlike the Cardinals, the Panthers refuse to show their hand (the coverage they are in) early. Here is an example:

Under the arrow is Panthers safety Colin Jones. With Jones' middle-of-the-field alignment, an opposing quarterback could diagnose the defense as either cover 0, 1, or 3. Cover 0 and 1 are man-to-man coverage; Cover 3 is zone-coverage.



Fast forward to the top of Matt Stafford’s dropback and the Panthers disguise their coverage and change into a Cover 2 after the snap. In that coverage, Carolina has five defenders (blue circles) cover all shallow routes and each safety (yellow circles) is responsible for half of the field, covering all deep routes. A quarterback's reads are different when the defense shows Cover 2, as opposed to cover 0, 1 or 3.

Based off the pre-snap read, the slot receiver (1) on the out-route is the primary read. After the snap, Carolina shifts into Cover 2. If that ball is thrown, the corner who's responsible for the flat (anything to his side that is within five yards of the line of scrimmage) can easily undercut the out-route and turn it into a defensive touchdown. Stafford is a skilled vet, so he does not take the cheese the defense is hanging in front of him. He delivers a perfect ball to the outside receiver on a fly-route in the sweet spot of Cover 2, where it is a tough play for the safety to make from the near hash.



Wentz has seen this in his film study this week. Tonight, he will have to focus not on how the defense lines up but what it does once the ball is snapped.

Eagles Film Review: Trusting Carson Wentz more at line of scrimmage

usa-doug-pederson-carson-wentz.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles Film Review: Trusting Carson Wentz more at line of scrimmage

On Monday, after the Eagles' 34-7 win over the Cardinals, head coach Doug Pederson spoke of a system he and Carson Wentz use called the "Take It System."

The basis of this is pretty simple. Take what the defense is giving you. Once you identify a possible weakness, the quarterback can audible on the fly.

Pederson is still bringing his quarterback along slowly, but on Sunday, he showed that with every game, he's becoming more confident in not just the physical ability of Wentz but also Wentz's in his decision making.

On this Trey Burton touchdown, the Eagles scored because Wentz was able to check to something he liked based on the Cardinals' coverage.

Here, you can see Wentz looking directly at Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu's position on the field indicates the Cardinals are either in man coverage or cover 3. Patrick Peterson, at the bottom of the screen, is starring directly at Torrey Smith, which is the indicator it's not cover 3 but man to man. 

Mathieu is the free safety. He roams the field, reading Wentz's eyes. His alignment on the right hash of the field makes it a tough play on any ball thrown to the far left of the end zone.

Wentz makes an audible to a route combination the Eagles have scored on multiple times this season. The fade route from the slot receiver position. In this case, it is Burton matchup up on Deone Bucannon. That matchup is not heavily favored in any way, but what gives Burton an advantage is the amount of space he has to work with.

That space is a result of the Cardinals' being in man coverage, meaning Peterson has to mirror what the outside receiver (Smith) does. That is why the play is a man-coverage beater and why Wentz checked to the route combination.

All Burton has to do is get a good release off the line to have a chance. He knocks Bucannon's hands down off the line, immediately gaining the advantage.

The result? One of four touchdown passes for Wentz.

After the game, Wentz said, "The game is slowing down." 

That is a credit to Pederson's development of his franchise QB. For that, and the convincing win Sunday, Pederson gets an A.

Bill Griggs is a producer for "Eagles Extra" who also played college football at Delaware State.