Eagles

Donnel Pumphrey finds a new team ... in the XFL

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Donnel Pumphrey finds a new team ... in the XFL

Former Eagles draft pick Donnel Pumphrey has found a new home. Just not in the NFL. 

Pumphrey on Tuesday morning was taken in the XFL draft by the Washington DC Defenders. Pumphrey, 24, was taken with the first pick in the seventh round in the skill position players draft (the XFL is breaking it up by positions; they included QB, RB, WR and TE). 

Overall, Pumphrey was the 49th skill position player selected. To put that into perspective, when he was selected by the Eagles in 2017, Pumphrey was the 43rd skill position player (by the XFL criteria) in the NFL draft. 

The Eagles actually traded up in the fourth round in 2017 to take Pumphrey, who is the all-time leader in rushing yards in NCAA Division 1 history. The Eagles tried to make Pumphrey, with his slight frame (5-8, 176), into a utility slot receiver type weapon, but that wasn’t what he did in college and the pick was basically wasted. 

Pumphrey made the Eagles' roster in 2017 but was placed on IR. He didn’t make the team in 2018 and spent a few weeks on the Lions’ practice squad. Pumphrey returned to the Eagles’ practice squad last October and was with them this last training camp but failed to make the team again. He has never played in an NFL game. 

The Eagles clearly whiffed with their Pumphrey pick and it looks even worse based on some of the players who were drafted after him: Jamaal Williams, Marlon Mack, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson. Howie Roseman once called the 2017 running back draft class “historic” and the Eagles ended up with a guy who never played in the NFL. 

On Tuesday, Pumphrey wasn’t the only former Eagle to get taken in the XFL skill position draft. 

Receiver Rashard Davis, who was with the Eagles’ practice squad in 2017 and 2018, was actually the first overall pick to the Defenders. The Defenders also took former Penn State receiver DeAndre Thompkins in the fourth round. He was with the Eagles during this past training camp. 

Seantavius Jones, who was with the Eagles for a few months in the 2016 offseason, was taken in the second round by the Tampa Bay Vipers.

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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Time to revamp the cornerback position

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Time to revamp the cornerback position

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at cornerbacks:

Jalen Mills 

Roob: Mills is an interesting case. He’s been the Eagles’ best cornerback by default over the last few years, and he certainly gives you a lot in terms of toughness, swagger and red-zone playmaking. It really is going to come down to how extensively the Eagles want to rebuild the cornerback position. Mills is an unrestricted free agent, Jim Schwartz loves him and my hunch is he’ll be back.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Mills is going to be a free agent and while I think the Eagles should probably completely revamp the position, my bet is that he comes back on a reasonable deal. Jim Schwartz loves him and Mills is a competitor. He’s somewhat limited but he’s been a solid player in his four years here. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Other than concerns with his speed, Mills really seems like the prototypical Jim Schwartz cornerback in many ways. He's physical, confident and has a short memory. In all honesty, his four-year run with the Eagles has been pretty good, minus the injuries. Ideally, the team would not put itself in a position where it has to replace starters at both spots in the same offseason, so if they can get him back on an inexpensive short-term deal, that would be a big help. Seeing as he missed 15 games the last two years, it's not at all implausible. 

Verdict: Stays

Ronald Darby 

Roob: The Eagles really goofed bringing back Darby for one year at $6.5 million. It just seems like years of injuries have caught up to him, and the player we saw this past year was only a shadow of the guy we saw during the stretch run and playoffs in 2017. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: The Eagles never should have brought Darby back for the 2019 season and it’s hard to imagine they’ll make that mistake again. It’s a shame because Darby had all the physical skills to be a top-end corner but he couldn’t stay healthy and even when he did, he wasn’t the player we once saw as a rookie in Buffalo. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Darby's tenure in Philadelphia wasn't nearly as bad as some would have you believe -- he did start for a Super Bowl champion -- but 2019 was awful. It didn't even look like he lost much speed coming off the ACL injury. He was plain getting beat on the reg. Even when he was in position to make a play, he couldn't. Constantly getting posterized whenever he goes to tackle somebody, too. Darby is only 26, so he could easily go on to have a nice career with wherever he signs in free agency. It's just time for a change of scenery. 

Verdict: Goes

Avonte Maddox 

Roob: Maddox took a step backward this year and it will be interesting to see where he fits in moving forward. He’ll be here, but in what role? He can start inside, outside or at safety or he can back up anywhere. He was so good as a rookie in 2018. The Eagles could sure use him regaining that form wherever he plays.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Heading into Year 3 and we still don’t really know which position is best for Maddox. But I know what I’d do. I’d sign Malcolm Jenkins, let Rodney McLeod walk and turn Maddox into a full-time safety. I get that at his size it would be a little unusual but I like his fit there and thought he played well as a safety in 2018. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Some people way overreacted to Maddox's rookie season, which was fine, far short of spectacular. This offseason, we should be able to comfortably write he wasn't the second coming of Eric Allen without starting a flame war. That being said, Maddox will only be 24, he's competent with the tools to become dependable, he's a tough kid and he's played just about every position in the secondary for the Eagles. He'll have a role next season, his third. 

Verdict: Stays

Rasul Douglas

Roob: I was high on Rasul when the season began, but he did not play well and after getting nearly 600 snaps on defense during the regular season he played none in the playoff loss to the Seahawks. Douglas has actually played more games than any other Eagles corner over the last three years because he’s the only one who’s generally been able to stay healthy. But he goes into 2020 with a future that’s uncertain at best. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: I didn’t particularly like what I saw from Douglas this season. He again got a chance to play a ton but didn’t make the most of it. But you need backups on a team too and at least Douglas has some starting experience under his belt. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Douglas is a confounding player. At times, he's looked like the Eagles' best corner the past few seasons. Then he'll have stretches where all he does is give up 80-yard touchdowns -- and when he gets beat, he's often not even the same hemisphere. 2019 seemed like more of the latter. His size and physicality are great attributes, yet he would probably fare a lot better in Cover-3 or some sort of zone defense. He's got one year left, it's just time for a change. And, no, he would not make a good safety in today's NFL.

Verdict: Goes

Sidney Jones

Roob: Just when you thought Jones was showing some positive signs in spot action late in the season, he gets benched for the playoff game against the Seahawks. When your second-round pick is finally healthy and can’t even get on the field for the biggest game of the year that’s a problem. What does it mean for his future? Not encouraging. Jones will get another chance in 2020 because he's a 2nd-round pick on his rookie contract, but it's hard to be optimistic.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I have always been bullish on Jones and he made some big plays down the stretch in 2019. But I’d expect the Eagles to bring in at least two high-level corners through free agency or the draft, which would push Jones down the depth chart. And if the Eagles are going to trade Jones or Douglas, I think Jones has more more value. But if I’m the Eagles, I’m just not ready to give up on him yet. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: It's frequently very unfair to presume to know what's going through a young athlete's mind, but there was a point last season where Jones looked like he was playing scared or at least thinking too much. Not coincidentally, he was inactive for awhile after that. Then just when it looked like his story might be written, he got into some games down the stretch, sparingly, and took care of business. Even though Jones couldn't get back on the field in the Eagles' playoff loss, and he's dealt with so many injuries, there's still this nagging feeling about his talent and potential. The kid was supposed to be a top-10 pick. He'll only be 24. At least give him a shot to crack the roster. If his head is right and he's healthy, who knows what will happen. 

Verdict: Stays

Cre’Von LeBlanc

Roob: LeBlanc is on a bargain contract and has shown enough positives to warrant a long look this summer. LeBlanc has the versatility to play inside or outside, although he’s probably best suited for the slot. Like several of these young corners he’s shown up at times, but what’s his ceiling? What’s his role? What is he best at? LeBlanc will get every opportunity to show the Eagles this summer.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Every time LeBlanc is given an opportunity to make plays, he makes them. Can’t argue with that. Is he ever going to be a Pro Bowl corner? Probably not. But he’s a pretty solid nickel and I’d give him a chance to earn that role going into next season. 

Verdict: Stays  

Kulp: LeBlanc is a perfectly capable slot corner. Of course, that's where Maddox is probably most suited to play, too. Unless Maddox is moving to safety, not sure the Eagles' best lineup would never feature both players on the field at the same time. LeBlanc only make a cool mil though, and Maddox can move, so it's not really hurting anything. 

Verdict: Stays

Craig James 

Roob: James played 237 snaps on special teams this year, and if he’s here it will be because of his special teams ability. But you know how these things go. Assuming the Eagles overhaul the cornerback spot, a guy like James, who probably isn’t going to help much on defense, could be the first to go.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: For a while, James seemed to be a pretty good special teamer, working as a gunner for most of the season. But that shouldn’t be enough to keep him around. And if the Eagles bring him new talent, his chances to return will be shot. Maybe he sticks around on the practice squad. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: Good back end of the roster type, but the Eagles need to upgrade the position in the worst way, so there should be new bodies and plenty of competition. Which means if James is back, something went terribly wrong. 

Verdict: Goes

Tremon Smith

Roob: One thing we know about Smith is that he can run. He ran 4.32 at his pro day, which puts him in elite company. But he hasn’t been able to make that speed work for him yet in stints with the Chiefs and Packers. He does have a 25.8 career kick return average, which is legit – 6th-highest among active players. But it’s not enough. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Smith’s ability as a return man is intriguing to me but I’m not sure if that’ll be enough to keep him around. I’m looking forward to at least seeing that speed in training camp. 

Verdict: Goes

Kulp: The Eagles are his third team in two years, and while they need a lot of help at corner, that means draft picks and/or big ticket free agents, not practice squad prospects.

Verdict: Goes

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Just a reminder that Eagles don’t have their Super Bowl without Andy Reid

Just a reminder that Eagles don’t have their Super Bowl without Andy Reid

I’m not here to tell you to root for Andy Reid in Super Bowl LIV. That’s your decision.

I’m just here to remind you that even though Reid had been gone five years before the Eagles won their Super Bowl, his fingerprints were still all over that team. And they wouldn’t have become Super Bowl LII champions without him.

That doesn’t mean Reid is forgiven for all the times he failed to deliver a championship of his own. It doesn’t excuse his flaws; and there were flaws. But it would be disingenuous to not give him credit because a lot of the groundwork for the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017 was laid by him.

Now, the Eagles also wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl (at least not the way they did) if they never fired Reid in 2012 either. That started a chain reaction that led to Chip and and then Chip’s downfall and there’s this whole Butterfly Effect that happened.

But just finding Reid’s influence on the Eagles’ championship team a couple years ago is much, much easier than all that. It was at every level.

On the roster

Six of the Eagles’ 22 starters in Super Bowl LII came from Reid’s time in Philadelphia. Think about that for a second. With how much turnover there is in the NFL and with the fact that the Eagles went through two coaching changes after firing Reid, to have 27.3 percent of your starters come from him is pretty impressive.

And think about those individual players: Nick Foles, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Mychal Kendricks. (And that doesn't even include Jason Peters, who missed the game because of injury.)

Sure, Foles left and came back but Reid drafted him, the other six starters and Brent Celek, who was also still on that team. So Reid, who was fired by the Eagles five years earlier, drafted the Super Bowl LII MVP and the guy who made one of the biggest defensive plays in franchise history.

And let’s not forget that it was Reid who helped Foles fall back in love with the game in 2016 after Foles had strongly considered retirement. Without Reid, Foles wouldn’t have even been in the league for the 2017 season.

“I just sort of made the decision to go back and play for Coach Reid,” Foles said to NBC Sports’ Reuben Frank during the 2017 season. “It was the best decision I made, going there in that situation. Because it wasn’t an easy call for me but I was back with someone that was familiar. I think Coach Reid is one of the greatest coaches in the world. I love them and I really had a special year last year with him.”

The coaching staff

When the Eagles were looking for a head coach in 2016, they listened closely to Reid, who vouched for his offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson. After all, who knows Pederson better than Reid? Reid coached Pederson in Green Bay, brought him to Philly to play before Donovan McNabb in 1999 and gave Pederson his first coaching job 10 years later.

So not only would Pederson not have gotten the head coaching job in Philly … without Reid, we wouldn’t even know who this guy was. And without Reid, Pederson would be a completely different coach. He learned his style as an offensive mind and as a leader from Reid and it shows. A lot of what Pederson did his first season as head coach was to try to get the cold feeling out of the building from Chip Kelly and restore the family atmosphere Reid worked so hard to foster for over a decade.

And let’s not forget Duce Staley either. Sure, Duce was drafted before Andy got to Philly but he played five seasons under Big Red and then Reid gave Duce his first coaching job in 2011.

The front office

While some of his moves since the Super Bowl season have been questionable, the 2017 season was Howie Roseman’s master-stroke. Don’t forget that Roseman worked under Reid for years and still worked under him when Roseman was promoted to general manager in 2010.

"I love Howie's energy, and I've loved it since I've been here with Howie," Reid said after Roseman was promoted to GM. "His eagerness to learn and then his ability to evaluate are second to none."

Roseman learned a lot of lessons from Reid, including the importance of solidifying offensive and defensive lines, something the Eagles did very well in 2017. It was under Reid and Joe Banner that Roseman was able to grow up in the NFL and become the youngest GM in the league at 34 back in 2010. He doesn’t become the Super Bowl GM without learning from Reid along the way.

•••   

Remember, I’m not telling you that you should be rooting for Reid to win this Super Bowl. To each his own. But the fact that the Eagles wouldn’t have won their championship without him, might be reason enough.

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