An Eagle linebacker I want to see more of, the fastest sprinter in Eagles history and an incredible Jalen Hurts stat.
It’s all here in this week’s Roob’s 10 Random offseason Eagles observations!
1. I was really excited to see Davion Taylor last year. When the Eagles took him in the third round, we heard about how inexperienced he was - he barely played in high school and spent only two years at Colorado after starting out at a JUCO. But we also heard how fast, explosive and athletic he was. How he just needed to get some experience for us to start seeing his vast potential. Then the season began and … he never played. Even though the Eagles were losing every week and the defense was a mess, Jim Schwartz didn’t think Taylor was ready, and he got only 32 snaps all year, before shutting down in December with a knee injury. The Eagles have upgraded the linebacker position - Eric Wilson signed from the Vikings, Nate Gerry and Duke Riley are gone, Alex Singleton gets a full season and hybrid JaCoby Stevens was a 7th-round pick. Wilson, Singleton and T.J. Edwards were all starters last year, but the way I see it, Taylor has to play. He’s the only linebacker on the roster who was drafted (by anybody) in the first four rounds, and that means upside. With his traits he’s got a chance to be really good. He just needs reps. Should have gotten them last year. Has to get them this year.
2. When I was working on a column about Jalen Hurts a few days ago I was struck by some eye-opening stats regarding Hurts’ downfield passing. Using the Stathead NFL number cruncher, I discovered that Hurts’ 13.8 yards per completion last year was highest among all NFL quarterbacks (minimum 100 attempts) by more than a yard. Deshaun Watson was second at 12.63. Carson Wentz was 32nd at 10.4, or nearly 3 ½ yards per completion less than Hurts. That 13.8 mark is also 2nd-highest in NFL history by a rookie, behind only Michael Vick’s ridiculous 15.7 figure in 2001. A lot has been made of Hurts’ NFL-low 52 percent completion percentage, and that’s a concern. But when your average completion is going nearly 14 yards - the NFL average last year was 11.1 (lowest in NFL history) - that 52 percent figure makes a lot more sense.
3. Also note that over the last five weeks of the season, Hurts completed nine passes of 30 yards or more. And he only played half of two of those games. During that same stretch, only Tom Brady (13) had more 30-yard completions than Hurts. Carson Wentz had 14 completions of 30 yards all year - only five more than Hurts had in the equivalent of four games. And remember who Hurts was throwing to.
4. Keep an eye on undrafted rookie receiver Trevon Grimes this summer. Grimes had decent numbers at Florida - 100 catches for 1,464 yards and 14 TDs the last three years - but when you’re playing alongside Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney there aren’t going to be all that many opportunities to catch the football. Grimes ran a 4.49 at Florida’s pro day (although we’ve heard about unofficial times that were much faster) and at 6-4, 220 pounds he’s quite a target. DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor are the only sure things in that receiving corps. It’s going to be fun to watch it sort itself out.
5. Nick Foles had three 3-TD games in the span of five starts to finish the 2017 season. He’s had two 3-TD games in 20 starts since.
6. D.K. Metcalf’s 10.37 for 100 meters Sunday raised the question who was the fastest Eagle ever, and the answer is easy. It was Frank Budd. He played football at Asbury Park High School but ran track for Jumbo Elliott at Villanova and in 1961 set a world record of 9.2 for 100 yards at Downing Stadium in Randall’s Island. Even though he didn’t play football at Villanova, he decided to give football a try after college, and the Eagles drafted him in the seventh round in 1962. He played in 13 games for the Eagles as a rookie, catching five passes for 130 yards, including a 49-yard TD from Sonny Jurgensen in Washington. He played one more year - for Washington - catching five passes for 106 yards in 1963 and averaging 25.2 yards on kick returns before retiring from football and taking a job with the New Jersey Department of Corrections. How would Budd have fared against Metcalf? A hand-timed 9.2 for 100 yards equals a 10.1 for 100 meters, which converts to a fully automatic 10.34. But keep in mind Budd ran that 9.2 before the advent of lightning-fast all-weather tracks or super-charged spikes. Metcalf’s 10.37 was quite an achievement for a football player. But Budd would have crushed him. Budd settled in Mount Laurel in his later life. He died in 2014.
7. If DeVonta Smith averages 66 yards per game, he’ll be the 6th-leading receiver in Eagles history at the end of his five-year rookie contract.
8. People love them, but draft grades are pointless. Here are some grades from the Eagles’ horrific 2017 draft (Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins, Donnel Pumphrey, Shelton Gibson, Nate Gerry, Elijah Qualls):
- NFL.com: A-
- Sporting News: A
- CBS Sports: B+
- Sports Illustrated: B+
- Washington Post: B
- ESPN: B-
- SB Nation: B-
The reality is you can’t evaluate a draft for two years. Sometimes longer. It’s impossible.
9. Something to keep in mind with Kerryon Johnson, the running back the Eagles acquired on waivers from the Lions. Not saying he’ll never regain his rookie form, when he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. But he has averaged 3.6 and 3.5 the last two years and of the 27 running backs over the last 20 years who’ve had consecutive seasons with an average of 3.6 or worse (minimum 50 carries) at any point in their career only four have ever had one productive season the rest of their career - Darren McFadden, Doug Martin, Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones. And only Jones had multiple productive seasons the rest of his career. Of the 23 others, 19 either never played again or had 50 or fewer more career carries. Maybe Johnson can be another exception, but generally when running backs lose it, they don’t get it back.
10. I was always surprised Chip Kelly didn’t keep Tim Tebow around after 2015 training camp. He had a decent enough preseason – 65 percent accuracy, two TDs, one INT, 5.9 yards per carry, TD run – and he just seemed like a Chip Kelly kind of guy. Thad Lewis wound up spending all but two weeks that year as the Eagles No. 3 QB. Whatever happened to Lewis? He just won a Super Bowl ring as an assistant coach with the Buccaneers.
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