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Author: Jonny Page

Film Room: Lane Johnson, Left Tackle

Film Room: Lane Johnson, Left Tackle

Many football analysts will rightly point out that NFL defenses now line up their best rusher on either side of the line so a right tackle is theoretically just as important as a left tackle.

I disagree with this for two reasons. Firstly, most quarterbacks in the NFL are right handed and you do not want your quarterback taking hits from his blindside. If your right tackle is having a bad game, at least your quarterback has a better chance of seeing the pressure and avoiding it or getting rid of the ball. If your left tackle is getting killed however, your quarterback is in trouble. Secondly, the tight end is normally lined up next to the right tackle, meaning it’s easier to help him out in pass protection.

Lane Johnson recently got paid like a starting left tackle but he won’t be playing there until Jason Peters is eventually cut or retires. As Peters missed so many games last year, we got to see Johnson play left tackle on a few occasions.

I went back and watched every snap Johnson played at left tackle for this piece. However, I’m only posting clips from the Cowboys game as I had more than enough clips from that one game. It was a fascinating game to watch as Johnson had to face a very talented pass rusher in Greg Hardy. I hate Hardy as much as all of you do too, but I was worried that the narrative that ‘Johnson destroyed Hardy’ probably began because people really wanted to believe it to be true.

I’ll post a few clips from the Cowboys game so I can break down Lane Johnson and whether I think he can be a star at left tackle in the future for the Eagles. As usual, I can’t post clips of every play so I normally post an example of something I see routinely.

Let’s get to the film!

 

 

This is a great play to start with. Johnson gets into his pass set really quickly which is important, after doing that he gets his hands on Greg Hardy’s chest and pushes him backwards which completely halts Hardy’s momentum. Hardy tries to respond with a counter move but Johnson uses his hands well. This is a nice play by Johnson and it shows the strength of his initial punch. 

 

This is a play that shows off Johnson’s athleticism, his feet move quickly and despite Hardy getting a really quick get off Johnson manages to stay with him. His technique isn’t perfect here but he knows the ball is coming out of Bradford’s hands quickly so he doesn’t have to worry about the counter move too much. On another note, good catch Josh Huff! 

 

I really like this play, Hardy is lined up quite wide but Johnson just goes straight after him. Pause the clip when Johnson initiates contact with Hardy and look at Dennis Kelly at right tackle. Kelly is letting the rusher come on to him whereas Johnson is taking on Hardy instantly. Both ways can work but I love offensive lineman who dominate personally, it’s why I loved breaking down the tape on Brandon Brooks (you can read that here). Johnson gets both his hands perfectly on Hardy’s chest and Hardy tries to win with a bull rush but Johnson is too strong. 

 

Here’s Johnson doing the opposite to the last clip, here he doesn’t initiate contact but when Hardy gets near him he gets a strong punch to his chest. Johnson does get knocked back here but he’s got a decent pass set and he keeps his head up which means he doesn’t fall backwards and is able to stand his ground against a fierce bull rush. 

 

This is a great block. Johnson gets into his pass set quickly and his technique is really solid, he keeps his head up and uses his arms well to strike Hardy in his chest. Hardy tries to rip his hand and get round the edge but Johnson has the athleticism and quick footwork to prevent him from doing so. Hardy simply cannot get Johnson’s hands off his chest here which is impressive. The way he keeps his feet moving through Hardy’s initial contact is really good and he uses his long arms well. 

 

Here Johnson gets beat by Hardy, his biggest problem is that he lunges forward and drops his head when trying to strike Hardy. Hardy is too good not to capitalize on this and he easily swims past Johnson, leaving him to block air. Luckily for Johnson, Bradford gets the ball out quickly but he gets beat pretty bad here. 

 

On the last play, Johnson got beat badly and should have given up a sack. Here he gives up a sack but I’m not sure he’s entirely at fault. When the defense are running a stunt like this, the left tackle and left guard need to communicate better so they can swap who they’re blocking, assuming this is how the Eagles are coached to deal with stunts. This highlights why it can be hard for a right tackle to simply swap to left tackle, it helps when an offensive line have played together for a while. 

 

Final play I’ll show of Johnson pass blocking, here he gets beat by Hardy’s use of hands and he ends up lunging forward and blocking air. For most lineman, once they lunge like this and get nowhere the play is dead. Johnson isn’t like most lineman though, he’s ridiculously athletic. Despite getting completely beat here, he just about manages to recover and get his hands on Hardy again which gives Bradford an extra half a second to get the ball out. Not many offensive lineman have the athleticism to recover after getting so badly beat like this. 

 

Let’s move on to some clips of Johnson run blocking seeing as that is his real strength. Here again he gets pushed back by Hardy but keeps his balance and doesn’t let go of Hardy’s chest and it leads to a huge hole for Murray to exploit. 

 

This is a great block, he really does move Hardy back by getting his hands on his chest early and keeping his legs moving whilst initiating contact and gets a great blocking angle which enables him to completely take Hardy out of the play. 

 

Johnson gets beat here, but I wanted to show this play because I think it’s a great example of a major issue with Chip Kelly’s offense. I think Chip’s offense in 2015 made certain offensive lineman look worse because it asked them to make really difficult blocks. When you can’t audible at the line, you’re committed to running a certain play even if the defensive front isn’t what you were expecting. Also, defensive lineman seemed to know what play was coming quite often and this makes it even harder to block them. Johnson can’t block 95 here but I’m not really sure if he really has a chance, the angle he has to take here makes this block extremely difficult. I’m not the only one who noticed this either. 

 

Back to the good stuff, this is a lovely block. He initiates contact well and literally moves the Cowboys defender back with ease. Even after pushing him back, he isn’t satisfied and he really finishes aggressively and well here. You just have to love plays like this. 

 

Let’s end on another good play, here he takes a good angle and just drives the Cowboys defensive tackle to the ground. The last two clips show how he’s a very aggressive run blocker and he really does want to finish the plays well. 

Overall

Considering this was Lane Johnson’s first game at left tackle all season, he handled himself pretty well. It can’t be easy to suddenly switch to left tackle midway through the season after practicing at right tackle all season. Having to face Greg Hardy isn’t easy either, despite being an idiot he’s a really good player. Sadly he didn’t ‘destroy’ Greg Hardy but very few left tackles do and it was Johnson’s first game there all season.

I have no fears about Johnson being the Eagles future left tackle, he’s good enough to play there already. His run blocking is excellent, he can sustain blocks well and can generate push on a consistent basis. Sometimes he takes a poor angle but it’s hard to know if that’s his fault or whether the defense knew what was coming. He has long arms and he uses them well to strike the defensive lineman in the chest both in the run game and when pass protecting.

His pass protection has flaws but for the most part it looked pretty good. When he tried to strike the opponent and initiate contact he would occasionally lunge forward and his head would fall forward which would cause him to lose balance. This makes him an easy target for swim or rip moves and defensive lineman were able to strike him off balance and get around him.

However, his freakish athleticism and long arms also let him recover when he gets beat which is something very few players can do. Obviously in an ideal world he would never get beat, but this is never going to happen and the way he can regain his balance after being beat is impressive. Although his technique can be questionable at times, for the most part he gets into a strong pass set very quickly and has really good foot quickness. He plays with a good pad level and is able to mirror pass rushers off the edge and stop them from getting the corner.

I would have absolutely no problem with the Eagles moving on from Jason Peters at the end of the season and letting Lane Johnson take over. Johnson will probably have some bad games at times but for the most part he should be really solid. He’s still only 26 years old and he didn’t play much as an offensive lineman until late into his career which means he should still be progressing. If he continues to improve he could develop into one of the NFLs premier left tackles, but he still has a way to go before he’s at that level.

If you like these film room posts, I have other ones on the site on a number of different players and feel free to follow the blog or follow me on twitter (@JonnyPage9).

Film Room: Vinny Curry, Rushing the Quarterback

Film Room: Vinny Curry, Rushing the Quarterback

The worst thing about Chip Kelly running a 2-gap 3-4 scheme the past 3 years was that it meant Vinny Curry barely saw the field. In a passing league, the fact that you can have such a dominant pass rusher on the sideline for over 50% of the snaps just seems ridiculous to me.

Luckily, we didn’t trade Curry during Kelly’s tenure and he signed a long term extension before Free Agency began which I was so happy about. Curry is probably the Eagles best pass rusher and I’m incredibly excited about watching him next year in Schwartz’ scheme.

Just because the Eagles played a 3-4 the last few years, that doesn’t make Curry’s film worthless. In obvious passing downs, the Eagles frequently used a 4-3 defense last year and Curry would either line up as the defensive end or the defensive tackle with Connor Barwin playing the defensive end position.

I think Curry will be used a lot next year as the defensive tackle in obvious passing situations so that Schwartz can get Graham, Barwin, Curry and Cox on the field at once. For this film room piece, I broke down Curry as a defensive end and a defensive tackle when the Eagles played a 4-3 seeing as he’ll be playing these positions this year.

I’ll post a few clips from games I watched and then summarize everything I saw at the end like I always do. Obviously I can’t post clips of every play, so I normally post an example of something that I see routinely.

Let’s get to the film!

I’m going to start with clips that show Curry as the defensive end in more of a 4-3 look as this is where he will spend a lot of his playing time this year. The Eagles will use a ‘wide-9’ look obviously but that won’t be an every down thing. The first thing that stands out when watching Curry rush the quarterback is just his pure strength. He frequently wins with power like in the clip above. He keeps his legs driving and surprises the offensive tackle by just straight up bull rushing him and catching him off guard. You can see him fake the outside rush and then cut inside quickly. The offensive tackle tries to get a hand on him but Curry powers through his attempt and gets to the quarterback. It also helps when it takes 3 Lions players to stop Fletcher Cox who flat out abuses the center here.

Curry doesn’t get to the quarterback here but he shows great speed and athleticism. He gets off the line of scrimmage extremely quickly and easily beats the tackle with pure speed but the guard manages to prevent him from getting to Cam. How much value you put into a quick first step depends on your preference and how you evaluate pass rushers. Personally, I always look for a guy with a quick first step. It’s not enough to make you a great pass rusher but it is seriously helpful as shown here.

Okay, so leaving Vinny Curry one on one against a tight end is never ever going to work. Still, it’s a good clip to show because it once again shows his lightning quick first step and his ability to bend the edge. This is not a knock on Graham, but if you pause this clip half a second after the snap, Curry is already getting up field and Graham has barely moved yet. It’s not even deliberate but I swear Fletcher Cox makes an unbelievable play in so many of these clips. It’s basically a Curry/Cox film room piece, just look at Cox here. Graham gets through too, poor Tannehill.

Curry slightly overruns this play but I love how he uses his hands here. Using your hands well is absolutely critical if you are going to be an elite pass rusher. Although it’s very difficult as a pass rusher, trying to keep one arm free can be very helpful as shown here and this is a great swim move by Curry. When you’re a defensive lineman and the offensive lineman ends up on the ground, you know you’ve won that battle.

Curry can’t get to the quarterback here but it’s another good outside rush and he almost does enough to get there. Just like in the previous clips, Curry is able to stop the tackle from getting a strong punch by staying low and hiding his chest. Curry then uses his hands well, he uses his outside hand to club the offensive lineman and uses his inside hand to rip up through the offensive lineman. Curry can’t bend the edge like some of the elite outside pass rushers and it shows here where he just can’t do enough to get to the quarterback.

Once again Curry just can’t get to the quarterback here but most plays you won’t as a pass rusher. Collapsing the pocket like he is able to do here always puts pressure on the quarterback though and can force mistakes. The offensive tackle is expecting Curry to try to bend the edge here as Curry starts by rushing up field. As you can see through, Curry takes a sharp step to the inside and charges the tackle head on while staying low and trying to hide his chest. The tackle actually does a decent job and manages to get his hands on Curry’s chest but Curry still pushes him back into the quarterback and this shows off his power again.

Right, let’s move on to a few clips of Curry rushing from inside as a defensive tackle on clear passing situations. I knew Curry rushed from the inside a lot last year but I couldn’t believe he did it so much. I can understand why though, he is really good at rushing from the defensive tackle position, much better than I realized if I’m honest. Although Curry doesn’t really get anywhere here, he does look like he’s going to beat the center but is knocked over by the over guard. I think we’ll see this look a lot next year on third down too, Barwin-Curry-Cox-Graham. Good luck opposing quarterbacks on third and long!

Here Curry gets the sack with another great swim move. He keeps his chest hidden so the offensive guard can’t get a strong punch at the start which is key. Even when being doubled at the start Curry keeps his legs moving and this just shows how strong he is. Once again if you pause the clip just after the snap of the ball, most the Eagles players haven’t even got going yet and Curry has already initiated contact with the guard. This is a great example of a quick first step and a great use of hands that results in a sack.

This is another good example of great hands and a quick first step. Curry has that guard beaten by using his inside hand to club the defender and then using his outside hand to swim around him. He uses his hands so quickly here, the guard has almost no chance of getting his hands on Curry’s chest. Sadly the center ends up in his way without even really trying to block him and Curry can’t get to the quarterback although he tries his best even when falling to the ground. Still, his pressure up the middle and Barwin’s outside rush forces Eli to step to the left and this results in him in walking straight into Graham’s rush.

This is such a great play, Curry is relentless as a rusher and it’s so fun to watch. He’s literally being doubled teamed the entire play yet he never gets pushed back he just keeps his legs moving and uses his hands well to fight off the offensive lineman and not let them stop his momentum. Just look at the power he shows as he fights through both blocks, you can literally see how much he wants to get to the quarterback. It’s awesome to watch, Schwartz is going to love this guy.

In these posts I try to point out a players strengths and weaknesses. Honestly, Curry doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses when rushing the quarterback. But I guess if I had to be picky, he does rely on bull rushes a lot when lining up inside. He’s not an elite bend the edge type guy anyway but when he’s playing as a defensive tackle he tries to overpower guards a lot of the time by bull rushing them. He’s rushing the left guard here and as you can see sometimes he just won’t be able to overpower these guys so he needs to have a better counter move when he gets locked up with an offensive lineman. Here he doesn’t really use his hands and he fails to use a counter move after finding himself locked up with the lineman.

Let’s end on an awesome play, because why not? This play is kind of random, as you can see the two inside linebackers are Cox and Curry. Just look how athletic Curry is though, he bends the edge well and converts speed to power really well here. Once again he uses his hands excellently and stops the offensive lineman from getting his hands on his chest. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Curry used as a linebacker occasionally on passing downs, he looks pretty good!

Overall

To be a great pass rusher, you need to be relentless. Vinny Curry is exactly that. He rushes the quarterback every snap like his life depends on him getting to the quarterback which is exactly the mentality that you need to have. Curry is going to excel next season and the sky really is the limit for him in Schwartz’ scheme.

Curry is a pretty special pass rusher. He’s not an elite bend the edge guy but he’s a good athlete and can still bend the edge well enough but he can also win with just pure power. He has an incredible first step and also uses his hands extremely well which is a deadly combination. I saw a number of good pass rushing moves including the rip and swim move consistently and he was very good at getting low and hiding his chest to prevent offensive lineman from getting a strong initial punch on him.

Curry can beat you in a number of different ways but just like anyone he isn’t perfect. Curry wins early so often that he hasn’t really developed a strong counter move if he does lose the initial battle at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes he will rely on his first step and the bull rush move too much when lining up inside as a defensive tackle and elite guards will not let him simply overpower them. However, overall Curry is a really impressive pass rusher who will be aiming for double digit sacks next year and should get there.

Final note from me, if you like these posts feel free to follow the blog and follow me on twitter of course (@JonnyPage9) – I’ll be having more film room pieces out in the future on Lane Johnson and maybe Jordan Matthews. Also, if you want to see me breakdown anyone else tweet me or comment below and I’ll see what I can do. I’ve already broke down Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Nelson Agholor and Eric Rowe and you can see all of these by clicking here!

Film Room: Jordan Hicks

Film Room: Jordan Hicks

Breaking down Jordan Hicks for this piece was a lot of fun. When I broke down the other rookies, Eric Rowe and Nelson Agholor, I posted quite a few negative plays of them. If you’ve read my work before you know I try to be very impartial and I simply breakdown what I see, there’s no point in doing this if I’m going to be biased.

It was really hard to find negative plays by Hicks though, he just didn’t make many. He didn’t play like a rookie middle linebacker at all, I barely ever saw any so called ‘rookie mistakes’ from him and he was really consistent. I wanted to go back and watch Hicks and see if he played as well as we all thought he did. I watched basically every snap of his so I have a pretty good feel for him as a player now.

I’ll post a few clips from games I watched and then summarize everything I saw at the end like I always do. Obviously I can’t post clips of every play, so I normally post an example of something that I see routinely.

Let’s get to the clips!

Let’s begin with a basic play that just shows his instincts and athleticism perfectly. I decided to show this angle because it shows off his athleticism so well but the other angle shows you how well he diagnoses this play better. The second he sees the guard getting up the field he recognizes it’s a screen and gets to the receiver straight away. Yes, he fails to wrap up the ball carrier and this is something I saw a few times so he will need to work on his tackling in the offseason but I still love plays like this.

Hicks is really good in coverage, he’s not just athletic but he’s very instinctive in zone coverage and he always seems to have a feel for where the quarterback wants to go with the ball as you’ll see in the next few clips. Although he could have picked this ball off, it shows how well he’s reading Brees while staying close to the receivers around him and he makes a really athletic play on the ball.

Hicks misreads this play and he occasionally does get done by play-action but he’s certainly not the only rookie linebacker to get caught out by play-action a few times. However, I like this play because once again it just shows how quick and athletic he is. The tight end certainly should catch this ball but there’s no doubt Hicks puts pressure into him dropping it. Just ignore the result of the play though and keep your eyes on Hicks the whole time. Watch how quickly he changes direction and the acceleration he shows to recover, that’s impressive.

Hicks is right in the middle of the screen here and this is another good example of his athleticism and great coverage. He knows exactly where the tight end is going even when he’s behind him and he takes away this throw completely.

This is just another awesome play, he’s the guy in the middle of the screen to the right by the way. I feel like I keep pointing out how athletic he is and how instinctive he is in zone coverage but it’s because he is! Hicks basically takes away both of the quarterback’s main two reads here. He takes away the slot receiver first on the in route but he knows that once that receiver gets past him he’s running into another defenders zone so he comes off the slot receiver and quickly recognizes that the quarterback wants to throw the ball to the outside receiver on a deeper in and he gets right in front of the throwing lane. This forces the quarterback to throw it over him and there’s basically no chance of him completing this throw. If you pause the play before the quarterback releases it, if Hicks had followed the slot receiver just a second more, the second read would have been open. This is a great example of a player knowing his coverage and showing great awareness of what’s around him.

I’ll end talking about Hicks in coverage by showing some examples of Hicks in man coverage. This is against Chris Thompson who is a good receiver out the backfield. He initially beats Hicks but Hicks knows the situation and knows his main aim is to simply not let Thompson into the end zone. After staying close to him he accelerates and makes a great tackle, leaving the Redskins two yards short of the endzone.

This is a similar example to the last play and again it just shows smart football. It’s 3rd down and 10, Hicks doesn’t need to get aggressive and try and jump the route and end up getting beat by a double move or a wheel route so he plays it safe. Still, I love the aggressiveness and acceleration you see from him the second he sees Cousins throw it.

This is just perfect coverage, Brees sensibly decides to throw it way out in front because Hicks is in a great position to intercept the ball.

This was one of my favorite plays from last year. Yes, it’s a pretty rubbish throw and not a great route but I love the way he’s always looking at the quarterback and the second the balls thrown he shows that acceleration again and picks it off.

Lastly, I’ll show a clip of Hicks getting beat by Witten in man coverage because Hicks did really struggle to cover Witten in this game. That’s no real surprise though Witten is excellent at getting open on these shorter routes and it’s hardly a shock that Hicks struggled to cover him. Overall, Hicks is excellent in zone coverage and very good in man coverage too.

Let’s move on to Hicks in the running game now. A lot of what Hicks does is just smart football, if I could describe him in one word I would describe him as intelligent. He won’t make as many ‘flash’ plays as someone like a Mychal Kendricks but he’s extremely consistent at getting the job done. Hicks has to cover 2 gaps here and if he flies straight through one, the running back has a chance at escaping through the other gap. Hicks realizes this so he slows the running back down and is able to tackle him at the line of scrimmage. This gap awareness will be crucial when Hicks plays in Jim Schwartz wide 9 next year.

Here’s a pretty simple stop by Hicks but I like this play because it shows his ability to get off blocks while keeping his eyes in the backfield. He gets some help from Bennie Logan of course, who is just a beast.

Another smart play, Hicks avoids the Saints offensive lineman and is then tempted to fly through that big gap and try to make a play behind the line of scrimmage. In the end he sensibly decides not to and makes a great tackle on the running back who only gets around two yards.

Here’s another good play going downhill, Hicks does a great job getting low in order to avoid being blocked and is still able to make a play on the runner despite having an offensive lineman trying to block him. Hicks understands angles very well in the running game, he rarely finds himself overrunning the play or running directly into an offensive lineman. Even simple plays like this show an intelligent footballer .

Let’s end with my favorite play of the year by Hicks. He starts on the right side of the screen, now watch the difference between him and DeMeco. DeMeco can’t shed the block and ends up getting no where despite the runner going to his side. Hicks shows great athleticism and awareness to shed the first block and send the Cowboys offensive lineman falling to the turf. He keeps going and shows fantastic speed to make it all the way outside and then lays a big hit. This is the very definition of a sideline to sideline play by a linebacker.

Overall

I think Jordan Hicks is a stud. Honestly, I think I have a higher opinion of him now than I did before I wrote this piece. He is a perfect fit at linebacker for the modern day NFL and he is a true 3-down linebacker. Those guys aren’t easy to find. He’s very good both in coverage and downhill against the run too. His zone coverage particularly impressed me, he just looks so natural in coverage which is where so many inside linebackers struggle.

I don’t have any concerns about Hicks playing in Schwartz’ defensive scheme at all. The MLB in a wide 9 has to do a lot but I think Hicks can do it all. Hicks shows great gap awareness and this is something that will be crucial in Schwartz’ wide 9 scheme. Hicks is a true sideline to sideline linebacker and he also has the coverage ability to play the deep middle in a Tampa 2 which I expect Schwartz to use occasionally.

Hicks is incredibly instinctive and smart, he rarely takes a false step or overruns a play as he understands angles in the running game well which is really impressive considering he was a rookie. However, he isn’t perfect. His biggest weakness is sadly with injuries. Hicks missed a lot of time last year and also had injuries in college which was one reason why he fell to the 3rd round. On top of that, Hicks can’t rush the quarterback like someone like Mychal Kendricks can and Hicks did miss a few tackles too.

Hicks can learn to rush the passer better but in Schwartz’ scheme he may not blitz much anyway, I’m sure he can improve his tackling too which wasn’t bad but he did miss a few. I’m not concerned about Hicks’ weaknesses, the only one that genuinely worries me is his history with injuries. Fingers crossed that Hicks can stay healthy next year because I really think he will flourish as the MLB in Jim Schwartz’ defence.

Just to end on a quick note from me, if you like these posts feel free to follow the blog and follow me on twitter of course (@JonnyPage9) – I’ll be having more film room pieces out in the future on Vinny Curry and Lane Johnson. Also, if you want to see me breakdown anyone else tweet me or comment below and I’ll see what I can do. I’ve already broke down Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Nelson Agholor and Eric Rowe and you can see all of these by clicking here! I appreciate the feedback for these posts too as they take a bit of time to do but it’s good to go back and watch these younger guys.

Film Room: Isaac Seumalo

Film Room: Isaac Seumalo

I’ll be honest, I had no idea who Isaac Seumalo was when the Eagles picked him. So watching him for this piece was the first I had ever seen of him. Considering a lot of people had never heard of him, the reaction to the pick on my timeline was actually pretty good as I think people knew how badly we needed offensive line help.

I watched the two games of Seumalo on Draft Breakdown and a couple of other YouTube clips I could find, he’s playing right guard in all the clips below. Seumalo will be competing for the left guard spot this year and if you want an in-depth look at the Eagles right guard click here to view my film piece on Brandon Brooks! How’s that for a plug?

PFF had Seumalo as one of the best pass blockers and to be honest, in the two games I watched he spent a lot more time run blocking than pass blocking in one on one situations. So I focused on his run blocking for the majority of the piece.

Anyway, let’s just get to the film. I’ll do what I normally do with my film pieces, I’ll post a few clips from games I watched and then summarize everything I saw at the end. Obviously I can’t post clips of every play, so I normally post an example of something that I see routinely.

Let’s start with the basics, his run blocking.

I love this play. He initially creates a running lane by double teaming the defensive tackle and he shows great feet to quickly change direction and take out the linebacker which creates a huge hole. This play doesn’t just show good athleticism but it shows good spatial awareness and a smart football player which can’t be underrated.

Here’s your standard nasty Guardy McBeef block. He creates a nice lane and stops the defensive tackle from making a play on the ball carrier.

Here’s another Guardy McBeef block. I like the aggressive finish here too, he isn’t mucking around.  He doesn’t always finish blocks aggressively but he does here which is good to see.

Here’s another one of those runs where he double teams the defensive tackle then gets to the linebacker to create a hole. This is pretty impressive, I really didn’t expect to see these kind of blocks so much.

He was pretty impressive when he was asked to pull and kick out too which is good to see as he’ll be asked to do this a lot by Pederson I imagine. You can tell he’s pretty athletic, which I guess he should be considering he’s not a big guy so it would be pretty worrying if he wasn’t. Seeing as he is undersized as a guard, I expect Pederson attempt will get him pulling and blocking at the second level a lot.

Here’s another example of him pulling across, I liked this play just because of how he finished. The guy was already being blocked so it wasn’t that impressive but it’s always nice to see a lineman put a defender on the ground.

As I mentioned above, considering he’s undersized you would expect him to get to the second level quickly. Although this is true, he doesn’t always finish his blocks when he actually gets to the defender. You can see that here, where he gets to the guy but it’s a sort of weak block. He needs to be more aggressive and he gets brushed aside really easily here.

It’s a similar story here, he gets to the linebacker at the second level but he can’t really do enough to block him out of the play. Admittedly this is a hard angle to make a block at but I guess he deserves some criticism for taking the angle that he does.

Here is sadly another example of him being pretty bad in space. This is on a screen pass and I’m not quite sure what he is doing here. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s bad in space. I just think he can improve a lot. He’s certainly athletic and he can definitely get to the second level and locate the defender he just needs to work on finishing his blocks and using his hands quicker to prevent the linebacker from getting off his block.

His run blocking for the most part was really good, I was impressed overall. I’m being picky here because the block is good enough on this play but sometimes I’ve noticed he lunges into blocks and this is when he can struggle to sustain the block. You can see him kind of lunge here as he’s making the block, you don’t want to see your guard end up on the floor.

I was critical of his blocking at the second level earlier but that was mainly me just pointing out some flaws. For the most part, he’s good in space and can pull and kick out well. Here’s an example of him getting to the second level and preventing the linebacker from making a play. You can see that he doesn’t really provide the dominant ‘mauler’ type blocks that we love to see in big offensive lineman. If he’s still making the play though, I can live with that. At his size he’ll never be a mauler.

To finish, I’ll show a couple of clips of him in pass coverage. I won’t show many examples because just trust me, his pass blocking is really good and I don’t want the post to be any longer! He gets a good punch here and maintains his blocks, he looks very calm and controlled here. He frequently wins early in the snap which is crucial.

He gets beat here similarly to how he did earlier, he has problems when he lunges. When he lunges he doesn’t keep his feet moving and he becomes static and because he’s undersized it’s easy for the defender to toss him aside. This is also a weird play because he doesn’t need to be so aggressive, the defense are only rushing three and he could have double teamed the defender with the center. I didn’t see many faults in his pass protection overall.

I keep ending on negatives plays with my film room pieces so let’s end on a high for a change! The defensive tackle tries to bull rush him but Seumalo anchors well and uses his hands effectively. He’s got a really good base when pass blocking, he doesn’t always initiate contact and dominate his opponent like Brandon Brooks does but he’s effective at stopping the rusher getting past him which at the end of the day is his main job.

Overall

I’m pretty impressed with Seumalo and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the day one starter at left guard. I really recommend you watch the Brandon Brooks piece again because you can see the different styles of both guards. Brooks initiates contact and simply dominates his opponent on a frequent basis which is why he just got paid a ton of money.

Seumalo isn’t like that, he’s not a mauler and he isn’t particularly flash but he gets the job done. I can see why he fell to the third round though. He has had injury problems in the past and he is undersized for a guard which means some analysts saw him better suited as a center. Also, he sometimes struggles to sustain blocks and needs to use his hands better. I think he’s good enough to play guard in the NFL though and I’m assuming he’ll attempt to put on some weight when he gets here too.

I don’t think Seumalo has the ability to ever be an all-pro at guard but I think he should be a reliable starter for a number of years. He’s very technically sound, rarely gets beat and is an intelligent player. He obviously has flaws otherwise he would have been an earlier pick but his flaws are minor and I wonder if he was overlooked because he isn’t your classic ‘mauler’ type guard that everyone loves. Some may be concerned that really big defensive tackles will be able to bull rush him back into the quarterback as he’s undersized and although that’s a legitimate concern, it didn’t happen in the games I watched.

He might not be the sexiest pick in the world but Seumalo is a good player who will hopefully be protecting Wentz for years to come. If the worst comes to the worst and he really struggles at guard, he’s a versatile backup to have and he could even push Kelce for a starting job at center in a couple of years which isn’t awful for a third round pick. I don’t envision that happening though and as long as he’s healthy he should be starting at left guard as early as this year.

Film Room: Eric Rowe, Man Coverage

Film Room: Eric Rowe, Man Coverage

Talking about Eric Rowe’s rookie season isn’t easy. Whereas everyone would agree that Nelson Agholor had a disappointing rookie season (I wrote a film room piece about Agholor too here) a lot of Eagles fans would say Rowe had a good rookie season.

Yet when you step back and look at it, Rowe couldn’t really get on the field early on as Nolan Carroll beat him out and the Eagles didn’t want him to play in the slot. He came in against the Lions when Carroll got hurt and tried his hardest but struggled to cover Calvin Johnson (no surprise).

However, Rowe started the remainder of the season and it looked like he played really well. Stats wise, he was really impressive as this tweet shows.

I wanted to go back and watch Rowe because his stats were almost too good to be true. Also, Rowe is arguably the number 1 cornerback on the Eagles right now which is really interesting because he was only a second round pick last year. Unless Carroll got hurt last year he may not have played all season long and now he may be expected to cover number 1 receivers week in and week out.

In Schwartz’ defense, Rowe will play a good mix of man and zone coverage but I wanted to focus on Rowe’s man coverage for this article. In 2014, Schwartz had his cornerbacks play off coverage quite a lot. I would be surprised if he does that with Rowe a lot though as Rowe is better in press coverage than he is in off coverage.

I watched pretty much every snap Rowe played last year but will mainly post clips from the Bills and Redskins game as he had some really good individual battles that game. Just like the Agholor post, I can’t post clips of every play, so I’ll post examples of something that I see routinely and summarize my feelings on Rowe at the end. The majority of the post will be clips of Rowe in press coverage but I’ll put some clips of him in off coverage at the end too. Also, Rowe is playing the right cornerback position for every clip below.

The Bills game was fascinating because Rowe had to deal with Sammy Watkins 1 on 1 quite a few times and Rowe was not afraid to get up and his face and press him. Here’s the first example, Rowe wins this time without a doubt. When you’re jamming a receiver at the line of scrimmage, you’re attempting to throw the timing off the route. If you just watch Watkins and ignore Rowe, look how wide Watkins has to come inside just to get off Rowe’s press. You can see Tyrod Taylor get to the top of his drop and look at Watkins and there’s simply no way he can throw that ball as Rowe is all over him. Rowe’s technique here is very sound too, he gives Watkins a firm shove whilst staying square and he doesn’t lean in which a lot of rookie cornerbacks do. Rowe had quite a few plays like this against Watkins.

I posted this clip because I found it interesting. When you’re looking at cornerbacks, you have to consider the coverage that the defense is in. Although you could argue Rowe gets beat at the LOS here, Rowe knows that the Eagles are in cover-2 man coverage and he cannot let Watkins have an outside release. Rowe makes sure Watkins goes inside where he has safety help and there is no way Tyrod can make that throw. A corner has to play smart and know what coverage they are in and Rowe does have a good job of that here.

Covering Pierre Garcon is not an easy task for a rookie cornerback, Garcon is a savvy route runner and he can be tough to cover. Rowe had a pretty nice game against him though and this is nice coverage here. Again Rowe gets a decent jam at the line of scrimmage and when you get a jam like this it’s really difficult for the wide receiver to be able to shake you. Rowe’s technique is sound again as he keeps his balance whilst pressing and doesn’t lunge forward.

Apologies for the Fraps sign being in the way but I had to post this clip nonetheless. This is such a good example of the value of a press cornerback. It’s easy to forget sometimes how timing based NFL offenses are. When you have a cornerback who can press at the LOS and disrupt the timing it is so helpful. Rowe gets another great jam on Garcon here and he forces him really wide. Cousins releases the ball at the top of his drop but he has a very small window to fit it in as Garcon has been forced so wide. The ball is actually thrown pretty well but as you can see the timing is off and by the time Garcon has turned around the ball has just about passed him. This is down to Rowe’s great jam at the start of the route. If you look at the other side of the screen, you see Jaylen Watkins giving you a lesson in how not to press a receiver…

This is another great jam by Rowe at the LOS but it also highlights a weakness he showed on film. Rowe gets a decent jam that it could be argued he won the battle as he disrupted the timing and it took Garcon a long time to make his break. However, when Garcon does make his break, Rowe’s hips seem to be locked up and he’s pretty slow to change direction. He gets away with it this time though because his jam is very effective but I’d like him to move his feet quicker and stay on his toes after he’s jammed the receiver, he’s very flat footed here.

I’ll be honest, this clip doesn’t really show Rowe pressing. I just enjoy it because it shows how athletic he is. He looks very quick running across the middle and it’s a great tackle which pretty much stops Garcon from scoring.

Right, last clip I’ll slow of Garcon and this one is a negative one as Rowe gets beat. Rowe’s punch at the line of scrimmage is pretty weak here and Garcon doesn’t really do anything clever at the LOS but he manages to avoid Rowe’s jam. Similar to the earlier clip, Rowe’s change of direction isn’t the quickest and Garcon ends up getting quite a bit of separation and makes a nice catch. To be fair to Rowe, once you lose like that at the LOS you are going to have a hard time recovering as the receiver is in the driving seat. One issue Rowe has in press coverage that has come up a few times, sometimes he tries to jam with his wrong hand. You can see it here, when Garcon takes an inside release Rowe should be trying to get his outside hand on him. By going with his inside hand Garcon is able to swat it away and then Rowe’s in big trouble.

Rowe got beat in a similar fashion against the Giants a couple of times. You can see here Rowe doesn’t move his feet quick enough and he gives up the inside release to Hakeem Nicks. Rowe also makes the mistake here of trying to undercut the route despite being beat and he ends up almost directly behind Nicks and can’t make the tackle. I think Rowe is deliberately giving Nicks an inside release here though as he has a deep safety in the middle of the field and Kiko Alonso in a short zone too. He gets zero help here from the great Kiko Alonso though who moves like he’s made out of stone.

He gets beat here in almost the exact way he does against Garcon a couple of clips earlier. Once again he fails to jam the receiver with his outside hand which he should be doing when the receiver takes an inside release. He’s really flat footed at the start of the route too, he needs to be on the balls of his feet and not static. Once he’s been beat at the LOS, he could maybe be a little more savvy and try to grab hold of the receiver under the armpit to avoid him getting any real separation but I’m not sure he’s close enough to the receiver to do that without it being an obvious penalty.

There wasn’t many clips worth showing of Rowe in off coverage but I’ll leave you with a couple. I think you can tell Rowe is much more comfortable in press coverage and he often gives the receiver a lot of room when playing off coverage as I think he fears getting beat deep. He gives Watkins a good cushion and he’s not quick enough to accelerate forward and break the pass up. His feet seem to get stuck in the ground a little bit as he’s not on the balls of his feet. However, it’s important to give context, this was on a 2nd and 20 type play and Watkins ended up 3 yards short of the first down, whilst that’s not ideal, it’s better than being over aggressive and getting beat deep.

Here you can see him accelerate towards the ball much better and I love the way he punches the ball out of Watkins’ hand. His closing speed is much better here than it is in the previous clip which is good to see. His technique is better here than it is in the previous clip and that’s why he can explode forward, he’s leaning slightly further forward and is light on his feet.

Final clip I’m going to show. Although he isn’t in man coverage here, I found this clip slightly worrying as at times on tape he didn’t really look like he had a great deal of recovery speed. Rowe ran a 4.45 40 so he definitely has speed but here you can see John Brown pretty much run away from Rowe. However, the Eagles are playing quarters coverage and the Cardinals have called the ‘Mills’ concept which is designed to beat this type of coverage. Although it’s a very difficult route for Rowe to cover, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more speed shown. I don’t think this is down to just not being fast though, Rowe certainly is. It’s more technique based, again he’s caught flat footed like he is in a few of these clips and it makes it hard for him to really accelerate forward.

Overall

I like Eric Rowe a lot. However, he’ll probably struggle quite a bit at times next year if he’s asked to line up as the Eagles number 1 cornerback. That’s not a knock on Rowe, he’s a second round pick who started 5 games last year and only played one year as a cornerback in college. I do worry that some Eagles fans may have too high expectations for him next year and may be disappointed if he struggles at times.

I think Rowe can be a high level number 2 cornerback and maybe in the future a decent number 1 cornerback but he’ll have to improve on certain areas of his game a lot for that to happen. He’s much more comfortable in press coverage than he is in off coverage right now and I’m hoping Schwartz lets him press opposing receivers. Although I didn’t show any clips of Rowe in zone coverage, he’s pretty instinctive in zone coverage too and has decent ball skills and I think Schwartz will play a fair bit of zone next year so.

Rowe will have success against taller more physical receivers and may have some trouble covering the quicker smaller receivers who can get in and out of their breaks sharper. Rowe didn’t show great deep speed on tape but his jam was often so good that he was able to halt the receivers momentum on go routes so he rarely let the receiver get behind him and his 40 time shows he does have speed. He definitely seemed to have some issues changing direction quickly which he will have to work on a lot in the offseason.

Rowe is still relatively new to the cornerback position and his measurables show that he is a fantastic athlete and he therefore has the ability to improve on his weaknesses. His upside is sky high and although he’ll probably get beat more than he did at the end of last year, he should continue to develop into a really good cornerback. If he’s asked to cover the top guys next year, he will struggle I imagine but hey, most cornerbacks do.

You can check out my other film room pieces on Brandon Brooks and Nelson Agholor by clicking on their names! 

Film Room: Nelson Agholor’s Route Running

Film Room: Nelson Agholor’s Route Running

Before last years draft, there was a big discussion about whether Nelson Agholor could be an outside receiver in the NFL amongst a lot of draft analysts. I thought he could be based on what I had seen of him but others saw him as a slot receiver only. After the Eagles drafted him with the 20th pick, it was clear he was going to play on the outside and pretty much attempt to replace Maclin.

Agholor’s rookie season was essentially a failure. Watching his tape genuinely frustrates me because I hate the way Chip Kelly used him last year. He ran so many go routes and we made no effort to get him the ball in space and let him run with it.

I wanted to go back and watch his route running because I think that determines if he can be a successful outside receiver or not. I think we know by now, Agholor isn’t going to dominate cornerbacks at the catch point on the outside with great size and ball skills. If Agholor wants to be an outside receiver, he needs to create separation. He had problems with press coverage at college and I wanted to see if he improved against this.

I’ll post a few clips from games I watched and then summarise everything I saw at the end. Obviously I can’t post clips of every play, so I normally post an example of something that I see routinely. Let’s begin with the Miami game.

Something clearly stood out to me throughout this game that probably won’t surprise anyone – Agholor is much better against off coverage than he is against press coverage. Agholor lines up on the right side of the screen and although the ball doesn’t come his way, he clearly gets himself open. Agholor has extremely quick feet and it shows here, he gives a strong outside step and then quickly cuts back inside. If I’m being extra critical, I’d like him to move his head and shoulders to the outside when he plants his foot to really sell the single step to the outside.

Here’s another example of him winning against off coverage. I actually think there are quite a few weaknesses in this route but he still gets separation. I think he should sell the vertical route more and attempt to close the gap with the cornerback quicker. However, he’s blessed with extremely quick feet and once again it gets him open here. He moves his head and shoulders with his feet here which he didn’t do in the first clip and it certainly helps him get open.

If Chip wanted him to be a deep threat last year, he was probably pretty disappointed as there were too many go routes where he couldn’t create separation against off or press coverage. Agholor’s on the right side here again. He doesn’t do a good enough job selling the route inside at all and although he spins the cornerback around, he isn’t able to get past him deep. He didn’t close the gap quick enough and he made his move when the gap was too large. He certainly ran in breaking routes better than go routes against off coverage in this game.

Let’s watch him against cornerbacks in a press position now. This is an okay route. Agholor needs to be far more aggressive at the start of the route though against press. The cornerback is playing shadow technique here and not trying to jam Agholor so he needs to reduce the separation between the two of them before attempting to get by him. Really though, I just want to see more explosiveness. Is that weird? He just doesn’t look that explosive to me, I wonder if he’s focusing too much on his footwork or something because he looked pretty explosive in college.

Here’s one where he does succeed against a cornerback in a press position to an extent, sadly though Mark Sanchez was in at quarterback at this point so the throw is bad. Here you can see that quick-twitch ability that he has to change direction that gets him free, he uses moves his head and shoulders to the inside to really sell the inside break too which allows him to create a bit of separation.

I wanted to show this one Giants clip because I thought he looked more explosive this game, he’s on the right side of the formation. He looked more explosive at the end of the season actually (as you’ll see with the next couple of clips against the Redskins) which makes me wonder if he was just thinking about other things such as his footwork and timing during the season which slowed him down. There’s still faults with this route but you can see him start to gain separation as he accelerates which is good to see.

This is what Agholor should have been running all year. He’s so much better at these shorter routes than he is at deeper routes currently. Watching this makes me think he would be pretty effective in the slot actually. Watch how quick the 4 steps are before he cuts inside, his feet are so quick. I have no idea why we didn’t use him in the slot at all last year to at least try and get him the ball more.

This is another example of his quickness against the Redskins, he should have had a touchdown here but Bradford decided to completely overthrow him. Once again it’s that quick inside step that gets him free. If you watch carefully, the cornerback isn’t biting on the slant but Agholor sticks his left leg firmly in the ground like he is cutting across the middle and this totally kills the cornerback who bites hard. Right, I’ve shown some positive clips but I’m sadly going to end with some bad clips against the Cardinals.

Agholor got absolutely dominated by Patrick Peterson last year, he’s on the right side of the formation here. Now I get it, Peterson had a great year and is a fantastic cornerback and Agholor is just a rookie. However, Peterson does give you a chance, it’s not like he shuts down every receiver with ease. For the 20th pick in the draft, I would have expected Agholor to put up more of a fight than he did. In this clip you can see he doesn’t really fake inside hard enough and Peterson is able to get his hands on Agholor and slow him down. You’ll notice from all the clips I’ve posted, Agholor is really poor with his hands. When you’re facing press coverage as an outside receiver you need to attack that defender and be aggressive with him. He seems to ignore his hands when route running and believes he can beat the defender just by faking an inside step and speeding past him. You can’t beat top level cornerbacks on the outside on a consistent basis without using your hands effectively.

Here’s another one where Agholor can’t shake Peterson. There’s no real fake to the inside here, he’s attempting to speed past him but he doesn’t look explosive enough. It’s hard to see on the clip but it looks like Agholor manages to slap away Peterson’s initial jam but with right hand but he doesn’t follow that up with a move with his left hand to create separation from Peterson. After the initial slap, it would be good to see his left hand chop or rip Peterson’s hand away to prevent him having a hold of him. You’ll notice with a lot of these clips it doesn’t really look like Bradford looks at him, I don’t think he expects Agholor to win deep which against Peterson is no real surprise.

Apologies here for the Fraps sign being in the way slightly but it’s another example of a pretty poor route. His step to the outside is weak and Peterson doesn’t jump at all. I want to see more explosion when he cuts in too, he really needs to use his hands better to create separation as this is way too easy for Peterson to jam him here and cut off the timing of the route. He is sometimes slow to get out his breaks here and he has to get better at this.

Overall

I’m slightly underwhelmed by Agholor. He shows some good stuff, his breaks are very clean for the most part and he has really quick feet which he uses well at times. However, for the 20th pick in the draft he didn’t have a great year. I know he ran a quick 40 but he didn’t play to that speed. He doesn’t really look like a great deep threat and he did struggle on the outside against press coverage. These were concerns that many people had with him before he was drafted.

There’s a lot of things that Agholor needs to work on. At the moment he really doesn’t use his hands well at all against press coverage and his release off the line of scrimmage isn’t great. When you aren’t a big receiver on the outside you have to deceive the cornerback and sometimes Agholor would make a great fake inside but at other times he didn’t really sell the fake hard enough. I’m glad the Eagles have a new wide receiver coach and coaching staff as I hated the way Chip used him last season.

I think this Eagles coaching staff have their doubts about Agholor being an outside receiver and a great deep threat too. I think this because they have signed Rueben Randle who is a big body on the outside, they signed Chris Givens who gives them an outside deep threat and they have said that Jordan Matthews will see more outside looks. This makes me wonder if we’ll see more of Agholor in the slot next year.

Although that would be disappointing for a guy who was picked 20th overall, I do think Agholor could really dominate inside, especially on shorter routes. I’d like to see him run some curls and double moves too as he has such quick feet. I’m hoping that those analysts who said he would only ever be a slot receiver are wrong and I hope he bounces back next year on the outside and shows his potential. He does flash real talent at times so let’s just hope this coaching staff uses him better and gets him the ball in space whether he’s on the outside or in the slot.

The Eagles should not be afraid to trade up for Carson Wentz

The Eagles should not be afraid to trade up for Carson Wentz

Remember the 2014 draft? That was a fun draft. The Texans needed a quarterback. However, there was this generational talent available to them in Jadeveon Clowney. So they took him instead of reaching for a quarterback who probably wasn’t worth the first pick. Smart right?

The Jaguars on the other hand, reached for a QB at pick number 3 who wasn’t even considered to be the best QB in the draft by most analysts, Blake Bortles. Draft twitter erupted. I was watching the draft with my best friend who happens to be a Jaguars fan, he looked so depressed. He kept checking twitter and everyone was just killing the Jags. Most of draft twitter, and many analysts had Bridgewater and even Manziel ahead of Bortles.

Not only that, the Jags passed on some unbelievable talent on both defense and offense. Khalil Mack. Sammy Watkins. Mike Evans. Odell Beckham. The list goes on and on. That was such a talented draft and the Jaguars had to go and screw it up and take a QB at number 3 who just simply wasn’t that good. What were the Jaguars thinking? Bortles had so many flaws and the other guys were just better players.

Guess what? The Jaguars made the right pick. Would the Texans trade Clowney for Bortles right now? Of course they would. The whole of twitter basically had Bridgewater rated higher than Bortles. He was more pro-ready, a better decision maker, more accurate. Bortles had upside though, huge upside. It’s why I had him ranked in my top 15 players, I just thought he could be great.

But I hear you say, why reach for a QB this year when we can just take one next year in the first who will be better? It’s not that simple. Have you seen the Eagles defense right now? With Bradford at quarterback, the Eagles will win a decent amount of games. I’d be stunned if they are picking inside the top 10 next year, so it won’t be easy for them to get one of the top 1 or 2 QBs next year either. Roseman and Pederson will know this too.

Looking back at last year, Winston and Mariota weren’t the consensus 1/2 best players on everyone’s draft board. I find it funny how because Winston and Mariota were so great last year, everyone now just assumes like it was obvious. Go and look at draft analysts draft boards from last year. Loads of them had Winston around 5 and Mariota just after or vice versa. I saw Leonard Williams, Kevin White, Amari Cooper and Dante Fowler constantly ranked above Winston and Mariota.

I remember draft twitter being worried about Winston’s decision making. Lots of people in the media where worried about Mariota’s offense at Oregon and how he would translate. But hey guess what, there is no perfect QB prospect. They all have flaws.

So should the Bucs have taken Leonard Williams last year at 1 because technically he may have been BPA? No. If you like the QB you take him, simple.

So where does this leave the Eagles? I haven’t mentioned Bradford yet and I like Bradford but he should not impact who you draft though. Nothing against Ben Natan of BGN because I like him a lot, but when I hear takes like this I just do not get it. At all.

Who cares if we draft a QB and he sits for 2 years if he turns out to be a true franchise quarterback?! Don’t forget, Roseman didn’t bring in Bradford at first. Pederson didn’t trade for him. He was signed because he makes you competitive for the next couple of the years. He does give you a chance to win. I honestly believe Bradford can be a very good QB but that still shouldn’t impact you in the draft. I also think, if they got Wentz, he would sit for one year and start next year.

Look at the staff Pederson has here with Reich and DeFilippo, you know that they are confident they can develop a guy who has talent. They are going to want a guy with huge upside because they will think that they can make him something special. Yes, loads of coaches lose their jobs because they believe this. But they will always want the guy with more talent because they believe in their coaching abilities. That’s just the way it is.

Which leads me on to the QB class this year. I think Goff is the best QB in the draft right now. However, I think Wentz has an extremely high ceiling. He could be really good. Is he perfect? No. Could he be a bust? Yes. But he has talent. Bridgewater was better than Bortles coming out of College but Bortles had more upside. So did Derek Carr. Both Carr and Bortles are better than Bridgewater at this point and I can’t see that changing. Wentz just reminds me of Bortles in a lot of ways.

Personally, I have Wentz as about the 8th best player or so in this years class. Some people really don’t rate him. I don’t pretend to be an expert though. Analysts that I trust a lot, such as Mike Mayock, Daniel Jeremiah and Greg Cosell have Wentz as there number one quarterback this year. Cosell compares Wentz to Luck here.

The Eagles may never pick this high again and they may not ever have a better chance of taking such a talented QB. I’m not going to be ecstatic if the Eagles trade up for Wentz and I’m not going to go crazy if they don’t. My opinion doesn’t matter really. I do think Wentz could be a perfect fit with that Pederson wants to do on offense.

If Pederson believes Wentz is ‘his guy’. Then go and get him. Trade away a 3rd round pick. Trade away next years 1st. If you think he’s that good and you believe in him, then do it. Do I think he’s worth it? I’m not sure. But I understand the reasoning. Obviously don’t trade away elite players like Fletcher Cox because giving away draft picks is totally different to giving away established players.

The same thing applies for Paxton Lynch. Maybe the whole Wentz thing is a smokescreen and the Eagles really want Lynch at 8. I prefer Wentz to Lynch but if Pederson believes Lynch can be a franchise QB and he can coach him in to something great. Then go for it. Shoot for the stars. You have to do what you have to do.

Top five options for the Eagles at pick 8

Top five options for the Eagles at pick 8

This draft feels quite weird in comparison to previous years as we knew exactly what Chip Kelly liked in a player. I predicted 2 of the last 3 first round picks correctly, guessing we would draft Lane Johnson and Nelson Agholor when we did. I didn’t predict Marcus Smith but hey, who did?

This year feels really open, the Eagles could do a number of different things. By the time we pick, it’s pretty much guaranteed in my opinion that Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner will all be gone. I wouldn’t be interested in Buckner if he’s there anyway as I don’t think he fits in this scheme.

Anyway seeing as I can’t really predict what will happen, here are my top 5 options for pick 8 if I was Howie Roseman.

  1. Myles Jack

I know I just said he would be gone by our pick but I think Jack is the one player I’d have absolutely no problem with us trading up for. I have him as the best player in the draft and I just think he will be a special player. His athleticism really is off the charts. I’m not sure if trading up for him is feasible, maybe you need to give up a 3rd and a late round pick to move up say 3/4 spots? If a team comes calling wanting to move down though, I would certainly go up and take Jack.

  1. Vernon Hargreaves III

Hargreaves is slightly undersized for an ideal number 1 cornerback, but he’s extremely athletic, is really fluid, has solid ball skills and is competitive as hell. I can just imagine Schwartz banging the table all night for Hargreaves, I just see him as a perfect fit for Schwartz and his defense. Hargreaves could sit and learn behind Rowe and Carroll for a bit too like Rowe did last year which would help him develop. Cory Undlin done a fantastic job with Rowe and Carroll last year and I think he could turn Hargreaves into a great cornerback.

  1. Ronnie Stanley

Stanley has come under a fair amount of criticism recently on Eagles twitter as many seem to be concerned with his ability to play guard this upcoming season. Honestly, I don’t care if he can play guard this year. We would be drafting him as a future starting tackle, not to play guard this year. If he plays his whole career at right tackle after Lane Johnson moves to left tackle, I’m okay with that. Many teams have elite pass rushers on both sides now so your right tackle better be very good too. I think Stanley could be a fantastic tackle in the NFL, his pass blocking particularly impressed me on tape. Also, Jason Peters only played 65.5% of the Eagles snaps last year. Assuming that trend continues, Stanley will probably play at least 30% of the snaps next year, if not more. With Peters health such a huge question mark, the Eagles backup tackle better be good.

  1. Ezekiel Elliot

Who wouldn’t be excited by Zeke at 8? I mean, he’s a stud and would immediately contribute in year 1. I do think RB is a position that you shouldn’t normally draft in the high first round. However, I try to focus on the player and not the position in general. I would have taken Gurley in the top 5 last year because I thought he was a generational talent. I had Gurley as the 3rd best player in last years draft. I don’t think Zeke is on that level, although he is excellent. If we don’t get Zeke, there are plenty of running back prospects we can look at in the third round or later that can contribute next year. Kenneth Dixon is someone who I’d love us to grab.

  1. Corey Coleman

If you’re okay with drafting Zeke at 8, what’s wrong with Coleman? Coleman is the best and most explosive wide receiver in this years class in my opinion. Coleman, Agholor, Matthews, Ertz and Sproles would give Bradford some really good weapons. I’m so bored of seeing Bradford play with mediocre talent, I just want to finally see him in a good offense. If he still plays average, then it makes it much easier to move on from him at the end of the year.

This is where I stand at the moment anyway. I’ll watch more tape as the draft approaches and my thoughts may change on some of these prospects but it’s unlikely to change dramatically.