Eagles' Day Two Draft Possibilities Not Named Geno Smith

Eagles' Day Two Draft Possibilities Not Named Geno Smith

There’s a lot of buzz that
Geno Smith is still available, and the Eagles are up third on day two of the
NFL Draft. Will they take their quarterback of the future in round two?

Honestly, I don’t know how in
love with him they are. There’s a reason Smith fell into the second round, and
you have to ask yourself if Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly really want
another project at quarterback, or if they would prefer to address other needs.

Besides, there is a chance
Geno doesn’t even get by the Jaguars who select first, and there is a lot of
noise about the possibility of the Jets trading up for the West Virginia
product as well. The Eagles may not have a decision to make at all.

Feel free to weigh in on
whether you think the Eagles should get their QB here or not, but I think there
is a world of opportunities beyond Geno Smith on day two. Here’s a few of them.

Defensive Line

This remains the most glaring
hole on the roster behind franchise quarterback. The Eagles purged their roster
of Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson in anticipation of utilizing more
three-man fronts, but as of now they appear to be at least one big body short to
successfully run either a true 3-4 or the hybrid 4-3 under scheme.

There is really two ways they
could go from here: large or supersize. For example, 6-4, 276-lbs. Florida St.
defensive end Cornellius Carradine is somebody they visited with, and could be
a force on the edge in any scheme. Or there are players like Jesse Williams
from Alabama, who at a massive 6-3, 323-lbs. could be the nose tackle this
defense desperately needs. There are some other good options available, but
either Carradine or Williams would be a good use of the third pick in the
second round.

Tight End

I would be fairly surprised if
the Eagles came out of Friday without a tight end. There is a lot of talk about
Chip keeping four or even five tight ends on the roster, and out of the guys they have – namely Brent Celek and James Casey – none are especially dynamic receiving threats.

The best tight end on most
board is Stanford’s Zach Ertz, a big (6-5), strong (24 bench press reps)
athlete Chip saw a lot of in the Pac-12. Another logical fit is Cincinnati’s
Travis Kelce, brother of Eagles center Jason Kelce. Or they could go a
different direction – it’s a relatively deep group, and it would seem this has
become an area of need.

Safety

The Eagles made some serious
renovations to their defensive backfield through free agency, but they’re not
done yet. While you might be able to pencil in Cary Williams and Bradley
Fletcher at cornerback for the next year or two at least, the moves at safety look
quite a bit more temporary. Kenny Phillips in particular is only on a one-year
deal worth slightly more than the league minimum, so even if you were to assume
he and Patrick Chung are the starters in 2013 – which even that is not a given –
there is a short shelf life to that arrangement.

The player they are most
commonly being linked to in the second round is Florida International’s John
Cyprien, a hard hitter with decent size (6-0, 217) who could have gone toward
the end of the first. The rest of the class isn’t all that overwhelming, but a
kid like Shawn Williams with size (6-0, 213), athleticism (4.46 40), and
big-school pedigree (Georgia) might be worth a shot a little further down.

Cornerback

Cary Williams would seem to
have one corner on lockdown, but it’s hard to envision the Eagles leaving the
other spot up to Bradley Fletcher and Curtis Marsh and calling it a day. If
nothing else, there needs to be another body for competition, not to mention
depth. Fletcher has had injuries, while Marsh has hardly played in the NFL.

Luckily it’s a fairly deep
draft for corners, so they should be able to find some help. Chip seems to like
bigger, more physical corners, so we can scratch off anybody under six feet
right off the bat. Mississippi St.’s Johnthan Banks is tall (6-2), but thin
(185) so he may not be ideal. Oregon St.’s Jordan Poyer is just tall enough for
this ride at 6-0, and he’s another player Chip will have some insight on from
playing in the Pac-12. It doesn’t matter who it is though, it’s just a position
they should seriously consider addressing.

Keep an eye on…

You get the sense by some of
their offseason moves (Arrelious Benn, Ifeanyi Momah) the Eagles would like to
add some size to their receiving corps as well. While it’s not necessarily an
immediate concern, Tennessee WR Justin Hunter certainly fits the bill. He’s 6-4
and with blazing 4.4 speed, which would be a pleasant surprise coming out of
this draft.

Don’t rule out a linebacker,
either. DeMeco Ryans has a big contract and may not be a three-down player in
the new scheme, while Mychal Kendricks is undersized. It’s worth noting Kansas
St.’s Andre Brown is the brother of running back Bryce Brown, so there may be
an added team chemistry bonus there. Penn State’s Michael Mauti is worth a look
a little later on as well.

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After epically bad game, Odubel Herrera maintains he's 'making good swings'

After epically bad game, Odubel Herrera maintains he's 'making good swings'

Don't be shocked if Pete Mackanin gives Odubel Herrera the Maikel Franco treatment this weekend after Herrera's epically bad game Thursday afternoon.

Herrera, batting third for the first time since May 9, went 0 for 5 with five strikeouts in the Phillies' 2-1, extra-inning win over the Rockies (see Instant Replay).

He's the first player in the majors this season to go 0 for 5 with five Ks and the first Phillie to do so since Pat Burrell in September 2008.

(And no, that doesn't mean the Phillies are winning the World Series this season.)

Herrera is in a very bad place right now. He's hitting .226 with a .275 on-base percentage, and he has 28 strikeouts with one walk in May. But you wouldn't know it from talking to him after the game Thursday. Herrera wasn't downtrodden or beside himself. He was typical Odubel, flashing a few smiles and remaining positive.

"I feel that I am making good swings but I'm just missing the pitches," Herrera said. "But I feel I am swinging the bat well. 

"I don't really know what it is exactly. But I am seeing the ball well. I don't know if it's when I charge at the ball or the timing of my swing. It's definitely at that point. Maybe it has something to do with the balance of the bat and my body. 

"Besides being positive, I have to check the video to see what I'm doing wrong and make some adjustment. But I'm staying positive, for sure."

Herrera and Franco, batting third and fourth, went 1 for 10 with seven strikeouts Thursday. They're both hitting below .230. They're supposed to be cornerstone pieces for the Phillies so it's extremely troubling. Even if the Phillies were winning games recently it would be troubling.

Mackanin was elusive when asked if he'd consider benching Herrera Friday. But there's no real reason to believe it would do any good anyway. There's a fine line between giving a player time to clear his head and preventing him from having chances to bounce back.

"You know what, let me enjoy this. We'll discuss that tomorrow. Let me smile for a while," Mackanin said. 

"It's a tough decision. That's a tough decision. You wonder if he needs to be in there seeing pitches and batting or does he need time off? I'll think about that."

Herrera did say that he and Franco have leaned on each other during this rough period. They talk and try to motivate each other every day, but right now the results aren't there. Both are swinging wildly at too many pitches out of the strike zone and just making it too easy for opposing pitchers. When that's coming from the middle of your order, you're going to have problems scoring runs. 

On this date a year ago, Herrera was hitting .327 with a .901 OPS. Franco was hitting .260 with a .748 OPS.

Some of the struggles are because of pitchers adjusting to Herrera and Franco as the book on them expands. 

When asked if that's the case for his two young players, Mackanin referenced the Phillies' own adjustment to Rockies slugger Charlie Blackmon.

"I was pretty happy we got to Blackmon, that guy is a heckuva hitter and we pitched him really well today. There's an example of what you're talking about," Mackanin said. "Little by little, we're going to get there. We're going to start playing better."

Like Herrera and Franco, Mackanin has no choice but to think positive and hope for the best. It's a long summer, after all.

Instant Replay: Phillies 2, Rockies 1 (11 innings)

Instant Replay: Phillies 2, Rockies 1 (11 innings)

BOX SCORE

Tommy Joseph hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning Thursday to score Michael Saunders and snap the Phillies' five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Rockies.

The win is their first victory in a game not started by Jeremy Hellickson since May 1. It also prevented the Phillies from being swept by Colorado.

At 16-29, the Phillies have the second-worst record in the majors. The Rockies, 32-17, have the second-best record in the majors.

Starting pitching report
Vince Velasquez pitched well, allowing one run over five innings to a stacked Rockies lineup, but he again had a short outing because of a high pitch count.

Velasquez put nine men on base and struck out seven. He threw 94 pitches, 70 for strikes.

After Velasquez's last start in Pittsburgh, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said the right-hander's secondary pitches simply need to improve, that he needs to be able to show more than just a mid-90s fastball.

On Thursday, Velasquez threw 72 fastballs, 14 curveballs, four sliders and four changeups. The Rockies swung through only two of those 22 off-speed pitches and went 4 for 6 when putting them in play.

Mackanin left Velasquez in to hit for himself with runners on first and second and no outs in the bottom of the fifth and Velasquez popped out on a sacrifice attempt. Many fans have already questioned the decision, but let's keep in mind Velasquez has handled the bat well. He's 6 for 17 (.353) on the season and tied for the major-league lead in hits among pitchers. He had an infield single in his first at-bat.

Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson continued the theme of mediocre starting pitchers stymying the Phillies. Anderson allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts.

In the series, Rockies starting pitchers allowed three runs in 27 innings. They had a 1.00 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning. And these four starters — Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, Tyler Chatwood and Anderson — entered the series with a combined 5.27 ERA.

Bullpen report
Edubray Ramos, Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez each pitched one scoreless inning. It's understandably been overlooked during the Phillies' skid, but the bullpen is finally in a groove. Over their last seven games, Phillies relievers have allowed just two earned runs in 22 2/3 innings for a 0.79 ERA.

Neris threw 10 pitches, all of them strikes. He's allowed one run in 9 2/3 innings since his meltdown at Dodger Stadium.

At the plate
Before the walk-off hit, Joseph stayed hot with a home run off the ivy wall in dead-center to start the bottom of the seventh.

Joseph is hitting .329 in May with six doubles, six homers, 15 RBIs and a .657 slugging percentage. The only first basemen in the majors with a higher slugging percentage this month are Yonder Alonso, Justin Bour and Paul Goldschmidt.

Joseph has now played 148 games with 498 plate appearances in the majors — slightly less than a full season. He's hit .255 with an .804 OPS, 28 home runs and 23 doubles. Those numbers are just above the league average for first basemen over that span.

Batting third, Odubel Herrera went 0 for 5 with five strikeouts. He's the first player in the majors this season to do that and the first Phillie since Pat Burrell in September 2008. Herrera is hitting .226 with a .275 OBP. 

Maikel Franco returned to the lineup after a two-game benching and went 1 for 5, singling up the middle in his first at-bat and flailing at a low-and-away, two-strike breaking ball to strike out with two on and one out in the eighth inning. He then struck out on three pitches to lead off the 11th.

Cameron Rupp walked three times, raising his on-base percentage from .330 to .345.

Up next
The Phillies start a three-game series at home against the Cincinnati Reds, who they haven't seen since the opening week of the season.

Friday, 7:05 p.m. — Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.52) vs. Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75)

Saturday, 4:05 p.m. — Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) vs. Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.99)

Sunday, 1:35 p.m. — Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.36) vs. Amir Garrett (3-3, 6.00)