Eagles Trade Up, Draft QB Matt Barkley: Scouting Report and Quick Thoughts

Eagles Trade Up, Draft QB Matt Barkley: Scouting Report and Quick Thoughts

Everyone knew the Birds were evaluating quarterbacks in this
year’s draft. Eagles brass visited with a enough of them. Hell, Jeffrey Lurie trekked
to West Virginia to look at Geno Smith. Then again, not many people had Matt
Barkley as one of their targets.

The Eagles gave Jacksonville one their seventh-round picks
so they could jump up three spots to snag the USC quarterback with the first
pick of the fourth round in a move I’m not sure anybody saw coming. We’ll get
into why in just a moment, but first the NFL.com scouting report:

Strengths

Experienced running a pro-style
system. Makes adjustments at the line of scrimmage (including the run game) and
unloads the ball quickly when seeing a favorable matchup before the snap.
Usually accurate when he is able to set his base and stride into his throws.
Offense was designed to move the pocket to account for his height, and, while
he isn't overly athletic, he showed the mobility to throw accurately on
bootlegs and half rolls. Looks off and pump-fake safeties and communicate with
receivers pre-snap on the opposite side of the field from which he intends to
throw. Three-time team captain also possesses intangibles NFL teams desire at
the position, taking hits and bouncing back, displaying intelligence with his
multiple academic all-conference accolades, and earning a spot on the 2011
Allstate AFCA Good Works team.

Weaknesses

Lacks ideal height for the
position. Does not have a plus arm, though it's enough to run a movement-based
NFL offense. Allows defenders into plays when he is unable to step into throws,
especially when going across the field. Inconsistent making throws against
pressure. Does have have physical tools to make throws when he's not set, but
has progressed in his ability to find space and get the ball of with awkward
release platforms. Ball comes out of his hand poorly at times, though it
usually reaches its intended target. Confident enough in his pre-snap read that
he'll stare down his initial target. Sails passes over his receivers' heads
when feeling pressure or in the three-step game. No threat to pick up large
chunks of yardage with his feet. Improved completion percentage in 2011 came
partially due to quick east-west throws to his talented wideouts. While he had
a lot of attempts, there are questions as to what degree structure of the
offense featured him or masked his physical limitations. Other than a hot
stretch over the second half of his junior season, his production has been
almost entirely tied to the strength of his surrounding cast.

Obviously Barkley doesn’t fit the pre-conceived notions that
many held for quarterbacks in Chip Kelly’s offense. Let’s examine that, and
what Barkley’s presence on the roster means for the future of the position.

1. So much for the
requirement that a quarterback be mobile in a Chip Kelly offense. Fans and
analysts that have been writing off Nick Foles in Philly since Chip’s arrival received
a wake-up call on Saturday afternoon when the team tagged Barkley.

It means Kelly is not tethered to an exact replica of the system
he ran at Oregon – not that it should come as some big surprise. It seemed more
than a little insane to pick up a college offense and drop it in the NFL.

More importantly, it renders these attempts to label Chip
before he’s ever coached a game at this level as frivolous. He wants the best
players on the field, and will coach to the strengths of the personnel he has –
which is what the Eagles have been saying all along.

2. Let’s not get
ahead of ourselves with calling Barkley the quarterback of the future, either.
He’s a fourth-round pick. Teams don’t often draft a quarterback on day 3 with
the idea that player is going to be the face of the franchise.

Obviously there is something the Eagles like about Barkley.
There is plenty to like about him. At
one point Barkley was viewed as one of the top prospects in college football.
He’s USC’s all-time leading passer. He is accurate and has a quick release.

Maybe they believe Barkley can eventually take the reins –
Chip told reporters he was rated as one of their top 50 players in this draft –
but the Eagles are not simply going to hand them over. Top 50 or not,
fourth-round pick says a lot more at this point than anything else. Try to take
it in stride.

3. This may be
hard to see right now, but the selection of Barkley means Foles has a
legitimate shot to be the starting quarterback – this year and beyond.

Again, organizations generally don’t use fourth rounders on
quarterbacks they expect to start immediately (or ever necessarily). That goes
for most positions for that matter. I suspect while Barkley may get a look, the
true competition this summer will still be between Foles and Michael Vick.

Assuming Foles can out-duel Vick – not a given by any means –
he would be the Eagles’ quarterback this year. And if he plays well, continues
to improve every week as he did at the end of last season – also not a given –
he could very conceivably hold off Barkley later on as well.

Again, can’t stress this enough, we’re talking about a
fourth-round pick. The Redskins used a fourth-round pick on Kirk Cousins last
year in the same draft they took Robert Griffin III number two overall. They
were choosing a backup quarterback, and they knew it. A lot of fourth-round
picks would be happy just to become backups in the NFL.

That’s not necessarily the case with Barkley, but let’s not
go overboard on what it indicates about the future under center. If Foles flops,
the Eagles could very easily be drafting another quarterback even higher next year
regardless of how much Barkley has played or whether they still like him or not.

That’s what it means to be a fourth-round pick.

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Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff looking for consistency vs. Rockies' potent offense

Phillies-Rockies 5 things: Jerad Eickhoff looking for consistency vs. Rockies' potent offense

Phillies (15-26) vs. Rockies (28-17)
Coverage starts at  6:30 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies return home after a disastrous 2-7 road trip to host the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies in a four-game split.

Jerad Eickhoff gets the start for the Phils and is coming off of his best start in a month, but has a tough matchup vs. the Rockies’ potent offense.

Here are five things to know:

1. Like the old Eick
Eickhoff has been the model of consistency for Phillies pitchers since he joined the club in 2015, with 31 quality starts (six or more innings with no more than three earned runs) in 49 career games. But Eickhoff struggled recently, before regaining his form in his last start at Texas.

In his three prior starts — vs. the Dodgers, Cubs and Mariners — Eickhoff averaged just 4.2 innings per start as his ERA ballooned to 4.76. But the righty seemed to regain his form vs. the Rangers in his last start, a six-inning, two-earned-run outing.

Building off of that step will be a tall task, though against an explosive Rockies lineup.

2. Better hitters than Rocky
The hard-hitting Rockies are coming to town.

Colorado boasts one of the league’s best offenses, ranking fourth in runs scored, 10th in home runs and fifth in extra-base hits. Take the Rockies out of the thin air at Coors Field, and the numbers tell a different story, though. On the road, Colorado drops to 12th in runs, 14th in homers and 10th in extra-base hits. Still solid numbers, but nothing that jumps off the page at you. The Phillies (as bad as they are on the road) have more extra-base hits.

The Rockies are led by Mark Reynolds (yes, that Mark Reynolds), with 12 homers and 39 RBI. Shockingly, Reynolds — who has set the all-time single-season strikeout record in a season — is leading the team with a .323 batting average. 

Just about the only thing you don’t have to worry about with the Rockies’ offense is their speed. The Rockies rank dead last in MLB with just 11 steals on the year. 

3. Not the same old Rockies
Despite the dip in numbers on the road, the Rockies are still 15-7 on the road this season, the second-best mark in MLB, behind only the Astros.

What’s different about this year’s team, unlike years past, is the pitching. This year, they’re a middling staff, which is actually a huge improvement for the club. Last season, Rockies pitchers ranked in the bottom five in MLB in almost all categories: 27th in ERA (4.91), 28th in runs allowed (860) and 28th in opponent batting average (.274), just to name a few.

This year, the Rockies have knocked off nearly half a run per game (4.48 ERA) and rank 13th in the entire league with a .250 opponent batting average. With an offense like theirs, a middling pitching staff could be all the Rockies need to earn a postseason bid.

4. Oh, 'Dubel
What’s happened to Odubel Herrera?

After an All-Star 2016 season, Herrera has been one of the Phillies’ biggest disappointments in 2017. Batting just .236 on the year, Herrera is on pace to easily set a career high in strikeouts (168) and career lows in runs (60) and extra-base hits (39). Not a good look for Herrera after signing a five-year deal to be a building block of the future in the offseason. However, there is hope: In his career, Herrera has increased his batting average, runs scored and OPS each month as the season has gone along. 

5. This and that
•Jeff Hoffman will make a spot start for the Rockies on Monday. He’s the Rockies' third-ranked prospect by Baseball America and has a 4.97 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks in 10 career MLB games. Batters are hitting .282 off him this season.

•Eickhoff’s numbers have risen with Cameron Rupp behind the plate. With Rupp catching, Eickhoff has a 3.53 ERA as opposed to a 3.13 ERA with Carlos Ruiz catching.

•After a red-hot start to the month, Aaron Altherr has cooled off over the last week, hitting just .231 with more strikeouts (five) than RBI (four). 

NBA Playoffs: Avery Bradley's buzzer-beating 3 lifts Celtics past Cavaliers in Game 3

NBA Playoffs: Avery Bradley's buzzer-beating 3 lifts Celtics past Cavaliers in Game 3

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Leprechauns are imaginary. Celtic pride is very real.

Avery Bradley's 3-pointer danced on the rim and dropped with less than a second left and Boston, blown out in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals and playing without star Isaiah Thomas, stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108 on Sunday night in Game 3 to end the champions' 13-game postseason winning streak.

Bradley's shot from the left wing -- off a play designed by coach Brad Stevens -- bounced on the rim four times before going down. It capped a furious, focused comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over.

"Wide-open look," Bradley said. "Al (Horford) did a great job of getting me open and Marcus (Smart) made a great pass and I was able to knock down the shot."

Smart, who started in place of Thomas, made seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points, and Bradley had 20 for the Celtics, who were given little chance after losing by 44 in Game 2 and then losing Thomas for the rest of the postseason because of a hip injury.

"Everybody had to step up their game tonight especially with one of our brothers down," Smart said. "Our love and support goes out to Isaiah. We wish he could be here but we understand. We just kept fighting. Everybody did their part."

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, and Kevin Love had 28 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers dropped to 10-1 in the postseason with their first loss since Game 4 of last year's Finals.

Game 4 is Tuesday night in Cleveland.

LeBron James had one of the worst games of his postseason career, finishing with 11 points and six turnovers.

"I didn't have it," said James. "You let a team like that grab momentum you almost knew a shot like that was going in."

Still, the Cavs were in control leading 77-56 in the third quarter after making 14 3-pointers in the first half. But Cleveland got complacent, Smart got hot and the Celtics, who arrived at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday morning for their shootaround without Thomas and looking somewhat defeated, never gave up.

"We decided were going to go out and play hard, swinging." Bradley said. "We never counted ourselves out."

The Celtics caught the Cavs at 95-all on Smart's 3-pointer and then matched the James and Co. basket for basket in the final minutes in one of the most entertaining games of what has been a mostly boring postseason.

Boston's Jonas Jerebko's baseline jumper put the Celtics ahead 108-106 with 30 seconds left before Irving scored on a drive to tie it with 10.7 seconds left.

Following a timeout, the Celtics perfectly executed a play drawn up by Stevens and worked the ball to Bradley, who found himself open and then calmly knocked down a shot that goes straight into Celtics lore.

For Cleveland, the loss was a wake-up call on their march toward a possible third straight Finals and a seemingly inevitable rematch with Golden State. The Cavs had been playing a glorified game of H.O.R.S.E. with the Warriors, who are undefeated and can complete a sweep of San Antonio on Monday night.

The Cavs hadn't lost since Game 4 of last year's Finals, and they came in tied with the 1988-89 Los Angeles "Showtime" Lakers for the longest winning streak in postseason history.

With Thomas back home, the Celtics could be forgiven for feeling down after Thomas, their inspirational leader was shut down with a hip injury he first sustained in March.

However, Stevens liked his team's energy leading up to tipoff and felt confident they would play hard.

"Our guys are itching to play," he said. "Obviously, we're here for a reason, and we've got tough-minded, competitive guys who have largely been guys that have had to really earn their way up in this league."

They earned their way back into the series.

Tip-ins
Celtics: Stevens said Thomas will visit hip specialists over the next few days and there's a chance the 28-year-old will need surgery. ... Stevens didn't review much of the Game 2 tape, but there's a mental image in his head of the Cavs making tough shot after tough shot that he can't shake. "As good as they are and they are tremendous, that might have been the best game I've ever seen a team play against us," he said. Does that mean college too? "Yeah, I think they would have beaten all those teams, too," he said, drawing laughter. ...

Cavaliers: James came in needing 73 points to pass Michael Jordan as the top scorer in postseason history. ... Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was an assistant in Boston and said his team reminds him of those Celtics teams with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. "That was a tight group," he said. "They did everything together, dinners and everything." ... Cleveland is 14-0 when leading a series 2-0. ... Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, and fellow rookie Jabrill Peppers took a few shots on the floor before teams came out for warmups.