Frank: Don't expect Eagles to take O-lineman at 23

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Frank: Don't expect Eagles to take O-lineman at 23

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Posted: 4:10 p.m.

By Reuben Frank
CSNPhilly.com

Seems like 97 percent of mock drafts weve seen have the Eagles taking an offensive lineman with the 23rd pick in the first round.

Gabe Carimi, the Wisconsin offensive tackle, seems to be the consensus. Or maybe Colorados Nate Solder. Or Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.

Its understandable. The Eagles allowed 49 sacks last year and three more in the wild-card loss to the Packers. Their inability to protect Michael Vick at key moments was really one of the key storylines of the 2010 season.

Whats the last move Andy Reid made in the final quarter of the final game of the season? He benched ailing and struggling right tackle Winston Justice for King Dunlap in a desperate attempt to get the offense rolling. It didnt help, either.

Logic says the Eagles must become dramatically better on the offensive line. If theyre going to win a Super Bowl, its going to be because of Vicks brilliance. And unless hes protected, he cant be brilliant.

Just one thing about drafting an offensive lineman: It wont happen.

A day before the 2011 draft begins, the chances of the Eagles taking an offensive lineman in the first round appear remote at best, and everything points to the Eagles either selecting a defensive lineman at 23, trading up in the first round for an elite corner or defensive lineman, or getting out of the first round and stockpiling Day 2 picks.

There are two central reasons for this.

No. 1, the Eagles believe there isnt great value among offensive linemen in the first round, but they do feel there is terrific value in the second and third rounds. They feel they can address the offensive line on Friday to almost the same degree as they can on Thursday using far less valuable picks.

And No. 2, the Eagles feel this is as deep a defensive line group as there has been in many years, both in the first round and in latter premium rounds (second and third). They also believe defensive line is actually a bigger need right now for this team than offensive line, and theyre confident they have a good chance of finding an impact defensive lineman in the first round.

Its possible as many as a dozen defensive linemen will be drafted in the first round, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Thursday. The second and third rounds start at 6 p.m. Friday, and the final four rounds start at noon on Saturday.

If the Eagles do stay at No. 23, they would have a shot at potential impact defensive linemen like Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward, Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, Temple tackle Muhammad Wilkerson or North Carolina tackle Marvin Austin. They are firm in their belief that similar value would not be available at offensive line in the same spot.

But this is a team that loves to move around on draft day. Since 2003, theyve only taken two players in the first round with picks that were originally theirs (Mike Patterson in 2005, Brodrick Bunkley in 2006).

Four times since 2003, the Eagles have traded up in the first round, landing Jerome McDougle in 2003, Shawn Andrews in 2004, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and Brandon Graham last year. Twice under Andy Reid in 2007 and 2008 theyve gotten out of the first round.

So there are pretty good odds that when No. 23 comes around, the Eagles will not be on the board.

If the Eagles do move up for a defensive lineman, they could target Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, who theyre high on and shouldnt take more than an 10-pick move. Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn could also be the target of a trade up, and hed likely require a smaller jump.

Although it appears extremely unlikely the Eagles would take a corner at No. 23, trading up could bring them a big-time cornerback. LSUs Patrick Peterson by far the top corner prospect in the draft is almost certainly out of range for the Eagles. And character questions appear to be dooming Colorado corner Jimmy Smiths draft standing, perhaps even out of the first round.

But if the Eagles have a chance to swoop up and nab Prince Amukamara of Nebraska, they will be tempted. Amukamara is expected to go somewhere in the first 12 picks and could team up with Asante Samuel to give the Eagles a terrific 1-2 cornerback tandem.

Barring somebody like Amukamara or Liuget, trading down actually does make sense this year. They already have pick No. 54 in the second and No. 85 in the third, and trading out of No. 23 would let them accumulate some premium Day 2 picks and take advantage of the middle-round value at offensive line and the great depth at defensive line, which is going to knock some first-round caliber defensive linemen into picks 33 through 50.

Although fans hate it when the Eagles get out of the first round, its not always a bad move.

For example, in 2007, the Eagles traded pick No. 27 for selections that eventually became Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley and a safety who didnt make the team (C.J. Gaddis). In 2008, they traded No. 19 overall for picks that eventually became Jason Peters (via trade), Trevor Laws and Mike McGlynn (and Quintin Demps).

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Despite rocky offseason, Eagles QBs have "a really good relationship"

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Despite rocky offseason, Eagles QBs have "a really good relationship"

Sam Bradford says Carson Wentz is a great kid. Carson Wentz says his relationship with Sam Bradford is special.

So much for them hating each other.

Bradford and Wentz both spoke glowingly of each other Tuesday after an OTA practice at the NovaCare Complex.

And both spoke equally highly of Chase Daniel, the Eagles’ other quarterback.

Turns out they all like each other.

Boring? Yeah. Drama? No. But they all say that’s the reality.

“They’re great dudes,” Bradford said. “We have a really good room. Having Chase in the room for me and Carson has been great because he’s been in the system for what, three? This is his fourth year in the system? So he understands some of the smaller details.

“Like when we watch tape, he’s able to point out, ‘Hey, this play looks like this against this coverage,’ or, ‘You can short-cut this read and (throw) here a little quicker against this coverage.’ So I think having him in the room with me and Carson has been really good.

“Carson, he’s been great. He’s a great kid, he’s really talented. It’s been fun working with him, trying to help him, trying to just share bits of information that I’ve picked up.”

It was the Eagles’ decision to trade up to No. 2 in the draft and take Wentz that led Bradford to leave voluntary practices for two weeks and demand a trade.

It wasn’t until he returned earlier this month that he even met Wentz, the former North Dakota State star.

But Wentz said there’s been no tension between the two. The opposite has been the case.

“It’s been great working with Sam, working with Chase,” Wentz said. “We’ve got an awesome quarterback room. A lot of really good discussions about the play book, about life. It’s been great.

“And then on the practice field, it’s been great for me. We all have a really good relationship. Nothing but great things to say about those guys.”

Head coach Doug Pederson has maintained that Bradford is the starter going into the regular season. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said there’s open competition.

Whatever happens in September, it’s only a matter of time until this is Wentz’s team.

But Daniel said so far everybody is handling a tricky situation just fine.

“You know what, business is business,” Daniel said Tuesday. “Like I’ve said before, everyone handles (those situations) a little bit differently. For me, there’s no awkwardness. I know I’ve talked to Sam, there’s no (awkwardness).

“It’s you check your ego at the door, it’s time to go to work. Let’s go to work.”

If there are any hard feelings, these three quarterbacks are certainly hiding them very well.

“The relationship we have with us three is huge,” Wentz said. “We’re not out there to get each other, we’re out there to make the team better. (That) not only uplifts the team but makes us individually better.

“Being able to work together and not have to worry and stress out about the other stuff. At the end of the day makes the team better.”

Bradford is the incumbent starter. Daniel is the most experienced in Pederson’s offense. Wentz is the hot-shot rookie.

It’s a better story if they hate each other. But so far at least, they seem to be getting along just great.

“For me and the rest of the quarterbacks, we view every day as an opportunity to get better,” Wentz said.

“We have a little friendly competition among ourselves to make us better. If we’re all pushing each other, working together, it only makes the team better, and I think that’s something we have going on here that’s really special.”

President Obama praises Villanova at the renamed 'Blue and White House'

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AP Photo

President Obama praises Villanova at the renamed 'Blue and White House'

Villanova’s memorable victory tour continued Tuesday as noted basketball fan and President of the United States Barack Obama welcomed the Wildcats to the White House -- or, as he called it, “the Blue and White House today.” 

You should definitely watch the whole video but here are some highlights from the very cool ceremony: 

  • Obama said that Vice President Joe Biden, whose wife Jill Biden got a Master’s degree from Villanova, picked the Wildcats to win it all. “That’s the type of wise counsel you’re looking for in a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the counsel so my bracket was busted,” said Obama, who picked Kansas to win it all and didn’t even have ’Nova in the Final Four.
  • Obama called Jay Wright the “George Clooney of coaches” and “the best dressed man in college basketball.” We’ve reached out to George Clooney’s reps for comment (no we haven’t).
  • He pointed out that leading scorer Josh Hart went to the same high school -- Sidwell Friends -- as his daughter Malia, who will graduate from there next week. “It’s good to see a Sidwell kid do well.”
  • It was fun to hear the president call Daniel Ochefu and Kris Jenkins by their nicknames -- “The Chef” and “Big Smooth,” respectively.
  • He purposefully sped through Ryan Arcidiacono’s name “in case I didn’t say it right” -- and he didn’t. “I’m just gonna call him Arch,” Obama said, learning an important lesson for Villanova fans, college basketball writers and world leaders everywhere.
  • Was that a Charles Barkley weight joke? After comparing Kris Jenkins’ famous game-winner to Christian Laettner’s shot vs. Kentucky in 1992 and N.C. State’s buzzer-beater in the 1983 title game, Obama said “Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which he doesn’t do very often these days.”
  • He praised Villanova’s off-court achievements, including the fact that they ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in grades and all five seniors graduated (continuing a trend of every four-year Villanova player graduating since the 1970s). And he discussed how Ochefu and Arcidiacono surprised a young ’Nova fan with cancer by hiding in his playhouse -- “which seems a little scary but their hearts were in the right place.”
  • He didn’t hold back about the epic ending to the NCAA tourney, calling it “as memorable of a championship game as I can remember” and “maybe the best title game of all time,” before adding that “just the last few seconds could be a documentary.” 

After Obama’s remarks -- good job, speechwriters! -- Wright took his turn at the podium to present the President with a Villanova jersey from their game at Pearl Harbor last December and to thank him for his leadership.

“Nothing is as big as this,” Wright said. “This is big time. This is a great day for Villanova University.”

Well said, Coach Clooney.

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Bryce Harper (knee) sits for Nats

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Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Bryce Harper (knee) sits for Nats

Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals' lineup Tuesday night after being hit in the knee by a Jeremy Hellickson pitch on Memorial Day.

Big break for the Phils considering Harper has hit .346 against them with three doubles, 11 home runs, 23 RBIs and 21 walks in his last 104 plate appearances against them.

It's an equally big break for Aaron Nola, against whom Harper is 6 for 10 with two homers (see game notes).

For the Phillies, Ryan Howard gets the start at first base against another right-hander, Washington's Joe Ross. Phillies fans are clamoring for more playing time for Tommy Joseph, but starting Howard against Ross does make some sense given how much better lefties have been against him (.295 BA) than righties (.209). Ross throws a ton of sinkers and sliders, which make it tough on same-handed hitters.

1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Cameron Rupp, C
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Tyler Goeddel, LF
7. David Lough, RF
8. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
9. Aaron Nola, P

And for the Nationals:

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Daniel Murphy, 2B
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
5. Clint Robinson, LF
6. Anthony Rendon, 3B
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Espinosa, SS
9. Joe Ross, P