Donovan McNabb Pick Could Have Been Edgerrin James

Donovan McNabb Pick Could Have Been Edgerrin James

Imagine if Donovan McNabb had been chosen first overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL Draft instead Tim Couch. Say what you want about Five, but in hindsight that’s definitely what should have happened. Well, where would that have left the Eagles?

Probably not where you would expect. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie shared an interesting story about that fateful draft at McNabb’s formal retirement press conference on Monday. Had the Browns taken the right guy, the Dirty Thirty would have wound up booing Edgerrin James instead.

Lurie told the assembled that if McNabb had not been available at No. 2, the long-time Colts running back would have been the pick over any of the other quarterbacks – notably Couch or Akili Smith – as well as fan favorite Heisman Trophy-winning back Ricky Williams.

"We were interviewing all together and very intensely every one of these quarterbacks and the top players at the top of the round obviously with the second pick," said Lurie. "This was meant to be a very, very important pick.

"We didn't have a lot of confidence in most of the quarterbacks in that draft. The only quarterback that we all - and Andy leading the way - felt very confident in was Donovan, and it wasn't just his athletic ability. It was his years at Syracuse, his being able to learn a complicated offense, the way he was as a person, stable family background compared to some other quarterbacks both in that draft and elsewhere. So it all came together that he was really the only quarterback that was really far above all the others for us."

And if the Cleveland Browns had selected McNabb instead of Tim Couch?

"It was really, Donovan or 'Yikes, what are we going to do?' " said Lurie. "I guess the answer was Edgerrin. We thought this probably was a potential Hall of Fame running back."

James wound up going one pick before Williams at No. 4, going on to carve out a nice 11-year career primarily in Indianapolis and with the Arizona Cardinals. The four-time Pro Bowler is 11th all-time on the NFL career rushing list with 12,246 yards on the ground, 18th with 80 touchdowns.

But it goes without saying James wouldn’t have had the impact in Philadelphia that Donovan had. Chances are nobody from that draft class would have.

That’s something to think about the next time you or somebody you know goes to bash McNabb’s career in Philly. True, he couldn’t bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Yes, he had his share of flaws. Also, where would the franchise have been for those 11 seasons if he wasn’t the starting quarterback?

Who knows, but chances are great it wouldn’t have been winning five NFC East titles, much less making five appearances in NFC Championship games.

If for some reason you can’t appreciate McNabb on his own merits, maybe you should consider how much worse things could have been without him. As long as he was here, the Eagles had a chance to win it all every year. Those were good times.

>> If not McNabb, James the pick [Rdg Eagle]

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Eagles (3-2) return home Sunday for the first time in nearly a month and welcome a familiar face to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) will come to Philadelphia fresh off a Week 6 bye and, most notably, as the league's lone unbeaten team. Minnesota boasts one of the league's top defenses, ranking first in points allowed (12.6 per game) and second in yards allowed (287.6 per game), and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2009.

The last time these two franchises met was back in December 2013, when Matt Cassell and the Vikings put up 48 points in a win over Chip Kelly's Eagles.

To get a better handle on this year's Vikings, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 7 opponent.

Brian Robison poses yet another challenge for Big V
Making his NFL debut in a start against the Redskins last week, Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Ryan Kerrigan beat Vaitai and got to Carson Wentz for 2½ sacks, all of which came in the first half.

It won't get any easier for the rookie right tackle this week either, as he'll likely be lined up against Brian Robison for most of the afternoon. Robison has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season and, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the versatile 10-year defensive end could be difference maker on the defensive side of the ball Sunday.

"Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back," Krammer wrote. "At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate. ... And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there."

Makeshift offensive line remains a question mark
The Vikings may be undefeated, but by no means are they made up of perfect parts. As the midway point of the NFL season approaches, Minnesota's injury-battered offensive line is still a work in progress. 

Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both sidelined with season-ending injuries. Starting guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion Week 5 against the Texans, but is expected to return against the Eagles. Center is the only position on the line the Vikings haven't had to replace because of an injury at some point this season.

But despite the constant changes up front, Minnesota has been stout overall in protecting the quarterback, allowing eight sacks and 27 quarterback hits across five games. According to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, the performance of that makeshift offensive line is going to be key in the Vikings' potential success down the road. 

"What’s best for Bradford and the Vikings’ standing as the NFC’s top dog is better pass protection," Murphy wrote. "He was sacked twice when Houston defenders turnstiled Clemmings and hit hard in the pocket other times. ... Offensive line intrigue never is a sexy storyline, but how well the Vikings manage the unit week to week figures to be an underlying factor to their continued success."

Strong away from home
The Vikings are a just a few years removed from going winless on the road, finishing 0-7-1 away from home in the 2013 season. Minnesota secured wins in only two of its first 10 away games under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, but have since gone on a tear.

Minnesota has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season and, in their most recent game away from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took down the Panthers, 22-10, in Week 3. A testament of a true contender is having the ability to win consistently on the road, which holds true with the Vikings.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings' vast improvement over the past two-plus seasons has contributed to them becoming a stronger team away from home.

"Facing a tough opposing crowd once was a tall order for the Vikings, but it’s much less of one now. After being one of the worse road teams in the NFL earlier this decade, they’re now one of the best," Tomasson wrote. "Overall, the Vikings have improved, having gone from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 last season to 5-0 this year. That’s the main reason the road record has gotten so much better. Still, players say the continuity the team has had has especially helped when entering rugged road environments."

While Vegas has the Vikings as light favorites on the road, national experts have them heavily favored straight up to hand the Eagles their third straight loss.

ESPN: All nine experts picked the Vikings

CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Vikings

FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Vikings