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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MRI on T.J. McConnell's wrist comes back negative; Nerlens Noel has ankle sprain

MRI on T.J. McConnell's wrist comes back negative; Nerlens Noel has ankle sprain

The Sixers will be without their starting point guard for the time being, as T.J. McConnell has left the team to return to Philadelphia to receive treatment for a right wrist strain and will miss Monday's game vs. the Bucks in Milwaukee.
 
An MRI taken on McConnell’s right wrist came back negative, according to Sixers coach Brett Brown.
 
“He has a strain,” Brown said. “There’s no structural damage. In relation to what that means with regards to his return to play, I don’t know that yet.”
 
McConnell is averaging 4.8 points and 5.4 assists in 38 games. He has started Philadelphia’s last seven games, a stretch during which the Sixers have gone 5-2.

With McConnell out, Sergio Rodriguez will start at point guard Monday against Milwaukee.

Rodriguez started 29 of the first 30 games he played this season, his first in the NBA since 2009-10. The 30-year-old is more of an offensive threat than the defensive-minded McConnell, averaging 8.8 points and 5.8 assists.  

“You immediately go to losing that defensive energy T.J. is known for,” Brown said. “Sergio is a more gifted scorer. T.J. is a more gifted defender. To have Nerlens (Noel) and Joel (Embiid) behind the scenes, we can make up some ground with Sergio.
 
“People understand Sergio’s pedigree. He’s a 30-year-old legend in Europe. He has a wealth of experience. He’s a medalist and an MVP of the Euro league. He also was our starting point guard for a while. We’re happy to give him back that responsibility.”

No Noel
In addition to McConnell, the Sixers on Monday will also be without the services of Nerlens Noel, who is dealing with a left ankle sprain. Noel came down with a season-high 12 rebounds in Saturday's loss to the Wizards.

Still restricted
Sixers center Joel Embiid will still be on a 28-minute restriction Monday against the Bucks.

Embiid sat out Saturday’s 109-93 loss to Washington after playing 28 minutes in a 102-93 win over Charlotte on Friday. He has reached 30 minutes just once in his 27 games this season.

Changes coming? Ron Hextall says Flyers 'not very happy right now'

Changes coming? Ron Hextall says Flyers 'not very happy right now'

WASHINGTON — As the Flyers filed into the visiting locker room of the Verizon Center, no temper tantrums were thrown, nor were any chairs.
 
In the end, “What good does that do?” head coach Dave Hakstol asked.
 
Instead, the Flyers’ dressing area Sunday felt like a morgue. Players quietly and somberly stuffed their gear away. Once all dispersed, in walked Ron Hextall — and none too pleased.
 
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us,” he said softly, “and quite honestly, we’re not very happy right now.”
 
For a man that loathes losing more than anyone, nobody expected him to be. That much was already understood during the third-period catastrophe of his team’s demoralizing 5-0 defeat to the Capitals.
 
What wasn’t known was what follows? The Flyers have gone from 10 consecutive victories — the franchise’s longest winning streak in 31 years — to 11 losses over the following 14 games and a state of dismay.
 
As the Flyers limp into their NHL mandated five-day bye week, do players sense an imminent shakeup within the roster?
 
“It’s a good question,” Claude Giroux said, “but I don’t know.”
 
Despite never losing his sense of prudence, Hextall ruled nothing out.
 
“Obviously we always keep an eye on the big club and the Phantoms, as well,” Hextall said. “Right now, we’re going to stick with what we’ve got here and move forward. But on a day-to-day basis, I always look at how we can make our club better and, if there’s something that we think makes our club better, we’ll do it."
 
If Hextall wants to add some fresh blood from within, the organization is not lacking for young and spry prospects full of energy down at Lehigh Valley, where the Phantoms are 24-10-2 and third among the entire AHL entering Monday.
 
For the Flyers, who have surrendered a league-worst 144 goals, could defensemen T.J. Brennan, Travis Sanheim or Robert Hagg be options? Brennan owns NHL experience, has 30 points and is a plus-10 with Lehigh Valley. Sanheim, a big and touted prospect, is also a plus-10 to go along with seven goals and 11 assists. And Hagg, a seasoned 21-year-old, is “just about NHL-ready,” according to Flyers assistant general manager Chris Pryor, via ESPN’s Craig Custance (see Future Flyers Report).
 
“The worst thing you can do is overreact when things aren’t going right and that’s not going to happen,” Hextall said. “But if we can find a way to make ourselves better, we will.”
 
Hextall’s biggest gripe with his current team is its mental fortitude.
 
“Right now we’re making a lot of mental mistakes and it’s killing us,” he said.
 
And then it snowballs, Hextall said, which good teams prevent from happening.
 
“When things are going wrong, all of a sudden something happens and things tend to really go wrong,” he said. “That’s where we have to get better. Mentally we have to be better, have to be better. If something goes wrong, let’s move on. It happened a lot earlier in the year where things go wrong and we fought through it. Right now, the negative energy seems to be a landslide.”
 
Following the meltdown in Washington, players didn’t question the effort.
 
“We care,” Michael Del Zotto said. “No one likes losing. It’s not fun for anyone. But sometimes effort's not enough. Everyone wants to win in this league. It's a matter of execution. Whether it's offensively or defensively in all situations, we're not doing it.”
 
Hextall believes the effort has been “sufficient.”
 
“Again, the mental mistakes,” he said. “It seems like when something goes against us, it goes against us hard and that’s something we’ve got to battle through. You can’t let a little bit of adversity turn into a lot of adversity. You’ve got to nip it in the bud and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
 
As for the leadership structure and coaching, Hextall defended both.
 
“Our leaders haven’t been good enough. Neither have our lesser guys,” Hextall said. “Nobody’s been good enough right now. You don’t win 10 and then go through a stretch like this without responsibility being everywhere.
 
“Line changes, different D combinations, flipping [Steve Mason] and [Michal Neuvirth]. Everything that’s there, Hak has tried. In the end, it comes down to our whole group just being better and not reacting the way we do when something negative happens. That’s the game of sports, right?”
 
The game goes away for the Flyers this week (see 10 observations). When it returns, who knows which team we’ll see.
 
“We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror, hold ourselves accountable,” Del Zotto said. “As far as changes and personnel moves, that's out of our control.”
 
That, of course, is up to Hextall.
 
“We’ve got to keep our heads now,” the GM said. “Nobody’s going to get us out of this. It’s the whole group. This isn’t about one thing or one move or one player not playing or one player playing. This is about our whole group.”