Eagles round out 2014 Draft with S Ed Reynolds, NT Beau Allen

Eagles round out 2014 Draft with S Ed Reynolds, NT Beau Allen

A few quick thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles’ final two picks of the 2014 NFL Draft, but first, let’s go the scouting reports.

 

Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford

Strengths

Good size to contend with tight ends. Reads the quarterback and displays good instincts and anticipation. Has ballhawking skills -- 6 INTs and 3 TDs as a junior. Functional range off the hash. Wrap tackler. Has NFL bloodlines.

Weaknesses

Very average speed, twitch and flexibility. Unsudden change of direction. Lacks burst to close suddenly or recover when beat. Occasionally loses field leverage and takes some inaccurate angles. Leaks yards after contact. Misses too many tackles in the open field and can be run over (see Utah). Eyes get stuck on the quarterback, leaving him vulnerable to manipulation. Limited experience in man coverage.

Reynolds is 6’1”, 207 pounds. He has average athleticism, maybe a bit above average for his size/position. The thing that really stands out is that junior year—six picks, three returned for touchdowns. I don’t care what league you play in, and even if he did follow it up with one interception his senior year, that’s impressive.

Although I have little doubt the Eagles will talk about an “open competition” at safety, and there is no reason to believe it will be anything but, I doubt Reynolds will beat out Nate Allen or Earl Wolff for a job as a rookie (Malcolm Jenkins is penned into the other spot). Allen improved gradually last season and was something between competent and solid. Wolff held his own. Both guys have a full year in defensive coordinator Bill Davis’ system now, which will be a huge advantage.

Still, gotta like a safety with Reynolds’ size. I could see him being in the mix to play in Year 2.

 

Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin

Strengths

Stoutly built lower body (squats a small house). Good initial thrust off the snap. Sheer size, natural girth and functional strength to occupy blocks. Has a desirable mentality for the position. Brings energy, plays hard and gives terrific pursuit effort for a big man. Tough and durable. Very good 10-yard splits (1.68 seconds) at his pro day, indicating surprising short-area burst for a 330-pounder.

Weaknesses

Marginal value as a pass rusher. Ordinary bull rush. Needs to play with better pad level -- plays too tall and is too easily engaged. Unrefined hand use and slow to disengage. Does not dominate single blocking. Is straightlinish and struggles to change direction. Slow of foot with limited range. Not an impactful playmaker.

I thought this was a great seventh-round pick. I don’t see the need to replace Bennie Logan at nose tackle right now. He performed well as a rookie, the team expects him to bulk up to 320-325 pounds, and the nose tackle was only on the field 50 percent of the time last season anyway.

They desperately needed somebody behind Logan though, and I think Allen is perfect. At 6’2”, 333 pounds, he’s going to be really difficult to move. Most offensive linemen will have trouble getting under Allen’s pad level at that height, and without the right leverage, he’s not going anywhere.

Plus, the Eagles can put a proper “heavy” or goal-line package on the field now, with Logan kicked to outside and Allen in the middle. Technically, the seventh-round pick isn’t even a lock to make the team, but I think he will and it’s a pick the Eagles will get some mileage out of.

Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

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Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points, and the Chicago Bulls handed San Antonio its first road loss after a 13-0 start, hanging on to beat the Spurs 95-91 on Thursday night.

San Antonio fell one win shy of matching the NBA's best road start set by the Golden State Warriors last season. The Spurs cut an 18-point deficit midway through the third quarter to four in the closing minutes, only to come up short.

Kawhi Leonard scored 24 for San Antonio. Patty Mills added 16 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers. Former Bull Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game in Chicago since signing with San Antonio in the summer, but the Spurs lost a road game for the first time since Oklahoma City knocked them out in the Western Conference semifinals last season.

Jimmy Butler scored all of his 13 points for Chicago in the second half. Rajon Rondo added 12 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, and Chicago picked up the win after dropping three in a row and six of nine.

The Spurs hadn't dropped a regular-season road game since Denver beat them on April 8 (see full recap).

Scoreboard malfunction, quiet crowd don’t stop Wizards’ rally
WASHINGTON -- Overcoming a sluggish start in front of a sparse, silent crowd and with a malfunctioning scoreboard, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Nuggets 92-85 on Thursday night, thanks mainly to Bradley Beal's 26 points and Denver's season-high 29 turnovers.

John Wall scored only 15 points one game after a career-best 52, but nine came in the fourth quarter for Washington, which trailed by as many as 14 in the first half.

With starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay inactive because of what the team said was a sprained right ankle, the Nuggets went 5 1/2 minutes without a point in the fourth quarter.

In that final period, they had 10 of their turnovers and shot 1 for 14 on 3-pointers -- including 0 for 4 in one last-minute possession (see full recap).

Gasol, clutch free throws lift Grizzlies over
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol scored 36 points and Toney Douglas made two free throws with less than a second left to give the Memphis Grizzlies an 88-86 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Douglas finished with 11 points, scoring the game's final six points to seal Memphis' fifth straight victory.

Gasol was 13 of 24 from the field, including 4 of 6 from outside the arc. But Douglas, signed by Memphis this week because of injuries, took over down the stretch. The guard scored on a 19-footer with 34 seconds left, then converted two pairs of free throws in the last 20 seconds.

CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 24 points, and Damian Lillard had 19 on 6-of-18 shooting. Evan Turner had 15 points and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

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Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- Joel Embiid shot just 5 for 15 from the field and the Sixers … wait … the Sixers won. 

Surprising? Actually, that’s just how the Sixers envision finding success.

It’s not about Embiid having a relatively quiet night on offense with 14 points, especially going 0 for 5 from three. It’s about other players getting involved and taking the burden off the rookie. Embiid has proved he can do a lot of things, but carrying a team each night in his first season isn’t what the Sixers have in mind. 

“I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Nik Stauskas said after the Sixers beat the Pelicans 99-88 (see Instant Replay). “Obviously there are a few guys in the NBA like a LeBron (James), KD (Kevin Durant) or Steph (Curry) that can single-handedly win a game throughout the entire season. But most of the teams are going to rely on bench players to step up and make shots and make plays. I think that’s when we’re most effective.”

Embiid entered Thursday night averaging 24.3 points and shooting 48.9 percent in Sixers wins (three games played). His 14 points against the Pelicans were his fewest in a victory this season. He also grabbed seven boards with four blocks and three steals. Embiid was a game-high plus-27, which Brett Brown called "massive."

Instead of being powered offensively by their centerpiece, the Sixers received solid efforts from the starters and reserves. Ersan Ilyasova scored 23 points (along with eight rebounds) for the second straight game. Sergio Rodriguez chipped in 16 points and eight assists. Off the bench,  Stauskas hit three treys en route to 14 points while Dario Saric scored 10 points with five rebounds as the team snapped an overall eight-game losing skid and a 23-game road losing streak. 

Embiid’s teammates attribute their success to the fact he is such a focal point of the opponents’ defense. In comparison to the beginning of the season when Embiid was getting stifled by double-teams, he has been learning how to pass out of them. Embiid expects to see two defenders every game and has been making adjustments to create opportunities for others to shoot rather than committing turnovers. 

“We’re not standing around a lot and just focusing on what Jo can do,” Robert Covington said. “Jo is making great moves to find guys that are open. He’s willing to pass. We’re starting to build the chemistry that everyone’s been looking for.”

Ilyasova has noticed a change in the flow of the offense and has capitalized on defensive mismatches when opponents swarm Embiid. 

“We just share the ball well,” Ilyasova said. “I find myself open. Obviously Joel does a great job of as far as when there is a double-team, just kicking out. When I see the open look, I try to knock that shot down.” 

This style of play is mutually beneficial for both Embiid and his teammates. Just because Embiid is passing out doesn't mean he's not getting his looks. Oftentimes, dishing out of a double-team allows him to get a better look on the next touch. 

“It’s a team effort," Covington said. "We’re doing so much as a unit that we’re not just focusing on just get Jo the ball and let him do his thing. He’s getting the ball, he’s surveying the floor and then he’s making his moves. He’s reading the defense really well. He’s doing a lot of [kicking out]. Then we find him a lot of re-posts and finding the open shot and making it easy for him to find the easy bucket.” 

Embiid is capable of scoring 20-plus in spite of his 28-minute restriction. The Sixers are making strides, though, by finding ways to win when he isn’t the running up the scoreboard. 

“I think there’s no doubt Jo is our best player and our offense is going to revolve around him most of the time,” Stauskas said. “But we’re playing our best when he’s posting up and kicking out to guys and they’re hitting threes or we’re taking pressure off him by making plays and the defense can’t just be solely focused on him. In a game like tonight, that’s kind of what you saw.”