Mock Draft Roundup: With the Fourth Pick, the Eagles Select

Mock Draft Roundup: With the Fourth Pick, the Eagles Select

Today is the day. What will
the Eagles do with the fourth-overall pick in the NFL Draft? We checked with
the wisdom of crowds for answers, where we found only more staggering
uncertainty.

Most years experts can predict
the first five or 10 picks of the draft with a fair degree of probability. This
is not the case in 2013. The mock drafts are so wildly varied, there is no
consensus at all beyond the number one selection – and even that has only been
narrowed down to a position (offensive tackle), not a name.

Luke Joeckel and
Eric Fisher are considered by many to be prospects 1A and 1B in this draft, and
it’s said to be so close, the Chiefs could go either way with the first pick. For
that reason, I don’t believe either player will be available by the time the
Eagles are on the clock, so therefore we largely ignored any mocks that indicated
otherwise. My guess is either the Jags will take whichever one of them falls to
two, or a tackle-needy team such as the Lions or Cardinals will trade ahead of
the Birds.

So on that note, let’s jump right into our first
batch: the third-best tackle in the draft.

Mike Mayock (NFL.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

He's the
freakiest tackle I've ever seen in my life. And because of what Chip Kelly does
-- up-tempo, maximize snaps, throw the bubble screens, throw the tunnel screens
-- he needs a great athlete at left tackle.

Charley Casserly (NFL.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

Both of the
Eagles' starting offensive tackles are coming off surgery.

Evan Silva (Rotoworld): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

NFL Network's
Mike Mayock suggested Tuesday that the Raiders might select Johnson at the
third pick. I just don't think they'll have Johnson highly rated because
Oakland is transitioning to a power-run scheme and Johnson is more of an
athlete than mauling run blocker at this stage. The Eagles could really use
Johnson's quick-twitch athleticism and second-level movement skills in Chip Kelly's
up-tempo offense. His addition would allow Philly to move Todd
Herremans
to right guard, with Jason Kelce
at center, Evan Mathis at left guard, and Jason Peters
back at left tackle.

Dane Brugler (NFLDraftScout.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

The offensive
tackles are going to fly off the board fast and even if both Joeckel and Fisher
are still available at the fourth pick, Johnson might be the best fit for Chip
Kelly and his offense. Johnson is just scratching the surface of his potential
at tackle.

Jeff McLane (Philly.com): Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson

If it’s Johnson, it’s safe to speculate that Chip Kelly wrestled control and made the first pick.

The “just scratching the
surface” bit makes me a little leery that Johnson is more of a project than
Joeckel or Fisher. After last season’s debacle on the offensive line, I doubt too
many people will mind. Besides, it’s not like they need him to take over for
Jason Peters at left tackle from day one.

Jared Sherman (CSN): Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher

Fisher is big and athletic - both traits Chip Kelly wants to see in his linemen. With Todd Herremans possibly kicking back inside to guard, there's a hole at right tackle. And with Jason Peters coming off Achilles surgery, Fisher is a pretty good backup plan at left tackle too.

Well, you never know I guess...

Switching gears, there are several
different defensive players being tied to the Eagles. Somewhat surprisingly, there
were virtually no mocks that had Philadelphia native Sharrif Floyd coming home,
although that’s probably because most of them have him going in the top three.
Defensive tackle was a popular pick however.

Don Banks (Sports Illustrated): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Again, if
Lane Johnson remains available, the Eagles should have trade options, or could
even take the athletically freakish ex-Sooner themselves. But Philly has been
focused on finding talent to make the transition to a 3-4 defense work, and
Lotulelei is the best available Vince Wilfork-type cog among the defensive
linemen.

Rob Rang (CBS): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Chip Kelly is
known for the fast pace of his offense, but if the Eagles are to improve in the
NFC East it is their defense that will need to improve the most. With
Philadelphia expected to make the transition to a 3-4 scheme, it needs help up
front, which the powerful Lotulelei can provide. The Eagles are one of three
teams currently picking in the top 10 who have both worked out Lotulelei and
invited him to visit their facility, NFLDraftScout.com has learned.

Josh Norris (NFL.com): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

Don't pigeonhole
Lotulelei as a nose tackle; he can win from multiple spots along the front
three.

Pete Prisco (CBS): Utah DT Star Lotulelei

They can't
pass up on this power player.

From a pure need standpoint,
Lotulelei might make the most sense for the Eagles. Whatever Chip Kelly and Billy
Davis has in mind for the defense, we know it’s not going to be a pure 4-3, but
they are lacking some of the big bodies up front that make those other schemes
work. Lotulelei is versatile, and unlike Floyd, available – at least according
to most of these things.

Geoff Mosher (CSN): Alabama CB Dee Milliner*

Birds get the
corner they so desperately need, and get some extra picks.

Our first trade! Mosh has the
Eagles swapping with the Cardinals, moving down three spots to number seven, in
what would seemingly be one of the more popular scenarios. I’m not sold a team
that signed two starting cornerbacks in free agency is looking this high to
grab another

As an aside, the folks who
mock and don’t account for trades are doing it wrong. There are always trades.

Bucky Brooks (NFL.com): BYU DE/OLB Ziggy Ansah

New coach
Chip Kelly would love to take on former Oregon charge Dion Jordan, but Ansah is
a better fit as a potential five-technique.

Ansah is probably the biggest
curve ball. I’ve seen him going as high as second, or not a player in the top
five at all. Few are mocking him to the Birds, but don’t rule it out, either.
Of course, the other name Brooks drops in there undoubtedly represents the
plurality of these lists.

Greg Cosell (Yahoo!): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

This is where
the most intriguing defensive player comes off the board. That’s Oregon
DE/OLB Dion Jordan. I was fortunate to be on the
field at the scouting combine, and to watch this 6-foot-6, 250-pounder move was
a revelation. He looked like a wide receiver. On film, he was naturally
athletic, very smooth and fluid, and surprisingly explosive given his length.
At Oregon this past season, he primarily played in space, which he did
exceptionally well. I had to study a lot of games to get a feel for his pass
rush skills. They were impressive, and I believe he will become a very good
edge rusher in the NFL. He showed the ability to get low and bend the edge with
the needed flexibility to succeed against quality NFL offensive tackles.
There’s much to like about Jordan, and he’s just scratching the surface. Want a
comparison? How about Jason Taylor.

Peter King (Sports Illustrated): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

Chip Kelly
bypasses the strong tackle market and a need at CB to pick an old friend from
Oregon. He'll fill those other spots later.

Peter Schrager (FOX Sports): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

The Eagles’
defensive backfield has undergone an extreme makeover. Four new defensive backs
Bradley
Fletcher
, Cary Williams,
Patrick Chung
and Kenny
Phillips
— should be in the starting lineup. With those additions, I
don’t see the Eagles going with Dee Milliner, the cornerback out of Alabama, as
many have suggested. Jordan, a fantastic athlete who played for new Eagles head
coach Chip Kelly at Oregon, could be the guy at No. 4. Jordan is most favorably
compared to Aldon Smith,
the electric outside linebacker in San Francisco. Everyone’s fascinated to see
what Kelly and GM Howie Roseman do here — I think Jordan can be the guy.

Zach Berman (Philly.com): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

Without a tackle on the board, the Eagles could trade down. They
could also take defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. I’m sticking with the
player I’ve had here all along – one who Chip Kelly knows better than
any player in this draft, and one who has the upside to become an elite
pass rusher.

Pat Kirwan (CBS): Oregon OLB Dion Jordan

The Eagles
are building a 3-4 defense and need an OLB with pass rush skills. Jordan played
for Chip Kelly. If they take Jordan I would expect them to re-enter the first
round late and grab a QB. Either Geno Smith or EJ Manuel could be the choice.

I’ll say this much about
Jordan: if the Eagles do wind up going with the Oregon product, I don’t think
it will have the slightest thing to do with the fact that he played for Chip.
That’s a stupid reason to use the fourth-overall pick on somebody, and a less
relevant nugget I can’t think of.

Finally, Kirwan broached our
final group of mocks: the quarterback.

Clark Judge (CBS): West Virginia QB Geno Smith

Chip Kelly
knows he can't win with Michael Vick. So who's next? You're looking at him.

With Fisher left on the board?
I don’t think so. Besides, this is way too high for Geno by most accounts.

Gil Brandt (NFL.com): West Virginia QB Geno Smith*

Smith has
been criticized, but I myself think he's a pretty good player. Moreover, with
his athletic and passing ability, I think he can fill a system need for new
Eagles coach Chip Kelly. There's a chance Smith might not be there at No. 11,
but I think the Eagles can still afford to trade with the Chargers, because
even if Smith is gone, Philly can try to move down a few more spots and get EJ
Manuel.

Brandt has the Eagles swapping
with the Chargers, another of the tackle-needy teams, to get down to number 11
where a team might actually have interest in Smith. Interestingly enough, he doesn’t
have EJ Manuel going in the first at all, so I don’t know why the Eagles would
take him later in the round if that was is going to be the case – they have the
fourth pick in the second too after all.

Geno Smith still seems like
one of the unlikelier scenarios for the Birds in this draft, although it hasn’t
gone away. We’ll find out along with the rest of these guys and everybody else
soon enough.

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Best of MLB: Curtis Granderson homers twice off bench in Mets' win

Best of MLB: Curtis Granderson homers twice off bench in Mets' win

NEW YORK -- Curtis Granderson came off the bench and homered twice, Jose Reyes had four hits and the surging New York Mets beat the Miami Marlins 7-4 on Tuesday night.

Asdrubal Cabrera extended his recent tear at the plate, hitting a two-run homer in his return to the lineup after missing one start due to a sore left knee. Rookie right-hander Seth Lugo (2-2) gave up two runs in the first inning but recovered nicely as the Mets won for the eighth time in 10 games.

By winning the first two games of the four-game series, New York (68-64) moved ahead of slumping Miami for second place in the NL East. Both teams began the day 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the league's second wild card (see full recap).

Cardinals edge Brewers in 10 innings
MILWAUKEE -- Zach Duke stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout in the 10th inning after Randal Grichuk hit an RBI single in the top half of the inning, lifting the St. Louis Cardinals over the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Seung Hwan Oh (4-2) pitched out of a jam in the ninth to get the win. Duke got his first save with the Cardinals by striking out pinch-hitter Manny Pina after Matt Bowman walked three batters.

The Cardinals' Jhonny Peralta led off the 10th with a single off Corey Knebel (0-2) and moved to third on Yadier Molina's ground-rule double. Jeremy Hazelbaker, who pinch ran for Peralta, scored the winning run on Grichuk's flare to right.

St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and Milwaukee's Wily Peralta dueled for seven innings, leaving a 1-1 game for the bullpens (see full recap).

Wieters lifts Orioles over Blue Jays
BALTIMORE -- Matt Wieters hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off Jason Grilli in the eighth inning to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

The Orioles pulled within three games of the first-place Blue Jays, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. After losing the opener 5-1, the Orioles will look to gain more ground in the series finale Wednesday.

Michael Saunders drilled a two-run shot off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez that tied the game 3-3 in the seventh.

In the eighth, Jonathan Schoop walked and Wieters homered off Grilli (4-2), his 12th of the season.

Brad Brach (8-2) picked up the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Zach Britton got his league-leading 39th save (see full recap).

Phillies' bats dominated by Max Scherzer again in loss to Nationals

Phillies' bats dominated by Max Scherzer again in loss to Nationals

BOX SCORE

The Phillies entered Tuesday night’s game with the worst on-base percentage in the majors – a paltry .297 – and they were facing one of the top pitchers in the game.
 
The results were, uh, predictable.
 
The Phillies were dominated by Max Scherzer in a 3-2 loss to the NL East-leading Washington Nationals (see Instant Replay). The final score was deceiving. The only thing that kept the game close was a solid start from Jerad Eickhoff and good work from Phillies relievers Michael Mariot, Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos.
 
Scherzer (15-7, 2.89) held the Phillies to three hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out 11, marking the 12th time he has reached double digits in K's this season.
 
Since signing a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals before the 2015 season, Scherzer has faced the Phillies eight times. He is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in those games. (And you thought Bartolo Colon owned the Phillies.)
 
Scherzer opened this game with five no-hit innings. It was the ninth time he’d carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in 61 starts with the club.

Scherzer has twice taken no-hitters into the sixth inning against the Phillies. Freddy Galvis broke up a Scherzer no-hitter with a double in the sixth inning June 26, 2015. He did it again Tuesday night with another sixth-inning double.
 
“He’s a thorn in my side,” Scherzer joked after the game.
 
Galvis didn’t stay on the bases long. He made a boneheaded base running play after the double and Scherzer wheeled and picked him off.
 
The Phillies’ three-hit effort left manager Peter Mackanin a little frustrated. The Phils had just four hits in losing to the Nats, 4-0, on Monday night. They are hitting just .239 as a team. Only the San Diego Padres (.237) are worse in the majors.
 
“Gotta hit,” Mackanin said quietly. “Once again, I mentioned it before, we need to improve our plate discipline. We’re just not getting hits. We had chances to win the game. But Scherzer was tough. You have to give him credit. He’s got what, 60 less hits than innings pitched? He’s a tough cookie.”
 
Scherzer has given up just 128 hits in 190 innings.
 
The Phillies made a run at Scherzer in the seventh inning. Odubel Herrera reached base on an infield hit and Ryan Howard followed with a line drive two-run homer into the left-field seats. He hit a 94 mph fastball on an 0-1 count.
 
Howard had struck out in both of his previous at-bats against Scherzer and was 1 for 20 with 13 strikeouts in his career against the Washington fireballer before the homer.
 
Given Howard’s career struggles against Scherzer, it was actually a little surprising to see him in the lineup. But Mackanin reasoned that no one on the team had good numbers against Scherzer and Howard was just as likely to run into a big hit as anyone.
 
He was right.
 
Mackanin also said he’s going to start cutting into Howard’s playing time and get Tommy Joseph more looks as the season winds down. Howard, however, could force his way into the lineup with more big hits.
 
Howard was asked about his approach against Scherzer.
 
“Put the ball in play,” he said. “Simple.”
 
Howard’s homer was his 20th of the season. He has reached 20 homers 10 times. Only Mike Schmidt (14) did it more as a Phillie. Howard has 377 homers, tying him with Norm Cash and Jeff Kent for 73rd all time.
 
Howard was asked what makes Scherzer so tough against the Phillies.
 
“That’s Scherzer, man,” Howard said. “I mean, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game for a reason. He’s got basically four-plus pitches that he can throw anytime in any count, throw them for strikes, and he does a great job of keeping hitters off balance, mixing it up really, really well. He’s kind of got a pit bull’s mentality on the mound just going out there wanting to shove it to the other team. He had it going tonight.”
 
Scherzer also drove home the Nats’ third run of the night with a safety squeeze. It proved to be a huge run after Howard’s homer.
 
Eickhoff was solid. He gave up a couple of softly hit balls for hits in the first inning and that helped the Nats score two runs out of the gate.
 
The Phillies just didn't have enough hitting to ever get the lead.

Some of that is just who they are – one of the poorest hitting teams in the majors.

Some of it was the guy they were facing.

'Stronger, bigger, better' Ivan Provorov hoping to follow Shayne Gostisbehere's path

'Stronger, bigger, better' Ivan Provorov hoping to follow Shayne Gostisbehere's path

TORONTO — At training camp last year, Ivan Provorov roomed with Shayne Gostisbehere. This year, he’s hoping to follow the young blueliner’s footsteps and earn a roster spot on the Flyers' blue line. 

After playing two games with the Flyers during the 2014-15 season, Gostisbehere joined the Flyers last November and appeared in 64 games, scoring 17 goals and tallying 29 assists. The 23-year-old’s 46 points led all Flyers defensemen and the Florida native finished second to only Chicago’s Artemi Panarin in Calder Trophy voting as the league’s Rookie of the Year. 

“He had an unbelievable season [and] he helped the Flyers a lot,” Provorov said this week at the annual NHLPA rookie showcase in Toronto. “I saw him at development camp and main camp — thought he was a great player. He got his chance when he got called up, and he used it well and played his game.”

Provorov, the Flyers’ first selection (seventh overall) in the 2015 NHL draft, has only one option this year: make the Flyers' roster out of camp. Otherwise, because of his age, he’ll have to return to junior and the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings. 

This past season, Provorov scored 21 goals and 73 points in 62 regular-season games with Brandon. He added three goals and 10 assists in 21 postseason games, helping the Wheat Kings win the WHL title and reach the Memorial Cup. However, Brandon struggled at the four-team tournament, losing all three games.

For his solid second season in the WHL, Provorov was named the recipient of the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

“[Memorial Cup] didn’t really turn out the way that we were hoping to, but still a great experience,” Provorov said. “It was a different atmosphere and different tournament, where you have to win one game to get into the playoffs. It’s not like a seven-game series.”

With a second WHL season under his belt, Provorov feels he’s better prepared than he was a year ago to make the leap to the NHL game. 

“I should be a little bit more comfortable, I know what to expect,” he said. “I had a great summer and I think I'm a better player than I was a year ago: stronger, bigger, better in all areas of my game. Just looking forward to getting to Philly and starting camp.”

The Flyers currently have seven defensemen under contract for the upcoming season, but Provorov’s combination of size and skill could push a veteran such as Andrew MacDonald, who already spent most of last season with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, out of a job. 

Despite his abilities, Provorov knows bumping a veteran for a roster spot won’t be an easy task.

“Of course when you move on from a level to another level the speed increases, the players are stronger [and] bigger,” he said. “I think, for me I'll just try to play my game and compete as hard as I can.”

Provorov grew up idolizing Nicklas Lidstrom and has tried to model his game after the Hall of Famer. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Provorov has spent his two seasons in Brandon developing into a two-way blueliner, who can put up numbers on the offensive side, but at the same time be counted on in a shutdown role. 

The 19-year-old credits his decision to come to North America at such a young age for helping him adjust to the differences in lifestyle. By the time he was 16, Provorov was playing for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in Iowa prior to being selected by the Wheat Kings in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.

“I came here when I was really young, so it wasn't that hard of a transition,” Provorov said. “Probably the most weird [adjustment] was probably food 'cause, I mean, food is really different from back home, but now I'm used to both.”

If he does wind up back in the WHL, Provorov has the annual World Junior Hockey Championship to look forward to. At last year’s tournament, Provorov, a native of Yaroslavl, Russia, registered eight assists in seven games, winning a second consecutive silver medal at the under-20 tournament.

“World Juniors is a great tournament, good experience,” he said. “It's always great to represent your country and, this time, if I get a chance to play, hopefully we'll win gold.”