NFL Draft Cont'd: Potential Day Two Targets

NFL Draft Cont'd: Potential Day Two Targets

The NFL Draft continues with rounds two and three tonight at 7 p.m., with the Eagles currently holding three picks, including two in the top 20. The Birds own picks Nos. 46 and 88, and also claim Arizona's second rounder, No. 51 overall, as part of the Kevin Kolb trade last summer.
There are still fine players available at this stage of the draft, perhaps even players who can contribute immediately. In fact, the Birds aren't scheduled to pick again until 153 after sending their fourth to Seattle to move up last night, and there are plenty of areas they may want to target in rounds two-through-four, so you could see them trade down and try to gain an additional pick today.
After the jump, a look at some positions they might be targeting on day two, and which players could be on their big board.
QuarterbackFour QB's came off the board last night, which means if the Eagles want to come away with one in this draft, they might need to strike early. The team held visits with Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and Arizona's Nick Foles, both of whom could be gone by the end of night.
Arizona State's Brock Osweiler is also still available, and many view him, not Cousins, as the top passer remaining. At 6-7, 242, he has all the tools to play at the next level, including arm strength, but his play can be erratic. Based on his size and athleticism though, he probably has the best shot of the three at making it as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Third-down Running BackThis may sound like blasphemy following the season he just had, but LeSean McCoy's receiving numbers are a tad concerning. After hauling in 78 passes in 2010, Shady's totals dipped dramatically last season. His 48 receptions were still a respectable 10th among NFL backs, but his yards per catch was a pedestrian 6.6. Of the runners who finished with more catches than McCoy, only Tennessee's Chris Johnson and Washington's Roy Helu were even below 8.0 YPC.
McCoy seems to lack explosion as a receiver out of the backfield, something Oregon's LaMichael James could provide instantly. A two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, the 5-8, 194-lbs. back possesses that elusive 4.4 speed, which makes him a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. James wasn't outrageously productive as a receiver in college, but he has the ability to become a dangerous all-purpose weapon at the next level.
Wide ReceiverReceiver still isn't considered a need, but there may be too much talent on the board to pass up. In fact, at least one receiver the Eagles visited with slipped out of the first round. 6-4, 215-lbs. Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech doesn't have the greatest body of work, but his 4.3 speed and ball skills are the stuff scouts drool over. He only caught 28 passes as a junior in 2011, but those 28 went for 820 yards -- nearly 30 yards per catch. Very raw prospect, but keep an eye out should he continue to fall.
Offensive Line DepthThe Eagles dumped Winston Justice and Jamaal Jackson during the offseason, leaving the team extremely thin behind an otherwise talented group. Look no further than the panic that ensued when Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles. Management acted fast to solve that problem, signing Demetress Bell to play left tackle this year, but the team still appears to be one injury away from having serious trouble up front.
One area they are typically quite successful in their talent evaluations is along the offensive line, where they like to versatile players who they can plug in multiple positions. Jeff Allen out of Illinois seems to fit the bill. At 6-4, 307, Allen played everywhere but center for the Illini, and the Birds showed interest when they held an official visit with him at the Nova Care Complex. Not a sexy pick, but they must come away from this draft with a lineman.
Outside LinebackerSpeaking of musts, we're in the section of the draft where you can still uncover a starting-caliber outside linebacker. While they could try to mix and match around DeMeco Ryans, and would probably find a formula that works well enough, they will be better off no matter what if they add some more highly-regarded talent than the fourth-round and later types they've been targeting the last few years.
North Carolina's Zach Brown is a name we've seen being floated for months. At 6-1, 244, Brown has good size, and with a 4.5 forty, even better speed -- the second fastest among this year's class of linebackers. He can tackle, he can cover. If he's still around when the Eagles come up at 46, don't be surprised if Brown is the first player they choose tonight.
Nickel Cornerback
After shipping off Asante Samuel, corner suddenly became a trendy pick for the Birds. However, they don't need to replace Samuel. Nnamdi Asomugha is under contract for four more years, and while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a free agent in 2013, they would most likely want to evaluate how he fares over a full season playing at his natural position on the outside. Last year's third rounder, Curtis Marsh, is also better suited to play on the outside.
 Where the Eagles could use an upgrade in particular is in the slot, where Joselio Hanson is the guy they just can't shake. Not long after getting cut last summer, Hanson wound up returning to reprise his role as the club's primary nickel corner. North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins (formerly out of Florida, pictured) fell out of the first round largely due to character issues, and while he has the talent to play on the outside, his size (5-10, 193) and tackling ability may make him a better fit for the slot the first few years, at least until the Birds figure out what they have with DRC/Marsh.
Photos via US Presswire.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.