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.

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Shayne Gostisbehere’s fist pump was so vicious and mighty, the celebration was probably felt back in Philadelphia.

This was an exultation the entire Flyers felt, too.

When it started to look like the bye week wasn’t the break they needed, the Flyers reached down deep and got one Sunday night at the Barclays Center in the form of a 3-2 overtime victory over the Islanders (see Instant Replay).

“It allows you to take a breath,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s one thing for sure.”

A sigh of relief for a team beaten and bruised — losers of three straight by a combined score of 15-4, not to mention 3-9-3 in its past 15 games. The Flyers had lost the day prior on home ice to the Devils, 4-1, with a performance not exactly inspiring confidence following five days off.

On Sunday, they trailed 2-0 in the second period.

“We've got to get better at dealing with adversity when something goes wrong,” general manager Ron Hextall said bluntly before the game. “We need to get back on the horse and get back going. Big deal, a team scored a goal. We need to react better to it.”

Finally, the Flyers reacted the way their GM had been hoping.

They flipped the deficit into a victory when Gostisbehere skated behind the net and put the puck on Claude Giroux’s stick for the game-winner with 1:40 left in the extra session. Gostisbehere whipped his arm through the air and embraced Giroux, along with Jakub Voracek, who started the play by stripping Islanders captain John Tavares.

“On a lot of different levels, it’s an important win,” Hakstol said. “It’s huge. And more importantly for us, a great effort. Thought we deserved the two points. Sometimes maybe that’s what it takes to get over the hump — a tremendous effort for 60-plus minutes. I thought we got that out of everyone tonight.”

For Giroux, it was his first goal since Dec. 21.

For Steve Mason, his first win since Dec. 21.

And for the Flyers, their first road victory since Dec. 14, as they went 0-6-3 in the previous nine games away from home.

Yeah, “it was needed,” as Wayne Simmonds said of the win.

“We’ve been fighting it lately and I thought that was a good game from start to finish,” he said. “I thought everyone played well. I think we made bounces go our way tonight instead of hoping and waiting.”

Simmonds scored what might have been the biggest goal of the game. The Flyers, down 1-0 in the second period, came up empty for 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play and the proceeding 5-on-4 advantage. The Islanders then padded the lead to 2-0 moments later, putting the Flyers’ backs against the wall.

But Simmonds kept his team from uncoiling with a goal at 14:10 of the period, giving the Flyers life at second intermission. If not for that score, who knows how the Flyers come out in the third period, trailing by multiple goals yet again.

"I think we were plying well,” Giroux said. “We had a lot of chances and [the puck] wasn't going in. Everybody on the bench was frustrated. When Wayne got that first goal, I think [there was] a little relief on the bench. I haven't seen a team celebrate so much just for a first goal. It was kind of a relief and we had a little boost out of that.”

Ivan Provorov scored the equalizer 1:47 into the final period when he maintained possession from the blue line to the circle, adeptly skating around two Islanders to put the puck on net. Provorov’s pass to Travis Konecny hit off the skate of New York’s Adam Pelech and into the net.

“I came off the bench and I saw [Brayden Schenn] was going into the zone, so I took a few hard strides, got the puck from him and I saw it was kind of an odd-man situation,” Provorov said. “I held on to the puck a little bit, saw T.K. going backdoor, passed it there and it went off their D skate.”

Just as important as the timely goals was the Flyers’ discipline. Against the Devils, the Flyers compiled 19 penalty minutes, forcing them on seven penalty kills. This time, the Flyers sharpened up, not allowing the Islanders a power play until midway through the third period. In total, they had just four penalty minutes and killed off both power plays faced.

That gave them a chance.

“We just kept saying it the whole time, ‘Keep going, keep going, guys,’” Simmonds said. “We just need one [goal] and from one comes two, and Mase held the fort.”

Mason made 17 of his 36 saves in the third period and overtime combined.

Now, the Flyers at least go into another important back-to-back — starting Wednesday at the Rangers before welcoming the Maple Leafs Thursday — with some confidence instead of a lost weekend.

“I thought the focus was purely on going out and playing well,” Hakstol said. “And you know, that’s harder to do than you might know — when you start to feel some of the pressure without a win in a little bit. I really liked that side of it. Even in that situation, all the guys played well. Hopefully that puts our entire team in the right direction.’’

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).