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.

Best of NFL: Matthew Stafford's late TD pass leads Lions past Redskins

Best of NFL: Matthew Stafford's late TD pass leads Lions past Redskins

DETROIT -- Matthew Stafford threw a go-ahead, 18-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin with 16 seconds left.

The Lions (4-3) extended their winning streak to three games. The Redskins (4-3) had won four straight.

Stafford, who set up game-winning kicks in the previous two games, led his team to another win in the 100th game of his career. He was 18 of 29 for 266 yards, one TD and no turnovers.

Kirk Cousins scored a go-ahead TD on a 19-yard run with 1:05 left (see full recap).

4 interceptions power Giants past Rams in London
LONDON -- The Giants capitalized on four interceptions of Case Keenum in the first NFL game played at London's home of English rugby, a sold-out and raucous Twickenham Stadium.

Keenum, coming off the best start of his career, had the Rams at the Giants' 15-yard line with 50 seconds left when he lobbed a pass in the left corner of the end zone that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie easily picked off. Keenum's intended target, Brian Quick, failed to get the quarterback's audible and cut off his route early.

Keenum, who finished 32 of 53 for 291 yards and one touchdown, has thrown an interception on the Rams' final offensive play of the last three games. That likely will fuel debate on a potential quarterback change to overall No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff.

Landon Collins returned his first of two picks 44 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also had two interceptions (see full recap).

Fitzpatrick relieves Smith, propels Jets to comeback win over Ravens
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced an injured Geno Smith and led the Jets on three scoring drives, and a rejuvenated defense came up with two rare interceptions.

Fitzpatrick came in for Smith in the second quarter and led the Jets on a go-ahead drive capped by a 13-yard touchdown catch by Matt Forte. Fitzpatrick finished 9 of 14 for 120 yards and a touchdown as the Jets (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak.

Smith injured his right knee while taking a sack from Baltimore's Matthew Judon. Fitzpatrick was efficient after losing his job earlier in the week.

Joe Flacco started for Baltimore (3-4), loser of four in a row, after being questionable with a sore shoulder. He went a team-record 176 consecutive throws without an interception before Buster Skrine picked off his pass in the third quarter (see full recap).

Ajayi rushes for 200 yards in second straight game as Dolphins top  Bills
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Jay Ajayi tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing for the second game in a row. Ajayi rushed for 214 yards in 29 carries after totaling 204 yards a week earlier in a win over Pittsburgh. He scored on a 4-yard run, and busted a 53-yarder when the Dolphins were pinned at their 3 and trailing in the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins (3-4) used an extra lineman much of the time to clear big holes for Ajayi, who tied the NFL record for consecutive 200-yard games held by O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

Miami overcame an 11-point deficit with 16 minutes left to end a four-game winning streak by the Bills (4-3) and beat them for only the second time in their past seven meetings.

Buffalo RB LeSean McCoy, ranked second in the NFL in rushing, started, but totaled only 11 yards in eight carries before departing with a hamstring problem (see full recap).

Luck improves to 8-0 vs. Titans in Colts' 34-26 win
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Andrew Luck threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle with 1:55 left to put Indianapolis ahead to stay, and the Colts rallied to beat the Titans for their 10th straight win against their AFC South rival.

The Colts (3-4) came in having lost two of three, including blowing a 14-point lead in an overtime loss last week at Houston. But Luck he improved to 8-0 against the Titans with yet another comeback win. He finished with 353 yards passing and three TDs, the last after Tennessee went up 23-20.

T.Y. Hilton caught seven passes for 133 yards, including a 37-yard TD. The Colts shook off 12 penalties for 131 yards in pulling out their 15th win in 16 games against Tennessee.

The Titans (3-4) saw their two-game winning string end.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a pair of field goals, and the second, a 33-yarder with 3:46 left in the third quarter gave him an NFL record 43 consecutive field goals made (see full recap).

Eagles 21, Vikings 10: Evaluating Carson Wentz

Eagles 21, Vikings 10: Evaluating Carson Wentz

Sunday was by far the ugliest game of Carson Wentz's young career.
But it was also a gutsy effort by the rookie quarterback in a 21-10 win over the Vikings (see Instant Replay).
It's not too surprising that Wentz struggled against a Minnesota defense that has been among the best in the NFL this season. Wentz finished 16 of 28 for 138 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Here's a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from Wentz against the Vikings.
1st quarter, 9:46, 2nd-and-12, PHI 9 — Eagles 0, Vikings 0
Starting with the ugly, Wentz has no business throwing this football. There was no pressure on the play. Wentz has time and throws to Brent Celek, who was smothered by linebacker Eric Kendricks. There was no window to throw into and Wentz, as he does from time to time, misses high and hits safety Andrew Sendejo.
1st quarter, 5:28, 3rd-and-11, PHI 38 — Eagles 0, Vikings 0
Another throw that just made no sense to try to make. Wentz does get some early pressure to his right, but he dances around it pretty easily and has plenty of time to reset and make a better read. Sure, Mike Zimmer is a defensive wiz and does an excellent job disguising coverages, but there's no excuse for Wentz here. Nelson Agholor is double covered and this is an easy pick for Xavier Rhodes.
2nd quarter, 0:55, 1st-and-10, MIN 38 — Eagles 8, Vikings 3
Love the play call here. The Eagles just converted a huge fourth down. With time running down in the half, Doug Pederson elects to take a shot down the field. It sort of looked like Rhodes fell asleep while Dorial Green-Beckham shifted gears and started to run by him on a stutter go route. The ball looks like it's leading Green-Beckham perfectly, but Rhodes has an elbow in DGB's gut and a fist full of jersey. If Rhodes doesn't grab Green-Beckham, it's likely a touchdown. Ultimately, it's an incompletion. The refs were really letting the defensive backs be physical on both sides.
3rd quarter, 8:25, 1st-and-10, MIN 28 — Eagles 11, Vikings 3
This play sort of typified Wentz's day: It was almost disastrous but the kid found a way to get it done. Wentz, who had issues all day simply hanging on to the football, fumbled the snap. It didn't appear to be a great snap by Jason Kelce, but it also appeared that Wentz took his eyes off it. It's probably one he should've handled. What is so impressive about Wentz is that there isn't an ounce of panic in his game. He simply picks up the loose ball, rolls to his right and hits Darren Sproles for 19 yards. Similar to the big play against the Steelers, Wentz drew the linebacker Kendricks with the threat of running, leaving Sproles wide open for an easy pitch and catch.
3rd quarter, 5:45, 3rd-and-goal, MIN 5 — Eagles 11, Vikings 3
We've been hearing about Green-Beckham's role possibly expanding, but it hasn't quite come to fruition. Pederson pointed out earlier in the week that he'd like to get DGB involved in the red zone and that he excelled at running slants and using his big body. That's exactly what happened on this play. Wentz put the ball right on the money on the slant and Green-Beckham bullied his way into the end zone. The stats aren't impressive (two catches on four targets for eight yards and a touchdown), but it's clear Wentz is starting to look for Green-Beckham more.
Overall analysis
After forcing the issue in the first half against an elite defense, Wentz settled in and let the game come to him. The protection held up for the most part and Wentz just took what the Vikings were giving him. What you have to love is that Wentz found a way to get it done on a day when it looked like he couldn't. He played game manager and let his defense dominate in the second half. The ball security issues — the two picks, a couple bobbled snaps — are troubling, but really a gutsy performance by the kid.