Ranking the Eagles 2013 Draft Needs

Ranking the Eagles 2013 Draft Needs

The 2013 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and the
Eagles are sitting on the fourth pick overall. They’ve already filled some of
their needs through free agency, perhaps even a few trades, but the true
reshaping of this organization’s philosophies is going to be on full display
during the selection process.

This is an organization that has needs at virtually every
position on the field, and unfortunately they won’t be able to address them all
in on weekend, not with one pick in rounds one through five and four in the
seventh. So then it becomes a matter best player available – and priorities of
course. Here’s our look at what areas we think might take precedence for general
manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ front office when they’re on the clock beginning
next Thursday.

10. Running Back

LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown have the top two spots on
lockdown, but there is an opening on the depth chart since Dion Lewis was
shipped to the Browns. Chris Polk is still in the mix, although a little
competition never hurt anybody. Don’t be surprised when the Birds add a back in
the later rounds.

9. Wide Receiver

It’s really difficult to judge the receiver talent on the
roster right now. Have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin failed to take the next
step due to circumstances beyond their control (quarterback performance,
injuries/illness), or were they overvalued to begin with? With Arrelious Benn
being brought up from Tampa Bay in a trade, and a fair amount of intriguing young
talent already in place, this feels like a wait-and-see situation – at least at
the top.

8. Inside Linebacker

There is some concern that because DeMeco Ryans became
expendable in Houston’s 3-4, he’ll soon be no good here. Ryans may not be a
three-down player in the new system, however he still has the size and instinct
to be useful situationally, while Mychal Kendricks brings speed into the
equation. Not sure either of these guys is the answer forever, but seeing as
only one of them might be on the field in certain packages, it’s not necessarily
a priority. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

7. Safety

Bringing in free agents Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips – a
pair of safeties who have started in the Super Bowl – to compete with Nate
Allen was a good place to start. Maybe there is a quality combination between
the three, yet none that seems like a long-term solution. Don’t anticipate
another second-round pick here, but the Eagles should look for somebody who will
be in the running for a job by year two.

6. Tight End

Brent Celek and James Casey are nice players, but the Eagles
lack a true playmaker at the position. It’s rumored Chip Kelly could carry as
many as four or five tight ends, and we’ve seen what a tight end-heavy approach
has done in New England’s version of the spread offense. It may feel like a
luxury right now, but front office will explore adding a big, vertical threat
possibly as early as day two of the draft.

5. Cornerback

Ex-Raven Cary Williams sounds like a lock to start at one of
the corners for the next two-three years, and Brandon Boykin is perfect for the
slot. Bradley Fletcher is probably fine on the other side, but next up is
Curtis Marsh, who coaches have hardly left on the field since he was drafted in
2011. It’s hard to say how high on the wishlist this is exactly with four names
penciled in already – the team cancelled a pre-draft meeting with Dee Milliner
for what it’s worth – yet they could also use a mid-round caliber athlete to develop
at the very least.

4. Outside Linebacker

The front office mitigated some of the immediacy to develop
an outside linebacker with the addition of Connor Barwin, a free agent who can
rush the passer and drop into coverage. Out of Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and
Vinny Curry though, not one of them is guaranteed to fit in a 3-4 – although defensive coordinator Billy Davis is also familiar with hybrid alignments that
would protect those converted defensive ends from dropping into coverage much. Regardless, a defense can never have too many pass rushers, so don’t rule out
Oregon’s Dion Jordan at number four, either.

3. Offensive Line

This unit will improve significantly simply by returning to
full health. That said, Jason Peters is 31 and coming off an Achilles injury, while one apparent hole remains on the right side. Were the Birds to select a tackle at the
fourth pick, that player could potentially start at right from day one (Eric Fisher, Lane
Johnson) – allowing Todd Herremans to move back inside – and eventually take
over for Peters. Even if the front office isn’t looking that far down the road
with their first rounder, it would be wise to pick up another competent lineman
at some point early.

2. Defensive Line

If the Birds intend to use 3-4 alignments on defense, the
Eagles must get bigger up front. Nose tackle in particular is a very
specialized area that demands addressing – Isaac Sopoaga is merely a stopgap –
but they could use another end as well. Fletcher Cox can set one edge, but who
will handle the other side? There are several versatile linemen who may be able to
move around the line (Sharrif Floyd, Star Lotulelei) and are worthy of very serious
consideration at number four should they still be there, any of which might just happen to be the best player available at that time as well.

1. Quarterback

On one hand the Eagles have Nick Foles, which regardless of
what you think his ceiling is, he is a young quarterback who improved every
week when he was the starter. On the other hand Foles remains largely unproven,
and doesn’t have a similar type of pedigree as most franchise quarterbacks. For
most organizations it’s rare to be picking as high as fourth overall, so it’s
a potentially unique opportunity to grab the top passer in the draft. Unfortunately
for Philly, there are serious doubts about whether Geno Smith or anybody else
is worth that price.

Until that proverbial franchise QB is in place, this is
generally going to be considered any NFL team’s top need. Whether they actually have the ability to
fill the hole in this year’s draft is the question.

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Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Nelson Cruz drives in 7 as Mariners pummel Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Nelson Cruz hit his ninth career grand slam and added a three-run shot, and Hisashi Iwakuma pitched six innings to win his fifth straight start in Seattle's victory over Toronto.

Cruz hit his slam off R.A. Dickey (7-11) in the third, then added a three-run drive off Drew Storen in the eighth for his 20th career multi-homer game. He has 25 home runs this season.

It was the 13th time in team history a Mariners player has recorded seven RBIs. The team record is eight by Mike Blowers, Mike Cameron and Alvin Davis.

Kyle Seager hit a two-run homer and Nori Aoki had two RBIs and scored twice as the Mariners used a season-high 19 hits to win their third straight. Iwakuma (11-6) allowed two runs and four hits.

Wade LeBlanc pitched the final three innings for his first save (see full recap).

Stanton leads Marlins past Mets
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered and had his first four-hit game since 2012, driving in three runs to give Jose Fernandez all the support he needed, and Miami beat New York.

Miami rocked Jacob deGrom (6-5), who allowed 10 hits and five runs, both season highs, and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since August.

Fernandez (12-4) gave up two runs in seven innings to match his career high for victories, achieved in his 2013 rookie season. He also had two hits, hiking his average to .265, and drove in the first run.

Home Run Derby winner Stanton put Miami ahead to stay in the third inning when he hit a majestic two-run homer off the left-field scoreboard above the 401-foot sign. He added an RBI single in the fourth, and singled in the first and sixth, hiking his average to .241 after a prolonged slump (see full recap).  

Dodgers snap Cardinals' 5-game win streak
ST. LOUIS -- Adrian Gonzalez hit his eighth homer, red-hot Justin Turner got two more RBIs and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat St. Louis 7-2 on Saturday night to end the Cardinals' five-game winning streak.

Turner's two-run double capped a four-run third. He has 14 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Gonzalez's 429-foot solo blast to center sparked a three-run sixth.

Kenta Maeda (9-7) rebounded from a poor outing against Arizona on July 17, giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Only one of the Cardinals' first 15 batters was able to hit the ball out of the infield against the Japanese right-hander.

Andrew Toles went 3 for 4 and scored once for the Dodgers. He has reached safely in nine of 10 games since being called up from the minors.

Mike Leake (7-8) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- in six innings.

Matt Adams homered for the second consecutive game. His blast to left in the fourth extended the Cardinals' streak of home runs to 14 straight games.

Aledmys Diaz reached safely for the 26th straight game with a first-inning single. Diaz's streak is the second-longest by a Cardinals rookie since Albert Pujols had streaks of 30 and 48 games in 2001 (see full recap).

Drew's walk-off triple lifts Nats past Padres
WASHINGTON -- Pinch-hitter Stephen Drew hit a game-ending RBI triple in the ninth inning to lift Washington past San Diego,

Anthony Rendon opened the bottom off the ninth with a single off reliever Kevin Quackenbush (6-4). Drew entered with one out and drove a pitch off the center-field scoreboard, and Rendon raced around the bases for the winning run.

Jonathan Papelbon (2-2) allowed a leadoff double in the ninth before retiring three straight batters. San Diego left runners in scoring position in each of the last two innings.

Washington starter Max Scherzer struck out 10 over seven innings (see full recap).

Giants top Yanks in extras to snap losing skid
NEW YORK -- Mac Williamson homered in the fifth inning and hit a tiebreaking single in the 12th, lifting San Francisco past New York for the Giants' first victory since the All-Star break.

NL West-leading San Francisco had lost a season-high six straight games and had held just one lead since the break -- when Buster Posey hit a go-ahead home run leading off the 10th inning at San Diego on July 16 only to have the Padres rally for a pair of runs in the bottom half against Santiago Casilla.

Williamson, whose fourth-inning error allowed the Yankees' run, began the comeback when he connected off Ivan Nova leading off the fifth.

Trevor Brown hit an opposite-field double to right off Anthony Swarzak (1-1) leading off the 12th, and Williamson singled up the middle with one out, just past the glove of diving shortstop Didi Gregorius. San Francisco was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 7 for 64 (.111) since the All-Star break, before Williamson's single.

Cheered on by hundreds of orange-clad fans in the Giants' old hometown, San Francisco escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th when Casilla (2-3) retired Brian McCann on a shallow flyout and Starlin Castro on a foulout. Hunter Strickland pitched a perfect 12th for his second save (see full recap).

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

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Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).