That 2011 Eagles Draft That Happened

That 2011 Eagles Draft That Happened

Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but the whole NFL lockout business really took away much of the hype surrounding this year's draft for me. Both in the weeks leading up to it as well as following along as it happened, my interest levels this year weren't as sky high as usual. I'd say the success of the other teams in town contributed a bit, but I feel like the lockout really dampened my excitement in this year's NFL draft. Did this happen with any other Birds fans out there?

That said, now that the 2011 draft is in the books, I'm all for learning about who will try to make an impact on the Eagles next season. As usual, Ray Didinger has one of the best overall takes, summarizing a draft that signified the end of an era -- an era many of us cherished.

But while that era took us to a Super Bowl, it never got us one of those coveted parades down Broad Street. So is it really worth mourning an era that always left us wanting more at the end of every season? I'd say just a little bit, only because David Akers and Quintin Mikell were both such stand up guys to have on your team.

The most noticeable trend in the Eagles 2011 draft was the seeming impact Howard Mudd had on the personnel decisions. Would the Birds have gone with three offensive lineman had Mudd not been talked out of retirement? I doubt it. It's very interesting to see just how much pull must have had with Andy and Howie. Watching the progression of these young (and not so young) linemen will be a fun experiment in seeing just how good Mudd may be.

But, but, but... what about a starting corner?

As GM Howie Roseman points out in a Q&A with Reuben Frank, if you address all of your immediate needs via the draft, you probably had a bad draft. Another interesting note from the chat with Roseman is the art of the draft pick trade. Roseman explains how they turned a 4th rounder this year into a lower 4th rounder this year and a fourth rounder next year.

As they say though, we've got to wait a couple years to see how Andy and company's last week's worth of work will rank. That is if they start playing football gain any time soon.

Previously: Eagles Draft Wrap-Up: The Lockout Is On Again

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."