Philadelphia Eagles

2017 NFL draft: Zangaro's round-by-round targets for Eagles

2017 NFL draft: Zangaro's round-by-round targets for Eagles

Sidney Jones, the corner from Washington, was going to be my pick. 

At the combine, he separated himself as the top corner in this draft and would have been a great pick for the Eagles at 14. There was a good chance he would be the best player available and he would fill an immediate need. 

So much for that. At his pro day this weekend, Jones tore his Achilles and with it, the top corner in this draft was lost. The Eagles won't be taking him in the first round. Now, maybe they could grab him in a later round if they're OK with a redshirt year, but it's pretty clear the Eagles have an immediate need at the position. Maybe they'll be out on him entirely. 

With the best corner off the board, how does it change the draft? 

Here's a round-by-round look at some Eagles draft targets:

Round 1: No. 14

Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (6-0, 193)
You're already mad at me because there's no way Lattimore is still on the board at 14. And you might be right. Many think he'll come off in the top 10. But if teams are concerned about his hamstrings -- and they'd have a legitimate fear -- maybe he falls to the Eagles in the middle of the first round. Clearly a first-round talent but there are questions about his health. 

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (5-10, 210)
Here's the guy every fan seems to want. I think Leonard Fournette would be a waste in Philly because of Doug Pederson's offense, but Cook would fit really well. He has the potential to be a true three-down guy who can be featured in the offense. Is he Zeke Elliott? No. But there aren't many who are.

Ray Didinger made the argument Monday for why, if Cook is available at 14, the Eagles should take him instead of a corner.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (6-4, 218)
Even though the Eagles went out and picked up a couple free agent wideouts, they aren't married to them long-term, so the chance for a WR is still pretty good. Williams is a big target, just like Alshon Jeffery. If the team brings him in, he'll have a chance to learn from the player the Eagles would hope he grows to be. 

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee (6-3, 259)
Barnett will probably be off the board by this point, but if he isn't, the Eagles should pounce. No, defensive end isn't the biggest need, but it's still a need. The Eagles cut Connor Barwin and right now have Vinny Curry in the starting lineup with Marcus Smith as the top backup. Barnett could grow into an elite pass-rusher. 

Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU (5-11, 192)
Some are going to say this is too early for White, but I think he's going to be a first-round pick. By the time the draft comes, I don't think it would be crazy to think of him as a pick around 14. He could reunite with Jalen Mills in Philly. 

Round 2: No. 43

Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA (6-0, 206)
While Florida's Teez Tabor ran a sluggish 4.6-plus 40 time, Moreau was incredible at the combine, running a 4.35. That time is even more impressive considering his pretty big frame. He's a great athlete and could make an immediate impact in Philly. 

Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State (6-1, 209)
The Nittany Lions' star ran a 4.42 at the combine and has impressive college tape that backs it. He's worked himself into being a second-round pick. 

Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee (5-10, 214)
Apparently, Kamara could end up being a first-round pick. The problem with Kamara is the lack of tape. He didn't play much in college, so he's more of a projection. Still, this could be good value if he's still there.

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (6-0, 200)
After his underwhelming performance at the combine, who knows where Tabor will come off the board. But he's super confident and aggressive, something the Eagles really seem to like in their cornerbacks. 

Round 3: No. 74

Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State (6-4, 255)
Willis had a really good showing at the combine, so it's possible he's moved up into the second round. If he's still there in the third, he'd be a great addition to the Eagles. He's a heckuva athlete -- 4.53 in the 40, 24 bench reps and a 39-inch vertical. 

Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (6-0, 202)
Awuzie seems like he has the kind of versatility the Eagles look for in their defensive backs. He can play all three positions -- corner, slot and safety. He certainly helped himself at the combine, where the Eagles met with him. 

Chad Hansen, WR, Cal (6-2, 202)
Carson Wentz got a chance to work out with Hansen while in California last month, so maybe he can fill the Eagles in. Hansen is a pretty good athlete who could be a solid backup piece for the Eagles. 

Round 4: No. 119, 139 

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU (6-0, 212)
Williams is a unique player who could be a real steal in the fourth round. It's tough to find running backs in these rounds who become true three-down guys, but Williams has that potential. 

Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell (6-7, 318)
Davenport is a local kid from Paulsboro High School in South Jersey. He has great size and good athleticism for it. He's a little raw, but in a weak OT draft class, might be worth one of the fourth-round picks. 

Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech (5-11, 199)
A fast receiver and returner who is a former teammate of Paul Turner's. It's fair to wonder about the level of competition he faced, but the numbers are certainly there. 

Round 5: No. 155 

Corn Elder, CB, Miami (5-10, 183)
The Eagles look for competitive corners and Elder definitely fits that. He's only 5-10, but he's feisty. Even if he's just a slot guy in the NFL, he could be a good one. 

Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M (6-3, 194)
Pretty good speed for his size. Ran a 4.52 at the combine. He is a solid deep threat, something the Eagles desperately need. 

Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma (6-2, 310)
Concerns about concussions in 2015 and 2016 are real. But with Bennie Logan now in Kansas City, the Eagles will need help on the interior line. 

Round 6: No. 194 

Bryan Cox Jr., DE, Florida (6-3, 265)
Yeah, the son of that Bryan Cox. A thumb injury ended his 2016 season, which could help him last a little longer in the draft. He definitely could help the Eagles at defensive end. 

Jordan Evans, ILB, Oklahoma (6-2, 232)
Evans wasn't invited to the combine, which was slightly surprising. He really stood out at the Oklahoma pro day, running a 4.51, with a vert of 38.5. Not a pressing need, but at this point, the Eagles could pick up a backup and big special teams contributor. 

Round 7: No. 230 

Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia (6-1, 268)
He's going to be called a "tweener" by plenty, but he's strong and aggressive. Just a little raw. 

Freddie Stevenson, FB, Florida State (6-0, 234)
Pederson might not be in a huge rush to add a fullback to his team, but it could help the offense. And why not get one with the final pick in the draft?

Cowboys kneel before national anthem, beat Cardinals on MNF

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USA Today Images

Cowboys kneel before national anthem, beat Cardinals on MNF

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes and flipped head over heels into the end zone on a 10-yard run for another and the Dallas Cowboys pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-17 on Monday night.

The Cowboys (2-1), bouncing back from a 42-17 pummeling in Denver, began the game kneeling at midfield with owner Jerry Jones in a show of unity that followed widespread protests across the NFL of critical comments by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

After they kneeled, they stood and walked to the sideline.

"We planned and it was executed that we would go out and kneel," Jones said, "and basically make the statement regarding the need for unity and the need for equality."

So they decided to make their statement before the anthem.

Prescott, 13 of 18 for 183 yards, broke a 14-14 tie with a 37-yard scoring pass to Brice Butler with 11:52 to play.

Arizona, with a spectacular catch by Larry Fitzgerald for 24 yards on a third-and-18 play, moved downfield but the drive stalled. Phil Dawson's 37-yard field goal cut the lead to 21-17 with 6:35 left.

Ezekiel Elliott, who gained 8 yards on nine carries against Denver and drew criticism for not hustling after a couple of late interceptions, was bottled up much of the game, but still gained 80 yards on 22 attempts, 30 on one play. He ran 8 yards for the final Cowboys touchdown.

The Cardinals (1-2), in their home opener, got a big game from Fitzgerald, who caught 13 passes for 149 yards, in the process moving ahead of Marvin Harrison into eighth in career receiving yards. The 13 receptions tied a career high.

"That's Fitz. It's Monday night," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "He's a money player. It was a great performance by him. It's a shame we couldn't play better around him."

Carson Palmer had a big first half, completed 15 of 18 for 145 yards and finished 29 of 48 for 325 yards and two scores. He was sacked six times, a career-high three by DeMarcus Lawrence.

The Cardinals dominated the first half statistically, but were deadlocked with the Cowboys at 7-7. Arizona had a 152-57 advantage in yards and dominated time of possession 19:34 to 9:41.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 82 yards in eight plays. Palmer was 5-for-5 on the drive, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown.

Before Dallas even had a first down, Arizona mounted a nearly nine-minute drive but a touchdown pass to Brown was negated by a holding penalty and Phil Dawson's 36-yard field goal try was wide right. It was the third mid-range miss for the 41-year-old kicker this season.

And the miss left the door open for the Cowboys to get back in it.

Prescott scored on a 10-yard run, flipping head-first over the goal line to tie it at 7-7 with 3:33 left in the half.

Taking a knee 
Jones has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, so the speculation was that he would not allow his players to kneel during the national anthem.

Following a weekend of kneeling and protesting across the NFL, the Cowboys and their owner displayed their own version of unity Monday night, kneeling on the field before rising as a group and going to the sideline for the national anthem.

Numerous boos rang out across University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cowboys kneeled and continued as the players rose, still arm-in-arm, and stepped back to the sideline as the flag was unfurled across the field. They remained connected as Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem (see story).

The Cardinals had their own symbol of unity after a weekend of protests in the NFL, gathering along the goal line arm-in-arm during the national anthem. They were joined by team president Michael Bidwell, his family and general manager Steve Keim.

"It's just to show unity," Cardinals team captain Frostee Rucker said. "There's so much negativity going on. People are trying to pull us apart. We always want to stay together."

More than 200 NFL players kneeled, sat or prayed during the national anthem on Sunday after President Trump said any player who does not stand for the national anthem should be fired.

Sparks, whose father Phillippi played in the NFL, had "PROV 31:8-9" written on her hand while she sang the anthem.

The bible verse says: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Extending legacy of toughness, Darren Sproles hints at comeback

Extending legacy of toughness, Darren Sproles hints at comeback

As Darren Sproles lay on his back during the second quarter of Sunday's game at the Linc, and as trainers rushed to him and his teammates kneeled around him, it was already too late. His ACL was already torn. His forearm was already broken. His season, and maybe even his career, was already over.

Then Sproles did the most Sproles-like thing ever. He got to his feet, pressed his broken right arm against his body and walked off the field, down the sideline, through the tunnel and into the Eagles' locker room on a torn ACL. 

He looked pissed off the whole time. 

When news about the extent of Sproles' injuries surfaced Monday morning (see story), my first reaction was pretty simple: It would be a shame if that's how his career ended. That's still true. 

On Monday night, Sproles took to social media to thank folks for their support and hinted that a comeback is in his future.

Great news for fans, though at the start of next season, he'll be a 35-year-old free-agent running back coming off two major injuries. 

So if Sunday was indeed the last time we saw Sproles as an NFL player, it would be pretty fitting. That will be a big part of his legacy. He was talented, sure. He was dynamic, absolutely. The numbers and the accomplishments are incredible, no doubt. 

He just also happened to be one of the toughest little mother f'ers to ever step on the field, too. 

If Sproles got a dollar for every time he was asked about his height, he could have played the game for free. At 5-foot-6, Sproles always understood the height questions and he was still getting them this season as a 34-year-old in his 13th NFL season. It sort of goes against what people expect from an NFL athlete. They're supposed to be Greek Gods, after all, bigger than life. Not the height of your teenage nephew. 

In a way, Sproles' height (or lack thereof) became a secret weapon. Do you want to underestimate me because I'm short? Go ahead. 

Sproles, eighth all-time in career all-purpose yards, isn't just extremely well-respected and liked within the Eagles' locker room. He's that well thought of around the league as well. In fact, when Odell Beckham Jr. entered the field Sunday, the first thing he did was find Sproles. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the league who doesn't like Darren Sproles. If you found someone, he'd probably be a linebacker who had once been on the receiving end of one of his punishing blocks. 

Because although Sproles is just 5-6, he's also 190 pounds and packs a hell of a punch. And throughout his career, he has always been more than willing to take on guys who weigh way more than he does. 

Sproles and I have always seen eye-to-eye and I'm not talking about some common understanding. We're pretty much the same height. So last year, when he was flagged for a chop block in Detroit, we both got a chuckle out of it. The next day, after Doug Pederson's press conference, I was standing outside to tape a segment with coworker Reuben Frank when Sproles walked out of the NovaCare Complex toward his car. He stopped for a brief chat and, of course, the first thing we talked about was that chop block. He wasn't trying to chop block of course; he's just short. It was arguably the toughest loss of the 2016 season but Sproles couldn't help but laugh, too; he basically got flagged for not being tall enough. 

Then the conversation rolled into his general enthusiasm for blocking and how he's always understood how important it is for him. And it got me wondering a little bit … when linebackers see a 5-6 running back about to block them, they probably don't know what's coming, do they? 

Sproles' eyes widened and the corners of his mouth lifted into a sheepish grin. 

"They're never ready for it," he said. "That's fine with me." 

This will be the first time in his lengthy career Sproles will play fewer than 13 games in a season. In 10 of his 13 seasons, he's played at least 15 games, proving to be as durable as he is talented. 

The Eagles are going to miss Sproles for the last 13 games of the 2017 season. There's no way to sugarcoat it and there's no reason to. They're going to miss him on offense, where he's a uniquely dynamic player in the run and pass game. They're going to miss him on special teams, where he's become one of the best punt returners in NFL history. 

And they're going to miss him in the locker room, where he's about as well-respected as any player on the roster. 

"He's a great man," Pederson said Monday. "He's a great leader, well-liked on this team and in this locker room and in this community. He's a lot of energy, and that's hard to replace. It's hard to replace. And so guys are just going to have to rally and pick up that spot and move forward. But, it's unfortunate. It is part of the game, and it's unfortunate that an injury has to happen, and sometimes it happens to great people and great men. It's just the unfortunate side of the business."

Well before the start of the 2017 season, Sproles was preparing for this to be his final NFL season. In June, he softened on that, saying, "We're gonna see" and to ask him after the Eagles made the playoffs. Despite growing pressure from his family to hang up the cleats, Sproles seemed genuinely rejuvenated by the opportunity to teach younger players like Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement. During last season, he even lived next door to Smallwood. 

Sproles will have a decision to make eventually. He'll need surgery on his arm and his knee and the recovery process won't be an easy one. It sounds like Sproles wants to come back but he won't have to make that final decision for a while. 

If Sunday ends up being his final NFL game, his 13-year career will have ended on a fluke injury, followed by something that probably just shouldn't surprise us anymore. When the injury happened, it didn't sound good — "Ahh s---!" was heard from the microphone on the field. But Sproles collected himself, saved the cart a trip, and marched his beat-up body off the field. 

That's one tough little dude.