Can't win playing race card in Cooper vs. Jackson

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Can't win playing race card in Cooper vs. Jackson

Almost a week after the Eagles dropped the hammer on the NFL’s most prolific deep threat, people are still scratching their heads, still trying to make sense of why Chip Kelly abruptly cut the cord with Pro Bowl wideout DeSean Jackson.

The franchise’s continued silence outside of a cursory statement that explained, well, nothing has only fueled some out-there theories about the hidden intentions behind coach Chip Kelly’s decision to nix Jackson from the roster.

One widespread opinion that grows louder by the day is that the Eagles are somehow guilty of racial preference, having severed ties with Jackson just a few weeks after handing wide receiver Riley Cooper a five-year deal with $10 million in guaranteed money.

Cooper, if you didn’t know, is white. Until this past summer, when the world learned via social media that he flung a racial slur at a black security officer while attending a country music concert, Cooper was barely a household name in the Delaware Valley.

Jackson, who is black, has also encountered off-field issues. Some of them were detailed in an NJ.com story last week that outlined the receiver’s association with friends who are alleged gang members, but Jackson had already cultivated a reputation for irking management with immaturity and an ugly contract dispute.

Now that Jackson has freely walked to the division-rival Redskins, fingers are pointing at the Eagles’ braintrust -- Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeff Lurie -- accompanied by accusations of racial bias.

Seahawks corner Richard Sherman, who grew up with Jackson in Los Angeles, seemed to echo the sentiment when he suggested, in a piece for MMQB, that the Eagles showed less tolerance for a punk receiver than a known racist.

“What did they do to Riley Cooper, who, if he’s not a racist, at least has 'ties' to racist activity?” Sherman wrote. “They fined him and sent him to counseling. Commit certain crimes in this league and be a certain color, and you get help, not scorn.”

It’s a convenient argument for those still struggling to come to grips with Jackson’s departure and subsequent signing with the rival ’Skins. But it’s not a rational debate. It’s baseless and groundless, mainly because it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison more rooted in resentment and anger than actual logic.

Instead of comparing Jackson’s situation to Cooper’s, shouldn’t the current regime’s history of dealing with troubled players come under the microscope?

If the Eagles are more tolerant of transgressions of white players, why were they the first team to reach out to Michael Vick and then sign the tarnished superstar out of prison, and then re-sign him to a $100 million contract just three years later?

If the Eagles treat black players with legal issues more harshly than white ones, why didn’t they punish Jason Peters for his drag racing arrest last offseason? Charges were eventually reduced and Peters paid a fine. Why was Peters -- who has been arrested twice since joining the team -- given a monster extension last month, making him the team’s highest-paid player?

LeSean McCoy intentionally sought to embarrass and humiliate the mother of his child on Twitter last offseason, inviting his followers to chastise her while Kelly was still decorating his office. All Kelly did was give McCoy the most carries of his career and repeatedly express his admiration for his Pro Bowl halfback.

Last I checked, McCoy’s not on the trading or cutting block.

Juqua Parker, Akeem Jordan, Mike Patterson, Stacy Andrews, King Dunlap -- just a few former Eagles who were involved in minor legal trouble during their careers, each one black and each having their paychecks authorized by Lurie. None was disciplined or abruptly kicked off the team without explanation.

If you want to bury the Eagles for their awkward handling of the situation and mysterious silence since Friday, go ahead. It’s fair and justifiable. The charade Kelly staged last Wednesday in Orlando at the owners meetings warranted every roll of the eyes it drew.

But to suggest that race played a part in Kelly’s decision to keep Cooper and remove Jackson is to ignore the basic fact that Cooper is a one-time offender who was welcomed back into the locker room by several of his teammates and Jackson showed a repeated pattern of bothersome behavior.

Jackson gave former coach Andy Reid one migraine after another and the team still rewarded him in 2011 with an extension that paid out $18 million in guaranteed money. How many teammates have publicly rallied against the decision to jettison Jackson? Still waiting for one.

If another racial slur ever drips from Cooper’s mouth, the organization should kick him to the curb immediately. If they don’t, it’s fair to play the race card.

Until then, the dots don’t connect.

2017 NFL draft positional breakdown: Defensive backs

2017 NFL draft positional breakdown: Defensive backs

We continue our positional breakdown leading up to the 2017 NFL draft with a look at defensive backs. Instead of a top 5, we'll highlight players at these positions who fit the Eagles and have a chance to be available when the team picks. 

We've already looked at running backs, linebackers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive ends and defensive tackles

At No. 14

Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, 6-0, 197 pounds
Opinions are really split on Humphrey. Some see him as one of the top guys in the cornerback class, while others aren't sure his ball skills will improve enough. The one thing that shouldn't be questioned about Humphrey is his physicality. If the Eagles want a corner that will jam at the line and isn't afraid to use his body, it's Humphrey. 

While Humphrey is a skilled tackler from the cornerback position, it's fair to wonder how much the Eagles (or any team) should care about that. The big question about Humphrey is his ability to track balls and his ability to bring them in. That's a big part of being a corner. 

Tre'Davious White, LSU, 5-11, 192 pounds
While Humphrey is the physical corner with less-than-stellar ball skills, White is kind of the opposite. He's an absolute ball-hawk, but can't tackle. Really, though, that might be a more desirable flaw to have for a cornerback. 

At LSU, White wore the No. 18, which is reserved for the player that represents the school best on and off the field. Bennie Logan once wore 18 at LSU. The question with White has centered around his ceiling. He might be ready to step in and play right away, but some question his ability to ever become one of the best in the business. 

Gareon Conley, Ohio State, 6-0, 195 pounds
Playing on the other side of Marshon Lattimore put Conley in the shadows for a while, but he's out now. It's no secret that Conley's a first-round pick and might not even be around when the Eagles pick at 14. He's really risen up the draft boards of analysts and has had a rise like his former teammate Eli Apple, who went 10th overall last year. 

Conley might appeal to the Eagles for a few reasons, including his cover skills and ability to press. He had a good showing at the combine, which simply matched his production all season. Many folks think he has the potential to be great. 

In the middle 

Cameron Sutton, Tennessee, 5-11, 188 pounds
The Eagles look for versatility and Sutton offers that. He's listed by most places as a corner but can play safety and even did so during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Alabama. The idea of him playing safety is a little odd just because he lacked the ability to jam consistently at the line. Likely a Day 2 pick. 

Corn Elder, Miami, 5-10, 183 pounds
A little undersized but a skilled corner. His best fit at the next level is probably as a slot guy, but that's not a reason to pass on him. With how often teams are out of base packages, a guy like Elder can play a big role at the next level. More likely a Day 3 pick. 

Late-round sleeper(s)

Montae Nicholson, Michigan State, 6-2, 212 pounds
The big safety had a great showing at the combine in March, which definitely turned some heads. He ran a 4.42 and tested well in other areas. A late-round pick who might not be able to step on the field on defense just yet but could be a force on special teams. 

Zangaro's NFL mock draft: Eagles grab a defensive starter

Zangaro's NFL mock draft: Eagles grab a defensive starter

If your internet has been moving at a snail's pace, it's likely because the world wide web is being slowed down by mock drafts. Thousands of them. 

And there's one thing this mock draft has in common with all of them: It's wrong. Here's my one and only 2017 first-round mock draft. 

Enjoy. 

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett was probably already the first pick in the draft, then he went to Indy and crushed the combine. He's the top prospect in the draft and the Browns can't pass. 

2. San Francisco 49ers - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The 49ers have so many needs that they can't afford to get cute here. They have to take the best player on the board and that's Adams. They might not need a safety as badly as they need some other positions, but Adams would definitely help that defense improve. 

3. Chicago Bears - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Size is the one knock on Thomas. He's 6-3, 270 but could become a dynamic pass rusher in the NFL. The Bears will take a solid player and not reach for a QB at No. 3. 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Allen was once thought to be a high pick by many but has dropped in several mock drafts. And I'm not sure why. As solid a prospect as they come. 

5. Tennessee Titans - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Titans need help in the secondary and Lattimore is now the best corner prospect in the draft after Sidney Jones' Achilles injury. Lattimore is a great athlete but there are question marks too. He has hamstring issues and started for just one season at Ohio State. 

6. New York Jets - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Will the Jets resist the temptation to draft a quarterback? Well, if they get Hooker they can. Hooker is a ball hawk with incredible range. He's a huge playmaker. 

7. Los Angeles Chargers - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
OK, we're off the rails, but stay with me here. Yes, the Chargers drafted Hunter Henry last season and still have Antonio Gates -- if he comes back -- but he's going to be 37 when the season starts. Why not draft his replacement and let Gates bring up the young talented tight end? Solidify the position for another decade with two high-ceiling tight ends in Howard and Henry. 

8. Carolina Panthers - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Jonathan Stewart is 30 and the Panthers need to get younger at the position. Enter the top running back of this draft, a throwback type of player who can pound between the tackles. 

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Imagine A.J. Green on one side and Williams on the other. The Bengals can become downright scary for opposing defenses.  

10. Buffalo Bills - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Sean McDermott's team gets the best linebacker in the draft. After coaching Luke Kuechly in Carolina, McDermott will now get Foster, who has been compared to Kuechly during this draft process. I'm not worried about the combine incident or the drug test. This kid can play. 

11. New Orleans Saints - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Saints seriously need help on defense and it just so happens Barnett would fill their greatest need at pass rusher. His hands are incredible, and after Garrett, he is the best pass rusher in the class. 

12. Cleveland Browns - Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Browns resist the temptation to take a quarterback and nab the second-best corner in the draft. The third Ohio State player in the top 12. 

13. Arizona Cardinals - Mitchell Trubisky, QB North Carolina
Carson Palmer is clearly past his prime and the Cards need to find his replacement. They'll be happy to let Trubisky fall to them at 13. 

14. Philadelphia Eagles - Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU 
The Eagles have a clear need at cornerback, but this is not a reach. No, White hasn't been talked about as much as many other prospects in this class, but he's a first-round talent and is one of the best corners in the draft. This offseason, Howie Roseman has talked about the fear of a run on corners happening, which would leave the Eagles without a top player at the position. 

So sure, the Eagles could wait until the second round and hope that a player they really like at corner is still there ... or they can just solve the problem and take one of the top guys at 14. I think they opt to go in this direction. 

15. Indianapolis Colts - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford 
A true weapon for Andrew Luck, one that offers the kind of versatility the Colts haven't had at the position in a long time -- remember Edgerrin James? Well, McCaffrey might not be that good yet, but maybe he could grow into that type of player. 

16. Baltimore Ravens - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple 
The Ravens need to find a way to replace recently retired Zach Orr. They'll look north on 95 to find their guy from Temple. Reddick is switching from defensive end to linebacker but will make the transition easily. He's already solidified himself as a first-rounder. This would be a good spot for him. 

17. Washington Redskins - John Ross, WR, Washington
This one is pretty simple: Washington lost DeSean Jackson, so they'll replace him with DeSean 2.0. Ross has plenty of injury concerns but he's good enough to warrant a first-round pick and Washington now needs help at wideout after Jackson and Pierre Garcon left in free agency. 

18. Tennessee Titans - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Some think Davis is the best receiver in the class and others aren't so sure about him. The competition he faced in college is a question, but he's the most well-balanced receiver in the first round. Marcus Mariota will be thrilled about this pick. 

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
As either a replacement for Doug Martin or just a complementary player, Cook makes sense and would make the Bucs' offense much more dangerous. Some think Cook is falling out of the first round, and maybe he does. But if not, this is not a bad landing spot. 

20. Denver Broncos - Garrett Boles, OT, Utah
It's time to get some help along the offensive line and Bolles would be a perfect fit. He's the best offensive tackle in the class. 

21. Detroit Lions - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan 
This move will likely make the people in Detroit happy. He's a heckuva pass rusher, which is exactly what the Lions need. And he'd get to stay close to where he played college ball. 

22. Miami Dolphins - Charles Harris, DE, Missouri 
The Dolphins nab a really good end with a quick first step. That first step is what everyone seems to be talking about. It's the Dolphins' biggest need and Harris offers solid value at 22. 

23. New York Giants - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Some think Ramczyk is the best tackle in the draft and the Giants would plug him in right away. A hip surgery is what might keep Ramczyk on the board this long.  

24. Oakland Raiders - Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Raiders need some help in their secondary and King might be the answer. A big, athletic corner. The Raiders can't worry about the last time they took a corner in the first round: D.J. Hayden in 2013. Last year they took Karl Joseph at 14 and can further solidify their secondary. 

25. Houston Texans - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
You might have noticed the Texans need a quarterback after the Great Brock Osweiler Mess of 2016. If they can stay at 25 and get one of the top guys in the class, good for them. With how good their defense is, they just need a competent QB to make a run. 

26. Seattle Seahawks - Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Robinson has a ton of potential but there are plenty of concerns too. It might not be the best fit in terms of scheme, but the Seahawks can get a good (albeit raw) player. Might end up being the top tackle in this class. 

27. Kansas City Chiefs - Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
It's time to start thinking about life after Alex Smith. Mahomes has the biggest arm in the class but isn't ready to step in just yet. He'll get to learn under Smith. And the Chiefs still have nine more picks to work with in later rounds. 

28. Dallas Cowboys - David Njoku, TE, Miami
Jason Witten can't play forever, can he? Leave it to me to mock the two best tight ends of the draft to two teams who still have two of the best tight ends in NFL history. But the old guys won't last forever. 

29. Green Bay Packers - Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
Not exactly the sexiest pick but Lamp is the best interior lineman in the class. Lamp can fill in for T.J. Lang, who left in free agency. 

30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
Melifonwu is a little raw, but the workout at the combine was incredible for a man of his size. I think the Steelers will find a way to use him. 

31. Atlanta Falcons - Jabril Peppers, S, Michigan 
The more I think about it, the less I think Peppers will be available this late. But pairing him with Keanu Neal would be downright dangerous for opposing teams. I want to see how it would work. 

32. New Orleans Saints - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama 
The Saints use the pick they got from the Brandin Cooks trade to pick up a corner who some think will go much, much higher.