C.J. Mosley: The next DeMeco Ryans?


C.J. Mosley: The next DeMeco Ryans?

DeMeco Ryans is the catalyst of the Eagles’ defense. The heart and soul. The glue that holds it together. He played the most snaps on defense last year -- in the NFL -- so you can easily argue that Ryans is the defense’s most important player.

But he also turns 30 this summer, is slated to make nearly $14 million over the next two seasons and doesn’t have the range in pass coverage that he once had.

If the Eagles are looking in the first round of May’s draft to find Ryans’ successor, they could feasibly pounce at the opportunity to take C.J. Mosley, an inside linebacker who played at Alabama, the same school that produced Ryans.

Daniel Jeremiah, a former Eagles scout who now serves as an analyst for the NFL Network, expects Mosley to be off the board when the Eagles pick at 22. But if he’s there, or if the Eagles trade up to land him, Mosley would fit snugly into the team’s scheme, Jeremiah said.

“C.J. Mosley is somebody who doesn’t get talked about enough,” Jeremiah said during a draft conference call hosted by the NFL Network. “We talk about guys being clean players on tape. I don’t have a lot of negatives when I watch him. I think he’s very good in coverage. I think he’s an excellent blitzer.

“But the most impressive aspect of his game is his instincts. I remember scouting DeMeco Ryans at Alabama, and that’s what set him apart was his instincts. I personally think he’s a better player than DeMeco was coming out, and DeMeco has had a nice career.”

The book on Mosley reads just like Ryans’. He’s considered a film junkie and natural leader, a defensive quarterback with an exceptional football IQ and humble. Mosley is excellent in coverage against both tight ends and pass-catching running backs.

This past season, he won the Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker and shared the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award with Missouri linebacker Michael Sam.

With his athletic prowess and high character, Mosley sounds exactly like the kind of guy Chip Kelly wants leading his defense.

But let’s hold off on sending out “Save the Dates” for this potential marriage.

First, several analysts -- including Jeremiah -- believe Mosley will be drafted in the top 15 picks. Some see Mosley as an ideal middle linebacker for a 4-3 defense even though Alabama’s front more resembles the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme.

Second, and more significantly, the Eagles have a known allergy to drafting linebackers in the first round. A familiar refrain every April is the team’s 1979 selection of Jerry Robinson in the first round out of UCLA. Robinson remains the last linebacker drafted by Eagles in the first round.

Thirty four years … and counting.

Third, for whatever reason, although Alabama’s defense is annually among the nation’s best and the foundation of coach Nick Saban’s three championships with the Crimson Tide, several of its players picked in the first round lately haven’t dominated at the NFL level.

Another former Tide linebacker, Rolando McClain, went eighth overall to the Raiders in 2010. Then considered one of the best overall prospects in the entire draft, McClain managed just three seasons with Oakland before getting released.

He tried to latch on with Baltimore last year but retired abruptly after his arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

“I know there’s been recent Alabama big linebackers that haven’t played up to capability perhaps,” said NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis, who joined Jeremiah on the call. “But I don’t think that C.J. Mosley is one of those guys. I really like him a bunch.”

Report: Eagles to pursue DeSean Jackson this offseason

Report: Eagles to pursue DeSean Jackson this offseason

If Jeremiah Trotter can return to Eagles after unceremoniously leaving for Washington, why can't DeSean Jackson?

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing multiple sources, the Eagles are expected to pursue Jackson, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Schefter also cites sources stating Jackson and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson are "big admirers of each other" and reports that multiple teams believe Jackson could return to Philadelphia.

The connection is an easy one to make. The Eagles clearly need help at wide receiver, and they specifically need a deep threat. The 30-year-old Jackson fills that void.

Jackson in 10 games this season has 38 reception for 585 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing his production from 2015, when he had 30 for 528 and four while limited to 10 games because of a hamstring injury. He missed a game this season with a shoulder injury.

Jackson had a great first season in Washington, posting 56 receptions for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns in 2014 after the then-Eagles head coach Chip Kelly stunningly cut him. 

The Eagles had tried to trade Jackson, to no avail, and announced the decision to release him the same day an NJ.com report surfaced detailing his connections to gang members in Los Angeles. Kelly maintained that the move was a "football decision" and had nothing to do with any off-field issues, gang-related or otherwise. Jackson wasn't known for being the model employee or citizen, and following the 2013 season — and third Pro Bowl selection with the Eagles — he said he deserved a new contract. He was scheduled to make more than $10 million in the third season of a five-year, $48.5 million deal.

Selected by the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft, Jackson spent six electrifying seasons in Philadelphia. He posted three 1,000-yard seasons and twice recorded a career-high nine touchdowns. He also returned four punts for touchdowns, the most famous coming against the Giants in 2010 to cap the latest Miracle of the Meadowlands. 

Trotter spent his first four seasons with the Eagles, spent two seasons with the Redskins after the Eagles removed the franchise tag in 2002, and returned in 2004.

Reports: Matthews not expected to play; Agholor to be active vs. Bengals

Reports: Matthews not expected to play; Agholor to be active vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews is not expected to play Sunday against the Bengals because of an ankle injury, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, while Nelson Agholor is expected to be active, per ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Matthews hasn't practiced all week after suffering the injury last Monday night against Green Bay. He is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.

Agholor's struggles have been well-noted, and the Eagles held him out against the Packers last Monday night. Turner made his season debut with Agholor out.

In 10 games, the second-year pro has 27 catches for 264 yards with one touchdown, which came in the Eagles' season-opening win over Cleveland.

The Eagles' wide receivers have been underwhelming this season, and they're reportedly interested in bringing back DeSean Jackson in the offseason.

But for now, they may be without their leading receiver Sunday and hope the night off last week pays dividends for Agholor.