Eagles-Cowboys: Roob's 10 observations

Eagles-Cowboys: Roob's 10 observations

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ARLINGTON, Texas — This game had Josh Huff throwing the longest pass of the night by an Eagle, it had the refs calling a holding penalty on Chase Daniel, it had Caleb Sturgis becoming the most accurate kicker in Eagles history and it had the Eagles going overtime at AT&T Stadium for the second time in 11½ months.

And in the end, it had the Cowboys beating the Eagles 29-23 in overtime in a battle for first place in the NFC East (see Instant Replay).

Some good, some bad. Some very bad.

So if you’re still awake ... here’s tonight’s (this morning’s) 10 Instant Observations:

1. It’s astonishing to me what Carson Wentz is able to do without an impact wide receiver, without an effective tight end of late, with a patchwork offensive line and with a running back who turns 34 next summer. Imagine if Wentz had Dak Prescott’s weapons? Wentz is so ridiculously good he transcends the mediocrity around him. After seeing Prescott in person, I don’t think there’s any question who the better rookie is. It’s not even close. Wentz can do so much more with so much less. He completed 74 percent of his passes Sunday night (32 for 43) for 202 yards, a TD and no interceptions. And at least five of the nine incompletions were drops. Imagine if Wentz had just average wide receivers? The kid is special, and once the Eagles surround him with some talent, he’s going to be unstoppable.  

2. The Eagles’ desperate need for a playmaker has never been so glaring as it was Sunday night in Dallas. Wentz can throw the ball down the field, he just has nobody who can get open. And when they do get open, they drop the ball. I’m not big on giving up a draft pick for a guy who might help you for half a dozen games by the time he gets here and learns the playbook, but the Eagles have to consider everything at this point. A trade, Bryce Treggs, re-signing T.O. ... everything. You just can’t play an entire season without throwing the ball down the field.

3. The Eagles had plenty of chances to put this game away, but their play-calling and execution on 2nd-and-short and 3rd-and-short was bad (see Standout Plays). Those are plays you just have to convert, and the Eagles didn’t have the juice to get it done on the handful of key plays that they needed to put Dallas away. This wasn’t Doug Pederson’s finest day as a play-caller. Too much horizontal, not enough vertical. This was a winnable game, but too many mistakes once they took that 10-point lead caught up with them in the second half and overtime. They had chances. A 3rd-and-2 early in the third quarter where they lost two yards. A 3rd-and-2 late in the fourth quarter where they lost two yards. A 3rd-and-4 where they dropped a pass. You can’t give the Cowboys that many chances, especially here, and the Cowboys showed why they haven’t lost since opening day. They took advantage of the opportunity the Eagles gave them and it got them to 6-1.

4. Caleb Sturgis was not a good kicker in Miami. Made 77.5 percent of his field goals in 2013 and 2014 with the Dolphins, which ranked him 31st of 34 kickers in the NFL who attempted at least 25 field goals during that two-year span. He was also 6-for-13 from 50-plus yards. So Cody Parkey gets hurt early last year, there’s nobody else on the street, and the Eagles sign Sturgis. He misses a 33-yarder on opening day, Chip Kelly decides to keep him around another week, and he goes 4-for-4 the next week against the Saints and winds up 18-for-22. He beats out Parkey this summer and all he’s done this year — after once again missing his first attempt of the season — is go 17-for-17 with three straight 50-yard makes, including Sunday's clutch 55-yarder to give the Eagles the lead just before halftime. Sturgis made 78 percent of his kicks with the Dolphins but is at 87.5 percent with the Eagles, including 5-for-7 from 50 yards and out. Chip could have easily cut Sturgis after that terrible 33-yard miss. But he kept him around, and Sturgis right now is absolute money. Sometimes you just never know.

5. Darren Sproles was nothing less than brilliant Sunday as the surprise lead ball carrier. His 86 rushing yards on 15 carries were the fourth-most in his career and his most in five years, since he had 88 as a Saint against the Colts on Oct. 23, 2011. With fumble-prone Ryan Mathews in mothballs most of the night (4-for-10), Sproles had his second-most carries as an Eagle and fourth-most in his 10-year career. Here’s the thing: I still think 14 carries every week is too much for Sproles. Sproles at 33 is still faster than most backs 10 years younger. He’s such a great Eagle. Just this little guy with so much heart. I just hope the Eagles don’t over use him. The reality is the Eagles don’t have a running back right now under 33 years old that they trust, and that’s not good.

6. I really believe Jordan Hicks is right on the brink of becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber middle linebacker. The ball just seems to find him. Now, you can say his interception was just a terrible pass by Prescott, but he makes the plays when they’re there and that’s all you can ask. Hicks has now jammed three interceptions, four pass knockdowns, four fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, five tackles for loss and a sack into 15 career games. The Eagles haven’t had a big-time middle linebacker since Trott, and Hicks is there right now.

7. I don’t care how many catches Huff does or doesn’t have, he has become such a weapon returning kicks that it doesn’t even matter. Huff followed his huge kickoff return TD last week that jumpstarted the Eagles when the offense was doing nothing against the Vikings with an electrifying 63-yarder against the Cowboys Sunday night. He now has his average up to 28.4 yards per kick return, which is eighth-highest in NFL history among returners with 40 or more career returns. This offense has so little firepower that a kick returner who can gobble up so many yards is huge.

8. Ezekiel Elliott’s final numbers were 22-for-96 (with a 72-yard run called back because of holding), so he didn’t get his fifth consecutive 130-yard game, but against this defense, that was a monumental game for him. I thought the Eagles to a great extent slowed him down, tackled well, were gap-sound, and he still ran for 96 yards. He’s a special player the Eagles are going to have to contend with him for a long, long time.

9. This was the third time in their last four games the Eagles didn’t have an offensive play of 30 yards or more. Their only offensive play longer than 30 yards since Sproles' 73-yard TD catch against the Steelers is Jordan Matthews’ 53-yard catch in the Redskins game. That’s almost impossible to do. The Eagles’ lack of firepower is shocking. They have one play of 30 yards or more in their last 242 offensive snaps. Think about that for a moment. That’s impossible to do. Tough to win when you can’t make a play down the field.

10. How about some props for Halapoulivaati Vaitai? Big V has gotten better in each of his three starts and really hung in there pretty well Sunday night in Dallas. It’s encouraging that he’s progressed each week from that disastrous start in Washington to a functional game against the Vikings and some more good stuff Sunday night. Seven more games for Lane Johnson, and let’s be clear — Vaitai is nowhere close to where Lane was when his suspension finally came down. But Big V has been solid, and he deserves credit for the steady improvement he’s made.

Bonus observation. Prescott’s numbers were ugly, but I was impressed. He was under siege most of the night but rallied the Cowboys back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter and made some big throws in overtime. Prescott was 14-for-34 for 231 yards in regulation but 5-for-5 for 56 yards and the TD to Jason Witten in overtime. He also ran for 38 yards. I’ll take Wentz any day of the week. But Prescott is impressive.

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 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. 

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 -- a pass rusher. His hands are incredible and, after Garrett, 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 about 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 
After Zach Orr retired, the Ravens need to find a way to replace him. 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, 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, but 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.  

An NFL prospect, Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon has brawn with brains to match

An NFL prospect, Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon has brawn with brains to match

A physical specimen, with the brains to match.

It's hard to understate the impression you get from meeting Tanoh Kpassagnon in person.

I read an article before meeting him that said his "abs had abs" and that he sported a minuscule 4 percent body fat. He laughed when I brought it up to him and said he wasn't so sure about the 4 percent body fat but that he loves to work out and get stronger, and he has been that way since high school.

Besides being a gym rat in the weight room, the 'Nova product was down to earth and easy to talk to. So much so we talked about what food we liked to cook and exchanged some tips on how to keep your mashed potatoes smooth and silky.

Kpassagnon moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Philly in the sixth grade and partly got turned on to football by watching the Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook Eagles in the 2000s.

His proud parents don't know much about pigskin but are over the moon about his success and growing notoriety. He said he just wants to join an NFL team and build a bond with a new group of guys.

With his skill set, I imagine it won't be long before his name is called on Day 2 and his impact could go well beyond his draft position.