Eagles trade up and pick WR Jordan Matthews

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Eagles trade up and pick WR Jordan Matthews

The Eagles moved up 12 spots in the second round Friday night and got the wide receiver they desperately needed in Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, the all-time leading wide receiver in SEC history.

The Eagles selected Matthews with the 42nd pick, which they acquired from the Titans in exchange for the 54th pick, the Eagles' original second-round pick, and No. 122, their fourth-round pick.

"Every opportunity I’ve ever had in football, I’ve had to grind for it," Matthews said. "Nothing has ever been given to me. When the ball’s in the air it’s mine. That’s the attitude I have every time I go out on the football field.”

Matthews (see bio) has size (6-3, 212) and speed (he ran a 4.4 40). He caught 262 passes for 3,759 yards for 24 touchdowns at Vandy, with his production increasing each year: 4-for-181 with four TDs as a freshman, 41-for-778 with five TDs as a sophomore, 94-for-1,328 with eight touchdowns as a junior and 12-for-1,477 with seven TDs last season.

“First thing you do, you look at his numbers and they’re off the charts,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s 6-3, ran 4.46 at the combine, got a great wing span, great verticle jump, intelligent kid, graduated college in 3½ years.”

In what has been widely accepted as the deepest wide receiver draft ever, Matthews was the seventh wide receiver selected, three spots after the other second-round wide out the Eagles coveted -- USC's Marqise Lee.

Matthews said he has no idea why he wasn't taken until the 42nd pick. And doesn't care.

"I don’t have the answer," he said. "I don’t know how this whole process works. I’m not worried about any of the picks ahead of me, I’m ready to go up there and get to work with the Philadelphia Eagles."

The Eagles went into the draft with only two proven wide receivers on the roster – Jeremy Maclin, who missed last year with his second ACL, and Riley Cooper, who had nine games a year ago with fewer than 40 receiving yards.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles released the two wideouts with the most receptions on the team in the last 20 years – DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant.

Kelly said Matthews will start out in the slot, the spot occupied by Avant for most of the last eight years.

“He’s got such a wing span and will go up and get it, will play both inside and outside,” Kelly said. “We’ll start him inside. He’s got the speed to play on the outside and he’s got the size. He can do a lot of different things we can do, but the intangible things that Jason Avant brought to the slot -- being physical, being able to block -- I think he can do that along with exploit man coverage.”

Matthews is the first wideout the Eagles have taken in the first two rounds since Maclin in 2009.

Before taking Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler, in the second round in 2008, the four previous wideouts the Eagles drafted in the second round were Mike Bellamy in 1990, Victor Bailey in 1993, Todd Pinkston in 2000 and Reggie Brown in 2005.

Matthews was asked if he’s coming to Philly to replace Jackson.

"I just want to be the best teammate I can be," he said. "I'm just going to go in and shut my mouth and get to work."

Kelly said the one thing that stood out the most about Matthews was his ability to make plays against man coverage in the best defensive conference in the country.

He said since the Eagles play at such a high tempo, opposing defenses generally play a lot of man because it’s the easiest coverage to get into quickly.

“The one thing he can do is catch the ball in traffic,” Kelly said. “He made an unbelievable amount of contested catches. It’s huge. A lot of times when you're looking at guys, it’s apples and oranges. This guy was productive and had X amount of catches, but who’s covering him? He saw a lot more man than a lot of guys because in that conference there’s a lot of man. It’s a defensive conference with some great football teams and great coaches.

“The remarkable thing is everybody knew when Vanderbilt played a game, everybody knew he’d be getting the ball, but he still got the ball.

“At the receiver position, [the biggest thing] is your ability to beat 1-on-1 coverage. Honestly. We see it so much. You’re going to have to catch a lot of contested footballs."

Kelly compared Matthews' ability to use his big frame to battle for contested balls with that of Riley Cooper, who caught 47 balls for 835 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago in his first year as an NFL starter.

“I think that’s one of the things that makes Riley so good," Kelly said. "He’s 6-4, 6-5, and he can muscle and go get the ball," Kelly said. "People play defense so close in ths league, your ability to go get the football really seperates people. That’s what you see when you look on the film.

“People match up with us because of what we do. We’re going to see man a lot, so getting guys who exploit that coverage, that’s what we’re looking for, and that’s what he really can do.

“If your smaller DB is going to play in the slot, now he has to match up with a guy who’s 6-3, 217 pounds.”

The Eagles were able to move down from 22 to 26 Thursday to select linebacker Marcus Smith and pick up a third-round pick, and a day later, they moved up 12 spots, and it cost them only a fourth-round pick.

“We held our breath in what it would take to get up there," Kelly said. "We think he’d be around at 54. Getting the extra pick, it worked out perfectly. Now we feel like we'll get four pretty good players in the first 86 picks."

Eagles storylines at the 2017 owners meetings in Phoenix

Eagles storylines at the 2017 owners meetings in Phoenix

PHOENIX -- After a cold couple of weeks in Philly, Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles' brass will get a chance to catch some rays this week. 

Lurie and the rest of the NFL's owners and decision-makers will meet this week at the lavish Arizona Biltmore resort. 

In addition to the actual meetings of the owners, the league's competition committee will look at 15 rule proposals, one of which was proposed and will be presented by the Eagles. Lurie is expected to speak to reporters for the first time in a year. 

And, of course, the annual coaches breakfasts will take place extremely early on Tuesday and Wednesday. The AFC goes on Tuesday, while Doug Pederson and the NFC coaches will field questions from reporters on Wednesday. 

It'll be a busy few days with the beauty of Phoenix as the backdrop. 

Here are a few of the big Eagles storylines to keep an eye on.

Long time, no talk 
Reporters haven't had a chance to talk to Lurie since this week last year. A lot has happened since then. Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz went through their first seasons as coach and quarterback for the Eagles. Joe Douglas was hired as the team's vice president of player personnel. And Howie Roseman has continued to transform the roster through trades and free agency.

Last season was the first time Lurie spoke since reinstating Roseman to power, so despite Lurie's efforts to talk about RFID and next-generation stats, the conversation focused on the direction and leadership of the team. 

There's a ton to talk to Lurie about this year -- including his recently-penned piece in Time Magazine that railed against political polarization in Washington (see story).  

An hour with Doug 
This year, Philly reporters will actually be able to talk to Pederson at the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday. In 2016, most split their time between Chip Kelly and Pederson. 

At that point, Kelly was the 49ers' coach and had not yet talked about his split with the Eagles. 

But a whole hour with Pederson is on the schedule this year. Plenty of questions about the future of the franchise, the draft and the free-agent acquisitions. We haven't spoken to Pederson since the combine, which came before the team brought in Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Chance Warmack in free agency. 

Whatchu talkin' bout, Howie? 
Roseman talked a bunch last season as the 2016 NFL draft drew closer, but this offseason revealed that everything he said back then was nonsense. Last offseason was all about moving up to the No. 2 pick (at least) to draft Wentz and get the Eagles a franchise quarterback. 

One of the interesting things Roseman talked about in 2016 was taking running backs high in the draft. He praised Ezekiel Elliott, calling him a "rare" prospect. 

At that point, the Eagles were picking eighth and Elliott was thought to be a possible target for them. Here's what Roseman said last year: 

"You talk about the elite guys and where they're coming from, and they're hard to find. It's hard to find three-down backs, so when you get a chance to look at someone like that, it changes the discussion. They're certainly on your board."

The running backs in this year's draft aren't Elliott -- they're simply not as good at everything and not ready to step in and be stars. But by the way Roseman spoke last year, he didn't rule out taking a running back in the first round. This year, there will likely be a couple good ones on the board at No. 14. 

But remember, everything he said last year was just nonsense. 

For now, Roseman isn't scheduled to speak to reporters, but that could change. 

The rule proposals
The competition committee will meet this week to go over several proposals -- among them are 15 playing rule proposals. 

The Eagles originally proposed four playing rule changes and one proposal that would have allowed teams to wear alternate helmets to match alternate jerseys. Well, after feedback from the competition committee, the Eagles are withdrawing all but one proposal, according to league sources. 

The only proposal left would rule out leaping on kick plays. For now, players are allowed to leap as long as they don't touch anyone on the way over. This change had already been suggested by the NFLPA, so it seems like it has a good shot to pass. 

Among the other rules the NFL's competition committee will consider is one that would shorten the overtime period in the regular season from 15 to 10 minutes. The length would remain 15 minutes in the playoffs. 

The competition committee will meet to go over these proposals on Tuesday. 

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

PHOENIX -- Barring an unforeseen obstacle, the Oakland Raiders seem certain to get approval Monday to relocate to Las Vegas .

Several team owners have said this week they don't envision a scenario where Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn't get the required 24 votes to move the team.

One owner, speaking anonymously because he is not authorized to speak for the NFL, told The Associated Press: "Not only have no hurdles been made clear to us, but there isn't any opposition to it."

Added another, also speaking anonymously for the same reasons: "It's going to happen and the sooner we do it, the better it is for the league and for the Raiders."

Yes, the NFL is about to have a third franchise move in just over a year. The Rams played last season in Los Angeles after switching from St. Louis. Earlier this year, the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A.

NFL: League hires Dr. Allen Sills as chief medical officer
PHOENIX -- The NFL has hired Dr. Allen Sills as its chief medical officer.

Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will fill a new full-time position based in New York. He comes to the league from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he serves as professor of neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation. He is the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

Sills, 52, will work with NFL team medical staffs, the NFL Players Association and its advisers, as well as experts on the league's medical committees. He will guide the NFL's health and research efforts.

"We sought a highly credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills' extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.