Philadelphia Eagles

Hudrick's 2017 NFL mock draft 2.0: Eagles get productive edge rusher

Hudrick's 2017 NFL mock draft 2.0: Eagles get productive edge rusher

The 2017 NFL draft is right around the corner. The Eagles will either hold the No. 14 overall pick thanks to their trade with the Minnesota Vikings for quarterback Sam Bradford. Here is Paul Hudrick's mock draft 2.0 to get you ready for the 2017 NFL draft, which takes place April 27-29 in Philadelphia. Version 1.0 is here

*Denotes junior
** Denotes redshirt sophomore

1. Cleveland Browns - *Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M, 6-4/272
This is a slam dunk. Moving on.

2. San Francisco 49ers - *Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford, 6-2/273
With Kirk Cousins still in their sights for the future, new GM John Lynch goes defense. New defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is a Pete Carroll disciple. The Seahawks have used bigger linemen (Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril) as ends in their 4-3. Thomas is versatile and can be effective on the inside or outside.

3. Chicago Bears - *Jamal Adams , S, LSU, 6-0/214
The signing of former Eagle Quintin Demps means safety isn't an immediate need, but Adams is such a difference maker. He's instinctual, tough, physical and can cover. He's the type of player you can build your defense around.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - *Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU, 6-0/240
The Jags have invested heavily on their defense. With no offensive line prospects being worthy at No. 4, they add a special player in Fournette. Fournette takes pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles. T.J. Yeldon will also be a nice change-of-pace complement to Fournette's powerful style.

5. Tennessee Titans - **Marshawn Lattimore, CB, Ohio State, 6-0/193
In a deep corner class, Lattimore is the best of the bunch. He's a physical prototype and has plenty of speed. His multiple hamstring injuries may scare some teams off, but Lattimore has the potential to be a shutdown corner.

6. New York Jets - *Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina, 6-2/222
If the Jets stay here, they could go in any direction. Trubisky has all the physical tools you want in a franchise quarterback. He was a one-year wonder for the Tar Heels so the acquisition of vet Josh McCown can only help Trubisky.

7. Los Angeles Chargers - **Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State, 6-1/206
Hooker is an elite centerfielder who also has limited college experience. His testing numbers in Indy only confirmed that Hooker is an excellent athlete. His presence adds more intrigue to an already promising young defense in LA.

8. Carolina Panthers - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama, 6-6/251
Howard can team with All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen to form a scary tight end duo. Howard not only gives Cam Newton another receiving threat but also an outstanding blocker at the tight end position. If Fournette slips, he's an ideal fit as well.

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama, 6-3/286
With the three main cogs to the Bengals' front -- Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson -- all approaching 30 and nearing the end of their deals, the Bengals need to get a little younger up front. Allen is a guy that can help a team immediately and in the future. 

10. Buffalo Bills - *Mike Williams, WR, Clemson, 6-4/218
Keep an eye on Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster in this spot. New head coach Sean McDermott could use a Luke Kuechly-type 'backer to lead his defense in Buffalo. With that said, I'm going with Williams to pair with another former Clemson receiver in Sammy Watkins. Williams and Watkins have skill sets that will complement each other well.

11. New Orleans Saints - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama, 6-0/229
The Saints need all the defensive help they can get. Foster is a fast and physical linebacker that can fit in any defense. The Kuechly comparisons are fair. Foster can get sideline to sideline in a flash and punish ball carriers upon arrival.

12. Cleveland Browns - *Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson, 6-2/221
Keeping Watson here. Again, it's a nice haul for the Browns getting Garrett and then Watson. Watson showed enough at Clemson for Hue Jackson to think he can get the most out of him. He might be the "safest" of the first-round quarterbacks, but he also might have the lowest ceiling.

13. Arizona Cardinals - *Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech, 6-2/225
When it was first suggested that Mahomes could be a first-round pick, I thought the draft world had gone crazy. When I went back and watched him, I saw what others saw. There are plenty of tools for Bruce Arians to work with. With that said, he is super raw. The release is slow, the mechanics are a mess and the decision-making is questionable. Given a little seasoning, the Cardinals might have Carson Palmer's eventual replacement.

14. Philadelphia Eagles - *Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee, 6-3/259
It's odd. When I read mocks from/talk to people I respect, the responses are mixed on Barnett. Some think there's no way he gets out of the top 10 (like Ray Didinger). Others don't think he's worthy of being picked in the top 15. I could see him slipping to 14 and if he does, the Eagles should pounce.

No, Barnett is not a physical and athletic specimen like Garrett, but Barnett is just a damn good football player. After Garrett, it's clear Barnett is this draft's best pure pass rusher. Barnett racked up 32 sacks, breaking Tennessee's all-time record, set by some guy named Reggie White. Is Barnett the next Minister of Defense? No. But who is?

Barnett will have to earn his time in the rotation with Brandon Graham coming off a strong season and Vinny Curry coming off a rough year after signing a big contract. Veteran Chris Long has also been added to the mix. If Curry's struggles continue, the Eagles could save roughly $5 million by cutting him after the season.

It's worth noting that pass rushers generally struggle as rookies. A year after posting just four sacks for the Falcons as a rookie, former first-round pick Vic Beasley led the NFL in sacks in 2017. Barnett has the potential to be a consistent player at the next level. He wins with violent hands and brute strength. That should translate just fine to the NFL.

15. Indianapolis Colts - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple, 6-1/237
The Colts are also in desperate need of defensive playmakers. Enter the local kid. Reddick has the instincts of an inside 'backer but the pass rush skills of an edge rusher. He could be used inside for early downs and outside for obvious passing downs. Size is a concern as a pass rusher, but recently retired Colt Robert Mathis racked up 123 career sacks playing at around 240 pounds.

16. Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan, 6-3/209
With speedsters Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman in the fold, Davis is a perfect complement as a possession receiver that can play outside or in the slot. Williams might have the higher upside, but Davis is so polished as a route runner he may have the biggest impact of any receiver as a rookie.

17. Washington Redskins - *Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State, 6-6/295
A stud prospect out of high school, McDowell never showed his full potential at Michigan State. An optimist would say he's just scratching the surface of what he can be. A pessimist would say he's an underachiever. It's worth noting that he'll turn just 21 in June. He'd be an intriguing fit as a 3-4 end for Washington.

18. Tennessee Titans - *John Ross, WR, Washington, 5-11/188
The Titans have the opposite situation of the Ravens with solid possession receivers in Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe. They need speed and Ross has plenty of it. What I like most about Ross is that he's not just a burner. He actually runs good routes and creates with the ball in his hands.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - *Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford, 5-11/202
The McCaffrey-to-the-Eagles hype has been strong. Really McCaffrey's hype in general has been insane since his incredible combine. Projecting McCaffrey to the top 15 is a little too rich for my blood. Along with DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, Jameis Winston would have a full complement of weapons.

20. Denver Broncos - *Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah, 6-5/297
The more I studied the tackles, the more appealing Bolles became. His combine made him only more attractive. He's crazy athletic for a tackle and has a mean streak. His stock is soaring, but I like him here. The Broncos need all the help they can get in protecting whoever their starting quarterback is. 

21. Detroit Lions - *Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State, 6-0/195
Conley isn't the strongest or most physical corner in the draft, but he can flat out cover. Darius Slay has been excellent in Detroit. Putting Conley on the other side could give a Detroit one of the better secondaries in the league.

22. Miami Dolphins - *Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan, 5-11/213
Forget the one career interception, Peppers can play. He proved at the combine that actual ball skills aren't the issue. Nor is his speed. Peppers would form an interesting tandem with former Pro Bowler Reshad Jones. 

23. New York Giants - *Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin, 6-6/310
I actually like Alabama's Cam Robinson more, but I don't think he and Erik Flowers are an ideal pairing. Ramczyk has a better chance to start at left tackle from Day 1. The Giants have plenty of weapons. Now they just need to keep Eli Manning upright.

24. Oakland Raiders - *Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt, 6-3/234
The Raiders have some pieces on defense, but a starting middle linebacker isn't one of them. Cunningham may project better as a playmaking weakside linebacker, but he was a stud as a middle linebacker during his time at Vandy. 

25. Houston Texans - *Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama, 6-6/322
If Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer is on the board, the Texans will likely give him a long look. In Robinson they get a right tackle that's strong in the run game and could eventually evolve into a left tackle. Houston could opt to take the same path the Eagles did with Lane Johnson, letting Robinson play on the right before taking over for former All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown.

26. Seattle Seahawks - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan, 6-6/277
Washington corner Kevin King is a trendy pick here, and he would make sense. I'm going with Charlton. He fits the Seahawks' size profile for DEs, and Bennett and Avril are both in their 30s. Charlton and the emerging Frank Clark could be a formidable duo in the future. He's also a great value pick at 26. 

27. Kansas City Chiefs - *Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State, 5-10/210
Cook drops this low only because of off-the-field issues. The talent is clearly there. Andy Reid has shown in the past he's not afraid to take players with troubles off the field. The hope is a strong head coach with a strong locker room will get the most out of Cook. This also seems like a good spot for Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer.

28. Dallas Cowboys - TreDavious White, CB, LSU, 5-11/192
White could easily go in the top 20, so this is a great value pick for Dallas. White isn't a freak athlete like Lattimore, but he's strong in coverage. He should be able to play on the outside in the NFL, but he also has the toughness to play in the slot.

29. Green Bay Packers - Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA, 6-2/250
Corner is a strong possibility, but they could use another edge rusher as well. Nick Perry is back, but Clay Matthews is 30 and there isn't much in the pipeline at the position. McKinley would fit the Packers' profile at outside 'backer and could contribute in a rotation with Perry and Matthews.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers - *DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame, 6-4/233
Kizer has a lot of Ben Roethlisberger in him. He has great size, a big arm and is a sneaky athlete. Kizer will have at least one season to learn behind Big Ben. When they hand over the reins to Kizer, he'll have a strong offensive line and elite offensive weapons. Kizer has a chance to be the best quarterback in this class. If he lands in Pittsburgh, those chances only improve.

31. Atlanta Falcons - *David Njoku, TE, Miami, 6-4/246
This would be scary. Njoku is an athletic freak who's excellent after the catch. Giving Matt Ryan Njoku to go along with Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel just doesn't seem fair. I'd have my money on Ryan to repeat as league MVP.

32. New Orleans Saints - **Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama, 6-0/197
Corner is a need and Humphrey has the physical profile of a shutdown corner. He's physical but I was troubled by what I saw out of him during the CFP. He lacks ball skills and has trouble locating the football. If he can improve in those areas, the sky's the limit. 

Cowboys kneel before national anthem, beat Cardinals on MNF

USA Today Images

Cowboys kneel before national anthem, beat Cardinals on MNF


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.