Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Combine: All vying for top spot, best cornerbacks in draft give Eagles options

NFL Combine: All vying for top spot, best cornerbacks in draft give Eagles options

INDIANAPOLIS -- Florida's Teez Tabor doesn't just think he's the best cornerback in the 2017 NFL draft.

He thinks he's the best player in the draft.

"That’s just the confidence I have in myself," he said, "and the ability I have to play the game of football."

Confidence is not lacking for the young cornerback. In fact, based on his media availability at the combine, confidence is oozing out of him. 

That confidence -- some might call it cockiness -- showed in just about every answer he gave Sunday afternoon. He said the NFL teams he's met with so far "without a doubt" like that confidence.

So which teams have shown him the most interest?

"Really everybody," Tabor said chuckling. "I mean, it's hard not to like a player like me."

While Tabor would clearly have himself at the top of the cornerback rankings in this year's draft, there's plenty of debate about that. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranks the corners in this order: 1. Sidney Jones, 2. Marshon Lattimore, 3. Marlon Humphrey, 4. Tabor, 5. Tre'Davious White.

But there are a lot more than that in this draft. The class is incredibly deep at corner and there are expected to be starters taken well into the fourth round.  

While the Eagles have signed plenty of "Band-Aids" at corner in free agency in the past, general manager Howie Roseman said the team doesn't want to force it anymore. He'd be willing to have a bare cornerback group until the draft. And if the Eagles want to take a corner in the first round, they'll have plenty of options. 

Among the top five on Mayock's list, as of Sunday afternoon, the Eagles had formally met with Jones, Lattimore and were scheduled to meet with Humphrey. There are plenty of options throughout the draft at corner, but here's a look at those top five guys.

1. Sidney Jones, Washington
Jones is Mayock's top corner in the draft for good reason. He's already being compared to another Huskies' product: two-time Pro Bowler Marcus Peters.

"I'm a lockdown corner," said Jones, who had a formal interview with the Eagles. "I'm an all-around corner. I give you instincts, ball skills and great football IQ. I'm a team player."

Jones didn't do the bench press at the combine -- he'll do it at his pro day on March 11 -- but said he'll compete in everything else. He has a chance to solidify his spot as the best of a very good bunch.

Despite his slender frame -- 6-foot-1, 186 pounds -- Jones isn't afraid to hit.

"I'm very aggressive," he said. "It's something I take a lot of pride in. I was a free safety until my freshman year of high school. Being a hitter is something that is always in my heart."

2. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Lattimore is a fascinating story because 2016 was the first year where he really got a chance to play and he was dynamic. He had four interceptions and nine pass breakups last year.

The big question about Lattimore -- and the one he hears from every NFL team he's met with, including the Eagles -- is about his hamstrings. Hamstring injuries forced him to miss the 2014 season and flared up again in 2015, ending that season early. Lattimore, a redshirt sophomore in 2016, has worked hard to leave his hamstring issues in the past.

"Just doing something different," he said. "It's not luck at all. I did yoga, I did extra exercises, stretching, all of that. It's no luck in that."

Lattimore said he knew this season was going to be different when he made it through preseason camp without the injuries flaring up. Then he went out and had a great season a year after his former Ohio State teammate Eli Apple (from Voorhees, New Jersey) was a first-round pick of the Giants.

"It's a lot of talent here from top to bottom," Lattimore said. "A team's going to get a great player in the fourth round just like they would in the first round. It's a deep draft and I'm honored to be considered one of the top cornerbacks in this draft. Just coming from where I came from, it's a blessing."

3. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
While most of the guys on this list come from schools that churn out defensive backs, Alabama isn't one of them. Still, Humphrey is considered a really good prospect.
 
He's the son of former Crimson Tide running back Bobby Humphrey, which meant plenty of added pressure for the defensive back. But he handled it all really well.

"I think my best attribute is my speed and toughness," said Humphrey, who had a formal interview scheduled with the Eagles for Sunday night. "I think I can run with any guy. I think I can run with just about anybody." 

Humphrey said in most of his meetings with teams, the negative get more time than the positives.

"The negative feedback is just finishing the play, top of the route, things like that," he said.

4. Teez Tabor, Florida
The big question about Tabor is his speed, but he'll get a chance to put those fears to rest Monday on the field.

The biggest positive for Tabor is his aggressiveness on the field. Aggressiveness, of course, is a trait Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz really seems to value a ton.

"My passion for the game of football," Tabor said when asked where his aggressiveness comes from. "I'm not going to sit back and watch it happen. I'm going to make it happen."

The other question about Tabor isn't about his performance on the field. A failed drug test and a fight with a teammate have been focal points of his conversations with NFL teams.

5. Tre'Davious White, LSU
White, a senior in 2016, followed a long line of really good defensive backs to come from LSU. He's very close with Eagles' second-year corner Jalen Mills. White credited LSU's coaches with getting their guys ready to play at the next level.

White is the kind of guy who is used to being on an island, which is something he'd be asked to do in Philly. As of Sunday afternoon, he hadn't had a formal interview with the Eagles but had talked informally with them. He was also at the Senior Bowl.

"I don't want to leave no question marks," White said. "I can pretty much do it all. I played inside and outside at a high level. I played a game at safety at the end of my junior year, so I have a high football IQ and know how to play all three positions in the defensive backfield at a high level."

NFL Notes: Emergence of Steelers rookie T.J. Watt signals changing of the guard

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NFL Notes: Emergence of Steelers rookie T.J. Watt signals changing of the guard

LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick T.J. Watt will take all the preseason snaps he can get at right outside linebacker.

And perhaps most of them in the regular season too, a fact the man he is in the process of replacing isn't fighting.

James Harrison is the Steelers' all-time sacks leader, including a team-high five last season at the not-so tender age of 38.

The now-39-year-old Harrison doesn't care who has the starting spot he's held for the better part of a decade as long as it results in another Lombardi Trophy for the Steelers.

"I'm not worried about it," Harrison said Wednesday. "Whatever they want me to do. I'm 39 years old and still playing football."

Saints: Team replaces 2 doctors after Breaux misdiagnosis
METAIRIE, La. -- Saints coach Sean Payton says cornerback Delvin Breaux needs lower-leg surgery that will sideline him about six weeks and that an initial misdiagnosis of Breaux's injury has sparked a shake-up in the team's medical staff.

Payton says Breaux has a fibula fracture that was initially diagnosed as a contusion. Breaux has missed more than a week of practice and Payton said he had been getting frustrated with the pace of Breaux's recovery, based on the initial diagnosis.

"I certainly was pushing him, based on the information I was getting," Payton said.

The coach said the Saints will replace two orthopedic surgeons and in the meantime receive help from Chargers physicians during joint practices in California leading up to their game Sunday in Los Angeles (see full story).

Patriots: Ageless Brady not slowing down at 40
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Training camp is easier for Tom Brady at age 40 than it was when he entered the NFL in 2000.

Brady, who turned 40 on Aug. 3, was asked how camp with the New England Patriots is different for him now that he's one of the older players in the league.

"I think it's a lot easier for me now than it's ever been," he said. "I feel like my routine's better than it's ever been. When you're younger you don't know what to do, and after 17 years, going on my 18th year I know what to do. I know how to prepare."

Redskins: Safety Cravens undergoes knee surgery
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Su'a Cravens had knee surgery and there's no official timeline for him to return.

Coach Jay Gruden says Cravens had a knee scope to clean out some issues with his meniscus. Gruden says Cravens was injured on the third play of the Redskins' first preseason game last week at Baltimore.

With Cravens out, Deshazor Everett has taken most of the snaps as the first-team free safety and could start there when the Redskins host the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

Tight end Jordan Reed, who's on the physically unable to perform list with a left big toe injury, isn't expected to play Saturday. Receiver Jamison Crowder, who has been bothered by a hamstring injury, said the plan is for him to play against the Packers.

Packers: TE Bennett ‘the quarterback whisperer’
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Call Martellus Bennett the "quarterback whisperer."

The Green Bay Packers' tight end is with his third team in as many seasons, which means another training camp of building rapport with a new quarterback. He's proven to be productive at every stop.

Bennett is confident he'll do just fine connecting with Aaron Rodgers, even if the veterans might get limited reps together in preseason games.

"I need all the reps I can (get) with Aaron -- practice reps, game reps, meeting room reps. Any rep I can get with him I'll try to get whether it's just whispering to him, try to be the quarterback whisperer," the always-entertaining Bennett said. "Over-communicate and over-rep every single thing we could possibly do."

Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott have same Coach of the Year odds

Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott have same Coach of the Year odds

In a complete and utter shock, Bill Belichick is Bovada's favorite to win NFL Coach of the Year. 

Belichick is 7/1 to win the award, followed by Oakland's Jack Del Rio (9/1) and Green Bay's Mike McCarthy (10/1).

Despite the expected success of the Patriots, Belichick doesn't seem like a great bet because his team is so loaded. Anything short of 14-2 would probably make it difficult for Belichick to win the award for the fourth time. (He took it home in 2003, 2007 and 2010.)

Carolina's Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin (12/1) round out the top five.

Doug Pederson is toward the bottom at 33/1, in a tie with nine others, including first-year Bills head coach and former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

The reigning Coach of the Year, Jason Garrett, is 20/1 to repeat. If the Cowboys are able to win the NFC East with Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games, he might deserve it.

The longest odds, 50/1, belong to Todd Bowles (Jets), Jim Caldwell (Colts), John Fox (Bears), Adam Gase (Dolphins), Hue Jackson (Browns), Marvin Lewis (Bengals) and Sean McVay (Rams), for reasons that should be pretty obvious.