NFL draft: Breaking down Eagles' division rivals

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NFL draft: Breaking down Eagles' division rivals

We know how the Eagles' draft picks stack up, so here's a look at the rest of the NFC East:

New York Giants
The Giants surprised a lot of their fans by passing on Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald and Notre Dame OL Zack Martin at No. 12 to select LSU WR Odell Beckham. And while I believe addressing either their offensive or defensive line was their top priority, it's hard to argue with taking a playmaker like Beckham.

The Giants lost Hakeem Nicks to the Colts this offseason, and giving Eli Manning more weapons may help him bounce back after an atrocious 2013 season. On the flip side, this draft was so deep at WR, New York may have been smart to grab either Donald or Martin at No. 12 and wait until the second or third round to load up on offensive weapons.

I loved their second-round selection, Colorado State offensive lineman Weston Richburg. He played center in college but can move out to guard if they need him to in the pros. Richburg was my top center in the draft and should start immediately.

They reached a bit for Syracuse DT Jay Bromley in the third round, but he should be able to contribute immediately as a run-stuffer.

Fourth-rounder Andre Williams, a RB out of Boston College, could be a workhorse in time, but may be a short-yardage back behind Rashad Jennings in the near future. Hard to not like a guy who ran for 2,177 yards in 2013.

The Giants failed to address their hole at tight end, but after the first four came off the board, I didn't see any candidates who would be much of an impact player.

The Giants' draft was solid and hinges on whether Beckham can make a big impact on an offense that often stalled out in 2013.

Washington Redskins
Redskins fans rejoice!

This was the last draft the 'Skins endured under the debilitating 2012 RG3 trade with St. Louis. But just to rub things in, with the picks the Rams got from Washington for the second overall pick in the 2012 draft (obviously used to draft Robert Griffin III), St. Louis was able to select the following players (thanks to some additional wheeling and dealing): DT Michael Brockers, CB Janoris Jenkins, LB Alec Ogletree, WR Stedman Bailey, RB Zac Stacy and OT Greg Robinson. A very nice haul indeed.

With that out of the way, despite not having their first-round pick (would have been second overall), the 'Skins came away with some decent pieces in some needed areas.

In the second round, the 'Skins traded down with the Cowboys from No. 34 (Dallas selected Boise St. defensive end Demarcus Lawrence) to No. 47 (and received Dallas' third-round pick, No. 78) and selected Stanford DE/OLB Trent Murphy. I have always liked Murphy just based on the tenacious play -- the guy just doesn't stop coming, and his 15 sacks in 2013 led the nation. But the more I watched him, the more I didn't think he would be a guy who could get to the QB consistently in the NFL. He's just not that quick off the ball, and most of his sacks were effort sacks.

But with Brian Orakpo most likely leaving next season, Washington's thought process is understandable. I just may have stood pat at 34 and taken Lawrence instead, but Murphy is the kind of player you want to battle with every week and could turn out to be a poor man's Ryan Kerrigan.

In the third round, the 'Skins addressed a porous offensive line by drafting Virginia tackle Morgan Moses (No. 66) and Nebraska guard Spencer Long (No. 78). I thought Moses had first-round talent; he should be able to step in at RT immediately, displacing the inconsistent Tyler Polumbus, and be a backup to LT Trent Williams as well.

Long, who has been injury-prone over the past two seasons, could replace Chris Chester at RG if he's completely healed from an MCL tear he sustained last season. I would have been more impressed if the 'Skins grabbed Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson instead (he went three picks later to the Raiders at No. 81).

The Skins' last pick of consequence, at least in my eyes, was Clemson CB Bashaud Breeland. A tough, stout corner, Breeland adds quality depth to a thin secondary. I thought Breeland could have gone as early as the late second round, so good value there.

The Redskins added good depth and two or three potential starters despite not having a first-round pick. Nothing sexy here, just solid across the board.

Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys disappointed a lot of people by passing on Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel at No. 16. Not only did they pass on perhaps the biggest wild card in the draft, but they also instead made the first-round's most boring pick in Notre Dame OT Zack Martin. But boring doesn't mean bad, and Martin should plug in to Dallas' offensive line either at RT or LG and make them a whole lot better. Jerry Jones actually made a smart decision here.

In the second round, Jones swapped second-round picks and gave up his third-round pick to Washington to select Lawrence at No. 34. I like Lawrence, and with all the top safeties off the board, grabbing one of the rare pass rushers in the draft made sense for them even if it meant paying a steep price.

The rest of Dallas' draft was a mixed bag. A reach in the fourth round for Iowa LB Anthony Hitchens, who they probably could have gotten much later in the draft, was followed by the acquisition of pick No. 148 from the Lions in exchange for No. 158 and No. 229 so they could select Pitt WR Devin Street.

I think they would have been much better off staying where they were and selecting either Princeton DT Caraun Reid or Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis. Baylor S Ahmad Dixon (No. 248) and Oregon CB Terrance Mitchell (254) in the seventh round could prove to be great depth picks.

The Boys got two nice pieces in the first two rounds in Martin and Lawrence, but with the number of picks they had I would have liked to have seen more guys who can make impacts sooner.

Dorial Green-Beckham fined by NFL for wearing Yeezy cleats

Dorial Green-Beckham fined by NFL for wearing Yeezy cleats

Dorial Green-Beckham didn't support any charity with his cleats last Sunday.

In reality, he was funding the NFL.

The Eagles' receiver was fined $6,076 by the NFL for wearing Yeezy cleats (Kanye West's shoes), which had no affiliation to a charitable organization or cause, CSNPhilly.com has confirmed. Players around the NFL last weekend wore decorative spikes supporting a charity or cause they felt passionately about as part of the league's My Cleats, My Cause promotion. Green-Beckham was fined because his cleats were unapproved by the league; earlier this season Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins was fined for wearing Yeezy cleats. 

Green-Beckham told NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks he was supporting the "Yeezy Foundation." ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the fine on Friday. 

Bradham fined for tackle
Speaking of fines, Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham was hit with a $18,231 fine for his horse-collar tackle last Sunday on Bengals running back Jeremy Hill in the third quarter.

The first-year Eagle finished the game with five total tackles and a forced fumble.

Jordan Matthews eager to return after missing first-ever game

Jordan Matthews eager to return after missing first-ever game

Jordan Matthews experienced something new on Sunday. Something he hoped he’d never have to experience. 

He was relegated to spectator.  

After never missing a game dating back to little league – through high school, college, and into his third season in the NFL – a right ankle injury kept him out of Sunday’s 32-14 loss in Cincinnati. 

“It’s definitely not fun,” Matthews said. “But it’s one of those things where I try not to dwell on it or be like ‘woe is me.’ There’s people going through way worse things in America than me missing a football game.”

The Eagles certainly could have used Matthews on Sunday. But they should get him back this weekend when the Birds host Washington for a 1 p.m. kickoff at the Linc. Along with Ryan Mathews and Dorial Green-Beckham, Matthews is listed as questionable. 

But he seems confident he’ll be good to go. 

“I think one game is definitely going to be enough for me,” Matthews said. “I’m definitely going to try to get back out there Sunday.” 

On Friday, during his first media availability in two weeks, Matthews said he chose to find the positives in his absence from Sunday’s game. Namely that Paul Turner and Trey Burton got some extra reps. 

Burton had five catches for 53 yards and Turner, in just his second NFL game, had six catches for 80 yards. 

“I try to see the positives,” Matthews said. “I liked seeing what PT was able to go out there and do. I was happy for him and his first live-game action, being able to go out there and make plays. I was also proud of Trey. His role got to expand with me being out and I think he played extremely well. He got to show what he can do and show how he can help this team. We just have to continue to utilize him moving forward. There’s always a positive in it. 

“We might not see it now, in a loss, but just think, some of those guys are going to be weapons for us in the future. And we saw they can go out and perform well without me in there, so I think it’s going to end up being a positive. But I definitely can’t wait to get back out there.”

Earlier in the week, head coach Doug Pederson said that even with Matthews’ returning, the team would still try to get Turner involved. Since the team sees Turner primarily as a slot receiver, that means Matthews could see time outside this weekend. There’s an even better chance when taking Green-Beckham’s injury into account. 

Before the season, Pederson talked a lot about wanting to play Matthews both inside and outside, but this season, Matthews has been in the slot for 74 percent of his snaps. Forty-four of his 57 catches have come from the slot too. 

On the play where Matthews hurt his ankle against the Packers, he was actually lined up outside and caught a back-shoulder throw from Wentz. 

“I was actually joking with Carson,” Matthews said, “I was like ‘bro, the reason I got hurt was because our back shoulder was better than Jordy [Nelson] and Aaron [Rodgers’]. So it didn’t mesh well with the universe. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way on Monday night for everybody to see, so the football gods took my ankle. So it’s all good. … That’s a joke.”

Matthews, despite being in his third season, is clearly one of the Eagles’ leaders on offense, especially in a very young receivers room. He’s looking forward to playing Washington after he thinks they were the first team that “actually came out and beat” them earlier in the year. 

With four games left in the regular season, the Eagles’ playoff chances are extremely slim. But Matthews thinks it’s important for the team to finish strong, especially with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. 

With Wentz, Matthews thinks the Eagles have already taken the first step toward building something special. 

“He’s the guy,” Matthews said. “He looks like the guy, he walks like the guy, he talks like it. And he goes out there and plays like it. It’s more we have to continue to ride around him and coach Pederson and be positive and go out there and produce.”