NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch


NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

If you're an Eagles fan looking toward the 2012 draft, here's who you should be watching this Saturday.

Trent Robinson, FS Michigan State, No. 39

Michigan vs. Michigan State (ESPN12 p.m.)

The Birds are searching for answers at safety since the departures of Brian Dawkins and Quintin Mikell, and while the 2012 crop of safeties isn't real strong at the top of the draft, there are some nice players out there. Robinson (5-10, 197) has played both strong and free safety during his college career, but settled in as the Spartans' starting FS in 2010, recording four interceptions (he has one so far this season). Robinson excels in coverage and while he isn't a force against the run, he isn't afraid to stick his nose in the pile.

Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford, No. 55
Stanford vs. Washington State (Versus7:30 p.m.)

Before the season started, I would have never thought to include Martin in one of these posts, simply because I felt he'd go too early in the first round for the Eagles to have a shot at him. While I truly think the Eagles will win a bunch of games this year, as it stands now they'd definitely be in Martin's draft range. Martin, a left tackle, was a 2010 All-PAC 10 selection and anchors the Cardinal offensive line. The redshirt junior is tall (6-6, 304) and athletic with solid technique in both the run and pass games. He might need to get a bit stronger, but should be off the board by pick No. 10 of the 2012 draft.
Travis Lewis, OLB Oklahoma, No. 28
Oklahoma vs. Kansas (ESPN29:15 p.m.)

Size-wise, Lewis resembles the much-maligned Eagles linebackers currently on the roster. At 6-1 and 232 pounds, Lewis certainly isn't Ray Lewis, but he has elite speed and quickness that he uses very effectively against the run. His instincts are strong and he's the captain at Oklahoma. He just makes plays.

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Eagles (3-2) return home Sunday for the first time in nearly a month and welcome a familiar face to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) will come to Philadelphia fresh off a Week 6 bye and, most notably, as the league's lone unbeaten team. Minnesota boasts one of the league's top defenses, ranking first in points allowed (12.6 per game) and second in yards allowed (287.6 per game), and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2009.

The last time these two franchises met was back in December 2013, when Matt Cassell and the Vikings put up 48 points in a win over Chip Kelly's Eagles.

To get a better handle on this year's Vikings, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 7 opponent.

Brian Robison poses yet another challenge for Big V
Making his NFL debut in a start against the Redskins last week, Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Ryan Kerrigan beat Vaitai and got to Carson Wentz for 2½ sacks, all of which came in the first half.

It won't get any easier for the rookie right tackle this week either, as he'll likely be lined up against Brian Robison for most of the afternoon. Robison has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season and, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the versatile 10-year defensive end could be difference maker on the defensive side of the ball Sunday.

"Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back," Krammer wrote. "At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate. ... And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there."

Makeshift offensive line remains a question mark
The Vikings may be undefeated, but by no means are they made up of perfect parts. As the midway point of the NFL season approaches, Minnesota's injury-battered offensive line is still a work in progress. 

Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both sidelined with season-ending injuries. Starting guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion Week 5 against the Texans, but is expected to return against the Eagles. Center is the only position on the line the Vikings haven't had to replace because of an injury at some point this season.

But despite the constant changes up front, Minnesota has been stout overall in protecting the quarterback, allowing eight sacks and 27 quarterback hits across five games. According to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, the performance of that makeshift offensive line is going to be key in the Vikings' potential success down the road. 

"What’s best for Bradford and the Vikings’ standing as the NFC’s top dog is better pass protection," Murphy wrote. "He was sacked twice when Houston defenders turnstiled Clemmings and hit hard in the pocket other times. ... Offensive line intrigue never is a sexy storyline, but how well the Vikings manage the unit week to week figures to be an underlying factor to their continued success."

Strong away from home
The Vikings are a just a few years removed from going winless on the road, finishing 0-7-1 away from home in the 2013 season. Minnesota secured wins in only two of its first 10 away games under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, but have since gone on a tear.

Minnesota has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season and, in their most recent game away from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took down the Panthers, 22-10, in Week 3. A testament of a true contender is having the ability to win consistently on the road, which holds true with the Vikings.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings' vast improvement over the past two-plus seasons has contributed to them becoming a stronger team away from home.

"Facing a tough opposing crowd once was a tall order for the Vikings, but it’s much less of one now. After being one of the worse road teams in the NFL earlier this decade, they’re now one of the best," Tomasson wrote. "Overall, the Vikings have improved, having gone from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 last season to 5-0 this year. That’s the main reason the road record has gotten so much better. Still, players say the continuity the team has had has especially helped when entering rugged road environments."

While Vegas has the Vikings as light favorites on the road, national experts have them heavily favored straight up to hand the Eagles their third straight loss.

ESPN: All nine experts picked the Vikings

CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Vikings

FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Vikings 

Eagles need Dorial Green-Beckham’s production to catch up to workload

Eagles need Dorial Green-Beckham’s production to catch up to workload

Dorial Green-Beckham was on the field in Washington for 42 of the Eagles’ 52 offensive snaps on Sunday.

He had one catch for 23 yards.

Green-Beckham, who the Eagles added during training camp via a trade with the Titans, has been brought along slowly since his arrival to Philadelphia. In each week, his playing time has increased.

Now, the Eagles just need his production to catch up.

“[We are] moving him a little bit more around in formations, but still trying to keep it to one position for him,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “Utilizing his strength; I think he's a tremendous slant runner. I think he can run those deeper in-routes, things like that, and utilize his height and strength in the red zone a little bit more. That's him and that's the type of player that he is. Can he be an every-down starter? I think he could eventually probably get there.”

Green-Beckham, who also had a 38-yard reception nullified by a questionable illegal block in the back in Washington, has all the qualities that could make him a special receiver. At 6-5, 237, he has size and strength to go along with his 4.49 speed.

There’s a reason the Titans took him in the second round last year. But there’s also a reason Tennessee was willing to give him up a year later for reserve tackle Dennis Kelly.

There had been knocks on Green-Beckham’s work ethic and consistency. But through a couple months in Philadelphia, those things don’t seem to be problems. In fact, Green-Beckham claims he’s been putting in extra work and asking plenty of questions in an attempt to catch up.

So when can we expect to see DGB targeted 8 to 10 times per game?

“Hopefully that day comes soon,” Green-Beckham said. “But right now, I feel like each and every day we're getting better and better. We just have to continue to do the right things, starting at practice. And then when it comes to the game, everything comes easy.”

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said there are no more limitations with Green-Beckham because of the receiver’s late arrival, but Pederson made it seem like the team is still bringing him along slowly.

Pederson on Friday said he would love to have an entire offseason with DGB, but that’s a luxury he doesn’t have right now and won’t have until next spring and summer.

For now, Green-Beckham could offer the Eagles an alternative to a group of receivers that has been a clear disappointment over the last couple of seasons.

DGB played 81 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps on Sunday against Washington and he thinks that high number is a trend that will continue.

“I feel like every time I'm running a route, I'm always giving my all, giving my 100 percent,” Green-Beckham said. “Quarterbacks see that, coaches see that, players see that. That's why I feel like my reps have increased — coaches see that. And every time I'm out there, I'm just thinking open grass.”

Through five games, Green-Beckham has 11 catches for 131 yards without a touchdown. Thanks to his strength, he also has 65 yards after the catch, which means he averages 5.9 YAC per reception, second on the team to only Darren Sproles.

DGB has clearly surpassed Josh Huff on the depth chart and has a chance to become a go-to receiver for Carson Wentz. With Wentz just getting started, the combination of the two of them could be a mainstay in Philadelphia if they can get on the same page.

And if Green-Beckham can finally live up to his potential.

“DGB is playing very well,” Reich said. “I think he looks fast; he looks strong. We see it every time he gets the ball in his hands, he's hard to tackle. He's a big man who can run fast. He's gaining more and more confidence.”