Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

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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.

Dolphins' Nate Allen "can only think of positives" of his time with Eagles

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USA Today Images

Dolphins' Nate Allen "can only think of positives" of his time with Eagles

For the first time since he left the Eagles after the 2014 season, Nate Allen found himself practicing at the NovaCare Complex Monday afternoon.

Still wearing No. 29. Just a Dolphins' No. 29 these days.

"It was different," he said. "When I got here, it felt like I was still living down the street. So many memories. All of them good.

"It brought back a lot of memories even when I pulled into downtown, just remembering (the city), staying down there near some places you used to eat. It was good. When I look back, it was just was a great experience for me.”

While Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso held big press conferences at a podium for a battery of cameras and microphones (see story), Allen — who spent twice as long with the Eagles as Maxwell and Alonso combined — was 100 yards away quietly talking about his own tenure in Philly.

"Obviously went through ups and downs, but that's kind of the game of football," he said. "But when I look back I can only think of positives. 

"Being with Andy (Reid) and Chip (Kelly) and just the memories and the relationships I've built around here, it was a great experience."

Allen was always a divisive player here.

He was drafted with a second-round pick acquired from the Redskins in the Donovan McNabb deal, and he essentially was brought here in 2010 to replace Brian Dawkins, a year after he had signed with the Broncos. 

Allen became a steady starter with the Eagles but was never a crowd favorite, mainly because he wasn't Dawk. But from 2010 through 2014, he started 69 games, picked off 10 passes, survived the coaching change from Reid to Kelly, reached the playoffs twice.

During that five-year span, only two Eagles — Trent Cole and Brent Celek — played in more games than Allen.

In the last 25 years, only two safeties have played more games in an Eagles uniform than Allen — Dawk and Michael Zordich.

"It was huge being under Andy," Allen said. "You're not going to find a better coach than him, so the fact that I was able to come into that situation and I had some older guys—- like Asante (Samuel), Ellis Hobbs, Quintin Mikell — to take me under their wing and show me the ropes, it was big."

Allen spent the last two years with the Raiders before signing a one-year, $3.4 million deal with the Dolphins this past spring.

“He’s done exactly what we brought him here to do," Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Monday. "His job is to make sure nobody gets over the top and if somebody gets to you, get them down. He seems to be in the right place (at the) right time. He does a great job as far as knowing his assignment. He can help other guys. 

"It’s great having a veteran leader in that room, another one, and his special teams value is very high for us."

Allen, Brandon Graham and Clay Harbor are the only members of that 2010 Eagles draft class still in the NFL.

Anybody seen Daniel Te'o-Nesheim lately?

"I’ve got to give the good Lord thanks for keeping me healthy," Allen said after the Eagles-Dolphins joint practice Monday (see observations). "I’ve been blessed to play for … this is going on eight (years) so yes, it’s been a blessing."

The Dolphins have Allen penciled in as a starting safety opposite Rashad Jones in a back-seven that also includes Maxwell and Alonso.

Eight years after the Eagles drafted him out of South Florida, Allen is an example of what persistence, durability and intelligence can do.

Most players in the NFL are closer to Allen than Dawk. They're not stars, they're just smart and talented and able to play well into their 30s.

What's the difference between Nate Allen of 2010 and Nate Allen of 2017?

“I’m just wiser (and) more mentally in-tune to the game," Allen said. "I’ve just seen a lot now and I feel like I’ve been through different situations and just about every situation you probably can be in. So wisdom, probably.”

Celek, Graham, Jason Peters and Jon Dorenbos are the only players left from Allen's rookie year, but there are 18 players on the team that he played with at some point here and several coaches, including Doug Pederson.

"It's just good seeing those guys," he said. "You build relationships with those guys and obviously we're on different teams but you still have those relationships and it's just great to see them again."

Former teammate Jay Cutler thinks Alshon Jeffery will be just fine

Former teammate Jay Cutler thinks Alshon Jeffery will be just fine

For the last few weeks, there has been plenty of talk about Alshon Jeffery. He was hurt, then Doug Pederson kept him out and then his position coach said he was behind (see story).
 
Turns out, all everyone needed was just a little Jay Cutler perspective on the whole situation.
 
Cutler, in his typical Jay Cutler fashion, said on Monday that he wouldn't be worried at all about Jeffery.
 
"He'll be fine," said Cutler, who was teammates with Jeffery for five seasons in Chicago before joining the Dolphins this summer. "Obviously, I don't know what's going on here, I don't know where he is in the system, what his production's been like.
 
"As long as he's healthy, he's going to produce. He's going to go out there, he's a pro. He knows football, he's got a great feel, great instincts. If he's healthy, that wouldn't be a guy I'd worry about."
 
Cutler and the Dolphins are in town early for this Thursday's preseason game at the Linc and are having joint practices with the Eagles on Monday and Tuesday. Obviously, a big topic of conversation with Cutler was about his former teammate.
 
So a few questions later, Cutler was again asked about him.
 
"You guys are worried about Alshon," Cutler said jokingly. "He's going to be fine. What's going on? Is something going on that I don't know about?"
 
It was explained to Cutler that Jeffery missed some practice time during camp after hurting his shoulder. 
 
"Well, he had a shoulder injury," Cutler said. "What do you want him to do?"
 
Jeffery, who signed a one-year deal to join the Eagles this offseason, played in the Eagles' second preseason game after missing the first. And on Monday, he probably had his best practice since joining the team (see 10 observations).
 
Dolphins head coach and former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase has said Jeffery is the only player he's ever coached that had him feel comfortable enough to tell his quarterback to just throw it up even if he isn't open.
 
Carson Wentz is still building that type of chemistry with Jeffery, but Cutler remembers what it was like to have a target like that.
 
"You just throw it," Cutler said. "You just throw it out there and he'll make it right. You get a guy like that 1-on-1, you can back shoulder him, you can put him over the top. It's hard to cover a guy like that and I'm sure Carson and some of these quarterbacks have witnessed his ability to catch the back shoulder balls and get on top of guys as well."
 
Jeffery is two years removed from his last 1,000-yard season, but the Eagles are really hoping he can regain the form that led to back-to-back seasons with at least 85 catches and 1,100 yards in 2013 and 2014. Cutler, of course, was his quarterback then.
 
And he still thinks his former teammate has it.
 
"Obviously, he's had a shoulder injury," Cutler said. "He had some injuries for us (the Bears) that were speed bumps for him. But when he's healthy and he's rolling, he's one of the best out there."