Report: Saints want a mid-1st-round pick for Brandin Cooks

Report: Saints want a mid-1st-round pick for Brandin Cooks

INDIANAPOLIS -- Remember that talk about a second-round pick being enough to land Saints receiver Brandin Cooks?

Not so fast.

The Patriots offered a package to the Saints for the 23-year-old wideout that included their first-round pick (the last in the round) and the Saints declined the offer, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The Saints want a mid-first-round pick in return for Cooks, per the report.

Wouldn't you know, that's exactly where the Eagles' No. 14 happens to fall.

Now just because the Saints are insisting on a mid-first-round pick now, it doesn't necessarily mean that's the only thing they'd take for Cooks. It's just how negotiations work. What they have in their favor is that five teams, according to the report, have talked to them about the talented receiver.

Cooks has one more year on his rookie contract at a very minimal cap hit and then there's a club option for 2018 that would transfer to the Eagles in a trade. So the Eagles would have at least two years with Cooks if they can't work out a long-term extension, which would obviously be the goal.

The Eagles could really use a big-time receiver like Cooks, who has gone over 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons, his second and third in the NFL. And he's just the type of receiver -- a deep threat -- that the Eagles need. He caught as many 40-yard passes (six) and 50-yard passes as the Eagles in 2016.

Roseman, Eagles 'try something different' with back-to-back CBs in draft

Roseman, Eagles 'try something different' with back-to-back CBs in draft

If you're not sure how you feel about the Eagles' draft, ask yourself how things went for the franchise when they kept signing veteran free agent cornerbacks.

Hint: Nnamdi. Ellis Hobbs. Bradley Fletcher. Cary Williams. Nolan Carroll. Leodis McKelvin.

The Eagles haven't won a playoff game since 2002 draft picks Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown left town -- Sheppard after the 2008 season, Brown after the 2009 season.

And it's pretty clear the Eagles' philosophy of essentially ignoring cornerback in the top rounds of the draft and patching with free agents has been a colossal failure.

"We’ve got to try something different," Howie Roseman said Friday night.

Enter Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, who the Eagles hope become this generation's Lito and Sheldon.

The Eagles drafted Sheppard and Brown in the first and second rounds in 2002, and they combined to play 221 games in an Eagles uniform, reaching the playoffs in five of the seven years they were together.

On Friday, the Eagles picked Jones in the second round and Douglas in the third. 

In the span of four hours, the Eagles matched the number of cornerbacks they drafted in the first three rounds in the previous 14 drafts. They took Curtis Marsh in the third round in 2011 and Eric Rowe in the second round 2015.

Carroll and McKelvin, last year's starting corners, are long gone, and the position is now manned by three kids -- 23-year-old Jalen Mills, who played in 16 games last year, starting two; 20-year-old Jones, who is still rehabbing after his March Achilles injury; and 21-year-old New Jersey native Douglas, who led NCAA Division 1 with eight interceptions a year ago.

The Eagles have never had three cornerbacks this young on the roster at the same time.

The closest was in 2004, when Sheppard and Dexter Wynn were 23 and Matt Ware was 22.

“Extremely competitive guys, and I think when you talk about a guy like Jalen Mills, he’s got a lot of the same personality traits as these guys do," Roseman said.

"He doesn’t want to back off anyone. He thinks he can cover any receiver in the National Football League, and you love to have that approach. He played at LSU, in the SEC, against top-level competition.

"And when you talk about all these guys, they bring this competitiveness, the instincts, this feel for the game that we’re looking for.

"We want to build a defense and build a team that can stick together over a period of time and hopefully this is a first step toward doing that."

The wild card is Jones, who likely would have been a top-10 pick if he hadn't ruptured his Achilles at the end of his pro day workout six weeks ago.

Roseman concedes that there's a risk in selecting Jones, but based on all the medical reports the Eagles have, he believes it's a risk well worth taking.

And he makes a great point when he says the Eagles' chances of obtaining an elite corner are better taking an injured Jones at No. 43 than anybody else.

"He’s not there if he’s 100 percent healthy," Roseman said. "Extremely talented guy. Right up there with the top players in this draft class. Tremendous character, tremendous skill set.

“It’s interesting. When you’re talking about picking a guy in the second round and you start getting into percentages. What percent of guys with the 43rd pick become starers? So is anything 100 percent there? No.

"There’s certainly a chance you’re not getting the exact same player. But the percentages we got from our doctor were extremely high, and then when we figure out Sidney’s chances of being a good players when he’s healthy they’re higher than anyone else you could get at that spot. …

"Sometimes you feel so good about the player you feel like it’s a chance worth taking. For where we are to potentially get a No. 1 cornerback in the National Football League? We just felt like it was worth the risk for our football team."

Jones is expected to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but the Eagles hope to have him on the field at some point during the season and expect him to be 100 percent or very close for the start of 2018.

He'll still only be 21 years old.

"We spent a lot of time with him and with his medical reports with our medical team, led by (team physician) Dr. (Peter) DeLuca and (trainer) Chris Peruzzi, and obviously he’s got a long way to go, it’s an Achilles injury.

"But we feel comfortable at this time with the research we did and we’re going to do everything we can to get him back to when he was the Sidney Jones we saw play in college football and was one of the best players in college football."

The Eagles haven't had an above-average pass defense since 2008, the last time the franchise won in the postseason.

Since 2009, they've allowed the most passing touchdowns in the NFL -- 234 of them. That's 10 more than any other team. Last year, they allowed a franchise-record 27 pass plays of 30 yards or more, second-most in the NFL (one fewer than the Raiders).

Like Howie said, it was time to try something different, and that process began this weekend with the addition of defensive end Derek Barnett, whose pass pressure will presumably help the secondary, and two highly regarded young cornerbacks.

Jones and Douglas are different types of corners. Jones, when healthy, will cover the faster deep threats and Douglas will generally be assigned to the bigger wideouts.

"They have complementary skill sets," Roseman said. "And when you talk about the receivers in our division, in our conference, (you want) guys who can cover the quicker twitch receivers, and the guys who can take the big strong receivers that we face.

"Both those guys can make plays on the ball, and (defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz is looking for competitive guys who can make plays on the ball, and that's important to get the ball back to our offense."

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas selections make Lurie think of 2002 draft

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas selections make Lurie think of 2002 draft

Even Jeffrey Lurie couldn’t help but draw parallels between the Eagles’ selections on day two of the 2017 NFL Draft and certain aspects of the class of 2002. The difference is the stakes might be even higher for Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas than they were when the club took Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown 15 years ago.

Cornerback was by far the Eagles’ most pressing need entering the draft this year, so it was no surprise they came away with two in the first three rounds. Watching the organization choose defensive backs in succession instantly brought back memories of ’02 nonetheless.

That was the last time the Eagles successfully located a long-term solution at cornerback -- or any spot in the secondary for that matter -- in the draft. The selections of Sheppard and Brown paved the way for seven years of stability at the position, a period during which the franchise went to the playoffs five times, won three division championships and made a Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles are hoping history will repeat in some sense with Jones and Douglas, although the landscape of the roster is quite different this time around. Sheppard and Brown were able to sit behind Pro Bowl corners Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent for roughly a year-and-a-half.

The sooner Jones and Douglas are able to get on the field for the Eagles, the better.

As far as Jones is concerned, there’s no telling exactly when that will be. The two-time All-Pac-12 defender is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that dropped him from a potential top-15 pick or higher to No. 43 in the draft. Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman admitted Jones’ availability for 2017 is “to be determined.”

Assuming Jones makes a full recovery as expected -- granted, far from assured -- we’re talking about one of the best prospects in the draft. Along with the addition of defensive end Derek Barnett at No. 14, Roseman likened it to having multiple first-round picks.

“We just thought it was a really good opportunity,” Roseman said. “We’re really optimistic about it because [Jones] is 20-years-old and in doing all the research that our doctors and trainers did about this injury, we just thought it was a great opportunity for our football team.”

Lurie saw similarities to Jones and another member of the class of ’02, safety Michael Lewis.

Lewis was taken between Sheppard and Brown in the second round, and wound up departing as a free agent after just five seasons, though not before earning an invitation to his only Pro Bowl. As it turns out, Lewis was only available to the Eagles in the first place due to a medical condition -- one that didn’t prevent him from playing nine years in the league.

“[Eagles owner Jeffrey Lure] just talked a little bit about, ‘Do you remember that draft,’” Roseman said. “If you remember at the time, I think the point he brought up was Michael Lewis had a heart condition and he fell a little bit in that draft because of that, and we kind of took a chance on him here, and so he was, I guess, analogizing it like with Sidney.”

At least Douglas will have the opportunity to play right away, which is something the Eagles desperately need. It’s almost impossible to fault the front office for taking the best player available when he represents such amazing value, even if he is hurt, but the depth chart at corner was in a precarious state.

Had the regular season started on Thursday, the Eagles’ likely starting cornerbacks were 2016 seventh-round pick Jalen Mills and journeyman free-agent signing Patrick Robinson, with little-known Ron Brooks in the slot. At least Douglas serves as competition for the uninspiring group, even if he’s not ready to step in Week 1.

“The thing that really stood out in his week at the Senior Bowl, you guys probably heard me talk about it all the time, this guy is tough and very competitive,” Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “You saw it the entire week. Every rep was like the last rep he was playing. I love the way this guy competes.”

Obviously, the Eagles’ hope is Jones and Douglas are the next Sheppard and Brown, even if that wasn’t exactly the intention. Regardless, there are some potentially key distinctions.

Again, Sheppard and Brown had the benefit of tremendous veteran tutors and time to learn before being thrust into action. Douglas is competing for a job immediately, and if Jones is allowed to play in 2017, there’s a good chance he sees the field. The Eagles are in no position to bring these guys along slowly.

While Jones may be a better prospect than Sheppard was at the time, Douglas is less than Brown, at least in terms of draft capital. Sheppard and Brown were selected Nos. 26 and 59 in ’02. Jones and Douglas went Nos. 43 and 99.

The Eagles hope those will be remembered as minor details. The real plan is for Jones and Douglas to one day soon finally settle those corner spots that have essentially been up for grabs ever since Sheppard and Brown vacated them.

Even the Eagles don’t know if everything is going to work out that way, but based on the Lito-Sheldon draft, the optics sure seem good. Of course, it took the better part of two seasons for that plan to come together, too.