Roob's 25 Random Points: Eagles' wide receivers, Flat Earth Truthers, Mondo Cozmo and more

Roob's 25 Random Points: Eagles' wide receivers, Flat Earth Truthers, Mondo Cozmo and more

Free agent receivers, the Flat-Earth Society, Zach Ertz, Mondo Cozmo, Mike Mamula, LeSean McCoy and Pro Football Focus, Johnny Brenda’s and bad pizza!

It can only be one thing!

The return of Roob’s 25 Random Points.

1. Am I the only one that doesn’t want to over-pay for some 30-year-old free agent wide receiver who is only going to be well beyond his prime by the time the Eagles are presumably ready to make a deep playoff run? I want young receivers. I want draft picks. I want young wideouts who can run. I want guys who can come in and grow with Carson Wentz and reach their prime as he’s reaching his. I don’t see the point in patching yet again with over-priced free agents whose best years are past and who are just looking for that one final pay day. Haven’t we seen time and time again that this approach just doesn’t work? At some point if the Eagles are going to once again be an elite football team, it’s going to have to be through the draft. If you have more faith in older wideouts than draft picks, then you have the wrong people in the draft room.

2. There are exceptions to every rule (and every random point), and that said, I wouldn’t mind adding a guy like Terrelle Pryor, if the price is right. Pryor is 27, but he’s still very young as a wide receiver. For him to put up the numbers he did with the Browns as a first-time wideout learning a new position — 77 catches, 1,007 yards  with a rotating cast of ineffective quarterbacks, I feel like he could come right in and be very good playing with Wentz and still be in his prime in two or three years, when Wentz should be really hitting his stride as an elite QB. Don’t just sign a big name because he’s a big name. Sign a guy that makes sense.

3. It’s been fun watching the improvement Donte DiVincenzo has shown for Villanova this year. He’s gone from being just a bench guy to really a crucial piece of the puzzle for the Wildcats, who are ranked No. 2 a year after winning the national title. DiVincenzo, a red-shirt freshman, is Villanova’s third-leading scorer in five February games (going into Saturday’s Seton Hall game), averaging 11.8 points per game. He’s also fourth in rebounding (3.6), fourth in assists (2.0) and third in field goal percentage (53 percent) in February – all coming off the bench. But what’s really been encouraging has been DiVincenzo’s fearlessness. He senses when the Wildcats need him to be aggressive offensively, and he never hesitates to shoot, no matter how big the situation. On a team with a National Player of the Year candidate, a championship game hero and a brilliant sophomore point guard, that’s impressive. DiVincenzo’s versatility allows coach Jay Wright to use him in a number of different roles. He can play the 1 through the 4. He’s an athletic freak but also can handle and pass. And he’s only going to get better.

4. Listen to “She’s a Rainbow” by the Stones but just focus on the piano. It’s incredible. It was recorded by the late great British session man Nicky Hopkins, and what makes it so cool is how the piano figure changes each time it comes around between chorus and verse. Hopkins doesn’t play it the same way twice.

5. “She’s a Rainbow” is an unquestioned classic. Still … I’ll bet Mick and Keith would change that “She combs her hair” line if they could.

6. Best place to see a show in Philly: Johnny Brenda’s. Worst place to park in Philly: Johnny Brenda’s.

7. Getting back to free agent wide receivers … was just thinking who’s the best UFA wide receiver the Eagles have signed since Irving Fryar 20 years ago? Kevin Curtis? James Thrash? Consider this: Since 1973, Eagles wide receivers have had 36 seasons with 50 or more catches. Only six of those 36 have been courtesy of wideouts the Eagles signed as free agents (Charles Johnson (1), Curtis (1), Thrash (2), Fryar (2)). Safe to say Fryar is the only true impact wideout signing the Eagles have made since the inception of free agency in 1992. The Eagles have landed Mike Quick, Fred Barnett, Calvin Williams, Jason Avant, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in the draft and Miles Austin, Jeff Graham, Steve Smith, Michael Timpson, Rueben Randle and Chris Givens in free agency. See a pattern?

8. Am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous that during the I-95 construction there’s no open entrance ramp onto 95 North between Center City and, like, Maine?

9. Only two tight ends have had 75 or more catches and 800 or more yards in each of the last two seasons: Greg Olsen and Zach Ertz. If Ertz hits those milestones again next year, he’d become only the 10th tight end in NFL history with three such seasons and just the seventh to do it three straight years.

10. The biggest thing I’d like to see Wentz improve on next year is getting out to fast starts. Wentz really struggled early this year. In the first quarter, he had one TD pass and six interceptions and a 67.2 passer rating, which ranked 28th out of 32 quarterbacks who threw at least 50 passes in the first quarter (ahead of only Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and Blake Bortles). From the second quarter on, Wentz had 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions and a much healthier 82.3 passer rating. The interceptions Wentz threw early sure seemed like simply the product of a guy who was too amped up, too excited. Several times, he fired balls right at opposing D-backs, something you rarely saw him do late in games.

Think about it — he threw an INT every 21 attempts in the first quarter and every 60 attempts in the second through fourth quarters. The Eagles were a terrible first-quarter team this year. They scored an NFL-worst four first-quarter offensive TDs all year, and Wentz’s only first-quarter touchdown pass was a 19-yarder to Jordan Matthews against the Browns — on the first series of the Eagles’ first game. Seems like Wentz calmed down after the first drive or two and really let the game come to him. If he can just take a yard off his fastball early in games and have the same calm demeanor he does when the game is on the line, that alone is going to make him a much more effective quarterback. Bottle Wentz’s last three quarters and you have a playoff-caliber quarterback.

11. Here’s the bet Gunner and I made on Quick Slants on Monday: Victor Cruz's 2017 receiving yards with whatever team he’s with vs. Nelson Agholor's 2017 receiving yards. Gunner has Cruz, I have Nelly. Who do you like?

12. OK, why do I still believe in Agholor? I think about this a lot. Here’s my thing. I don’t see any of the usual red flags with unsuccessful draft picks. He works hard. He cares. He’s healthy. He wants to succeed. He isn’t too slow, too small or too short. No, the issues Agholor has had are mental more than physical. He has the tools. You see him run good routes, separate from corners, get open. He just doesn’t catch the ball. That tells me that buried somewhere under there lies a decent NFL wide receiver. No amount of coaching can make a slow guy fast or a small guy big. But I do think it’s possible to take a kid who has all the physical tools and help him find his confidence. A new position coach should help. Another year with Wentz should help. A year of maturity should help. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that Agholor will perform at a decent level in 2017, but I sure think it’s possible.

13. OK, I think it’s time for my top 10 Classic Rock keyboard players: 1. Rick Wakeman (Yes), 2. Keith Emerson (ELP), 3. Tony Banks (Genesis), 4. John Lord (Deep Purple), 5. Pat Moraz (Yes, Refugee), 6. Herb Schildt (Starcastle), 7. Kerry Minear (Gentle Giant), 8. Eddie Jobson (UK, Zappa), 9. John Tout (Renaissance), 10. Kit Watkins (Camel, Happy the Man).

14. It’s amazing to me that they actually built the Egyptian pyramids faster than they’re building the I-95 ramp to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And they did it without frontloaders.

15. I like Jim Schwartz and I think he has a chance to be a very good defensive coordinator for the Eagles. I don’t like — and never have liked — assistant coaches that try to be personnel experts. It was Schwartz that wanted the Eagles to sign cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who he coached in Buffalo, and it was Schwartz that didn’t want Eric Rowe, the 23-year-old second-round cornerback because — among other reasons — he would have been buried on the depth chart, behind – among others – McKelvin. So now McKelvin has been released, Rowe has a Super Bowl ring, the Eagles are in dire need of young, promising cornerbacks, and Rowe is just entering his prime as a Patriot, not an Eagle. Presumably, none of this happens if the Eagles leave the scouting to the scouts and the coaching to the coaches. Scouting and coaching are two completely different things, and it’s very possible to be really good at one and not so good at the other. And the Eagles’ trust in Schwartz as a scout may have cost them a promising young corner they could desperately use.

16. And the few remaining Eagles fans who deny that the Eagles could use Rowe because he’s not a “scheme fit” or some nonsense, remember that Bill Belichick finds talented players and then finds ways to use them. If you don’t think the Eagles could use a young, athletic cornerback who graded out well all year playing against some top wideouts, you’re kidding yourself. There’s a reason Belichick has won five Super Bowls and the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game in eight years.

17. Scat singing — a kind of vocal improvisation with nonsensical words that was made famous by Ella Fitzgerald — is the single most annoying form of music I’ve ever heard.

18. Except Billy Joel.

19. I don’t blame LeSean McCoy for lashing out at Pro Football Focus for leaving him off their list of the 101 best players in the NFL. I know it’s easy to lose track of him up in Buffalo, but have you looked at Shady’s stats this past year? He rushed for 1,267 yards with a 5.4 average, 13 touchdowns, 50 catches and 1,623 yards from scrimmage. Do you know how many players in NFL history have rushed for 1,200 yards, averaged 5.4 yards per carry, scored 10 or more TDs and caught 50 passes in a season? How about three? Marshall Faulk in 2000, Chris Johnson in 2009 and Shady this past year.

20. And this is from a guy in his eighth NFL season, when running backs are supposed to be fading from prominence. Shady’s 5.4 average this year is highest in NFL history by a running back in his eighth season. The previous record was 5.3 by Faulk in 2001. Shady’s as productive as ever. PFF’s explanation for omitting Shady — that he’s not a good blocker — is ridiculous. His virtually unprecedented production with the ball in his hands more than makes up for any deficiencies he has as a blocker.

21. One more on Shady. In his first eight seasons, he’s averaged 1,119 yards and 4.7 yards per carry. If he has three more seasons at those benchmarks, he’ll have 12,311 rushing yards to go with a 4.7 average. Do you know how many players in NFL history have done that? Two. Barry Sanders and Jim Brown. You can make a very good case that if Shady keeps up his career average level of play for three more seasons, he’s a Hall of Famer.

22. How do so many pizza joints stay in business selling terrible pizza?

23. It’s funny how our perception of different athletes changes depending on non-football circumstances. Mike Mamula is seen as a first-round bust and a horrible player, I believe to great extent because he rarely gave interviews during his playing days and was seen by fans as surly, difficult and uncooperative. Brandon Graham is beloved now, I think to a great extent because he’s such a great guy, always available for a sound bite, funny and insightful on TV.

So let’s look at the careers of the two first-round defensive ends, one who was taken instead of Warren Sapp, the other who was taken instead of Earl Thomas. Mamula had 31½ sacks in 77 games as an Eagle, and Graham has 29 sacks in 96 games as an Eagle. Mamula averaged 6.3 sacks per season and twice had 8.0 or more sacks. Graham has averaged 4.8 sacks per season (not counting 2011, when he barely played) with a career-high of 6½. Now, I’m not knocking Graham at all. He’s been playing at a high level and has proven himself worthy of being a No. 1 pick. But I will submit that Mamula has been unfairly maligned over the years and was far more productive than people realize.

24. I was going to make a joke about Kyrie Irving believing the Earth is flat. But the more I thought about it, the more it struck me that it’s more sad and scary and disturbing than funny that in this day and age a someone can actually believe something so absurd. I mean, freaking Galileo first realized the planets are round 500 years ago. What the heck were they teaching at Duke?

25. OK, I gotta tell you about Mondo Cozmo. It’s kind of a long story, so settle in. There’s a Bucks County band called Illinois that is still kicking around but had a pretty good run a decade ago playing to huge college and festival crowds across the U.S. and Europe. Illinois was formed by Chris Archibald, who had played with a Bucks County band called Ty Cobb, and Martin Hoeger, who had played in a Bucks County band called Trip 66. When they were in their late teens, a neighborhood kid named Josh would watch their rehearsals through their basement window. Josh was learning to play the guitar but was just 13 or 14. Too young to hang out. But he kept playing guitar and started writing songs and when he was old enough, the Illinois guys kind of took him under their wing and they all became pals.

Josh – Josh Ostrander – went on to form a band called La Guardia with Greg Lyons, who had played in Trip 66 with Hoeger. Ostrander and Lyons then moved to L.A. and formed a band called Eastern Conference Champions, which had a pretty good following on the pop-punk scene and recorded three records. But when they couldn’t find anybody to release their third record, they split up. Ostrander stayed in L.A., writing songs and working two jobs as a landscaper. Illinois meanwhile stayed somewhat active in Bucks County, although the members all have kids and other jobs now and lead singer Archibald is heavily involved with his brilliant new project, "Archawah" (catch them at the Boot and Saddle Thursday!). So that’s the background. And it takes us up to present day. One of Ostrander’s new songs is called "Shine," a moving, inspirational, almost-gospel track that he recorded mostly by himself, with just his girlfriend adding some backing vocals. Radio stations picked up on the song and began playing it. It caught fire.

“I was visiting my mom in Iowa and we were driving, and Shine came on the radio,” Josh told me the other day. “I just started crying. I had worked so long and so hard for something like this. I had to pull over. I couldn’t drive.”

About a month ago a crazy thing happened. On Jan. 20, Shine hit No. 1 on the Billboard’s Adult Alternative singles chart, knocking off Kings of Leon’s “Waste a Moment,” which had spent 14 weeks at No. 1. Ostrander, after decades of disappointment in the music industry, after working tirelessly for years as a landscaper, had a No. 1 hit. Suddenly, he began receiving invitations to play all the major summer festivals — Shaky Knees, Hangout, Sasquatch, Governor’s Ball, Boston Calling, Coachella, Firefly, Bonnaroo.

Before that, there were industry showcases and some East Coast gigs to play. But he didn’t have a band. There are some guys he plays with in L.A., but for the East Coast shows he needed musicians. So he called his old friends from Bucks County, and Archibald, Hoeger and original Ilinois drummer Craig Labor became his East Coast band. After being close friends for 20 years, they were sharing a stage for the first time ever — at some really important shows. They played a series of sold-out gigs, including the Boot and Saddle in Philly and the Mercury in New York, along with a bunch of industry insider gigs, TV auditions and radio station promotional shows. But before Ostrander returned to L.A. he wanted to do something special for his friends and family in Bucks County, the people who had stuck with him, supporting him, throughout all his ups and downs. And that’s how the secret show at a tiny bar in Bucks County came about.

Earlier this month, Mondo Cozmo played a show at an old-fashioned bar in Hatboro called Connolly’s that Archibald happens to manage. With the Illinois guys backing him and maybe 100 adoring friends and family jammed into this little bar, Ostrander and the guys he used to watch through a basement window tore through about an hour of songs from the forthcoming Mondo Cozmo record along with a Radiohead cover. "Shine" (now No. 2 on the Billboard AAA chart) turned into a powerful 100-person singalong and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Ostrander said, “This is a song that means the world to me. I hope it means a lot to all of you, too.”

After a quick change of drummers – from Labor to his pal and current Illinois drummer John Paul Kuyper – Archibald and Ostrander switched spots and ripped through a short set of Illinois songs as the crowd jammed into a random suburban bar went bonkers. It was an absurd scene — the guy with the No. 1 song in the country playing his heart out with his boyhood friends in a tiny bar off Old York Road between Produce Junction and a 7-11. But it didn’t feel absurd. It felt incredible and deeply moving. In a world of manufactured pop and lifeless autotuned hits, this was as pure and powerful as live music can be. You wonder what keeps a guy like Ostrander going as a struggling musician after literally decades of disappointments. Those couple hours at Connolly’s made it all clear.

Haason Reddick's draft ascension to culminate in his backyard

Haason Reddick's draft ascension to culminate in his backyard

Live draft coverage begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with Philly Sports Talk and continues until midnight on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App.

DeShone Kizer, who played against Haason Reddick in 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field, needed just one word to describe the Temple product.  

"Stud," Kizer said at the Shriners Hospital for Children on Wednesday at an NFL PLAY 60 event.

"Absolute stud. You've got to game-plan for him. He was playing at a higher level than you would expect a Temple football player to play at. We knew we were going to have to do whatever we could to stop him. He balled out against us. That took a whole team for us to go up against a guy like him, (Tyler) Matakevich in that fourth quarter to try and win it all."

Temple would have upset the Fighting Irish that night if it wasn't for some late game heroics from Kizer. 

Kizer connected with Philadelphia product-turned Houston Texan Will Fuller on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 left in the game as Notre Dame won, 24-20.

"They came out and they fought," Kizer said. "They were an undefeated team going into that game, it was Halloween night, Will Fuller's back home, and the way that game finished was obviously a good showing of what the season looked like all year." 

Reddick racked up four tackles in that game, including 1½ for a loss. As Reddick reflected on his career at Temple, he said that game against Notre Dame, the Penn State game in 2015 and the 2016 game against Memphis were some of the games that put him in the national spotlight. 

Reddick has taken that spotlight and continued to rise up NFL draft boards since the start of the draft process.

"I feel like I was under the radar," Reddick said. "They still truly don't understand the hard work that I put in to get here and really what type of player I am. But that will all change soon."

The former Temple walk-on has been projected as a mid-first-round pick. 

The Eagles hold the No. 14 overall pick in the draft Thursday night but haven't been linked to Reddick as much as other prospects like Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.

But with Conley and Foster each reportedly slipping because of off-the-field issues, Reddick might be an option for the Eagles at 14.

Reddick said Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole has met with him a couple of times leading up to the draft.

If selected by the Eagles, Reddick would already be familiar with Lincoln Financial Field since Temple plays its home games there. It's where he led the Owls to the American Athletic Conference championship in 2016.

"The process has been a crazy ride," Reddick said. "To be able to hear my name called on Thursday, God willing if that happens, it would be beautiful, man. It would be a great way to end this first chapter and start getting ready for the next one."

Potential Eagles' targets for 14th pick eagerly await draft fates

Potential Eagles' targets for 14th pick eagerly await draft fates

Live draft coverage begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with Philly Sports Talk and continues until midnight on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App.

Earlier this week, Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis sent Philadelphia Twitter into a frenzy with a couple taps of his thumb. 

Davis, after appearing on ESPN Monday, retweeted a fan's tweet — that read "Future Eagle" — to Trey Wingo. 

"Yeah, I did," Davis said with a chuckle Wednesday morning at Shriners Hospital for Children at a day-before-the-draft charity event. 

"I did that by accident. That was an accident. I've got love for Philly, but it was an accident."

Oops. 

Of course, this retweet set off sirens in Philadelphia. "Book it! The Eagles are going to take Davis with the 14th pick!" Not so fast. 

While Davis, the record-setting wide receiver from Western Michigan, said the couple of button pushes were an accident, there are several other options for the Birds at 14. And plenty of them were in attendance on Wednesday morning. 

For his part, Davis wouldn't mind joining forces with Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. 

"He's a great player," Davis said. "He's a competitor and he kind of plays with a chip on his shoulder as well. I kind of like that about him. He's got a swagger about him as well."

Davis was one of 21 players at Shriners on Wednesday for a PLAY 60 event put on by the NFL. He was one of several in attendance who might be a fit for the Eagles when they're on the board at 14 on Thursday night. 

Just like Davis, Washington receiver John Ross, who broke the combine's 40-yard dash record by running a 4.22, also had a meeting with the Eagles in Philadelphia during the pre-draft process. Ross is known for his 40 time in Indianapolis, but he made sure to note he's more than a track star. 

"That 4.22 means so much to everybody else," he said. "It doesn’t mean that much to me."

Like most of the prospects on Wednesday, Ross hasn't spent too much time thinking about scenarios. He thinks his meeting with the Eagles went well, but don't ask him where he thinks he'll be drafted.

Did the Eagles show more interest than other teams?

"I'm a horrible judge," said Ross, who has a lengthy injury history that could drop him in the first round. "I think they've all showed a lot of interest." 

For Haason Reddick, the event on North Broad Street, blocks from Temple's campus, had to feel like home. The former Owl is very likely going to be a first-round pick and has a chance to even make it into the top 10. 

Maybe Reddick wouldn't be the perfect fit in Philly at 14, but it could certainly happen. And that would be just fine for the Camden, New Jersey, native. 

"I think that'll be great, being a hometown guy, a guy that's familiar with Philadelphia, a guy that's played in the Linc," Reddick said. "If I'm on the board and Philly calls my name, I think that's the best-case scenario for the city to get somebody that they already know."

While the Eagles could use another linebacker, it's not as big a need as cornerback, a position where the Eagles are in desperate need. 

For a few weeks, it looked like Ohio State's Gareon Conley would be a perfect fit at 14, and he was supposed to be in Philly this week for the draft. But a rape allegation that surfaced on Tuesday kept Conley out of the city and might have him freefalling down draft boards. 

His Ohio State teammate and fellow cornerback Marshon Lattimore is in town, but there's a very strong chance he's off the board well before the Eagles pick. 

"[Conley is] going through it," Lattimore said. "I try to keep his spirits up, tell him that I got his back 100 percent. That's all I can say on that."

If the Eagles still decide to draft a CB in the first, maybe they could land on Tre'Davious White from LSU. While White has been an under-the-radar prospect in the last couple of months, his tape is impressive and his aggressiveness and versatility would fit well with the Eagles. 

"The people that really watch film and the people that really watch prospects, they know I'm one of the best, if not the best in this draft," he said. "It's just a matter of what team likes me the most. We'll see."

White, like the others, visited the Eagles earlier in the process and would welcome the opportunity to play with fellow LSU products Jalen Mills and Ron Brooks in Philly. According to White, Mills was the guy who showed him the ropes early during his LSU career. In fact, White was preparing to go out to dinner at a restaurant of Mills' choosing on Wednesday night. 

If the Eagles don't go with a corner, a receiver or a linebacker, how about a pass-rusher? 

While the team brings back Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, Jim Schwartz's defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback with the front four and the Eagles didn't do that nearly enough in 2016. 

Derek Barnett gets to the quarterback (see Didinger's final mock draft). In fact, he got to the quarterback so much at Tennessee, he broke Reggie White's school sack record. 

"My mindset going into a game was to be dominant," Barnett said. "If I'm dominant, everything will fall into place. I had that mindset when I came in as a freshman and before I knew it, I was breaking Reggie White's record. For my name to be in the same sentence as him, it's a blessing."

There seems to be a decent chance Barnett could continue to follow White's path to Philadelphia.  

Getting picked by Philadelphia, if nothing else, would at least save him a plane trip. 

"It would mean a lot. I would just have to drive up the street, not too far. A few blocks over," he said. "I'd already be at home."