Sherman's 2014 Eagles mock draft 2.0

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Sherman's 2014 Eagles mock draft 2.0

Round 1, Pick 22: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA (6-5/255)

In my second attempt at an Eagles mock draft, I have my first Eagles pick (C.J. Mosley) jumping up a slot to Green Bay and players like North Carolina TE Eric Ebron (Detroit), Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks (Jets), Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio (Miami), and Fresno State QB Derek Carr (Minnesota) rising into the top 20. These moves leave the UCLA pass rusher in Philly's lap at No. 22.

Even with WRs like Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin and USC's Marqise Lee still available, I am sticking to my guns that the need for defensive playmakers far outweighs the need to replace DeSean Jackson. The Eagles need to improve a pass defense that gave up the most passing yards (4,636) in the NFL in 2013, and boosting the pass rush is one way of doing it. Barr is raw, only playing OLB for the past two seasons at UCLA after switching over from TE his first two years, but still managed to record 23.5 sacks while learning his new craft.

With Trent Cole and Connor Barwin entrenched at OLB for 2014, Barr will get the opportunity to learn the nuances of the position while being used to do what he does best - get after the QB. Then in 2015, when Cole is most likely released for salary cap reasons, Barr hopefully is ready to step into the starting role.

Anthony Barr Highlights

Mock 1.0: C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Round 2, Pick 54: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State (6-3/220)

This pick came down to selecting Robinson or going with one of the top remaining corners I still had on the board - Clemson's Bashaud Breeland, Rice's Phillip Gaines, or Utah's Keith McGill. I went with Robinson because I felt he could make a quicker impact on the field.

The former Nittany Lion has the size everyone thinks Chip Kelly loves and has shown to be a versatile pass catcher. He can be used on screens, over the middle, or deep, where he uses his size and leaping ability to out-muscle defensive backs.

Allen Robinson Highlights

Mock 1.0: Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville 

Round 3, Pick 86: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood (6-1/198)

We wait until Round 3 to address the secondary with a Division II standout in Desir. Some mocks have Desir going much sooner than this, but while I think his size and athletic ability will work at the NFL level, his lack of experience against any sort of decent competition will make the transition a little bumpy. With coaching, the Eagles in a year or two will have a potential starter on the outside.

Pierre Desir Highlights

Mock 1.0: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State

Round 4, Pick 122 : Dri Archer, RB/KR, Kent State (5-8/173)

Yes, Archer is probably the antithesis of Kelly's supposed "big people beat up little people" mantra, but the little guy can flat out fly (fastest 40 at the combine - 4.26), and is incredible with the ball in his hands. I'm selecting him over Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas because Archer carried a much bigger load than the more hyped Duck, putting up big numbers without all the other weapons Thomas had surrounding him.

While Archer's physical stature might not make him an ideal fit for Kelly, his versatility does. Archer played RB, lined up as WR, and returned kicks for the lowly Golden Flashes. As a junior, Archer ran for 1,429 yards and 16 TDs, caught 39 balls for another 561 yards and four scores, and returned three kickoffs for TDs. That folks is production. His senior season was hampered by an early-season ankle injury, but by the end of 2013 Archer had returned to form.

And before you say, "What about Darren Sproles?" remember the ex-Saint is going to be 31 at the start of the season and already struggles on kick returns. This is a bit of a luxury pick, but Archer can start returning kicks immediately and in a year make Sproles expendable.

Dri Archer Highlights

Mock 1.0: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin

Round 5, Pick 162: Marqueston Huff, DB, Wyoming (5-11/196)

Huff is a versatile piece to add to the Eagles' secondary. After starting three seasons as a CB, he transitioned to safety for his senior season. Huff is physically gifted but hasn't fully translated the athleticism to football production. Would be an ideal fit if Billy Davis wanted to play three safeties on occasion. He should be an immediate contributor on special teams where his speed and fearlessness would be put to good use.

Maqueston Huff Highlights

Mock 1.0: Zach Kerr, DT, Delaware

Round 7, Pick 237: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (6-4/242)

Lyerla left the Oregon Ducks midway through the 2013 season for personal reasons after getting arrested for cocaine possession and being suspended for a game.

If Lyerla had kept his nose clean, chances are he would have been a second- or third-round pick this year. There is no doubt he is an extremely talented player, but his off-field issues have sent his stock plunging down the board.

Maybe I'm naive to think Kelly would take a flyer on his former recruit, but by most accounts Lyerla is a hard worker who wants to make football his priority. If he does, the Eagles are getting a gifted pass catcher who could step in if/when either James Casey or Brent Celek is cut for salary cap reasons.

Colt Lyerla Highlights

Mock 1.0: Lyerla

Other RBs thriving, but Ryan Mathews (ankle) still 'the guy' when healthy

Other RBs thriving, but Ryan Mathews (ankle) still 'the guy' when healthy

Kenjon Barner has the third-most runs in the NFL of 14-plus yards despite having just 14 carries all year.
 
Wendell Smallwood ran for 79 yards and a touchdown Sunday in the first extended playing time of his career.
 
Despite their gaudy stats, Ryan Mathews will be the Eagles’ featured running back when he’s healthy, head coach Doug Pederson said Monday.
 
“I think we just continue the same way, really,” Pederson said. “When Ryan is healthy, he’s the guy, and then we’ll mix Darren (Sproles) in there and you saw what Wendell can do and we know what Kenjon’s all about.”
 
Mathews, who has been injury prone throughout his career, did not play after two early carries Sunday in the Eagles’ 34-3 win over the Steelers at the Linc.
 
Pederson said Mathews’ left ankle — originally injured in July, before training camp even began and then aggravated in the season opener against the Browns — is still bothering him.
 
“With that thing, that ankle, it’s something that for him it never loosened up (Sunday) and was stiff and so again (we) just opted on the side of caution more than anything else,” Pederson said.
 
Mathews gained minus-five yards on two carries in the first quarter and didn’t play again.
 
He's rushed for three touchdowns this year but is averaging only 3.2 yards per carry — 36th out of 40 backs with 20 or more carries this year.
 
Meanwhile, Smallwood is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, eighth-highest in the NFL, and Barner, with just 14 carries, has four runs of 14 yards. He’s averaging 6.1 yards per carry but doesn’t have enough to qualify for the league leaders.

Although Barner has the 58th-most carries in the NFL, only LeSean McCoy and Isaiah Crowell have more runs of 14 or more yards.
 
Sproles has been his usual electriyfing self in the receiving game and returning punts, but he’s averaging just 2.7 yards per carry.
 
Since opening day last year, Sproles is at 3.6 per carry — 50th of 52 backs with at least 100 carries over the last two seasons.
 
Pederson said despite Mathews’ injury history — he started more than nine games twice in his first six seasons — he has no problem with the workload he gave him in Cleveland. Mathews had 22 carries against the Browns, his second-most since 2013.
 
“I think that’s a good number for him, honestly, and then for everyone else to get a few touches after that we’re on track,” Pederson said.
 
“It’s kind of with Carson (Wentz), I don’t think you ever want to go into a game thinking you want to throw it 50 times. If you manage it and keep it around 30 and have a successful running game, I think that’s a good balance.”
 
How much Barner and Smallwood will work in once Mathews returns remains to be seen.
 
But it’s hard to argue with their production.
 
“Everybody’s a little different runner,” Pederson said Monday, a day after the Eagles improved to 3-0.
 
“Wendell did an excellent job between the tackles last night, sort of downhill, Kenjon sort of off-tackle, and of course Darren can do everything.
 
“So we’ll still keep the rotation the same, we’re not going to change much that way, and just want to get everybody in the football game.”
 
It’s tough to put together a running back depth chart for this team. Mathews had the most carries against the Browns, Sproles had the most against the Bears and Smallwood the most against the Steelers.
 
Last time the Eagles opened a season with three different backs leading the team in attempts was 1989, when Mark Higgs had 13 carries in the opener vs. Seattle, Anthony Toney led the way a week later with nine carries against the Redskins (that was the huge comeback win from a 20-0 deficit) and then Heath Sherman had a team-high 16 carries a week later against the 49ers (when Joe Montana threw four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter).
 
How similar this year turns out to 2003 and the original Three-Head Monster of Duce Staley — now the Eagles’ running backs coach — Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter will sort itself out after the bye.
 
“It’s good to have that kind of depth at that position with as many touches collectively as a group that we’re going to get each game and the wear and tear on that position,” Pederson said. “It’s great to get that many guys in the game.”
 
The Eagles certainly do seem high on Smallwood, the only back in the group that Pederson didn’t inherit from Chip Kelly.
 
Smallwood missed most of training camp with a quad injury and concussion but has been very good since he’s been healthy.
 
“He’s much like Carson in how he prepares during the week,” Pederson said.
 
“We’ve been fortunate with our young players ... and how they work and how they handle themselves on and off the football field, and he’s done a great job in practice, he’s put himself in a position to help us, and it’s great to see him.
 
“We saw it early in the spring, we saw it in training camp before the injury.”

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Eagles head coach Doug Pederson says Carson Wentz's prep is 'Peyton Manning-ish'

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson says Carson Wentz's prep is 'Peyton Manning-ish'

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, eight and a half hours before game time, Jordan Matthews was in the team hotel, going to get breakfast when he ran into Carson Wentz.

But the 23-year-old quarterback wasn’t interested in food at that particular time. He was going to watch film.

“Everybody thinks that’s like a crazy thing,” Matthews said on Sunday night. “That’s his standard.”

This is just the latest example of Wentz’s obsession with football and film study. Since the No. 2 overall pick arrived in Philadelphia, and especially since he was named the Week 1 starter, we’ve been regaled with stories of his preparation and drive. The anecdotes of Wentz’s arrival before the sun to watch film have flowed.

“It’s Peyton Manning-ish,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday, as the team heads into its bye week with a 3-0 record.

“And you hate to label, you don’t want to put labels on guys. But that’s how Peyton prepared and that’s how these top quarterbacks prepare each week. And he has that now as a young quarterback and that will just carry him throughout his career.”

When asked if Wentz’s film study habits reach obsessive levels, Pederson said that notion was “accurate.”

“He loves watching tape,” Pederson said. “I know I’ve mentioned he and the quarterbacks, Chase [Daniel] and Aaron [Murray], are in here at 5:30 in the morning and they’re exhausting the tape. He’s constantly, I hear him in the building talking about plays and routes and protections.”

Aside from Wentz’s just putting in the time during film study, his unique ability to recall plays quickly has given him a huge advantage during his first three games.

When asked if Wentz’s memory is photographic, Pederson said he thinks it is.

In between series, Wentz and the coaching staff are able to go over plays on their Surface tablets. They go over plays and then when he’s on the field, he recognizes a defensive front or coverage and can get the offense in a different play.

Through three games, Wentz’s preparation and memory have helped the Eagles get off to a quick 3-0 start.

“He’s a different player that way,” Pederson said. “He’s much like our last quarterback, Alex Smith, in Kansas City. It’s the same type of memory. For a young kid to do that, it’s pretty special.”

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