Philadelphia Eagles

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

Chris Long to Malcolm Jenkins: 'I'm here for you'

Chris Long to Malcolm Jenkins: 'I'm here for you'

Eagles defensive end Chris Long became the first white professional athlete to actively participate in the national anthem demonstrations designed to cast a light on racial and social injustices.

Before the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills on Thursday, Long put his arm around safety Malcolm Jenkins (see story), who has raised his right fist in the air during the playing of the anthem since last season. Long explained he felt it necessary to show support for the cause in the aftermath of violence in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.

"It's been a hard week for everybody," Long said postgame. "It's not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It's a tough week for America.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'Why do athletes get involved in the national anthem protests?' I've said before that I'll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. If you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it.

"Malcolm is a leader and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."

Long spoke out about the Charlottesville protests on Sunday (see story), making the case that his stance is not about politics, but "right and wrong." One day earlier, protests over the removal of Confederate memorials turned tragic when a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed.

After the events that unfolded, Long could no longer sit idly by.

"I was inspired by a lot of the allies that were there to stand up against hate in my hometown and I wasn't able to be there to protest or to stand up against hate," Long said. "People like Heather Heyer gave their life for that and I was inspired by that.

"I just told Malcolm, 'I'm here for you.' I think it's a good time for people that look like me to be there for people that are fighting for equality."

Jenkins said he was aware Long was going to take part in the demonstration, and was appreciative of his teammate's backing.

"Before the game, he approached me and he wanted to, in his own way, send a message of support," Jenkins said.

"I think he understands that he could never necessarily know my experience as a black male, but in the light of all that's going on, as a white male, he understands that he needs to be an ally. He expressed that desire to me, and so I thought it was appropriate to show that gesture of support."

Though Jenkins' demonstration has not garnered the mainstream national attention of some of the other high profile athletes who have sat or knelt during the anthem, he has been among the most outspoken. The Pro Bowl safety is involved in various social programs and has even spoken to Congress about social injustice in the United States.

"The biggest thing is to continue to call attention to the things in this country I think everybody after the past week has been focusing on," Jenkins said.

"If we want to eradicate hate from our country, drawing attention to not only the hate itself, but the products of those hates. If you look at the long history of our country, and how especially in our justice system we talk about police and community engagement — the duality of our justice system right now, communities of low income and communities with color have completely different interactions with the justice system than that of our counterparts — and in the light of everything that's happening, just continuing that discussion."

Jenkins wasn't the only of Long's teammates to show respect for the stance he took. Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks, who himself knelt for the anthem on Thursday, also took notice that another person was using their platform to further the cause.

Brooks didn't get too caught up in the fact that Long is white and anthem demonstrators have been predominantly black. Anybody who's willing to take a stand is needed.

"I'm not too concerned about whether it be a white person, black person, they could be Anglo-Saxon, whatever race, it doesn't matter," Brooks said. "Just him showing his support — I think a lot more people need to action and not just be quiet and let things go to the wayside.

"I admire Chris for standing up for something and show support for injustices that are going on. Whether the person was Malcolm, or whether the person had been [Carson Wentz] or anyone else, just that support and speaking up and using your platform."

Carson Wentz, Eagles offense finally find some rhythm after stagnant start

Carson Wentz, Eagles offense finally find some rhythm after stagnant start

BOX SCORE

On the first nine offensive plays of Thursday night's game against the Bills, the Eagles' offense gained a total of five yards. 

Five. 

To say the Eagles' offense stalled early in the team's 20-16 preseason win over the Bills would be a bit of an understatement (see Instant Replay). They needed a spark. 

Doug Pederson initially wanted Carson Wentz and the first-team offense to play just one or two series. But after the team's third 3-and-out, which included Wentz's taking a big hit, to start the game, he sent Wentz and his unit back into the game.

"You want to get your offense going," Pederson said. "There is a fine line. But there's a lot of pride with those guys and they understood that I wasn't completely happy with the performance early and they wanted another opportunity."

Through three drives, seven of the Eagles' nine plays netted one yard or fewer. 

Things just weren't working. 

"It can be tough," Wentz said. "The first couple drives it was definitely frustrating, coming out 3-and-out every time. I missed a couple throws, couldn't get the running game going. It was frustrating. Again, we'll go back, watch the tape, evaluate and keep building this thing." 

When Pederson sent his offense into the game with just under five minutes left in the first quarter, the Eagles began to use a hurry-up offense (see 10 observations). It was a tactic to find some sort of rhythm and the tempo. It did the trick. 

First, Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for nine yards. Then Nelson Agholor for seven. Jeffery for 14. LeGarrette Blount for 17. Then Blount ran for eight. Before no time, the Eagles had traveled down deep into Buffalo territory. 

"Going back to last year, Coach Pederson has always had a feel for when's the right time to do then, when you kind of need a spark," Wentz said. "That's what he felt tonight. It was effective."

Eventually, though, Blount caught a short pass and fumbled the ball away. That ended the first-team offense's day. But at least they got some semblance of rhythm before leaving. 

Still, it wasn't a strong showing from Wentz and the first unit. Pederson attributed the slow start to the lack of game-planning. He thinks things will be different once they begin preparing specifically for other defenses. 

Neither Wentz nor Pederson is concerned. 

"I don't," Pederson said. "Because I see it in practice every day. I know what they're capable of doing." 

"Was the performance great? By no means," Wentz said. "This is definitely not where we want to be, but I definitely don't have doubts. I know we have the right guys, we have the right scheme, we just have to put it together."

The Eagles were without their normal starting offensive line Thursday, which might have played a role (see Grading the Win). Jason Peters missed the game for personal reasons, which meant Lane Johnson had to switch sides and Matt Tobin came in at right tackle. And last week, the team was without starting right guard Brandon Brooks. 

Perhaps that's one of the reasons the run game struggled so much to start the season. 

Through two games, Blount has just nine carries for 17 yards. Not a great beginning to his time with the Eagles. 

"It's going OK," Blount said. "Obviously, we have a lot to improve on, we have a lot of corrections to make. It's not going as smoothly as any of us want it to go. But it's the preseason, we're still in camp, this is the time to make the corrections and not take it over into the regular season."

Pederson blamed the lack of running attack on the absence of game planning. Wentz thinks the Eagles will be able to game plan more for the Dolphins next Thursday, even though they will practice with them during the week. 

And if they can't get things going, Pederson can always call for the hurry-up offense. 

"It's one of those things, you can't do it too much," Wentz said. "Going back to last year, coach has always had a really good feel when's the right time to do that. When's the right time to push the tempo, when you need a spark. Tonight we needed a spark."