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

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce ignoring trade rumors as he tries to work on himself

Jason Kelce is aware of the rumors and reports that have surrounded his name this offseason. 

As much as he might try to avoid them, the Eagles' veteran center does not, presumably, live under a rock. So he's heard for months about the possibility of his long run with the Eagles coming to a close. 

After all, the Eagles have stockpiled an abundance of interior offensive linemen who can play center, and trading Kelce would save the team $3.8 million in cap space. 

So it all makes sense, but Kelce is trying to keep it out of his mind. 

"I think you'll drive yourself crazy if you're reading too much into what's going on," he said on Tuesday as the Eagles kicked off their voluntary OTAs. "My whole offseason has just kind of been really the only thing I can control is my game and the way I play and what I've been doing. So I've just really tried to hit the weight room, work on technique, work on things to try to get my game back to where it used to be."

How is he able to put it out of his mind? 

"Because worrying about it doesn't do any good," he answered.

While the Eagles have Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski ready to play center if necessary, head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday that Kelce is still "the guy." 

Kelce, 29, was named to his second career Pro Bowl team last season, which might be a surprise to those who watched the Eagles throughout the year. Kelce wasn't as bad as some people think, but he also probably wasn't a Pro Bowl-caliber player. 

He got off to a very slow start in 2016 but did seem to get better as the season went on.  

"I feel at times last year, there were times I was dominant and games where I didn't really do a great job," he said. "You go back and watch film and try to make the corrections, try to make sure that moving forward I'm the same player I was in the past."

Kelce attributed many of his problems early last season to lousy technique. He's been trying extra hard to work on that part of his game as well as in the weight room. 

Often characterized as undersized, he said weighed 295 pounds on Tuesday morning. That's also his listed weight on the Eagles' website. 

All last season, Kelce said he played in the 290s, which was heavier than he had been in a long time. His goal this offseason is to make it up to 300 pounds by training camp, and then he hopes to keep the weight on. 

"I would certainly think so," he said. "As you get older, it gets a little bit easier to put on the weight and hold it on. I think everybody kind of finds that out."

Perhaps the biggest reason for the Eagles to keep Kelce around this season is the development of quarterback Carson Wentz in his second year. Kelce, as his center, might be integral to Wentz's growth. Although Kelce said he doesn't think of it like that when asked if that relationship gives him an advantage over others.  

Kelce has been with the Eagles since 2011 when he was a sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati. He's played and started 78 games in six seasons. 

He admitted last season he needed to play better or he knew he would become expendable (see story). So the rumors and reports this season likely aren't a shock to him. 

He's still not going to pay attention to them. 

"The reality is, we always have guys coming in, coming out," he said. "Now we happen to have a lot of really good depth at interior line. But like I said, it doesn't do me any good worrying about the what-ifs. All I can control is what I can control and that's how I go out and play, how I go out and prepare and how I try to get back to the player I've been in the past." 

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

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Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

Cortez Kennedy, one of the best defensive linemen of his generation and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee despite rarely finding himself in the spotlight as a player, has died. He was 48.

Police in Orlando, Florida, say the former Seattle Seahawks star was found dead Tuesday morning. Orlando Police Department public information officer Wanda Miglio said the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown but that there is nothing suspicious about his death. An investigation is being conducted.

"Cortez Kennedy has been a pillar of the Seahawks franchise since joining the team as a rookie in 1990," the Seahawks said in a statement. "Tez was the heart and soul of the Seahawks through the 1990s and endeared himself to 12s all across the Pacific Northwest as a player who played with a selfless and relentless approach to the game. ... We are proud to have been represented by such a special person."

A star who spent his entire 11-year NFL career in relative obscurity playing in Seattle, Kennedy became the second Seahawks player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He was an unmovable wall as a dominant defensive tackle, and a quiet, gentle soul away from the field never interested in finding himself in the spotlight.

"Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field," Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker said. "He epitomized the many great values this game teaches which serves as inspiration to millions of fans."

Kennedy was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 draft out of Miami and Seattle smartly never let him leave. He brought notoriety to an otherwise dreadful period in Seahawks history as an eight-time Pro Bowler and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1992.

"Really sad to lose a guy like Cortez Kennedy," Broncos' general manager John Elway tweeted Tuesday. Elway was chased around by Kennedy twice a year for much of the 1990s as competitors in the AFC West. "A great personality, a great player and I enjoyed competing against him."

Even though he last played for the Seahawks in 2000, he remained a significant part of the organization. He was a mainstay around the team during training camp and would occasionally roll through the locker room during the regular season grabbing a few minutes with anyone -- players, coaches, media -- up for a chat.

Kennedy was scheduled to be in Seattle on Thursday as part of an event for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

"My heart hurts," current Seahawks offensive lineman Justin Britt tweeted. "We lost a truly great player but even better person."

Kennedy experienced only minimal team success in his career with the Seahawks. His 1992 season, when Kennedy was the league's defensive player of the year, was made even more remarkable by the fact that his 14 sacks, 27 tackles for loss and 92 tackles came for a team that went 2-14 and was among the worst ever offensively in a 16-game season.

What made Kennedy so difficult to stop was his low center of gravity, unexpected quickness and remarkable strength packaged in a 6-foot-1, 300-pound frame. If he was asked to hold the line on a running play, he would regularly eat up two or three potential blockers.

But he could also rush the passer up the middle, a rarity for an interior defensive lineman. While 1992 was his best individual season, Kennedy recorded at least six sacks in six of his 11 seasons.

"(One) of the most talented players I ever recruited or coached," tweeted Jimmy Johnson , one of Kennedy's coaches at Miami. "... A sad day."