Trade-happy Eagles look to make more moves

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Trade-happy Eagles look to make more moves

At the end of the second day of the NFL draft, the Eagles had made three total picks, none from their original slot.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

When you combine general manager Howie Roseman’s perpetually itchy draft trigger finger with this year’s dizzying swapping spree across the league, the ingredients were in place for the Eagles to come away from this draft with more than the six picks they took into it.

As it currently stands, the Eagles are slated to make four more selections Saturday -- the fourth- and fifth-rounders they acquired from Houston and the fifth- and seventh-rounders of their own. The fourth-rounder, the 101st overall pick, will open the third and final day.

But don’t get too excited about the leadoff spot. Chip Kelly already dropped hints that he’s ready to move again.

“I thought we really did a good job of putting ourselves in position [for Saturday],” Kelly said after taking receiver Josh Huff in the third round (see story). “We have the first pick [Saturday] morning, which is an interesting pick because I think everybody thinks overnight who they like, so sometimes it’s got a little bit more (trade) value.”

Given the supreme talent of this year’s draft -- it’s been called the deepest in decades -- skeptics may question why the Eagles so willingly passed on picking twice in the third, even as high-profile players tumbled to 83rd, where they were supposed to pick before trading with Houston.

The Texans then took mammoth Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix, a 340-pound galoot who might have helped the Eagles in January, when they were getting steamrolled up front in a playoff loss to the Saints at the Linc.

Some analysts considered the former Irish lineman a top-40 pick. Kelly admitted that Nix could have fit the team’s defensive scheme.

Then why pass for lower-rated prospects?

“I don’t think it’s necessarily that way, because not everybody sees it the way we see it, or we don’t see it the way they see it,” Kelly said. “I don’t think we went back far. We really feel having the top pick [Saturday] morning has a little bit more value.

“So, really, when you go back to the top of (round) four, you’ve gone back to the end of the three. The way we look at it kind of conceptually is, ‘I can take him with this pick or if I back up maybe he’s still here and I get him.’ So you’re getting a 2-for-1 is what you’re trying to do. Now, sometimes it doesn’t always work that way because the risk
is when I back up, he gets picked.”

The Eagles already played the game and lived to tell. They moved down in the first round, from 22 to 26, still hoping to land pass rusher Marcus Smith despite the four-slot drop.

They held their breath when the Chiefs, picking 23rd, took Auburn pass rusher Dee Ford. It easily could have been Smith.

“So you’re gambling a little bit,” Kelly said, “kind of playing with the house’s money.”

If they hold still Saturday -- fat chance of that -- the Eagles will pick 101st, 141st, 162nd and 237th. Those might not sound like attractive slots, especially knowing they surrendered an 83rd overall, but Kelly insisted that there’s more than enough talent left on the board.

”There’s guys right now that we still have rated in the third round that are there that will be there [Saturday] morning when we wake up and we make our first selection [in the] beginning of the fourth round,” he said. “But we picked up another pick, so we got an extra body.”

NFL Notes: Patriots reach deal with former Jets LB David Harris

NFL Notes: Patriots reach deal with former Jets LB David Harris

BOSTON -- A person familiar with the situation says the New England Patriots have agreed to terms on a deal with former New York Jets linebacker David Harris.

The new two-year pact could be worth as much as $6.75 million, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal has not yet been announced.

Harris, a 2007 second-round pick from Michigan who has spent all 10 of his NFL seasons in New York, was released earlier this month by the Jets in a series of offseason moves to cut high-priced veterans. He was the franchise's second-leading tackler.

He now moves within the division to play for Bill Belichick, who has lauded Harris' play in the past. It also gives the Patriots some veteran depth to pair with Dont'a Hightower.

Jaguars: Rhaney claimed off waivers
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have claimed offensive lineman Demetrius Rhaney off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

The Jaguars announced the move Wednesday and said they released rookie offensive lineman Parker Collins to make room on the roster for Rhaney.

The 6-foot-2, 301-pound Rhaney was a seventh-round draft pick out of Tennessee State by the Rams in 2014. He spent his first season on injured reserve but played in every regular-season game the past two seasons, starting once at left guard in 2015.

Packers: Guion arrested on suspicion of DUI
HONOLULU -- Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Letroy Guion has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant in Hawaii.

Honolulu police booking records show Guion was arrested early Wednesday in Waikiki. He was released after posting $500 bail.

Packers spokesman Aaron Popkey says in a statement that the team is aware and will refrain from making further comment because it's a legal matter. He says he doesn't know what Guion was doing in Waikiki.

Guion was suspended without pay by the NFL for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

He started 15 games last season, making 30 tackles. The nine-year veteran agreed to a three-year deal worth $11.25 million in February 2016.

NFL: Former player Ryan Jones shot dead
RENO, Nev. -- Nevada authorities say former NFL linebacker Ryan Jones was shot dead over the weekend in a Reno apartment and two other people suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds.

Reno Police Department spokesman Officer Tim Broadway declined comment Tuesday on the circumstances that led to Sunday's shooting because detectives were still interviewing people for their investigation.

Jones, 26, signed a free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 and had a stint with the New York Giants before becoming a mixed martial arts fighter.

He was the first Montana Tech football player in the college's history to sign an NFL contract.

Jones graduated from Hug High School in Nevada before attending Sierra College and then Montana Tech in 2011.

Eagles LBs coach thinks there's more ceiling for Jordan Hicks

Eagles LBs coach thinks there's more ceiling for Jordan Hicks

Jordan Hicks is a good middle linebacker. 

After his first two seasons in the NFL, the former third-round pick has piled up some eye-popping numbers. 

In his first 24 games in the league (his rookie season was cut short with a pec injury), he has seven interceptions, 14 passes defensed, four fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and two sacks. 

He's just the fifth player in NFL history — and only linebacker — to have that many INTs, fumble recoveries and forced fumbles in the first two years of his career. 

Hicks, who turns 25 later this month, is already really good. The next step is to become great. 

Is there room for more growth? 

"I would hope so," Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole said last week. "We're all emotionally tied in with our guys. I think he's done a great job for us. Is there room for improvement? No question. But he works at it. It's important to him. I know it's important for him that he puts the team success above himself. 

"I would suspect that there's more ceiling for him at linebacker. And I expect him to work at those things." 

Hicks actually had a chance to work on some of those things this offseason. As he exited last year, it was clear Hicks possessed ball-hawk traits, but admittedly needed to get better against the run. 

After his first NFL season, Hicks was stuck recovering from his torn pectoral and subsequent surgery. The rehab didn't allow him to strength train as much as he would have liked. 

This year, it's been a different story. He's hit the weight room hard, put on some extra weight, and hasn't been hamstrung by a tedious rehab process. 

"It's been great, man," Hicks said. "Having a full offseason to get in rhythm, having a full offseason to lift and get stronger and not have to take a step back to rehab and do everything over again, it's huge. Huge. To just build and stack and stack on top of each other."

Flajole agrees with Hicks, that the extra time in the weight room will help him against the run, specifically at the point of attack.  

Flajole isn't the only person in the NovaCare Complex who thinks big things are still ahead for Hicks. After the season finale against the Cowboys last season, Malcolm Jenkins said he thought Hicks is "trending to be one of the better linebackers in this league."

While Hicks wants to improve his run defense, it's undeniable that the strength of his game — to this point — is his knack for being around the ball. He always seems to be making a big play, whether it's an interception or a fumble recovery. 

It might seem like chance, but Flajole doesn't discount it as such. 

"He's a very instinctual guy and I think he understands the game," Flajole said. "The thing that can't be discounted for Jordan is that he works at it. He watches a lot of tape and because of those things, he feeds off of tendencies that the offense would give him, either by down and distance or formation. And he uses those to his advantage." 

For the second straight year, Hicks will be in the same defense under Jim Schwartz and will have the same battery mate in Nigel Bradham, who enters the second year of his two-year deal. 

At some point before the 2017 season starts, Hicks will set some personal goals for himself, like he does every year. While he hasn't set them yet, Hicks said they are normally leadership-based or stat-based. 

"It definitely gives you something to reach for and keep you on track," Hicks said. "Just like you set team goals. If you're not setting goals, you're just working towards nothing, just shooting in the air at nothing." 

One thing the goals won't be is accolade-based. Sure, Hicks would like to be named to his first Pro Bowl, but that won't be on the checklist. 

If he gets better than he's been in Year 1 and 2, it'll only be a matter of time before the recognition catches up with his stats. 

"I'm not really worried about the accolades at this point," he said. "It's not really what I'm focused on. I believe that if you're doing what you need to do, day in and day out, you're giving it everything you got, the rest will come. I'm focused on what I can do for this team, what I can do to make this team the best it can be. And let the rest fall in place."