Players the Eagles should target or avoid in Round 1 of the NFL draft

Players the Eagles should target or avoid in Round 1 of the NFL draft

5 players the Eagles should not/will not draft in Round 1

 

Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Fans love the hard-hitting safety, but Pryor may not be a great fit the Eagles’ scheme. He’s largely untested in man coverage, and somewhat average athleticism leaves open the concern it would ever be a plus. Ideally, coaches scheme to great players’ strengths, but if Pryor is significantly limited, he’s probably not the best player available in Round 1.

Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn

Trent Cole and Brandon Graham just made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, to varying degrees of success. Now the Eagles are supposed to try again with Ford? It’s probably easier to teach an impressionable rookie to go from playing with his hand in the dirt to standing up than it is an established veteran. Then again, there are other pass-rush prospects who already have that experience.

Louis Nix III, NT, Notre Dame

Howie Roseman would like you to know the Eagles are quite satisfied with Bennie Logan at nose tackle. If Logan gets to 325 pounds, Nix actually isn’t much bigger than that, not to mention there are a lot of questions about his consistency/durability/all-around athleticism. Plus, in the pass-happy NFL, the nose tackle is probably only on the field roughly 50 percent of the time, so why invest a first-round pick?

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The Eagles definitely need a cornerback, but all of the evidence we have strongly suggests it will not be Verrett. All of the notable cornerbacks the Eagles have signed since Chip Kelly arrived—Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll—are 6’0” or taller. Verrett is 5’9”. He may wind up being a heck of a player, but I can’t envision Chip going down that route.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

First and foremost, the Eagles don’t need a quarterback now that Nick Foles is firmly entrenched as the starting signal-caller. Manziel’s size and penchant for ad-libbing are too Vick-like for my tastes anyway. I’ll go on record as saying the team that dumps a top-10 pick on this kid will regret it.

 

 

Bonus: 5 potential surprise first-round picks for the Eagles

 

Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State

Honestly, Bucannon may be the best safety in this draft. He’s bigger than Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He performed better than them at the combine. He was more productive in college, too. A lot of people would say No. 22 is too high, and maybe it is, but I could see him sneaking into the first round given his body of work.

Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana

Once considered a mid-round prospect by many, Latimer has had a rocket strapped to his back ever since he ran a sub-4.4 40 at his pro day. At 6’2”, has ideal size to play on the outside—in fact, he was the strongest receiver at the combine. Oh, and scouting reports mention he’s a plus blocker. We’ll soon find out if the dramatic rise in draft stock was real or not, but he’s a player to watch regardless.

Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

If Ebron lasts to No. 22, I honestly think the Eagles would pass only because they could get a quality tight end in the Round 2. However, it would not shock me if he wound up in midnight green. Yes, they already have Zach Ertz, but tight end could become a focal point in Chip’s offense if they add another stud. There’s value to be had later, but Ebron is the best tight end prospect in the draft, and mocks suggest he could fall.

Zack Martin, OG, Notre Dame

This is really just a shot in the dark. All indications are Martin will be long gone before the Eagles are up at No. 22. My gut feeling is one or two really good players are going to be around later than expected though. If it’s Martin, both of Philly’s guards are in their 30s, and one of them is on the trade block. No-brainer. Could even be a surprise trade-up candidate as well.

Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech

No. 22 is probably too high for Attaochu, but he could be the target if the Eagles were to trade down, which given the fact that they only have six picks, might be in the team's best interest anyway. The highly productive pass-rusher from Georgia Tech racked up 43.5 tackles for loss and 31.5 sacks over a four-year collegiate career. He can play with his hand in the dirt or line up as a standup pass-rusher. Fits the Eagles’ defense, fills a big need.

 

Kulp's 5 ideal prospects for Eagles' first-round pick

 

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

If Barr slips past the Titans at No. 11, there’s a very real chance he’ll last to No. 22, or at least fall far enough that he’s within striking distance for a trade up. The Eagles need another pass-rusher, preferably one who can take over for Trent Cole next year when the two-time Pro Bowler’s salary blows up to in excess of $11 million. It’s a steep drop-off after Barr, so keep your fingers crossed.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Clinton-Dix once seemed like a longshot to fall to the Birds at No. 22, but recent mock drafts such as Mike Mayock’s for NFL.com see the Alabama safety’s stock dipping. The consensus All-American has the athleticism and versatility to excel in coverage or help out in run support. With Nate Allen and Earl Wolff set to compete for the starting job opposite Malcolm Jenkins, a little extra competition couldn’t hurt. It’s a no-brainer if Clinton-Dix is still on the board.

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The Jim Thorpe award winner for best defensive back in the nation, Dennard is another player who could fall for seemingly no reason at all other than this is a stacked draft. He’s got above average size and strength for the position, and plays with physicality. Cary Williams turns 30 and is owed $8 million in ’15, the final year of his deal, and Bradley Fletcher will be a free agent next year. Eagles really need to be wary of the future at corner, and can’t go wrong with the best defensive back in the nation.

Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Fuller doesn’t possess the accolades of a prospect like Dennard, but he sounds like a perfect fit for the Eagles defense—good size, adequate speed, physical, plenty of experience in zone coverage. The thing that stood out to me is his versatility. Playing in a hybrid slot corner/linebacker role, Fuller racked up 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine pass breakups as a sophomore in 2011. The kid is a pure football player.

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

There may not be a safer, more complete prospect who could realistically fall to No. 22 than Mosley. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year is the total package—a sound tackler who is strong in both run support and coverage. DeMeco Ryans turns 30 this summer and is making $6.9 million per year on a contract that’s up after ’15. Mosley would have his job by next year.

Pete Mackanin maintains positive outlook even though Phillies now have worst record in majors

Pete Mackanin maintains positive outlook even though Phillies now have worst record in majors

BOX SCORE

On the surface, it might appear that the Phillies were done in by one bad inning on Wednesday night. After all, they suffered a 7-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park and the visiting Colorado Rockies scored all of their runs in one hellacious burst in the third inning (see Instant Replay).

But there was more to the loss than just one poor inning by starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Phillies came to the plate in nine innings against the Rockies pitchers and managed hits in only two of them while finishing the game with just three. It was the third time in the last four games -- all losses -- that the Phillies have mustered just three (expletive deleted) hits. Through the first seven innings in this one, they were out-hit, 11-1.

"Well, once again, three hits," manager Pete Mackanin said afterward. "Not a whole lot of good to talk about."

No, there wasn't. Hasn't been for a while. The Phillies have lost five in a row, 9 of 10 and 20 of their last 24 games. Wednesday night's loss left them with the worst record in the majors at 15-29.

"There's a lot of baseball left, and I know we're better than this," Mackanin said. "We just have to have some kind of spark to get out of it. Win a couple in a row and it could put us on a winning streak."

It’s not going to be easy to start the winning streak in Thursday's series finale against Colorado. The Rockies have the best record in the National League at 31-17 and they have outscored the Phillies, 23-5, in the first three games of the series.

That's a serious beating.

"They have some really good hitters in that lineup and it’s a deep lineup, too," Hellickson said. "There are no easy outs."

Conversely, there have been many easy outs in the Phillies' lineup in this series. The Phils did not get their first hit Wednesday night until Andrew Knapp singled with two outs in the fifth inning. The Rockies’ starting pitchers in this series have held the Phils to two runs in 20 innings. And two of those pitchers were rookies, Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez. Tyler Chatwood pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday night.

The Phillies’ starting pitching in the month of May has been brutal. Phillies starters have a 6.39 ERA in the month, second worst in baseball over that span.

The team is 4-17 in the month.

"It's been kind of surprising," Mackanin said of the rotation's problems this month. "I know they're better than that. We're going to put something together. I believe that. "

Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. He's been a different pitcher in May. His ERA in the month is a hefty 7.30 in five starts. The difference in the months: Hellickson located his finesse repertoire down in the strike zone in April. He's been up in the zone in May. On Wednesday night, Rockies hitters fought off his middling fastball and didn’t miss his soft stuff because it was up. Carlos Gonzalez had the big hit against Hellickson in the Rockies' seven-run third. He jumped out of his shoes to hack at a 2-1 changeup and hit it for a three-run home run.

"He had poor command of his changeup," Mackanin said. "He was yanking his changeup, not locating it. That's his out pitch. He didn't have it tonight.

"He’s had a lot of good starts for us. When he doesn’t locate, he gives up a run here or there, but he kind of gets it back. For that one inning, it fell apart on him."

Hellickson allowed eight base runners on six hits and two walks in the Rockies' seven-run third inning. He gave up a double, a triple, a homer and three singles in the frame.

"I beat myself that inning by falling behind and walking too many," the pitcher said. "When I did make a good pitch, they found a way to get hits off those, too."

This is the third straight season that the Phillies have endured a 4-20 stretch.

"It's not easy," Hellickson said. "It’s not fun. It's just something you deal with. It’s not fun."

During this stretch, Mackanin has benched his cleanup hitter, Maikel Franco. Otherwise, he has kept his sanity.

"I remember when I took over in '15, the team was scuffling, really not playing well," Mackanin said. "Then something clicked and we started beating teams. Last year, we had a good first part of the season and then kind of scuffled at the end. Sometimes one little thing clicks and you get better.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen. I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

Best of MLB: Chris Sale misses strikeout record, but Red Sox rally for win

Best of MLB: Chris Sale misses strikeout record, but Red Sox rally for win

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more during Boston's seven-run seventh inning on Wednesday night and the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 9-4 for their third straight victory.

Chris Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season. He allowed three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings and received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than in any previous game this season.

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks -- two intentional -- and a wild pitch without retiring a batter. Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak (see full recap).

Ellsbury hurt as Yankees blank Royals
NEW YORK -- Helped by a great first-inning catch that forced center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the game with a concussion and sprained neck, Luis Severino won for the first time in a month and led the New York Yankees over the Kansas City Royals 3-0 on Wednesday night.

On the first pitch of the game, Ellsbury sprinted 107 feet and raised his glove above his head to catch Alcides Escobar's fly. Ellsbury's head jarred into the wall as the ball landed in his glove, and he crumpled to the field.

Ellsbury was checked by manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and remained in the game, then was replaced by Aaron Hicks starting the second.

Didi Gregorius homered against Jason Hammel (1-6) leading off the third inning, Gregorius' seventh hit in a span of 12 at-bats.

His fastball reaching 99 mph, Severino (3-2) allowed four hits over eight innings, struck out seven, walked one and threw a career-high 114 pitches.

Dellin Betances struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his fourth save (see full recap).

Rendon, Roark help Nationals beat Mariners
WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer for his eighth of the season, Tanner Roark allowed a run over seven innings and the Washington Nationals defeated the Seattle Mariners 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Rendon has three homers and eight RBIs in the Nationals' two victories to open this three-game series.

Roark (4-2) completed seven innings for the first time in seven starts and held the Mariners to 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Mariners rookie Sam Gaviglio (0-1) allowed all five runs -- one earned -- over six innings as the Mariners lost their fifth straight.

Seattle's Robinson Cano went 3 for 4, including an RBI single and a double that center fielder Michael Taylor's glove prevented from being a home run.

Rendon had gone 12 games without an RBI before the series. But after driving in five runs Tuesday, he drove in three more to help Washington grab a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first (see full recap).