Eagles Mailbag: Wendell Smallwood, cornerbacks, Tim Jernigan

Eagles Mailbag: Wendell Smallwood, cornerbacks, Tim Jernigan

We answered half of your questions yesterday (see story), but there are plenty left to go. 

Let's take a dip into the mailbag: 

I still think the Eagles are pretty high on Smallwood. Obviously, they weren't ready to let him be the guy, so they went out and signed Blount. I think Blount was a decent addition, but I don't see him having the workload he did in New England last year. Instead, I kind of expect to see a running-back-by-committee approach. That would be good for Smallwood, who would still get plenty of carries. 

We'll get a better sense of the distribution of carries in training camp and the preseason. For now, though, I'd guess Smallwood will still have a decent role. 

Nothing new with Ryan Mathews. The last I heard was that it would happen sometime in summer. I still expect him to be released, which will save the Eagles $4 million in cap room. 

As for cap space, before signing Derek Barnett, the Eagles had just over $5 million in space, one of the lower figures in the league. Barnett's cap hit is going to be around $2.3 million, so they have enough room, but not a lot extra. 

Cornerbacks. They're just not very good and the position is the clear weak spot on the entire roster. A good pass rush would go a long way in helping to hide bad corners, so the Eagles should hope they get something more out of their defensive linemen. 

I think the Week 1 starting corners will be Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson. By Week 17, I'll say Mills and Rasul Douglas. Douglas makes sense outside because of his length. Maybe he can beat out 29-year-old Robinson throughout the year. 

After the Eagles traded for Jernigan, I went back and watched his Ravens film. I came away extremely impressed. I think he's a really good scheme fit for the Eagles. He has the potential to be a better rusher than Bennie Logan was last year, which could give the Eagles a big boost when Fletcher Cox is getting double-teamed inside. That happens a lot. 

I still think the bulk of the team's pass rush needs to come from their ends, but if Jernigan gets some push, that will help. 

The problem with Jernigan is that he's on the final year of his deal. If he has a big season, it'll be hard — at least expensive — to keep him. 

This isn't going away, is it? 

Eagles Mailbag: Standouts so far, Carson Wentz with weapons, real falcons

Eagles Mailbag: Standouts so far, Carson Wentz with weapons, real falcons

You guys always have a ton of questions. It's awesome. 

So we've split up the mailbags into two again this weekend. 

Just a reminder of where we are in the offseason: the last round of OTAs is next week every day except Wednesday. The following week, the team has its mandatory minicamp from June 12-15. 

To your questions: 

I got several questions like this, so I'll just handle it now. 

I'm going to give you a few players, but it's important to remember just two OTA practices have been open to media members, which means most of the practices have happened when I'm not watching. 

The good: The two rookies who have impressed me the most have been Rasul Douglas and Mack Hollins. In the last practice, in the play you've all heard a ton about, Douglas was beaten by Alshon Jeffery for a jump-ball touchdown. But what was so impressive about it was the way Douglas responded. He had a great finish to the practice. That short memory is so important for cornerbacks and he seems to have it. And then Hollins is just a solid size/speed guy. I get why the Eagles think he can grow into a decent receiver and not be just a special teams guy. 

The bad: I almost feel bad bringing his name up again because it feels like piling on, but Dorial Green-Beckham has been bad in the two days I've seen him. He's lost a couple 50-50 balls and dropped a few passes. It's hard right now to see him making the team. 

For Carson Wentz, it's all about consistency. At times as a rookie, he looked incredible and at other times, he looked like a rookie. So for Wentz, he just has to be the same player each week. 

I really think his new weapons will help with that. The Eagles won't come out and admit it, but I really think bringing in some skill players this offseason wasn't just about making the team better but also helping Wentz take the next step. If they didn't get him some real help, they were in danger of stunting his long-term growth. 

How many times last year did Wentz buy time by running around in the pocket and nobody got open? That shouldn't happen this year. 

This is a fair question. Let me start by explaining the "Pony set" to those who are unfamiliar. Donnel Pumphrey said that's what the team is calling it when he and Darren Sproles are in the Eagles' two-running back set together. 

I'm not sure if the formation will ever work, but it would certainly give defensive coordinators a lot to think about. It's kind of like when the Eagles use a two- or- three-tight end set. Now, it doesn't mean those formations will always work, but there's a chance it can give the offense a momentary advantage. 

To your point, it's on Doug Pederson and the offensive coaches to take advantage of those opportunities. 

"We've got a lot of chess pieces, so it's up to Doug and Frank (Reich) and [QB coach John DeFilippo] to kind of make the most of this," Zach Ertz said. "But that's the good thing, they've shown they can do it in the past and we trust them as offensive players that they'll put us in situations to be successful."

We'll see. 

According to themysteriousworld.com, the golden eagle can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour, which isn't too shabby. But it's absolutely nothing compared to the peregrine falcon, which can reach speeds of 242 miles per hour! That's faster than Jahlil Okafor has ever gotten in his car. 

Why? How? The peregrine falcon has "long pointed wings with powerful muscles" and "stiff feathers on their wings" that avoid drag. They also have a strong heart and "highly efficient lungs." 

All I know is the Falcons took a heckuva nosedive in the Super Bowl, right? (I'll see myself out.)

Eagles Mailbag: Linebackers, stats for Zach Ertz and Derek Barnett

Eagles Mailbag: Linebackers, stats for Zach Ertz and Derek Barnett

I answered half of your questions yesterday, but we got a lot, so here are the rest: 

Well, the Eagles' linebackers were pretty good last year. At least they certainly weren't the problem. 

Jordan Hicks is returning for his third season and has Pro Bowl potential. The last thing he needs to improve is his run-stuffing ability. If he does that, he'll be very good. Nigel Bradham had an under-the-radar season in 2016. He worked very well with Hicks and is entering the last year of his deal. Now, he has a trial coming up in July for a felony assault charge, but as long as that doesn't keep him off the field, he should have another good year. Then, Mychal Kendricks, for as much as he gets criticized, isn't a bad third option for a third of plays. 

I'd agree that after those three, there's a clear lack of depth. Najee Goode, Joe Walker, Steven Daniels, Nate Gerry. Not super deep. But Goode is a decent backup, they liked Walker from last year before the ACL tear, Daniels is a wild card and Gerry is switching positions from safety to linebacker. 

Running back. No question. Carson Wentz would be decapitated in a quarter if I was at right guard. 

At least at running back under Doug Pederson, I wouldn't get the ball very often. And when I'd get the ball, I'm so small and so slow, maybe I'd be like a changeup in baseball and linebackers would miss me altogether. Until they hit me and I leave the field crying. 

Ertz: 80 catches, 900 yards, seven touchdowns. Those would be very slightly above the numbers he's put up in recent years, but in his second year with Wentz, that's reasonable. And seven touchdowns is a lot, but I don't think it's crazy. 

Barnett: Six sacks. This would be a pretty good rookie season. I'd set the over/under number at 6½, so I have Barnett slightly under just because he'll have to fight for time with a few players. 

Blount: This one is tougher — 700 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns. No, I don't expect Blount to have another 1,000-yard season. That's a lot of touchdowns, but Ryan Mathews was able to pick up eight last year and Blount should be better in short-yardage situations. 

1. I don't even know what a breakout season is anymore. Ertz is a good tight end. He's not Rob Gronkowski. He's never going to be Rob Gronkowski. So break out? Maybe not. But he's a solid piece of the offense, who needs to score more touchdowns. 

2. No. 

3. Yeah. At this point, I expect Dorial Green-Beckham to be the odd man out. Vinny Curry will be on the team and will have a cap hit of $9 million this year. 

Hi, Corey. Big fan. If Donnie Jones isn't a household name, I'd start to question your household.