Brian Westbrook not sold on Christian McCaffrey going to the Eagles at No. 14

Brian Westbrook not sold on Christian McCaffrey going to the Eagles at No. 14

If you had to pick between running backs Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook, which would you take? That was the topic proposed by CSNPhilly's own Rob Ellis during 97.5 The Fanatic’s Monday afternoon show.

Ellis went with McCaffrey and his co-host Harry Mayes went with Cook.

(We've previously written about McCaffrey and Cook respectively).

Whether the Eagles should take a RB with the 14th overall selection has been a highly-debated topic.

Former Eagles running back Brain Westbrook weighed in on the posibility of the Birds selecting McCaffrey in the first round late last week.

Westbrook made his weekly appearance last Friday on Mike Missanelli’s show and talked about the comparison between his own game and McCaffrey's.

ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter was quoted as saying that McCaffrey was the "2017 Brian Westbrook" when interviewed on the Fanatic’s morning show last Friday. Schefter added that McCaffrey is a "can’t miss" prospect and a "jack knife in the back field."

Westbrook seemingly got a kick out of that, but he's not sold on the value McCaffrey would provide at the 14th-overall selection.

"First off, I like the fact that Christian McCaffrey is a versatile back," Westbrook said on Missanelli's show. "Here’s the thing that I think a lot of people continue to lean on. He's able to return kicks. Kickoffs and punts. He's able to line up out of the backfield as at the wide receiver position. And catch the football, run routes, things like that.

"And he's able to run in between the tackles and outside of the tackles. Those are all good things. If you’re picking him at the 14th pick and he's your starting running back, then he's not going to be returning kicks. So you don't need him to do that. So that's part of his versatility that won't be used, so I understand that."

Westbrook went in depth on why McCaffrey's ability to line up at the slot would not benefit the Eagles the same way it used to benefit himself in Andy Reid's offense.  

"Running routes and things like that, that's something you could use," Westbrook said. "That’s something through the season you could use. Here’s the only thing, I think Andy Reid used us in a bit of a different way. Andy Reid would bring in myself and (Correll) Buckhalter at the same time. So if I was lined up out in the slot they still had to respect Correll Buckhalter as a running back. At some point if you continue to bring McCaffrey in as just a slot-type of receiver, then you will start to draw cornerbacks to guard him and I don’t know if that is a winning situation anymore.

"I really think you need a guy that is dedicated to running the football 20 times a game. And I'm not saying McCaffrey isn't. I'm just not 100 percent sure on that. And the more and more I watch film I'll get a better idea. I haven't gotten that over-whelming feel that he's your man at 14."

McCaffrey would make sense if the organization is looking to replace Darren Sproles who is set to retire after the 2017 season -- Sproles was not a first-round pick, though. But the organization might want to heed the words of Westbrook as the Eagles need a true three-down back.

You can listen to the full audio of Westbrook and Mikey Miss here.

Bellemare posts heartfelt message to Flyers and their fans

Bellemare posts heartfelt message to Flyers and their fans

Departing an organization via the expansion draft is an odd thing. A player's team didn't choose to send him packing per se. They also didn't protect you, but they literally have a whole list of guys they didn't protect.

It's not exactly a knock on your skill or the way a team sees you in their longterm plans.

So it's no surprise Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had kind words for the team and city he now departs.

The Vegas Golden Knights selected Bellemare to be one of their original players on Wednesday. He took time out of his day today to thank the Flyers and their fans.

He posted a photo of himself skating in the orange and black with a big smile on his face with the following caption:

You never know what life can bring you, thats why I try to enjoy every second of it! This is a perfect picture to represent my awesome time as a Flyer, playing with great teammates, for this unbelievable organisation and even more unbelievable fans!!!
Thanks for the love and support Philly
#Bellsy78out

Flyers fans will likely wish him the best of luck on his new squad.

Eagles Better or Worse 2017: Linebackers

Eagles Better or Worse 2017: Linebackers

Little change was made to the Eagles linebackers during the offseason. In fact, the only meaningful transaction was selecting Nathan Gerry in the fifth round of the draft – and he played safety at Nebraska.

It’s another year of Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham holding down the fort, and from the looks of things, another year of Mychal Kendricks largely standing by and watching. That being said, nothing is ever truly static in the NFL, so is this group of linebackers better or worse than last year’s?

BETTTER

Jordan Hicks

Some observers felt Hicks’ play warranted a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2016. It was certainly a nice season with 85 tackles, 1.0 sack and 5 interceptions – although he padded those numbers somewhat with a couple of picks in a meaningless Week 17 finale. Still, a solid campaign by any measure.

There’s also reason for optimism that Hicks, who turns 25 next week, could be well on his way to a bigger year and the national recognition that comes with it. First and foremost, he made it through ‘16 without major injury, and therefore didn’t spend the offseason rehabbing. Not only that, but it’s Hicks’ second season under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, so he should be comfortable and familiar in his role in the middle of the Eagles defense.

Both good health and continuity are relatively unfamiliar for Hicks, who has been through a lot injuries and systems going back to his college days, often consecutively. For a third-year player of this caliber to have the benefit of a full offseason program, putting work in with a scheme he’s already experienced, this alone has the potential to accelerate development.

Depth

Assuming Kendricks isn’t traded – dangerous, but we’ve been waiting two years for speculation to become reality – the Eagles got a little bit deeper behind Hicks and Bradham.

Kendricks and Najee Goode remain the top backups, and are a pair of capable, experienced veterans who can fill in relatively seamlessly. However, behind them is a group of intriguing, young players that may give the Eagles quality options even if Kendricks is moved.

Kamu Grugier-Hill was claimed last September after the sixth-round rookie was waived by the Patriots and appeared exclusively on special teams. Seventh-round choice Joe Walker missed all of his first season with a torn ACL, but rejoins the squad after a year on injured reserve. The Eagles added Nathan Gerry to the mix as well, and while he’s transitioning from safety to linebacker, the club is high on the 22-year-old.

Last year, Walker was on IR, Gerry was in college, and Grugier-Hill was the equivalent of a walk-on with no NFL experience, and no offseason work in Schwartz’s scheme. Whatever the pecking order winds up looking like in 2017, the Eagles appear to have more talent to choose from on the back end of the bench.

WORSE

Possible suspension for Nigel Bradham?

The good news is Bradham expects to be cleared of assault charges and any legal issues stemming from that incident in the near future. The bad news is Bradham hasn’t been cleared yet, so a positive outcome is not assured. Furthermore, even if Bradham is cleared, he is still subject to a potential suspension from the NFL. Even if it’s only for one game, that would be one game without a starter at linebacker – and a very good one at that.

THE SAME

Nigel Bradham

As good as Hicks was last season, an argument could easily be made Bradham was better. The sixth-year veteran had more tackles (102 to 85), more tackles for loss (10 to 6), more sacks (2.0 to 1.0) and more forced fumbles (2 to 0). It was a really strong year for the free-agent acquisition from the Bills, only to be overshadowed by his legal issues.

It no doubt helped Bradham has been in the league for longer. He also had a career year in Schwartz’s system while the two were Buffalo. The simply reality is the scheme suits Bradham’s abilities perfectly. He’s big and physical, and able to take on blocks and fill gaps behind a wide-nine front, but can also use his size and athleticism to cover tight ends down the field. At 28 years old this September, Bradham probably isn’t going to improve much at this stage of his career, but should also have plenty of prime years left.

THE UNKNOWN

Mychal Kendricks

The biggest question is will he or won’t he be here come Week 1, but that’s not even the only question with Kendricks. Is he a fit in Schwartz’s scheme? Will he be healthy for 16-plus games? Will Kendricks ever return to form as one of the top playmaking linebackers in the NFL, or was he a flash in the pan who struggles in coverage and tackling in space?

Kendricks truly is one of the biggest mysteries on the roster. In 2013 and ’14, the former second-round pick recorded 8.0 sacks, 3 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles. In 2015, he had 3.0 sacks, no interceptions and 1 forced fumble, and looked clueless while doing it. Last season, Kendricks played only sparingly, and failed to record a single sack, pick or forced fumble.

Part of Kendricks’ issue last season, aside from lack of playing time, is his best trait goes essentially unutilized in the Eagles’ scheme. He’s an outstanding pass rusher, but Schwartz seldom blitzes. That being said, Kendricks also seems to have regressed in coverage – size was always an issue against bigger tight ends, but he’s frequently out of position. Tackling was never his strong suit, either, but seems to have gotten worse.

At this point, Kendricks doesn’t want to be a member of the Eagles, and it’s had to blame him. There apparently hasn’t been much interest the 26-year-old around the league, though, which is not terribly difficult to understand, either. After all, who is Mychal Kendricks really?

BETTER OR WORSE?

If Hicks’ development continues, he could take a big step forward in 2017, which is saying something. Stardom is not out of the question there. Bradham isn’t likely to miss more than a couple games at most and gives the Eagles an excellent combo at linebacker. The depth is clearly better as well. Now, if Kendricks gets traded, this group as a whole is going to look significantly worse on paper. As they’re comprised right now, the Eagles should be marginally improved, at minimum. Better