Foles: Jackson was 'great teammate to me'

April, 20, 2014
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Philadelphia Eaglesquarterback Nick Foles served as an honorary captain for the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul in their 54-41 victory over the Jacksonville Sharks on Saturday.

Foles
Foles was queried by Comcast SportsNet and wound up answering a number of questions about the Eagles.

Several questions pertained to the Eagles’ recent decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was ultimately signed by the Washington Redskins.

“You know, it's surprising,” Foles told Comcast SportsNet's Derrick Gunn on Jackson’s release. “But at the same time, you learn that it's a business. It's a tough business at times. We develop a lot of friendships on a team and I've had many of my close teammates let go. It's very tough, but at the same time you know it's part of the game, part of the business.”

Foles was asked again about his relationship with Jackson.

“He was a great teammate to me,” Foles said. “We had a great relationship on and off the field. Everybody has other things going on, but to me, personally, I really enjoyed playing with him and I'm excited that he landed on his feet. He's a heck of a player. … You wish them well. He landed on his feet and I know he's going to do well. He's a great player, he's been tremendous for me. But at the same time, we have to keep moving forward as an organization. But I do wish DeSean well. I had a blast playing with him.”

Foles also was asked about the direction of the Eagles, specifically at wide receiver.

“It will be interesting but I know that [the front office] is going to do a great job doing it,” Foles said. “Another teammate that I love dearly is [Jason] Avant, but he landed on his feet. I spoke to him the other day and I'm excited for his new journey. I know he's going to make a great impact there for [the Carolina Panthers] as he has for Philadelphia. And I'm excited for Philadelphia. I'm excited to see what happens because we've got a great group of guys and great coaches, so it'll be a good time.”

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • Why the Cowboys would even consider drafting offense in the first round.
  • Why the Cowboys could draft offensive line in the first round.
  • Why the coaching staff could look a lot different.
  • Why I think the Cowboys would pass on Teddy Bridgewater.

If you want to see Part 1, click here.

Away we go:

Redskins mailbag: Part 2

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
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A little more balanced mailbag for Saturday, with four questions on the draft but three on other topics, including Robert Griffin III and who will make the biggest impact of anyone not named DeSean Jackson. Enjoy.

The Washington Redskins' defense is optimistic about where it's headed, thanks to the addition of Jason Hatcher and a tweaked philosophy regarding the pass rush. Whether their play matches that optimism always remains the biggest hurdle. What's not in doubt: They will have two players among the most expensive at their positions when it comes to the salary cap. The fact both are in their front seven isn't a coincidence as the Redskins' offseason goal has been to improve the pass rush. So, after breaking down where the Redskins' top cap hits at each position offensively stood in comparison to their NFL counterparts earlier this week, it's time to take a look at the defense.

Safety

NFL's top five cap hits
Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs $11,619,700
Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers, $10,100,000
Antrel Rolle, New York Giants, $9,250,000
Dashon Goldson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $9,000,000
Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans, $8,000,000

Meriweather
Redskins' top cap hit
Brandon Meriweather (59th), $1,000,000

Summing it up: Notice who’s not in the top five? Jairus Byrd, after his new deal with New Orleans. But don’t worry: He’s set to take up the most cap room in 2015 at $10.3 million. I like Byrd, but not at that figure (I’d have paid Sean Taylor that sort of cash). But Byrd was never really a legitimate option for the Redskins. Mike Mitchell was and he’ll count $2.2 million this season and $4.95 million in 2015. But the overriding point is Washington views the best way to help this position is by bolstering the pass rush. Starters Meriweather and Ryan Clark both are on one-year contracts, so this position is still a question mark beyond this season (and still will be one entering the year).

Corner

NFL's top five cap hits
Brandon Carr, Dallas, $12,217,000
Johnathan Joseph, Houston, $11,250,000
Lardarius Webb, Baltimore, $10,500,000
Brandon Flowers, Kansas City, $10,500,000
Tramon Williams, Green Bay, $9,500,000

Porter
Redskins' top cap hit
Tracy Porter (43rd), $2,800,000

Summing it up: Next season, Darrelle Revis' cap hit jumps to $25 million. Which means he’s playing on a one-year deal. Is it a good thing the Redskins’ biggest cap hit here belongs to Porter, who has battled injury issues along with consistency during his career? Of course, it’s not like he occupies a lot of space. DeAngelo Hall's cap hit is $2,062,500 but that jumps to $4,812,500 in 2015. By then the Redskins need young corner David Amerson to have fully emerged -- can he become their best corner? If not, then they’ll have to start looking for a No. 1 corner. By the way, the top five on the list for 2014? They’ve combined for four Pro Bowl appearances and one All-Pro spot (Joseph). But Carr did do a good job vs. Washington last year (and in at least one game against then-Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson).

Linebacker

NFL's top five cap hits
Lawrence Timmons, $11,816,250
Tamba Hali, Kansas City, $11,464,706
Brian Orakpo, Washington, $11,455,000
Clay Matthews, Green Bay, $10,943,750
James Laurinaitis, St. Louis, $10,400,000

Orakpo
Redskins' top cap hit
Orakpo

Summing it up: That’s quite a list for Orakpo to be part of, but to stay on there after this season -- at least in Washington -- he’ll have to be a little more productive. But even if he has another season like last year, Orakpo will still be in the $10-million range. When Hali got paid, he responded with sack totals of 12, nine and 11 in the next three seasons (with nine forced fumbles and one interception). I don’t think anyone says Hali's overpaid (well, at least not many). In Orakpo’s last three full seasons, he has a combined 27.5 sacks, but only four forced fumbles. More game-changing plays and he’ll get the contract he desires. Another interesting part on this is that two of the five are inside linebackers, though Timmons plays in a 3-4 and Laurinaitis in a 4-3.

Defensive tackle

NFL's top five cap hits
Ndamukong Suh, Detroit, $22,412,000
Haloti Ngata, Baltimore, $16,000,000
Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay, $15,627,253
Geno Atkins, Cincinnati, $9,000,000
Barry Cofield, Washington, $7,667,500

Cofield
Redskins' top cap hit
Cofield

Summing it up: Cofield’s base salary jumped from $840,000 last season to $4.55 million (the lower figure was the result of a restructuring last spring in which $3.5 million in base salary was converted to a signing bonus). This is as high as Cofield’s cap number will be and in two years it falls to $6,877,500. I know the coaches felt he would become the NFL’s top nose tackle by this time. That’s not the case, but Cofield does have his strengths and has done a nice job with Washington. For a short stretch last season he was playing as well as anyone on the team defensively, and he always plays hard. He’ll be helped by having Hatcher in the pass rush, perhaps giving Cofield more one-on-one matchups. If that happens, then perhaps Cofield will have the sort of season in all phases that coaches have hoped for.

Defensive end

NFL's top five cap hits
Mario Williams, Buffalo, $18,800,000
Charles Johnson, Carolina, $16,420,000
Chris Long, St. Louis, $14,900,000
Greg Hardy, Carolina, $13,116,000
Calais Campbell , Arizona, $11,250,000

Bowen
Redskins' top cap hit
Stephen Bowen (15th), $7,020,000

Summing it up: All of the top five on this list play in a 4-3, where ends can excel as playmakers and, therefore, command big bucks. The 3-4 ends, typically, are not -- with some exceptions. Bowen has not been a playmaker, though for a while he was an effective player both against the run and as a rusher. However, he has just one sack since the 2011 season (26 games). And after microfracture surgery and being 30, I wonder about the level at which he’ll be able to play. Multiple Redskins sources said they still expect him to be in the Redskins' plans, but will it be at this cap figure? That's a big hit for someone in his situation. If Bowen returns healthy and plays well, the Redskins will greatly benefit. If not? That's a lot of cap room to occupy. One more note: Johnson and Hardy combine for approximately 23 percent of Carolina's cap.

Barkley's role in offense still developing

April, 18, 2014
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In last year’s NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round.

It was an interesting decision since Barkley didn’t seem to be the type of quarterback coach Chip Kelly would like to run his offense. Then again, neither is Nick Foles and he had a record-setting season in Kelly’s offense.

Barkley
Barkley’s grade has to remain incomplete. He didn’t get many snaps and was pushed into playing time when Foles and Michael Vick went down with injuries. Barkley attempted 49 passes and threw four interceptions.

Since the Eagles signed Mark Sanchez, it’s hard to figure out where Barkley fits this season.

But Barkley was worth a fourth-round pick since he had so much success in college. Having a full offseason of organized team activities and training camp should be even more beneficial.

“If you want to take that and jab me with that, that’s fine,” Barkley told CSNPhilly.com of his numbers last season. “I’m not going to make excuses. I know what I did wrong, and I’m going to learn from it, but at the same time, I’m capable of a lot more. I’m a better quarterback than that, and I know that and the people who have watched me and know me and watched me play the last four years -- and even the last eight years, going back to high school -- know that I’m a better quarterback than that.”

When the Eagles make their fourth-round pick in next month's draft, it remains to be seen what direction they'll head. At this stage, they’ll be looking for the best player available.

Sometimes, it takes a few years to really determine if the pick was the right one. That's certainly the case with Barkley.
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will exercise the fifth-year option on Tyron Smith's contract, keeping the 2011 first-round pick with the team at least through 2015.

Smith
Smith’s agent, Joe Panos, told 105.3 The Fan on Friday that the option has not been picked up yet but “they told me it’s going to happen.” A source indicated Thursday that the Cowboys had already exercised the option, like teams had done earlier in the day with other first-round picks from the 2011 draft, like Houston’s J.J. Watt.

Once the Cowboys pick up the option, Smith will earn $10.039 million in 2015, but it would not preclude the team and Smith from working out a multi-year deal, which is the hope. The 2015 base salary is guaranteed for injury and would become fully guaranteed if Smith is on the roster the first day of the league year in 2015.

The Cowboys took Smith with the ninth pick in the 2011 draft, and he has missed just one game in three seasons. He played right tackle as a rookie before moving to left tackle in his second year. He earned his first Pro Bowl appearance last season.

Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Cowboys have to pay Smith the transition tag money due to offensive linemen in 2014 ($10.039 million) because he was a top-10 pick. The Cowboys had to pick up the option by May 2 or Smith would have become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Smith, who does not turn 24 until December, is considered one of the best offensive linemen in the game. The Cowboys want to sign Smith to a long-term deal and have made him a priority, as well as wide receiver Dez Bryant, whose contract expires after the 2014 season.

Smith signed a four-year, $12.496 million deal in 2011 that was fully guaranteed and included a $7.588 million signing bonus.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • What I would do with the 16th pick in the draft if I was the general manager.
  • What about a quarterback in the second round?
  • What about Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne?
  • What about the salary-cap implications of letting Kyle Orton go?

Away we go:
 
In the fifth part of our re-examining series, I take a look at cornerback where the Redskins made a couple moves, though only one key addition. Already this week I've discussed safeties, the pass rush, receivers and the offensive line.

[+] EnlargeDeAngelo Hall
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliDeAngelo Hall is back for his seventh season in Washington.
What they’ve done: Re-signed DeAngelo Hall, re-signed E.J. Biggers, signed Tracy Porter, let Josh Wilson leave via free agency.


Problem solved: Tough to say that considering it’s largely the same group that’s returning. But the corner play wasn’t nearly the same issue as safety. Porter is coming off a solid year and should be improved over Wilson in the slot in coverage. Amerson’s progression will be a big key here. Hall isn’t going to get better but if he duplicates last season they’d be happy; Biggers is fine as a fourth corner. They still could use one more corner to compete with Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford. Overall this group still has a lot to prove.

Projected starters: Hall and Amerson with Porter in the slot.

What must happen: Amerson must be able to handle a starting role after serving as the No. 3 corner during his rookie season. Amerson definitely improved throughout the year, cutting down on his mental lapses in coverage. He was better with his eyes throughout the play later in the year. He learned to play press coverage last season, which should be a good tactic for him because of his long arms. He needs to show consistency and prove he can handle consistently tougher assignments as a starter (though it’s not as if he only played lesser receivers; he did a good job vs. Denver’s Eric Decker, for example). Amerson will have to show he can handle run game duties, too.

Porter has to play at a comparable level to 2013 -- I know what some rankings say about him, but those who watched him every game and in practice called him the Raiders' most consistent corner. In the games I watched of him this offseason (Indianapolis, Denver and Dallas), he was solid. He showed good patience in the slot while facing receivers such as Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker and Miles Austin (and occasionally Eric Decker or even Dez Bryant, who was a mismatch inside against him). When Porter allowed bigger catches, it typically came off an excellent move and good throw because he still had tight coverage. He’s willing to play the run, but Wilson was stronger in this area. And Porter showed he could blitz from the slot. Porter’s previous seasons weren't that strong, which is why he’s on his fourth team in four years. Injuries have been an issue in his career; last season was his first playing 16 games and only his second of more than 12. So staying healthy is a big key. Hall needs to maintain the same level of intensity he showed in 2013 when facing many top receivers. He played well and was most effective in press coverage. Hall also turns 31 this season and he was not as consistent in other coverages.

Address in the draft: Sure, but not until the later rounds. It would be a waste to select a corner in the second round knowing they would serve as a No. 4 at best. It’s not like, say, outside linebacker where they’d be used in packages to bolster the pass rush. What if the corner is by far their best on the board? OK. But short of that, they can address the position later in the draft and try to develop the player. They need depth right now, not starters (you can debate the quality of them; but they’re invested and it’s not a need). Next year? Different story. Minnifield and Crawford still have something to prove; the former spent most of the year on the practice squad and the latter missed all season with multiple torn ligaments. It’s asking a lot to expect him to be at the same level he was entering camp last summer. When he entered camp he and the coaches felt good about how he had improved in the slot. The feisty Minnifield has to show he can be effective in more coverages than just press.

Last word: This group will definitely be helped by increased quarterback pressure. Too often last season the coverages didn’t seem to match the rush, for whatever reason. And when they’d play zone, that’s when they’d get into trouble. They’re not good enough to just play press man all day. Few corners are so they must be able to play a variety of coverages. But if you know the pressure will get home, then you can play tighter even in zones. If safety Ryan Clark has anything left, he’ll also help in two ways: making sure everyone is lined up right (sounds little, but it’s not) and providing trust that he’ll be where he’s supposed to, allowing the corners to play accordingly. It matters.
The Washington Redskins can host up to 30 players before the draft, but who they do doesn't always tell the entire story of their interest. And we don't really know how what visits mean for this regime: How many of these players will they ultimately select? Some teams draft maybe one or two players that they actually hosted.

That said, some things are telling. First I'm going to take a look at the offensive players mentioned. What stands out: They've looked at several tackles. That's no surprise, but I think the plan all along was to look harder at the draft for this spot than free agency (where they brought in only Donald Penn).

It's also true that in some cases the Redskins might not want to draft certain players, but would bring them in because they want a book on them for the future -- in case they get cut or become free agents down the road.

Anyway, take the visits for what they're worth but the positions they're looking at are noteworthy. These are players who either have visited, will visit or have talked to them about visiting. I've used reports from the Washington Post, myself, ESPN980, SiriusXM radio and 106.7. I also used some info from draft analysts for ESPN.com, CBS Sports and NFL.com. And in finishing this item, I came across a similar format on a site called Pro Player Insiders.

Here are the offensive players who either have visited or will:


T/G Jack Mewhort, Ohio State

Projection: Third round

Comment: Mewhort played left tackle and both guard spots in college and was a solid player. He's athletic, but lean at 6-foot-6, 308 pounds. He's a much better fit in a zone blocking system, an outside one at that, than anything else. Which, of course, the Redskins use. I don't think he's going to overpower any defender.

How he'd fit: Mewhort would have to be viewed as the eventual starter at right tackle, but I'd be surprised if it happened right away. If he can't handle right tackle, he could always slide inside so if nothing else he'd find a way to be productive. However, he'd have to learn to consistently play lower if that were the case. It was an issue in college.

WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
Projection: Mid-to-late rounds

Comment: Coming off a 72-catch season. Has good size at 6-2, 215 pounds and excellent hands. But he's not a fast receiver and analysts worry about his ability to defeat athletic corners in the NFL.

How he'd fit: Developmental receiver and depth.

OT Morgan Moses, Virginia

Projection: Second round

Comment: He has clear ability, but for a guy who projects this high he also seems to be a bit of a project. He has good size at 6-6, 314 pounds, but doesn't always bend his knees. The fact that Washington is looking at him suggests the Redskins want to upgrade right tackle and might do so with its first pick.

How he'd fit: Despite faring better on the left side in college, he'd be the future starter at right tackle with Washington. Day 1 starter? Hard to see, but if you're a second-round pick you should be ready to start at some point that first season.

OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford

Projection: Second round

Comment: He's not considered a fast or agile tackle, so I wonder how he'd fit in with Washington. He's considered by analysts to be better as a drive blocker. But he did not receive high marks for his pass protection skills. Honestly, after reading more about him, I'm not sure why he's projected to this round.

How he'd fit: I really don't know based on his fit with a zone scheme. Perhaps they view him more as a guard long-term than anything else.

WR Brandon Coleman, Rutgers

Projection: Late rounds

Comment: He attended Bishop McNamara in Forestville, Md. He's 6-6, which is great except that there aren't many receivers that size in the NFL. It can be tough to get in and out of breaks when you're that tall. But he'd make an inviting red zone target if nothing else, though it takes more than size to excel here. He caught 92 passes in college (20 for touchdowns).

How he'd fit: Developmental guy. The Redskins could afford to bring him along slowly. Nothing wrong with that.

OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee

Projection: Second, possibly third round

Comment: He has good size (6-5, 336) and long arms, two welcomed traits at tackle. Richardson received higher marks for his pass protection skills than anything. He's considered to have good enough quickness to handle the right side.

How he'd fit: Eventual starter at right tackle. Day one? Tough to say, but has traits worth grooming.

RB Charles Sims, West Virginia

Projection: Mid-to-late rounds

Comment: He has excellent hands and quickness. Has good speed, though not a burner. Analysts consider him a better fit in a zone system (like the Redskins).

How he'd fit: A third down pass-catcher. The Redskins have Roy Helu and Chris Thompson as possibilities here, but both have question marks.
IRVING, Texas -- So far Mel Kiper Jr. has followed the Dallas Cowboys' draft needs in his mock drafts.

In his first two mocks, he offered up Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. In his third, he went with Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. In his Grade A mock, he went with Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

In Kiper's Mock draft 4.0 , he has gone away from the defensive side of the ball.


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A 7-9 record in 2013 earned the New York Giants the No. 12 pick in next month's NFL draft. After an offseason that has seen them sign 15 outside free agents, they still have needs at tight end, wide receiver and on the offensive line, one of which could reasonably be addressed with that pick. It also wouldn't be out of character to see them add a defensive lineman if that's who they felt the best player was at No. 12.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft is up today here on ESPN.com. It's two rounds long this time, and you have to have Insider access to read it. His picks for the Giants are aimed at finding some help for quarterback Eli Manning.


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Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Eagles 

April, 17, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles have the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 10-6 last season. A wide receiver, linebacker or defensive lineman would make sense for the Eagles.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today and his choice for the Eagles is a headline-grabber.


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Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Redskins 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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The Washington Redskins don’t pick in the NFL draft until the second round, 34th overall, thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012. A 3-13 record at least provided them a high pick in the second round, which is not exactly what they were hoping for last season. Despite luring some key free agents, the Redskins remain in need of several positions. A right tackle, a safety, an inside linebacker or even another pass-rusher would make sense with their first pick.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out on ESPN Insider today, and his choice would give the Redskins a replacement for a departed leader.


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IRVING, Texas -- Josh Mauro was like a lot of kids growing up in the area. He was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. He even attended the final game at Texas Stadium, a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He hoped one day he would wear the star on his helmet.

[+] EnlargeJosh Mauro
George Frey/Getty ImagesTexas native Josh Mauro had a breakout season for the Stanford Cardinal in 2013.
Today Mauro, who played defensive line at Stanford after leaving Hurst L.D. Bell, is at Valley Ranch with other Dallas Day hopefuls -- working out for the team while his immediate family watches. Mauro will be joined by other locals like TCU safety Elisha Olabode, Missouri quarterback James Franklin (Corinth), Abilene Christian receiver Taylor Gabriel (Mesquite), Miami defensive back Kacy Rodgers (Southlake Carroll) -- whose dad was the Cowboys defensive line coach from 2003-07 -- and North Texas running back Zach Orr (DeSoto).

"It's kind of like a dream come true," Mauro said. "Playing Pee Wee football and high school, you see the Cowboys and it's like a dream to think you could play for them. This isn't a sign-up for the Cowboys, but to even have the opportunity to work out for them is something special."

Mauro, 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, played defensive end, defensive tackle and even some nose tackle for Stanford. He had 51 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, six quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and an interception for one of the best defenses in college football in 2013.

He knows the Cowboys have defensive line needs, too. He knows DeMarcus Ware is now with the Denver Broncos, Jason Hatcher is with the Washington Redskins and Anthony Spencer remains unsigned. He is aware they signed Henry Melton.

"You're talking two, possibly three starters up front in that defense that aren't there anymore," Mauro said.

Mauro met with Cowboys assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett and other coaches at the NFL scouting combine in February. He played in the East-West Shrine Game and worked out in California, with former Stanford players like Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and other current NFL players.

"It's a great work environment, just getting to be with guys that are like minded and in the NFL," Mauro said. "I've been able to learn a lot from them."

ESPN Insiders have him as the 21st ranked defensive end, but his versatility puts him on the radar of 4-3 and 3-4 teams. Having played in a multiple defenses used at Stanford also helps. When he arrived at Stanford, Vic Fangio was his coordinator. Fangio now runs the San Francisco 49ers defense. Josh Tarver took over for Fangio, and he now runs the Oakland Raiders defense. Derek Mason took over for Tarver and he is now the head coach at Vanderbilt.

"Say a team runs a 3-4, the guys they'll have aren't just the typical big, block squares just two-gapping," Mauro said. "It's a passing league. You've got to be able to play different personnel. Look at a team like New England. They might have one down lineman and standing up the other 10 guys. The game is so different. It's not the traditional tight end, two backs, two wide receivers. It could be three, four, five wide receivers. The name of the game is to get to the quarterback. I've been able to do that at Stanford from a lot of different positions. Nowadays getting to the quarterback whether it be from the nine technique or nose guard, you've got to be able to create mismatches for people in different positions."

He worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and will work out for the New York Giants next week, followed by visits with the 49ers and Raiders.

"I still remember we wrote our goal letters at every training period at Stanford," Mauro said. "My first goal was to eventually become a starter at Stanford, an All-American defensive end and be a future first-round pick. Now coming out of high school that was a very, very ambitious goal and I wasn't heavily recruited. I had a few offers, but I always set the bar high so even if I fall short of my expectations I'd still end up in a good place. I always believed in it. Three years in the program I hadn't played very much. The fourth year I came in off the bench and was the energy guy … . My fifth year I ended up starting 11 games and was productive and helped one of the best defenses in the nation. Everything is kind of surreal. You couldn't plan it out. You just always have to believe in yourself if no one is believing in you."

Gauging Eagles' direction in draft not easy

April, 17, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles proved to be unpredictable in last season’s NFL draft.

Especially in the second round when they selected Stanford tight end Zach Ertz.

Tight end didn’t appear to be a glaring need with Brent Celek as the starter, but the Eagles went ahead and selected Ertz with the third pick of the second round. By the way, the Eagles also had added James Casey in free agency, so the selection of Ertz was even more surprising considering the needs on defense.

It’s an interesting thing to watch as the 2014 draft inches closer.

The Eagles have needs at a number of positions such as wide receiver and linebacker, but anything is possible. Drafting Ertz is certainly proof of that fact.

Celek remained the starter, but he caught just 32 passes -- the fewest for him since becoming the top option in 2009. Celek started 16 of the Eagles’ 17 games, which included the divisional playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Casey wasn’t utilized all that much yet he was solid on special teams.

Ertz wound up with 36 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns and proved his mettle more and more as the season continued.

But just because the Eagles have certain needs in the draft doesn’t mean they’ll go that way. General manager Howie Roseman made that abundantly clear last year.

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