NFC BEAST? OR NFC LEAST?

2020 RECORD PREDICTIONS

While times seem to become more uncertain off of the gridiron, the NFL looks to add a bit of normalcy to our lives. Multiple reports indicate the 2020 season will be beginning on time. So I decided now is a good time to give my division picks. Will the NFC East reclaim its powerhouse reputation, or will all the drama be too much for some teams to overcome? Here’s my take;

Eagles: Philadelphia while not totally drama free (see DJAX posts) we have been able to avoid major issues. Same head coach, same playbook, and for the most part those commonalities should propel the Eagles to a division title. I predict the Eagles will go 11-5 and win the division led by Carson Wentz and sophomore sensation Miles Sanders.

Giants: This is a shocker to most, understandably, but I am a believer in Daniel Jones and Saqoun Barkley. I don’t think they will be a wildcard team but I do believe they will navigate their EXTREMELY tough schedule this year, and see an improvement in record to the tune of 7-9. With the exception of a couple arrests, the Giants have been able to avoid negative media attention.

Cowboys: Obviously this isn’t an indictment on their talent, I do believe they are on paper the most “talented” team in the division. My concerns are solely based on Dak Prescott, while he has great stats and has lead the Cowboys to a playoff win, his lack of contract speaks volumes to the confidence Jerry world has in the QB. Dak will be playing under a microscope for the entire season, not to mention having a proven starting quality QB (Andy Dalton) chomping at the bit to take over at a discount if Dak was to falter. I see the pressure being the undoing of this team, new coach, new system, and too much uncertainty. I see the Cowboys regressing in a big way, 6-10 for “Dem Boys”

The Team in Washington: I’ll begin by saying, they have the talent to compete. Now that is out the way, this organization is a sinking ship. I see this year being a complete rebuild starting with the culture. While I love AP, no amount of old man strength will save this franchise at least not this year. I see the Washingtons(lol?) as basement dwellers, 3-13 might be a generous record.

Who do you have as your division winners?

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Wentz, Graham, and other Eagles want a season but also want health protocols to start a season

On Sunday afternoon the eagles QB tweeted “We all want to play this season, but we all need to stay safe in order to actually have a season! It’s the for the NFL to step up and do their part so that us players can be safe at work and go play the game we love!”.

If the NFL doesn’t listen to players or take any steps in the right direction this NFL season could be in jeopardy. So with it being over 1 week away from training camp will the NFL make a health protocol to start the 2020 season, will they postpone it, or will they go into training camp with no health plan those questions are yet still not answered by the NFL

DeSean Jackson Under Fire for Posting anti-Semitic Quote

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is facing major backlash and scrutiny after posting anti-Semitic quotes Monday on social media. On Jackson’s Instagram story feed, was a quote supposedly by Adolph Hitler about how white Jews “will blackmail America. [They] will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were”.

In addition, on Jackson’s Instagram feed he posted photos of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who has been identified as an anti-semite. 

Later on Monday, Jackson went back on Instagram to clarify his posts saying “Anyone who feels I have hate towards the Jewish community took my post the wrong way. I have no hatred in my heart towards no one !! Equality Equality”. Part of the public backlash was former Eagles president Joe Banner who said that DeSean Jackson’s post was “absolutely indefensible”.

Others on social media have called for the Eagles to part ways with the wide receiver. The Eagles have yet to comment on the matter, but according to Adam Schefter, the Eagles will do so today.

[News story still unfolding, expect more to be added]

The Eagles Offensive Situation

Ben Carlson

QB: The QB situation for the Eagles is pretty straight forward. Carson Wentz will obviously lead the team as the starter as long as he is eligible to play, and Nate Sudfeld will likely back him up. The addition of Jalen Hurts in the 2nd round of the draft confused a lot; however, I am confident that Coach Pederson and Howie drafted Jalen Hurts mainly to use as a gadget player like the Saints use Taysom Hill.

RB: With the departure of Jordan Howard this offseason a lot of people are wondering what the Eagles will do to replace him for the 2020-2021 season. Their have been some big names popping up such as Carlos Hyde, Shady McCoy and Devonta Freeman. Me personally, I have a ton of faith in Miles Sanders as an RB 1; however, bringing in a vet that can help with the workload and potentially guide Miles for a year isn’t something I wouldn’t be opposed to.

WR: The front office did a great job at adding new weapons for Wentz this offseason. The additions consisted of Jalen Reagor, Marquise Goodwin, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins. Pederson and Howie were obviously going for speed and I’m all for it. I have high hopes for Jalen Reagor, I think he will have an impact from the start of the season. Marquise will be a good speed guy to have along side D-Jax. As for John Hightower and Quez Watkins, they were both good picks (especially for when we got them) and from the looks of their college tape if needed they will be ready (I really do think they are better than being just random backups but I don’t know what the front office will do about it, for we have a lot of WR on the roster) . To top that all off we still have Alshon Jeffery, Greg Ward, JJAW, Robert Davis, Deontay Burnett and Shelton Gibson

TE: The TE situation similar to the QB room is also really straight forward. We have the three headed snake from last year consisting of Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedart and Josh Perkins. I’m a big fan of our TE corp, year after year they continue to be reliable and consistent.

O-Line: As usual we still have a dominant O-Line; however, Vaitai left and is now on the Lions. A solid player and a pretty big lose, but definitely replaceable. As of right now it looks like the starting lineup will be Andre Dillard, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo and Lane Johnson. This is a lineup I’m extremely confident in despite Isaac Seumalo’s super mediocre past. The front office did make some moves this offseason to pad the line such as draft Jack Driscoll and draft Prince Tega Wanogho. Both excelled in college and were good picks in the 4th and 6th round. The main obstacle is not being able to avoid injuries, we need to stay healthy. That doesn’t go for just the O-Line, the entire roster needs to stay healthy if we want to succeed this season.

Eagles Defense Has Taken Step Forward in Off-Season

A lot of Eagles fans are skeptical of how much the Eagles improved from this year to last. Although it’s absolutely fair, I think we have to give more credit to Howie Roseman and the Eagles staff for improving the Eagles defense. From the playoff lost to Seattle to now, the Eagles are a much better team. 

When starting off with an evaluation like this, we have to look back at what was the original product (most recent) that took the field for the Eagles. In the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks the Eagles had Jalen Mills as their number one cornerback in the game. The Eagles defense only allowed 17 points in the loss to Seattle. D.K. Metcalf, like many other WR’s this season, lit up the Eagles secondary with 160 receiving yards, setting the rookie record for most receiving yards by a rookie in a postseason game. Although, giving up a total of 325 receiving yards in the game, the Eagles only gave up 64 rushing yards, and 45 of that came from QB Russell Wilson. The Eagles defense was led by Malcolm Jenkins with 9 tackles, and had the only sack in the game for the Eagles. 

The next part of the evaluation of the Eagles off-season specific to the defense is what the Eagles lost. The major lost for the Eagles defense was Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins wasn’t just a productive starter for the Eagles or that he played nearly every snap, but Jenkins was also the captain of the defense. The Eagles also watched Timmy Jernigan, and Kamu Grugier-Hill sign contracts with other teams. Also, Vinny Curry and Nigel Bradham are currently free agents. 

Finally, the additions to the Eagles team on the defensive side of the ball. The major acquisition for the Eagles this off-season was the trade and extension of CB Darrius Slay. In addition, the Eagles added Javon Hargrave DT from the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed Nickell Robey-Coleman CB. Smaller signings for the Eagles consisted of S Will Parks and LB Jatavis Brown. Lastly, the Eagles drafted LB/S Davion Taylor in the third round, and S K’Von Wallace in the 4th.

Now that we have it all laid out on the table, we can finally look at how the Eagles stack up. The first part you start off, the secondary. The by far biggest weakness of the Eagles defense, and would have been the number one addressed spot if the WR position did self-destruct last year. I find it hard to make an argument that the CB position, in particular, didn’t improve greatly. The Eagles got a true number one CB. The last time the Eagles had a cornerback make the pro bowl was Asante Samuel in 2010. for 10 years, the Eagles have had bad to mediocre play at that position. Adding Slay into the team will allow the Eagles to not be lit up by top WR’s and give more time to the Eagles defensive line to get the QB. 

Making any point about the Eagle secondary this upcoming season, has to look at the loss of Malcolm Jenkins. The leadership part of Jenkins will be missed but let’s not pretend that the Eagles defense doesn’t have leaders. Look at Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and even Rodney McLeod. Replacing Jenkins production is more of a question I believe for the Eagles. First things first, Malcolm Jenkins wasn’t a pro bowl player in the prime of his career, he’s clearly on his last stretch, I think most fans would agree with that. What most fans have a problem with is, who’s going to replace him? I know a lot of people are saying Jalen Mills, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. The report that Mills was going to be coming back to the Eagles to play safety made fans assume he would take the Jenkins role. Yet, the Eagles signed Will Parks, and invested two picks Davion Taylor, and K’Von Wallace at the safety position. It wouldn’t make sense to put that much capital into one position and still start the player that could be a solid CB 2. For replacing Jenkins productivity will be hard for the Eagles but if the Eagles believe that one of the two draft picks, or an improved Will Parks can take that place, then I don’t think the drop off is dramatic. 

The secondary as a whole is a better team, the Eagles invested resources in it which is the only thing they could have done. The Eagles mixed the defense with proven talent in Darius Slay and new rookies such as K’Von Wallace. When evaluating the Eagles secondary, they have improved. Then, you have to look at the position beneath it. The linebackers. 

Some Eagles fans think that this is the biggest need for the Eagles team. Of course those fans would be wrong but nevertheless it is a position that is almost less clear after the off-season. The Eagles did add LB Davion Taylor but with an undersized body, he might be the replacement for Malcolm Jenkins instead. Other than that, the only signing the Eagles had at the linebacker position was Jatavis Brown, who is far off of a major name. Eagles fans shouldn’t be surprised, the LB position in a 4-3 defense, but more importantly an Eagles defense under Jim Schwartz doesn’t value the position that highly. Howie Roseman doesn’t draft LB’s high in the draft, and the team watched Jordan Hicks leave the team last year. So with the Eagles LB position looking like Nathan Gerry, TJ Edwards, and Jatavis Brown leading the front, I don’t think there is going to be a major difference if Kamu-Grugier Hill or Nigel Bradham were in their place. I would say the Eagles took a step back, but far from saying that this is going to be the difference between making the playoffs or not. 

Lastly, the other main component of the defense is the defensive line. The Eagles added DT Javon Hargrave who was one of the more surprising decisions by the Eagles this season. The reason was because they committed big money to another DT only a year after signing DT Malik Jackson. Although, the Eagles value the D-Line position heavily, which is one of the reasons why they put together so many resources. I understand some of the confusion at first from the fan base, not so much criticism of the player but more of the decision to invest at a strong position. Now along the D-Line, the DT position is going to be one of the best in the game, the question still remains outside. Derrick Barnett hasn’t stepped into his potential, and Brandon Graham isn’t getting younger. The Eagles will need a contribution from Malik Jackson, or Josh Sweat to step up as well. There is no doubt the defensive line improved, and I think the Eagles made the right decision to go all in to get pressure, because we all know that pressure forces mistakes.

In conclusion, the Eagles invested all free agent resources in the defense, and got high quality players in the draft. I think this Eagles defense is going to be the best in the NFC East, and pairing that up with Carson Wentz doing his thing on offense, the Eagles are setting themselves up for a successful season.

Eagles 2020-2021 Season Predictions

The Eagles 2020-2021 NFL season schedule was released yesterday, and our instant reaction is to predict how many wins the Eagles will get. Of course millions of things will change from now until game one but here is my Eagles predictions for the 2020-2021 season.

Week 1 Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins (1PM) W 1-0

The last time the Eagles played in Washington to start a season they ended up Super Bowl champions. Heading to Washington, the team had the number two overall pick in the draft for a reason. With new head coach Ron Rivera, the team might be a little better this season. Yet, it’s still the Redskins. Dwayne Haskins didn’t have an impressive rookie year, and to learn a new offense on zoom probably doesn’t help. Desean Jackson’s first time returning to Washington (to play) as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles since he rejoined the birds will make for a special opening game. 

Week 2 Philadelphia Eagles vs Las Angeles Rams (1PM) W 2-0

This is one of the surest wins of the season in my eyes. It’s not just because the Eagles have had the Rams number in the past years, or that’s Jared Goff’s first time in the link, it’s that the Rams are starting to fall into disarray. Releasing former first round pick, and offensive player of the year Todd Gurley, not having a first round pick, and trading away WR Brandin Cooks, the team isn’t better from last year. Of course the last time Wentz was suiting up to play the Rams, it didn’t end well. Chalk this up for another Eagles win. 

Week 3 Philadelphia Eagles vs Cincinnati Bengals (1PM) L 2-1

Yeah you’re reading that right. It seems too easy for the Eagles to start off 3-0. Yet, history is what I’m relying on here. Rookie QB’s seem to have a good amount of early success, look back at Wentz’s rookie year (they started 3-0). I think it just feels like one of those games. 1PM. Easy team. 2-0 already. The Eagles will find a way to lose this game, but I’m confident that if they lose, it won’t derail the season. 

Week 4 Philadelphia Eagles @ San Francisco 49ers (8:20PM) W 3-1

The Eagles made up for it! I don’t understand the fear that some fans have when they talk about the 49ers. Just like how I relied on some history for the Bengals selection, this one follows suit. Basically, every team (other than the Patriots) who have lost in Super Bowls have had following year slumps. Yeah, the team the Eagles play in week 2 was in the Super Bowl two years ago. Jimmy G missed the throw to win to get the go ahead TD in the Super Bowl, and just like that he’s going to miss the opportunity to beat the Eagles. 

Week 5 Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1PM) W 4-1

The last time the Eagles played the Steelers was when Carson Wentz beat them 34-3. The Eagles will be riding high after beating the 49ers, and I don’t see 38 year old Ben Roethlisberger stopping them. Cause for concern clearly is the travel, going from west coast to east coast, but I think the Eagles win sloppy against the Steelers.

Week 6 Philadelphia Eagles vs. Baltimore Ravens (1PM) L 4-2

The Eagles don’t have the best track record as of late, with stopping mobile QBs. Since Lamar Jackson is at the peak of that category, I see the Eagles losing to the Ravens. Yet, I don’t think it’s going to be a blowout. One it’s at home, and two the Eagles will be starting to get more and more comfortable as the weeks go on. A tough defeat, will have the Eagles feeling better as they head into three straight NFC East Games. 

Week 7 Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants (8:20PM) W 5-2

I refuse to believe that the Eagles will lose to Eli 2.0. Just like Eli Manning, Daniel Jones will soon learn that you just don’t win against the Eagles, especially at home. It’s a Thursday Night Game, the Eagles don’t lose Thursday night games. This just feels like a complete blowout. It’s great you drafted an OL number four overall, because you’re going to need it this game. 

Week 8 Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys (8:20PM) W 6-2

I’m not going to get into the whole ten days rest thing against this team. I just believe that the Eagles are a more functional team than the Cowboys. This is the game that the Cowboys realized that they hired Jason Garret 2.0. Doug Pederson is going to feast in this game, especially with the deep ball. The Cowboys secondary, well it’s not great. Yeah, yeah, yeah they drafted CeeDee Lamb. Yet, what Cowboys fans and Jerry Jones don’t understand is that there is only one football. Considering the Amari Cooper shut down last time these two teams played because he wasn’t getting the ball, I don’t think he’s going to be that happy now. It takes a masterful coach to handle all of those weapons, and Mike McCarthy just isn’t that. 

Week 9 BYE

But still a win…

Week 10 Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (1PM) W 7-2

Is Daniel Jones still their QB? Well if so, the Eagles win this game as well. Saquon can only do so much, and if you thought the Eagles’ run defense was good last year, we’ll meet Javon Hargrave. The Eagles are coming off a bye, and it might be a little sloppy in the first half, but nevertheless the Eagles win handily. 

Week 11 Philadelphia Eagles @ Cleveland Browns (1PM) W 8-2

It’s the Browns. 

Week 12 Philadelphia Eagles vs Seattle Seahawks (8:15PM) L 8-3

As long as the Earth is still rotating on the axis, the Eagles will continue to lose to the Seahawks. It’s probably going to feel like a blowout but the Eagles are going to somehow still be within a score away from winning, but still lose. This might be the only guarantee of the season, but at least it’s home right?

Week 13 Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers (4:25PM) W 9-3

The Packers were contenders last year in the playoffs, and this is the season when they start to realize that. With no weapons, Aaron Rodgers might start throwing the ball to himself. I think the Eagles will be walking into chaos, and they’ll be able to take advantage of it. 

Week 14 Philadelphia Eagles vs New Orleans Saints (4:25PM) L 9-4

Drew Brees is right behind Russell Wilson for the most terrifying matchup against the Eagles. If Brees is operating at full cylinder, and isn’t falling off a cliff, then it’s very hard to pick the Eagles. In addition, I believe that the Saints will be fighting for a wildcard spot at this time opposed to leading the NFC South. With added fuel, and Drew Brees, I have the Eagles once again falling to the Saints. 

Week 15 Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals (4:05PM) W 10-4

If I could predict one team that will drag the Eagles into OT this would be it. With DeAndre Hopkins added to Kyler Murray’s weapons, it won’t be easy to defend this team. Yet, that’s the exact reason why the Eagles traded for and extended Darrius Slay. Although, I don’t see D-Hop making the most impact in this game, a player that Eagles fans will remember, Larry Fitsgerald. It’s almost too easy to imagine Larry Fits lighting up whoever the Eagles CB2 is, and single-handedly keeping his team in the game. I still have the Eagles winning this one, and this pushes the Eagles to ten wins on the season.

Week 16 Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys (4:25PM) L 10-5

I believe that this is going to be the game that determines the winner of the NFC East. Just like the NFC West last year, the NFC East will have two teams make the playoffs with 11+ wins. With that, the NFC hasn’t had repeat winners since 2004, and I don’t believe this year is the exception. Looking at a close game, with possibly a bad call that pushes the game in one direction, and that is the case my money (and possibly Jerry’s money) is that it’s going to go the way of the Cowboys. 

Week 17 Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington Redskins (1PM) W 11-5

The first Jalen Hurts start of the season? The Eagles will have one of the wildcard spots locked up, and they might want to rest Wentz and some key starters for the next week. Even with Hurts starting, I have the Eagles beating the Redskins who will be playing for a better draft pick next year. I think rounding at the season the Eagles take care of business for the Redskins at home.

In conclusion, in case you missed my message in the beginning, obviously, a million things can change. Of course, this will not be right, but it’s still important to look ahead at the season and to know as a fan what the possible scenarios will be when the teams play in the season. Key predictions that won’t change, is that I believe two NFC East teams will make the playoffs. Part of that has to do with the downfall of teams like the Saints, and the 49ers. You can look at my predictions and say I’m being too optimistic, and maybe I am. But, it’s more fun to start a season with a little more hope and watch as that hope goes up and down throughout that season, instead of going in with no hopes and being proved right.

Speed is Going to be Key for the Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had a goal going into the off-season to get Carson Wentz’s speed. I think it’s fair to say that I got some speed. Now the talent of that speed is another question, but let’s evaluate the need for speed the Eagles have.

It’s clear that the Eagles missed Desean Jackson last year. Considering that Jackson totaled the fifth-most receiving TDs’ for the Eagles this season while only playing three games (only one full one), was a problem. We all saw what could happen when Wentz had an option that could get open 25 yards plus, and catch the ball. In particular, the two plays that we all remember from Wentz to Jackson last year were the two touchdowns in week 1. Both of those plays were 50 yards or more (51 and 53 yards to be exact). Even with two 25+ yard touchdowns in one game, Wentz went on to only have three more in the other 15 games of the season. So it’s clear that the Eagles needed speed.

“But we already knew that!”

Yet there is a pattern to Wentz’s performance to the amount of TDs’ of 25 yards or more he has per season. Wentz had five touchdowns that met that criteria in 2019, three in 2018, eight in 2017, and three in 2016. It makes sense, the more big plays you have, the better your team will be.
Wentz’s best year was in 2017 when he was arguably on his way to win the MVP award. It makes sense that his most “big plays” came in that year. For 2019, arguably his second most impressive year, and then 2016 and 2018 follow behind. The Eagles investing a first-round pick in Jalen Reagor, trading for Marquise Goodwin, and drafting John Hightower and Quez Watkins in the later rounds was an attempt to give Wentz more speed.

In the games when Carson Wentz throws 25 yards or more for a TD, the Eagles are 10-4 in those games. For games when he throws 30 yards or more and it results in a touchdown, the Eagles are 9-2 in those games. 40 yards or more 6-1. The outlier in the last one was the Titans game from 2018, so that really doesn’t count.

All those statistics are just evidence to show that Wentz with speed, equals wins. With all of this speed, the Eagles are trying to build a foundation that gives the teams weapons down the field. With Ertz, Godert, Jeffery, and whoever 25 yards and in placing options for Wentz, Jackson, Reagor, and Goodwin will cover everything else.

No Eagles fan will question the method of getting speed for the Eagles, now the players that they acquired to do so, maybe.

“Are Reagor’s hands good enough?”

“Can Jackson or Goodwin play a 16 game season?”

“Why did they draft Jalen Hurts?”

Okay the last one might be for a different matter, but nevertheless before you blast Howie Roseman for having the worst draft ever, evaluate. The Eagles did get faster, Wentz now has speed. We don’t know right now if Reagor over Jefferson was a mistake, or spending two later round draft picks on players with the same skillset was the right decision.

In conclusion, Howie Roseman addressed the speed aspect for Carson Wentz. The players we can debate, but the fundamental ideas were addressed. I’m not saying Roseman has given Wentz everything he has ever wanted, nevertheless, the Eagles have answered on speed end for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Could This Unconventional NFL Draft be the Best Ever?

The 2020 NFL draft will go on as the world is shut down due to COVID-19. The draft will not be in Vegas, instead, it will be in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s basement. It would be an understatement to say that this draft will be unconventional. General managers, scouts, coaches, and owners who are used to sitting in a state of the art war rooms, will now make decisions that could cost them their job while their kids may be fighting in the other room. Of course, things could be MUCH worse but it’s less than ideal circumstances for the teams trying to pick the best player. At face value, these new situations that teams are placed in would make you think that this draft will probably have more busts and more players that just don’t work out. Yet will it? Could these altered interactions help the NFL teams draft better?

 It’s not just the actual NFL draft that had to be changed due to COVID-19 but also the events leading up to the draft. In a normal NFL year leading up to the draft there is the combine (which the NFL was able to get in), and then the other major events which are pro days. Pro days are held by schools to help showcase their talent, think of it as a mini-combine. At these pro days, it provides players an opportunity to show their skill to scouts of NFL teams that they can help their team if they are drafted. This is an opportunity for players who ran too slow at the combine to get a second chance and allow players that weren’t invented to the combine to showcase their skills to scouts. Unfourtantly, pro days were canceled this year due to the coronavirus. Yet, there are two other key aspects of pro days that play pivotal parts in helping a player get drafted. That’s scout communication and player-team conversations. 

 First, with scout communication, this is a key element of the draft process. NFL scouts are human, so when they travel to all of these pro days across the country, they talk. Some of those conversations are about the NFL draft and about where they have players ranked and who they may like. I’m not saying one scout is giving the other his team’s draft board, but there is a communication of which players they may like. Of course, the obvious thing right now is that this doesn’t exist. Scouts may be talking with scouts from other teams but the odds of the team finding similarities make it much more difficult. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network sent out a tweet this week detailing the exact point saying there will be “less groupthink in the draft this year”. Now, what does that mean?

 Since there will be less awareness about which players are valued as superior, the more likely we see players that are low on some boards to be ranked higher on others. The advantage of this is for the players. Teams will rely more on what they see and take players based on the talent from the tape rather than what everyone else thinks. A lot of teams may second guess taking a player higher because other teams don’t value player X that high. Less of that will happen in this draft because teams will go with their instinct and draft player X because they won’t have as much knowledge of what other teams are thinking. 

 The second element of this equation is the removal of person-to-person interactions that teams use to interview players. Now luckily in today’s society, we have Skype, Zoom, and hundreds of more ways to talk to people through devices. Although, anyone that has ever used any of these devices realizes that it doesn’t exactly feel like the same experience. Teams will place lesser emphasis on this interaction because it simply isn’t the same thing as sitting across from someone and looking them in the eye. Then how is this a good thing? I’m going to rely on Malcolm Gladwell to help me with this.

 A lot of people have made a similar reference that I’m about to make, but this example might have more than one connection. For that reference, I look back at Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book Talking to Stranger. Those not familiar with Gladwell’s work, he proposes theories that are backed up through historical references and tied together to make a point. One particular part of the book connects closely to this idea of social interaction being a deterrent in our ability to judge someone’s character. Gladwell uses the example of when British prime minister Neville Chamberlain met Adolf Hitler. Just wait, it ties together.

 If you don’t know how this infamous meeting unfolded, I’ll explain. Chamberlin decided to meet with Hitler, at his request to talk about Hitler’s future plans. The year of this meeting was 1938 which was before WW2 began and Chamberlin wanted to make sure that this would never happen (spoiler alert it did). Hitler at the time was talking about invading Sudetenland, which if he did would have started WW2. So Chamberlin sat down to talk to Hitler, and Chamberlin shifted the questioning, to if Sudetenland was all that Hitler wanted. Of course, Hitler said yes, and Chamberlin came away with the impression that Hitler was “a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word.”

“a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word”

Neville Chamberlain on meeting Adolf Hitler

 Chamberlain would fly back to talk to Hitler two more times and he stayed convinced that he would stick with his word. Obviously, Hitler didn’t stick to his word and the events later would, of course, be the start of WW2. So why did I mention that? The connection that Gladwell drawls from this event connects to the draft (obviously on a very different scale). When people interact it’s impossible to know their real intentions, and it creates a bias. When we talk to someone face to face we create a connection and everything we do in the conversation gives us a basis on how to feel about a person. It’s clear how this connects to the NFL draft. 

 When a team talks to a player, no matter what, they are now going to be influenced by the interview (obviously). The question then arises, how much does that help? Teams have tape, numbers, references from the player, why do they need to talk to them? People usually answer this with, “You can learn a lot by looking a man in his eyes”. From the example, maybe not. If Adolf Hitler could convince someone that he was loyal, then an NFL draft prospect can easily convince someone of some small detail that the team is questioning them on. I’m not saying that all prospects lie, or that nothing can be gained from the person-to-person interaction. What I am saying is that, when evaluating if a player is talented enough to be chosen with a first-round pick, how much do you gain when talking to them? Just through one example, it’s evident that we have much more to lose. 

 Of course, there is a downside to this alternative draft system that the NFL has thrown together. There is less systematic data to rely on, and the other main downfall is limited medical information. For Tua Tagovailoa, the former Alabama QB who suffered a dislocated hip and posterior wall fracture is one of the players that is going to be hurt by this pseudo draft process. Since team doctors can’t meet with the players, there are less reliable sources giving information about the impacts that his injury may have. It’s going to hurt his draft stock, but the fraction of players, like Tagovailoa, that fall into this category is small. Also, even if teams could check out his injury, the past has shown that this also may be misleading, just ask the Dolphins with Drew Brees. 

 Overall, I’m by far not saying this is a great outcome for the NFL. The world right now is suffering and the NFL draft will serve as a much-needed distraction for people. I understand that people are angry that they aren’t able to attend the draft, and for the prospects who are stuck inside as their lifelong dream comes true. For those same fans and players, I believe that a little bit more of them will be able to celebrate at a later time, possibly in Canton. 

Smit Bajaj’s Eagles 7 Round Mock Draft 2.0

If Howie truly wants to get younger like he mentioned in his press conference, this draft is essential for the future of the Eagles’ franchise. The Eagles have eight total picks in this draft thanks to three compensatory picks handed out because of previous free agents who left the team. Various reports are being thrown out regarding the players that are being considered for the 21st pick, but it’s prime smokescreen season. Any report could be entirely false and a leak by a team in order to make their pick more valued in trade talks. With that being said, here’s my mock draft without any trades.

Round 1 Pick 21 – LSU WR Justin Jefferson

Pro Comparison – Marvin Jones

It’s hard to see why anyone doesn’t like Jefferson. Maybe they like another wide out more or believe Jefferson is a slot guy, but Jefferson ticks all of the boxes coaches are looking for in a wide receiver. He’s a tremendous route runner with solid hands (only dropped 5% of the balls thrown at him) who can track and high point the ball well. Through playing with Joe Brady at LSU, he proved that he is ready for a pro style offense and his performance against Oklahoma was nothing short of spectacular. He had 14 catches for 227 yards and 4 TDs in one of the most important games of his lifetime. He’s a baller. Ballers know how to get open and make plays. A constant knock I see on him is his inability to play on the outside as he sometimes struggled with press releases and physical corners. As Jefferson fills out his frame at the next level, this weakness should become less and less apparent. It’s tough to knock on Jefferson for his football ablity. People always seem to point to the fact that he received less attention playing next to Ja’Marr Chase or that Joe Burrow made him look good. But game film doesn’t lie. And when you look at the film, Jefferson can ball out.

Round 2 Pick 53 – Southern Illinois SS (maybe LB?) Jeremy Chinn

Pro comparison – Jaquiski Tartt

I know we already have three very capable safeties rostered for next year but Chinn’s versatility makes more than just another safety. He has the height, wingspan and physicality to become a LB in today’s NFL and that’s what I believe we should do with him: convert Chinn to LB. He’s 6’3″, 220 lbs, and has a wingspan of almost 6’5″. If he can bulk up a bit and reach the 230-240 mark, the Eagles would have a legit LB prospect in the locker room. His playstyle in college resembles a LB from a physicality standpoint; he was one of the best tacklers in the FCS. Even his body control and toughness resembles that of a LB prospect. The issue with this transition would be that he comes from a relatively small school against poor competition. The switch from FCS competition to NFL competition is no joke especially given the small school Chinn comes from. It may be too many moving parts for Chinn to handle, but even as a Safety, Chinn should excel under Jim Schwartz.

Round 3 Pick 103 – Florida WR Van Jefferson

Pro comparison – Rashard Higgins

There’s a lot to love about Florida WR Van Jefferson. Unfortunately there is a lot to hate about him too. For one, he’ll be 24 come his first snap in the NFL. To put that in perspective, soon to be 3 year player Avonte Maddox will also be 24 in September. Jefferson’s college production was also modest. But the potential for Jefferson is the intriguing part. He stands at a promising 6 foot 2, has great hands, and runs some of the best routes in this class of receivers. Being the son of a wide receiver coach will do that to you, as he is a tremendous route runner. He has some speed on him as well. He didn’t run the 40 at the combine and COVID-19 shut down his hopes of a pro day 40, but at the Senior Bowl, Jefferson was tracked at running a staggering 21 MPH. Only 3 ball carriers ran 22 MPH last year in the NFL. Jefferson has deceptive speed and tons of it. He’s an interesting candidate for sure, but one that many fans would be eager to see play out.

His route running is legit.

Round 4 Pick 127 – LSU C Lloyd Cushenberry III

Pro comparison – Corey Linsley

It may be wishful thinking to hope Cushenberry is available in the 4th round. But considering how rare centers are picked, it’s tough to estimate where a lot of centers will be selected. As far as a prospect, Lloyd checks all the boxes. He’s 6’3 with a solid frame and has a 7 foot wingspan. No, that’s not a typo, he legit has a 7 foot wingspan. He’s not the most mobile guy like we see in Jason Kelce, but he’s not stiff. With proper coaching, he can develop that part of his game. The most impressive part of his film is the fact that he lined up in a 1 on 1 a lot of times at LSU. In an SEC containing elite defensive linemen such as Derrick Brown, he held his own and managed to get to the next level when he needed to. He’s not going to be the heir to Jason Kelce, but he will be able to step in and offer elite run blocking.

Round 4 Pick 145 – Michigan State LB Joe Bachie

Bachie isn’t going to be the quickest, most agile tackler, but he’ll be a tackler. And after the departure of Bradham and Jenkins, two of the most sure tacklers on this team, tackling at the LB position is a point of emphasis as of right now. He’s not the best in coverage, but he’ll definitely be an improvement over Bradham’s covering ability. At the end of the day, if a running back breaks into the second level, we need sure tacklers. Bachie could be that guy if he lives up to his ceiling.

Round 4 Pick 146 – Florida DE Jonathan Greenard

Never hurts to have young pass rushers, right? At least we know Howie says that. Barnett’s time in Philly is reaching a decision as his rookie contract will expire soon. Greenard is a fundamentally sound DE who gets to the QB and aims to finish the play with a turnover. He suffered a couple injuries, but was able to fight through them in his time at Florida. He’s not the most standout rusher, but he’ll get the job done. Greenard would be a solid pick for the Eagles.

Round 5 Pick 168 – Boston College RB AJ Dillon

Dillon lacks elite elusiveness and agility, but do we really need that? Sanders and Scott proved to be a lethal duo late in the year, but liked a punch at the goal line and in short yardage situations. Dillon is a compact, downhill runner who can get the tough yards when you need him to. And at the end of the day, injuries happen in this league. Depth is crucial to any team who wants to make a deep playoff run; just look at the 2017 Super Bowl winning Eagles. Dillon is a viable backup option who will be sure to add some punch to this team.

Round 6 Pick 190 – Nebraska CB Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson in Philly! Lamar’s a 6’2 corner who is physical and has good ball skills. He shows potential in the press jam area of his game and can track the ball and cause turnovers. He does have a lot of sloppy play, as expected with a 6th round pick, but he has potential to be a rotational guy at the CB position.

Are The Eagles Super Bowl Contenders?

The Eagles have had a very successful offseason so far, picking up guys like CB Darius Slay JR, LB Jatavis Brown, DT Javon Hargrave, CB Nickell-Robey-Coleman, CB Trevor Williams, and SS Will Parks. They have also had some subtractions, including SS Malcolm Jenkins and CB Ronald Darby. The Eagles have had an underlying CB problem for years now, the additions of Darius Slay and NRC will help with this problem.

What Will Darius Slay Jr Bring to Philly?

Darius Slay is known as a very motivated guy, and is known to have swagger. He is a cool guy in, and out of the locker room, and also brings some heat on the field. He will elevate the chances of the Eagles making it farther in the playoffs.

One guy on the roster has been made famous for putting the Eagles into a playoff spot. His name is RB Miles Sanders, it was 3rd down , 17-9 Eagles, 48 seconds left, he got a 40-yard run, icing the close game against the Cowboys, and then making the smart play to slide and run down the clock, elevating the Eagles into a playoff spot.

What do you think the chances are of the Eagles making the playoffs, or even the Super bowl. Make sure you follow my instagram account @phllytime for the answer to that question. Thanks for reading!