Welcome back to the weekly BGN Mailbag. This post will be here every weekend from now until early August or maybe the end of time, who knows. Thanks to everyone on Twitter who sent in a question. Let's talk some Eagles football.
To the Q&A...
@Steved416 asks: Do you see Riley Cooper making this team with all the wideout talent and youth?
Much to the chagrin of some Eagles fans, yes, I do see Riley Cooper making Philadelphia's final 53-man roster. From a financial perspective, keeping him around makes the most sense. From a talent standpoint, well, there are obviously concerns. Cooper was arguably one of the worst wide receivers in the NFL last season, if not the worst. Despite his struggles, the team seems to value him. Cooper spent the entire spring running with the first team wide receivers.
Call me crazy, but there might be some reasons to be just a little more optimistic about Cooper in 2015. First, he should be more healthy than he was last year. Cooper missed a good deal of last summer with a high ankle injury. It's hard not to wonder if that impacted him considering how he avoided contact at times last year. Another reason why Cooper might be more effective is because the Eagles are looking to get back to the run game. I know some of you are probably sick of hearing about Cooper's blocking skills, but he should be more effective in that role.
I do wonder how the Eagles will use Cooper in 2015. Last year Cooper played 81.3% of the team's offensive snaps, but there wasn't a ton of depth behind him. That's different now. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff are heading into their second years, with the latter especially looking to step up in a bigger role. Nelson Agholor was obviously drafted in the first round with expectations he'll be a contributor moving forward. And then there's Miles Austin, whom the team gave $1 million guaranteed. These signs seem to point toward a decreased role for Cooper. The feeling here is that Cooper will be used in more of a platoon where he's rotating with other wide receivers.
@LeroyXII asks: Which long shot is your money on to make the 53-man roster?
Kevin Graf is the guy I would bet on. The Eagles are thin when it comes to offensive line depth so there are jobs to be won there. Graf sticks out to me because the Eagles kept him on the practice squad for all of last season. The team even briefly called him up to the main roster after Allen Barbre and Evan Mathis were placed on injured reserve after Week 1. After being inactive on game day, he was waived and returned to the practice squad.
During spring practices this offseason, Graf was a player whom Chip Kelly mentioned and praised without being prompted to do so. The Eagles coach said he's in the mix for the competition right guard. Graf played right tackle for USC so he seems to have the guard/tackle versatility that the Eagles like. He probably won't be a starter, but he could latch on as a decent backup to have.
@scottdkessler asks: Will Donnie Jones return to Donnie Football?
This question comes from our long forgotten special teams expert here at BGN. Jones certainly didn't look as good in 2014 as he did in 2013 when it came to power punting, but the numbers suggest he's still a good precision punter. The Eagles brought in rookie UDFA punter Kip Smith to challenge Jones this summer but it's not even a contest. Jones will win the job and he should be reliable yet again this season.
@em26jamie asks: Can we convert Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor into a TE?
Wouldn't that be swell? Okafor isn't fast, but he's huge and his hands are massive. Forget the crazy catches made by Odell Beckham Jr. Okafor could probably catch a football one-handed and pop it if he wanted to. Use him as a red-zone weapon and watch other teams be unable to stop him.
Speaking of Okafor, great performance by him last night.
@TriumphMcCloud asks: Who has bigger balls: Chip Kelly or Sam Hinkie?
I really hope this isn't a literal question.
Hmm. I think I have to say separate but equal. I'd say they're both big risk takers when it comes to team building. Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie had no problem drafting a talented big man with serious injury issues in Joel Embiid with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. (Still the right decision, by the way.) Meanwhile, Kelly had no problem jettisoning productive players like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Nick Foles.
I think they're both really smart guys. I also think they're pretty similar in how they believe "Process > Results." They're not afraid to take risks in order to be great, and that's admirable, especially for fans.
Scared money don't make no money.