In The News Cycle
Jim Mora tells the Browns to take Sam Darnold
In an interview with NFL Network earlier this week, Ex-UCLA head coach Jim Mora was asked who he would take, were he making the pick at #1 overall for the Browns: his college QB in Josh Rosen, or ex-USC Trojan Sam Darnold. In response, Mora said:
Because of fit, I would take Sam Darnold if I were the Cleveland Browns. I think [he has] that blue-collar, gritty attitude. I think his teammates will love him. I think the city will love him. He’ll say the right things. He’ll come in and represent well. I think he kind of represents what Cleveland is. And then if I was one of the New York teams, I’d take Josh like that. I think they’re both going to be great pros.
While Mora is saying words about Sam Darnold, he’s talking about Josh Rosen. He’s continuing a long and storied tradition of assuming that 21 and 22 year old young adults cannot successfully relocate and adapt to different regionalities—because, as you very well know, you haven’t changed a lick since your college years.
Understanding a player’s personality and potential fit in your locker room is important—I don’t dispute that. I think it’s even more important for your quarterback, who will at the very least be a piece of the leadership of your team (Marcus Mariota), and at the most take the entire offense and make it his own (Peyton Manning).
The idea, however, that the hairs between your potential franchise QBs should be split by demeanor and—very likely—political outlook and relative outspokenness is bologna. In December, Mora said that the Browns should take Rosen because he’s a better passer. He shouldn’t have changed his tune.
But there’s another point of irritation on here on which I’d like to touch. You recruited this young man; you coached and tutored him; you know him, through the lens of his quarterbacking, better than most people do. If someone from the Cleveland Browns comes to you and asks for your thoughts, you may and should be as honest as you like. But in the media, I think it’s unfair to expose Rosen to this narrative.
You aren’t responsible for him anymore, and you’re not even employed by UCLA. I get that. But his entire young life is being pried open for everyone to see, and you don’t have to contribute to that so bluntly.
Ex-coaches and their ascending players will always be an interesting discussion. I think bringing them into the national spotlight and asking them these questions is already a tough spot, an inherent conflict. But it could have been handled far better than this.
Josh Rosen: very good at eating food
Sticking with Rosen, the Giants’ brass was able to fill in a crucial gap in the current evaluation of the UCLA passer:
Steve Tisch was part of the Giants' contingent that had dinner with Josh Rosen. "His table manners – unbelievable,'' Tisch said. "He was brought up very well. He’s a very charismatic young man.''— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) March 26, 2018
Now, I know I needn’t explain why table manners translate to QB play. However, I realized that we at Bleeding Green Nation have failed you utterly in our coverage on Eagles and their respective etiquette.
Labor no longer in ignorance and woe! Find the Eagles Table Manner Power Rankings (1.0) listed below:
1. Malcolm Jenkins
After solid deliberation, Jenkins takes our top spot. You can’t run your own foundation built on youth development programs, a social justice initiative predicated on dialogue with police forces regarding unarmed shootings, and your own bow tie store without picking up some niche soup spoon knowledge along the way. Jenkins is classy as h*ck.
2. Carson Wentz
Our lovable, dorky Carson was definitely raised in the sort of household that got super psyched for family dinners. They played little games to decide who recapped their day first. They did the dishes together with gusto, singing country songs and using those rubber yellow elbow gloves to avoid pruney fingers.
I’m gonna be honest: I clearly have no idea what happens in North Dakota. But I can only imagine that the 50% MVP baller, 50% friendly goober QB has some table manners of which to speak.
3. Jay Ajayi
British people do formal stuff. There are literally zero holes in this argument.
4. Nelson Agholor
Do I think Agholor generally struggles with his manners? Not at all—I have no evidence to that claim. Do I think that he somehow lacks panache? Not in the slightest; rather, he seems quite suave off the field. Do I think that he was never exposed to such formalities? That’s not the case at all.
Do I think that there’s a decent chance Agholor drops something during the meal?
I’m sorry. But it had to be said.
5. Doug Pederson
God bless him, but I doubt Dougie has top-shelf table manners. This is a man who rolled out the denim for Super Bowl Opening Day—even Bill “All Hood, No Sleeves” Belichick donned his monkey suit for the occasion. You know Pederson’s an “ice-cream straight outta the carton” sorta guy. But hey—why use your fingers to hold a fork to get your food when you could just cut out the middle man instead?
6. Chris Long
Listen, Chris Long is my dude. I’ve said multiple times he’s my favorite Eagle. But he is so, in large part due to his affable-to-the-point-of-absurd attitude. This man gets into the most inexplicable shenanigans for a 32-year-old professional football player and activist. He chortles at allusions to sex. He pranks his teammates. He buys dog masks on Amazon—a whole lot of ‘em. And he one hundred percent would kick his feet up on your dining room table, grab a handful of string beans, and tell you about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as he tossed them into his mouth.
Let me put this in stone: if Guice falls to 32, he’s the selection. We know that the Philly building is huge in Guice’s camp, and they’ve done their homework with the hope and prayer he falls to 32. The only way he isn’t is if someone equally as talented drops, which would be shocking.
Usually I break down my first-round pick in depth in the scouting report that’s included with every Draft Bag, but I’m gonna focus on Kemoko Turay today, because he’s a super interesting player for the Eagles. As such, a few notes on Guice: the athletic profile is super enticing. He graded out markedly better for me than his predecessor, Leonard Fournette, given his lateral agility and fluid frame. Change of direction is on another planet, while power and speed remain.
The biggest concern with Guice is the play style. A Marshawn Lynch-like runner, Guice’s body is going to take a beating in the NFL if he doesn’t learn how to pick his spots and glance off of contact.
After snagging Turay with the first of the fourth-round selections, I brought in Tyler Conklin to replace Trey Burton. Conklin’s athleticism impressed me in Indy (38” vertical, 10’ broad, 4.23 short shuttle, 7.13 3-cone), which helps fill in the lines of a route-runner who seemed to sometimes labor in and out of his cuts. With WR hands that stand out away from his frame and through contact, Conklin rounds out both Philly’s TE and WR depth. Two birds, baby.
Despite the fact that I’m lower on Burks than most, I think the Vanderbilt S-to-LB convert fits really well in Philadelphia. They already snagged another S/LB tweener in Nebraska’s Nate Gerry last season, but they seem more interested in playing him at linebacker. With excellent coverage ability and great burst, but absolutely no business playing close to the line, I propose Philly groom Oren Burks into Malcolm Jenkins’ backup in the S/LB hybrid role, with the potential to take the field as the third safety.
Cam Phillips was a bit of a luxury pick, but I’m a fan of the slot-dominant, uber-productive Virginia Tech product. He’s a release specialist, with great hand usage, head fakes, and enough foot quickness to get by. In an RPO-heavy offense, he can become a Jarvis Landry-like player: consistent catcher, reliable stick mover, decent YAC ability. Phillips will get smothered by length and size downfield, however, so he’s limited to working within a 10-yard, quick-breaking frame.
Bringing everything home is an OT pick—far later than I anticipate Philly will invest in the position, but things always fall funny come Draft Day. Weathersby has bad hands that require a ton of work, but he certainly has the quickness and length to be a starting NFL tackle. That eventuality, however, is certainly a few years down the road and is by no means a sure bet. Develop him as OT4 behind Big V.
Scouting Report: Rutgers EDGE Kemoko Turay
The best way to encapsulate Turay’s anticipated draft slot: it’s just a big ol’ staring contest. Healthy and deployed in his ideal role, he’s as dangerous an EDGE you’ll find in this class. But the history isn’t great and the tape is spotty, so the question becomes: who bites first on the upside? And where are they willing to do it?
But before we get into the predictions, let’s better understand what makes Turay potentially a huge value buy.
Turay came to Rutgers as a 210-lb ex-basketball player and maximized his redshirt freshman snaps to the tune of 7.5 sacks and freshman All-American honors. But injuries plagued the underdeveloped EDGE through his sophomore and junior campaigns, as multiple shoulder surgeries limited his playing time and efficacy. For the first time since that 2014 season, Turay played in all 2017 games for the Scarlet Knights, but with all that missed time, he never developed on the traits that made him a productive frosh. It was still just flashes—though those flashes were oh so mouthwatering.
Kemoko Turay's cornering and balance in this rep is super fun and even more impressive. pic.twitter.com/KZcrfkkdCi— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) January 25, 2018
Turay’s bendiness is straight silly. He has so much mobility in his ankles and knees, that he can turn unbelievable corners, generating pressure from angles that only a few NFL rushers can. At 6’5, Turay’s long frame can maintain and translate velocity around these insane angles, and as a result, we get plays like this rep in Senior Bowl practices: a complete hairpin curve that turns a great rep from an OT into a QB pressure.
Bend isn’t enough. You need to soften rush angles in order to translate flexibility into pressures—that is to say, you need to somehow create a corner to turn before you can turn it and get to the QB.
Some rushers do this with initial explosiveness: Turay has great get-off, but frequently false steps, and Rutgers rarely lined him up in a role that maximized that burst. They asked him to read the backfield and drop into coverage (which is plain silly). Turay will win some reps with explosion, but that isn’t the impressive bit.
Turay excels at softening his rush angles with hand usage. He regularly flashes a chop, rip, and stab to disrupt the OT’s set and create that corner, create that rush lane to the quarterback. This is the skill that will make him a successful rusher at the NFL level.
I'm probably going to like Kemoko Turay more than most on here. I tend to like gumby rushers like him.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) January 6, 2018
Impressive rep here versus Ohio State.
Nice club rip while turning a tight corner. Excellent job to reduce surface area by dipping his inside shoulder as he flattens. pic.twitter.com/IbBOpR9G36
Turay’s hand usage isn’t perfect—he doesn’t throw with great timing, and can often run himself out of control—but he understands the concepts and when they hit, he’s almost impossible to stop.
What’s the issue?
Firstly, Turay really struggled to defend the run. Just north of 250 lbs, Turay does not yet understand how to maximize his length and quickness to set an edge and maintain a gap. He gets engaged with far larger offensive linemen too often, and is accordingly washed away—and as a result, he’s developed a poor habit of playing on his heels, making tackles 8 yards down the field instead of 3.
Turay isn’t great in coverage either. He has good burst but poor instincts, and his lanky frame does not lend itself to short area quickness and change of direction. Turay is a pass-rusher, period. His ideal role is that of a rush specialist, either with his hand in the dirt or from a stand-up position. Wider alignments will serve his skill set as well.
In Philadelphia, Turay would not have to play early downs/in coverage early, given the depth before him. That’s a great deal. Still developing as a player, he may improve in run defense as his mass improves in an NFL weight room. He’ll never be a heavy end, but improved play strength would do world for his 3-down ability.
Turay’s talent very well could drop into the fourth round, but I don’t anticipate it well. 3-4 teams will likely look to snap him up in the 3rd—especially if they have the depth to give him minimal snaps at the start. But Turay easily has 10+ sack potential, three or four years down the road. So much has to come together, but those flashes? They don’t come around every Draft class.
The Draft Bag
What are the better odds: Sproles coming back and being the same kind of player he was before, or Pumphrey stepping up into that role and surprising everyone?— Nate Watts (@NDWatts) March 27, 2018
Let’s talk a bit about my son Donnel.
I liked Pumphrey. I had him graded as a 3rd-round player in last year’s class, and he went in the 4th round. He certainly needs to be an outlier from a historical weight/success perspective for NFL RBs, but two points: he’s not going to be a traditional RB by any stretch of the imagination; and when it comes to outliers, I’ll bet on the career leader in FBS rushing yards.
I wrote about Pumphrey’s preseason—the only action we saw of him—before he went down with a hamstring tear that ended his rookie season. What we can comfortably say is this: we never got enough time to evaluate a healthy Pumphrey, deployed in his ideal role for Philadelphia (remember, he was tasked with learning the playbook twice: as a runner and as a receiver). Not unlike Sidney Jones, this year will really be the season we can start to evaluate the second-year scatback.
As such, I expect Pumphrey to surprise everyone who wanted to cut him after an unproductive preseason with a gimpy hamstring. Sproles is unlikely to return to a team low in cap space and looking to get younger at the RB position.
It’s probably/totally dependent on Foles getting traded, but who’s a QB you could see Eagles taking late in the draft to develop?— Jonny Williams (@jonnafon) March 26, 2018
The young guy they want to develop is Nate Sudfeld, and he’s already on the roster. But Chase Litton (Marshall) and Kurt Benkert (Virginia) deserve that tag for every NFL team.
Please rank best value at 32 with the following players: Guice, Reid, Miller, Goedert, Hurst?— Greg Melo (@Me_Low76) March 26, 2018
Assuming Hayden Hurst (SCAR TE) and not Maurice Hurst (MICH DT, who would be 1st on the list as my 13th overall player):
- Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
- Justin Reid, SAF, Stanford
- Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
- Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
1 and 5 were easy. Goedert is my #14th overall player and TE1. He has the potential to become a dominant combo TE in the NFL. Poor health during the pre-Draft process prevented him from garnering the Top-20 hype he deserves. Miller, similarly unhealthy for the pre-Draft process, is a slippery slot receiver with some boundary potential and incredibly strong hands, but I’m not sure how much of a deep threat he’ll become in the NFL.
2 through 4 were tight. Guice loses a few points given the devaluation of running backs, but he’s such a dominant talent (17th overall, RB2) that I think he just edges out Reid/Hurst. I took Reid (42 OVR) above Hurst (29 OVR), even despite Philadelphia’s greater need at TE, because Hurst is an older prospect (25 to start the season) that brings much of the same skill set that Zach Ertz does: good routes, great hands, poor YAC, poor blocking. He doesn’t fill enough of a distinct TE2 role to be a good fit for the Birds, while Reid helps PHI play versatile 3 SAF sets, which allows Jenkins to play in his best role: as a NCB/LB hybrid.
eagles usually value certain positions in the first round but should that philosophy still hold up this year picking 32?— offseason era (@ohsnapyoo) March 26, 2018
They typically do, and it still holds true, but to a lesser degree. 32 is a great spot to go BPA as players tumble in the 20s, but that 5th-year option tagged on the contract of every first-round selections should tempt Philly into prioritizing those high-value positions (OT, EDGE, CB) over positions that don’t demand a huge amount of money (TE, WR (below the top names), LB).
How many players are there that both:— Tim Wescott (@timwescott) March 26, 2018
1. Could realistically be available at 32.
2. Would not be a "reach" for the Eagles to take at 32.
I'm sure you've talked about all of them, but I'm wondering how big this tier of players is.
This is essentially impossible to answer at this current juncture. Let’s give it a shot anyway:
- Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
- Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
- Mike Gesicki, TE, PSU
- Billy Price, iOL, OSU
- Connor Williams, OT, TEX
- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
- Ronald Jones, RB, USC
- Calvin Ridley, WR, ALA
- Frank Ragnow, iOL, ARK
- Hayden Hurst, TE, SCAR
- Rashaan Evans, LB, ALA
- James Washington, WR, OKST
- Duke Ejiofor, EDGE, WF
- James Daniels, iOL, Iowa
- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
- Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
- Sam Hubbard, EDGE, OSU