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Eagles News: There’s reason to be excited about Derek Barnett heading into Year 3

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Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 4/4/19.

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Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

Eagles DE Derek Barnett was very good in 2018 before he got hurt - PhillyVoice
When the Eagles traded Michael Bennett this offseason, most observers rightfully pointed out that Bennett was the team’s most productive edge rusher in 2018, as he had 9 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and an impressive 30 hits on the quarterback. With Barnett coming back as the starter at RDE in 2019, many consider that to be a downgrade from Bennett. I disagree. In Barnett’s first four games, when he was healthy, he was a very disruptive player, both against the pass and the run. In fact, if you take Barnett’s numbers during those first four games and extrapolate them over a 16-game season, they would have been better than Bennett’s. “He started out lights out last year,” Doug Pederson said of Barnett at the owners meetings last week. “He was playing well. He was one of our top edge rushers last year. He doesn’t necessarily have to prove anything to us. He just has to be Derek, and he’ll play.”

Carson Wentz’s Top 10 Improbable Completions - BGN
Carson Wentz has built a reputation for making bonkers plays out of structure. He’s also got the arm to fit bullets through keyholes. What if you could quantify those throws with tracking data and, jeez I don’t know, compile them in a tidy top 10 list? Well that’s exactly what I’ve done using Next Gen Stats. For context, Next Gen defines “Completion Probability” as such.

Fletch Lives - Iggles Blitz
He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s powerful. He’s explosive. He’s agile. He’s mean. Are you in love yet? You can’t help but think of Fletcher Cox when you see Jeffery Simmons toss aside blockers. Cox does it at the NFL level, Simmons in college. But Simmons has the potential to be every bit as good as Cox is, maybe even better. That’s all the good stuff. Now let’s talk about the issues. We’ll start with the ACL since that is current. Most guys come back from ACL injuries. Simmons tore his in February so chances are he would miss half of his rookie season, at the very least. He might miss the whole year. I’ve seen some guys come back in six months and others take almost a full year. He is young so that helps him quite a bit. The Eagles took a chance on Sidney Jones in 2017 and that hasn’t come close to panning out at this point. He has been up and down, but it is discouraging that he’s not shown the Top 20 talent that we saw in college. He’s good moments in the NFL have been solid, but nothing where you say “That’s the guy we hoped for!”. Simmons could be Jones, part two.

Philadelphia Eagles CB Avonte Maddox will be hoping to build on a promising rookie campaign - PFF
What is probably most encouraging for Eagles fans is that Maddox had his best performance against the current NFC Champions. He earned an overall grade of 90.5 in the win over the Rams in week 15, leading all Eagles defenders and ranking third among all NFL cornerbacks for that week. On six targets, Maddox allowed just one reception for eight yards, and he also grabbed an interception – not bad for a rookie cornerback going against arguably the league’s best offense. Despite having an elite defense last season, the Eagles’ coverage unit as a whole actually regressed a bit, going from the fourth-best team coverage grade (92.1) in 2017 to the 17th-best coverage grade (77.2) in 2018. But, for an Eagles team that still has a great defense and hopes of winning another Super Bowl, having a young cornerback like Maddox going into his second year is a good thing. Now, it’s no secret that Maddox struggled in the playoffs, but he was going against elite talent. With another year of development, Maddox may be able to help lift the Eagles’ coverage unit back into the elite ranks in 2019.

The creative approach the Eagles use to build their roster -
Creativity helps when building an NFL roster, and the Eagles, led by Howie Roseman, are as creative as any team. We’ve seen the Eagles operate for years in a manner that blends conventional with some out-of-the-box thinking that keeps Philadelphia annual championship contenders. The current roster? It’s an interesting mix of veterans acquired in a multitude of ways and younger players being developed by an outstanding coaching staff. The Eagles have 71 players on their roster at the moment, with tight end Richard Rodgers and running back Jordan Howard the most recent additions. As teams turn their full-on focus from free agency to this month’s NFL Draft, it’s worth taking a look back at what the Eagles have done in the last three weeks and view the actions as a microcosm of how to build a roster.

While the crowds cheer for Phillies and Sixers, Eagles lay groundwork for loudest season of them all - Inquirer
The funny thing, however, is that the Eagles have been quietly filling the vacuum with a series of very smart offseason moves, and are setting themselves up to still be the big local story of 2019. It won’t start in earnest until September, when the Phillies are marching toward the playoffs, of course, but don’t be surprised if by season’s end, the football team is the talk of the year again. It isn’t that Howie Roseman has generated anything close to the headlines that followed the arrival of Butler, Harris or Harper. He brought back DeSean Jackson, and that was more than a blip on the radar, and somehow kept Brandon Graham from slipping away in free agency, but, in general, the beauty of the Eagles’ offseason lies in the pattern of all the moves taken together.

Malcolm Jenkins, Players Coalition find jobs for former inmates - ESPN
“At the end of the day, we are wasting a ton of people behind bars simply because we refuse as a society to recognize their capacity to change, and [therefore] won’t get a second chance. What we’re trying to do is show people that incarceration is not the way that we make our community safer, it’s not the way that we make our communities stronger,” Jenkins said. ”I think our greatest contribution to this movement as athletes is the ability to storytell. And not storytell through our own mouths, but to bring those who are most impacted to the microphone. To be able to show people who can say, ‘Look, because I had these supports and because I have these people give me a second chance, I’m now being a productive citizen. I paid my debt to society with the time I did and I want to come back and make amends.’ Oftentimes what we hear the most is guys want to come out and be productive. But oftentimes we rob people of that.”

Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects for 2019 NFL Draft 4.0 -
8) Josh Jacobs, RB — Jacobs is one of my favorite players to study in this draft class. He has a thick, compact build, and I love his combination of power, elusiveness and versatility. In the run game, he possesses excellent vision, burst and wiggle. His change-of-direction quickness is off the charts. He runs low to the ground and powers through tacklers in every game I studied. Jacobs has the speed to get to the perimeter -- he’s a weapon when lined up as a QB in the Wildcat and when he’s used on fly sweeps from the slot. In the passing game, Jacobs runs crisp routes and possesses natural hands; he’s a make-you-miss specialist in space. He does need to improve in pass protection. He must come to balance as a blocker and avoid lunging at blitzers. Overall, Jacobs is a special talent, and his light workload at Alabama (251 carries in three seasons) should be viewed as a positive, not a negative.

One final look at how former Eagles fared in AAF - NBCSP
WR Greg Ward Jr. (San Antonio Commanders): The former Houston QB caught 22 passes for 214 yards (9.7). I couldn’t find punt return stats, but he returned at least one for a TD.

As AAF suspends operations, let’s take a look at 10 players who’ve earned an NFL shot - CBS Sports
Rashad Ross, WR, Arizona Hotshots: He’s been the most consistent deep threat in the Alliance and leads the league with seven touchdowns. He has speed to burn, but he’s a gritty, tough wideout who has shown he can play through injuries. With his ability to catch short passes and go deep, he has a full route tree at his disposal. Someone will pick up this speedster in the summer.

AAF players left stranded with nowhere to live - PFT
Rich Ohrnberger, a former NFL player who was working as a radio analyst in the AAF, wrote on Twitter that “Players in Memphis came back to their hotels after news came down, and had their personal items waiting in the lobby. Kicked out of their lodgings.” Memphis fullback Anthony Manzo-Lewis wrote on Twitter that he had already been kicked out of his hotel room and had no idea where to go. Teammate Brandon Silvers replied that he had a few more days at his Airbnb and would let Manzo-Lewis crash with him.

3 easy ways the NFL could turn practice squads into a development league - SB Nation
Another spring football league bites the dust. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is shuttering operations for the moment and might soon fold, as no agreement with the NFLPA and/or the NFL is within distance. Majority investor Tom Dundon, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, invested in the league with the idea it would eventually partner with the above entities to become the official developmental league for the NFL. That hasn’t happened, and now the AAF appears to be near its finish. This brings up the question that’s been asked repeatedly: Does the NFL need a true developmental league, like the now-defunct NFL Europe? Yes and no. I’ll explain both — and my idea for a developmental league.


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