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Eagles News: Philadelphia’s top rated undrafted rookie free agent

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 8/17/20.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Best Undrafted Free Agent in Every 2020 NFL Training Camp - B/R
Philadelphia Eagles: DT Raequan Williams — The Philadelphia Eagles may have lucked out when former Michigan State defensive tackle Raequan Williams fell to them outside of the draft. The 6’4”, 305-pound Williams has the size of a more traditional down lineman, but he has shown the sort of penetration power that teams covet at the position. In 2019, Williams had 48 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and two passes defended. Williams also proved durable, starting 42 consecutive games. The Eagles were impressed enough by Williams to offer him $100,000 guaranteed, per Spotrac. If Williams doesn’t crack the 53-man roster, he will have a good chance of landing elsewhere.

Does Rodney McLeod still have it entering his 30s? - BGN
For obvious reasons, analysis of Rodney McLeod’s game is difficult to find compared to his counterparts in the Philadelphia secondary. In one offseason, the Eagles have made Darius Slay the highest-paid CB ever based on average annual value, stolen slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman from the Rams in hopes that he’ll be the new Patrick Robinson, and moved Jalen Mills to safety to replace Malcolm Jenkins. Given that the second starting outside CB will not be named Mills or Ronald Darby, this means that McLeod will be the only returning starter in the Eagles secondary in the same position he was in a year ago (even including the group’s position coach). But just because McLeod is the lone familiar face doesn’t mean that he’s any less important to his unit’s chances of turning things around after a season in which the Eagles gave up more than twice as many 50+ yard passing touchdowns as any other team in the NFL. Philly fans and media have long taken it for granted that McLeod is just someone steady in the defensive backfield without talking about it, but what are his true strengths and weaknesses? I watched every Eagles 2019 defensive snap, while also using R programming and Pro Football Focus’ data, to break down what McLeod can bring to the table to help his secondary finally “live up to the standard” that has escaped it in recent seasons.

Mailbag: Handicapping the Eagles’ rookies’ chances of making the team - PhillyVoice
Question from Johnny: Which rookie, outside of Reagor, needs to contribute most this season? [...] I think it’s K’Von Wallace. That’s a guy who played for a Clemson program that went to three of the last four College Football Playoff National Championship games. He won’t be fazed by the NFL like a lot of other rookies can be at times, especially since he went up against stud receivers in practice every day. I liken him a little to Jalen Mills, in that Mills got to the NFL and probably found the Eagles’ receivers to be easier to cover in practice than what he had to deal with every day in college at LSU, when he had to face Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Wallace won’t start initially, I don’t think, but he should have a role early as a rookie.

Getting Close - Iggles Blitz
The Eagles are young at LB. Rookies Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley will have a chance to earn playing time. I like Taylor and think he can be a good role player as a rookie. I’m not as high on Bradley so I was excited to see Fran Duffy’s Rookie Film Room piece on him. Fran has access to tons of All-22 tape. Fran also knows football. If anyone could make a compelling case for Bradley, it would be Fran. Didn’t work. I came away as concerned as ever. Bradley loves to avoid blockers. That can work in college, but is much tougher to get away with in the NFL. LBs must be able to stack and shed. That’s when they take on a blocker and defeat them. There is a case to be made for Bradley. He does diagnose plays well. He is a good athlete. The coaches at Temple raved about him as a person and leader. He could prove to be a good fit for the Eagles. Jim Schwartz let’s his LBs shoot gaps and that’s something Bradley is good at.

Everything you need to know (and don’t) about all 41 Eagles on defense/ST - The Athletic
If you classify Genard Avery as a defensive end, he’s the shortest one in the league; every other defensive lineman his height is a squatty inside player. Which is why it was hard to envision Avery becoming the true fourth defensive end in the Eagles’ defensive line rotation even before they re-signed Vinny Curry. More likely, Avery was pigeonholed into the stand-up Joker role in which he flashed for a handful of snaps last season after the team acquired him for a 2021 fourth-round pick. Roster battle-wise, it made sense to think of things as Avery vs. Joe Ostman for the Joker spot and Shareef Miller vs. Casey Toohill for the final defensive end spot, although Toohill too could moonlight as a Joker given his superior athleticism and linebacker background. With Curry back, things quickly tighten for the whole group.

How will Genard Avery fit into the Eagles’ defense in 2020? - NBCSP
Really, this offseason with Avery was probably less about him learning the defense than it was about the defensive coaches figuring out how to use him. Because to simply put Avery out there as a rotational defensive end is pretty much a waste. It’s up to the coaches to use his unique set of skills in a way that helps him and the team. And that means entering games with a plan on how to use him in specific situations.

Pads on, tempo high, Training Camp goes to new level - PE.com
Maybe it’s not quite accurate to call Will Parks a safety. He’s the new version of what Brian Dawkins was, and in fact he credits Dawkins for the new definition of the position. “B-Dawk, you didn’t know where he was going to be from one play to the next. That’s kind of what I’m doing out there,” Parks said. The evolution of the Eagles’ secondary with Darius Slay in at one cornerback position, with Nickell Robey-Coleman competing with Cre’Von LeBlanc for the nickel job, with Jalen Mills moving to safety, along with Parks competing there, with a lot of competition at the other cornerback spot, and with a plan to employ a lot of “positionless” players (K’Von Wallace, among them) is one of the many things to watch when the team puts on the pads and enters Phase 3 of Training Camp on Monday at the NovaCare Complex.

Matt Burke’s surreal road to the NFL and Eagles paved by Jim Schwartz - Inquirer
Burke didn’t have time to inform his family and friends after Schwartz dropped him off at the airport. But when he had a 90-minute layover at LaGuardia in New York, the then-26-year-old sat in the terminal and made about a dozen phone calls. “It was basically the same call: me going haywire about how I had just gotten into the NFL,” Burke recalled. “So I finally finish the calls … I put the phone down, I’m catching my breath, it’s sinking in, and I look over and Kareem is literally sitting next to me in the airport.” Burke did what most people do when they see the 7-foot-plus NBA legend: He stared. “I’m looking at him and he sees me looking at him,” Burke said, “and he goes, ‘I heard you got a new job.’” It’s a story Burke has told countless times, but he prefaces its telling with a disclaimer. “I tend to hesitate to tell the story because, I swear, I’m not sure it actually happened,” Burke said. “It was so surreal. I always tell it, but I’m always like, ‘Did I make this up? Did this actually happen to me?’”

How the Everson Griffen signing could help DeMarcus Lawrence return to another 14.5 sacks season - Blogging The Boys
The pairing of Lawrence and Griffen will help give the Cowboys a strong edge presence, but Griffen won’t be the only teammate helping disrupt the flow of traffic in the backfield. The pass rushing presence of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe is also going to keep the area congested. For Lawrence, it should be business as usual, as he’s going to be awesome. And with the help of all this added pressure along the defensive line, don’t be surprised if he has a big year in sacks as everyone will rejoice that he’s back!

Alex Smith has been activated from the PUP list - Hogs Haven
Washington Head Coach Ron Rivera has been asked about Alex Smith multiple times since being hired. His answers have been pretty consistent: if he is healthy, he will be a part of the QB competition. Dwayne Haskins Jr. is the starting QB, and has been praised all offseason for his his physical and mental improvements. Rivera and teammates have gone out of their way to note the changes he made to his body and the level of leadership he has shown in his 2nd year. Alex Smith has been a mentor to him since Haskins entered the league. He will likely maintain that role, while also pushing him further during competition.

NFL Rookie Receivers Face a Steeper Learning Curve Than Usual - The Ringer
Thirteen pass catchers were selected in the first two rounds of the draft. With limited preparation time, teams will have to be creative in how they deploy these players.

Justin Jefferson living up to expectations so far - PFT
The Vikings used the 22nd overall choice on LSU receiver Justin Jefferson after trading Stefon Diggs to the Bills. It’s early, but Jefferson has lived up to expectations thus far. “He’s exactly what we drafted,” Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak told reporters Sunday, via NFL Media. “We knew he was a very talented young man who had a comfort zone in the slot because he did that a lot.”

Flyers blank Canadiens, 1-0, in Game 3 to take back series advantage - Broad Street Hockey
Nothing would be doing as the Flyers were able to finish things off with Hart making one more key stop to earn the shutout in a 1-0 win to take Game 3 and take the series lead, 2-1. [BLG Note: two down, 14 more wins to go.]

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