Oh it is ON now… Howie Roseman threw down the gauntlet— he blew away half the Eagles' veteran defensive line with the release of two pretty good players—- DT's Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson.
Jenkins (#97) is suddenly Lost in Cap Space. He was allegedly the spiritual leader of the 2012 Eagles defense. But his departure frees up a ton of salary cap space. Howie and Chip have a new vision…
Patterson? We kinda saw it coming. Brain surgery is never a good omen. But good for Mike, the Cowboys were the first NFL team to reach out to him and his agent. He feels he still has a lot to prove.
For Eagles fans, suddenly DT is the draft speculation du jour.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com was the first reporter to break the story on the release of Jenkins and Patterson.
Parks described how the Eagles continued to gut the roster that has been one of the most underachieving teams in the league these past two seasons when they released Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins on Monday—by the way, ending the eight-year career of Patterson in an Eagles uniform.
While the loss of Jenkins will likely be felt more than the loss of Patterson, the truth is that neither player will be missed that much on the field next season. The two veteran players combined for just 32 tackles and five sacks last season, numbers that the Eagles are hoping they can replace with the younger (and cheaper) combination of Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox—and it is speculated the acquisition of a top-flight defensive tackle in the 2013 Draft.
What will be missed, however, as Shorr-Parks writes, is the accountability that both Jenkins and Patterson showed last season.
This current group of Eagles became better known for making excuses and not admitting to the flaws that were so obvious to those watching them play. Even when things were falling apart, a number of players talked about how if just "little things" went their way, they could be a dominant team. After losses, players said how they "let the game get away" and they knew they were still the better team. These kind of frustrating comments showed perhaps the biggest problem with the Eagles these past two seasons- an unearned, unjustified sense of accomplishment.
Jenkins and Patterson, meanwhile, were two players who never displayed the attitude so many of their teammates did.
Far too often the locker room would be empty during the week, as media members waited for players to comment on a season sinking quickly. Jenkins and Patterson, however, were always two players who would stand and face the fire when others wouldn't. A look at the history of the two players shows why.
Patterson was brought up during an Eagles era when Andy Reid still had control over his team. He shared a locker room with Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Westbrook. He missed he Super Bowl by a year, but he was still in the locker room when the Eagles were a special team.
When Jenkins joined the Eagles he brought with him a Super Bowl ring from his time in Green Bay. Like Patterson, Jenkins had been part of a winning locker room and you could tell by his comments that he was frustrated with this Eagles team. Unlike players who talked about how close the team was or how talented the roster looked, Jenkins summed it up best on Monday in his statement about leaving the Eagles.
"Sorry we didn't accomplish anything," Jenkins said.
On the field, cutting Jenkins and Patterson was an easy decision. Both players did not fit into the Eagles plans long term and made too much money to justify being on the roster. The young talent such as Fletcher Cox- and a player that is sure to come in the draft- also played a huge part. The switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 likely didn't help either.
But while the move made sense on the field, it should not be discounted what the Eagles lost off the field on Monday. In a locker room that lacked accountability last season, the Eagles are now down two guys who many would agree actually "got it" during their time here. The Eagles showed over these past two seasons that talent alone does not win games. The right combination in the locker room and on the sideline can be just as important when putting together a winning team. The loss of Jenkins and Patterson will not change the Eagles fate next season. It does, however, leave them a gaping hole in leadership. What it does mean is that younger players are going to have to step up and be accountable in 2013 when they wouldn't or couldn't last year.
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Let's bring back the Combine Results chart links now before we get into the next section:
COMBINE RESULTS TRACKER
Thanks to our intra-state friends at Steelers Depot, here is a tool that allows us to track position groups by the latest updates to measurables and drill results.
Click on each position group for the latest data as Combine weekend progresses:
Careful, that "SPECIALISTS" link may not yet be activated, as the kickers and punters will be the last guys to take the field at Indy.
But now we have more than just the "highlights" of each position group to review. Check out those "Split 10-yard" times on the players, too. Don't just fixate on the 40–yard times. The 10-yard splits are just as important.
Also please consider that these guys are performing under less than the best environmental conditions. Most of the candidates are being interviewed well into the late hours. The majority of rookies are getting to sleep by midnight at best and being awoken by 5:00 A.M. for the next day's schedule. So cut their stats some slack.
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Fred Perdue (who was there) provides us with this report from gamedayr.com:
"The linebackers were put to the test on Monday at Indianapolis for the 2013 NFL Combine. As expected, all eyes were on the one and only Manti Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up out of Notre Dame. Te’o has spent the last two months struggling at both football and in life, as the dude got pummeled in the national title game and then he had his dead girlfriend exposed as a hoax."
"However, and with a chance to make all the crazy talk go away, Te’o disappointed mightily. The native Hawaiian came in a good 14 pounds under his listed playing weight (241 compared to 255) and running slower than anticipated in the 40-yard dash (4.82 compared to a goal of breaking 4.8)."
"But where the star of the group struggled, several starred, and in the process very much helping their causes. Two Florida ‘backers, Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, impressed with far better-than-expected runs and lifts."
Georgia’s Cornelius Washington, who spent the entire 2012 season in the shadow of superstar linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, ran the fastest 40-yard dash of the day at 4.55 seconds.
But where Perdue drops the ball in my opinion is his failure to note that a very tired Te'o ran a more than acceptable 1.61 second 10-yard split. As JB Sage-Lion himself pointed out, even if your best time in the '40 is 4.8, that's plenty enough speed for an inside linebacker. Heck, look at Terrell Suggs' Combine time when he was a rookie— 4.85… And he plays on the outside!
Perdue was personally impressed with Georgia’s Alec Ogletree, who is another highly rated linebacker with baggage.
" I thought he tested very well and flashed tremendous speed, and based on his football skills alone, I’d expect him to go in the first round as well. Talking to a couple former Bulldog players about Olgetree, he really isn’t a bad guy and just tends to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now is the young star’s chance to make some money and Ogletree has to straighten up and fly right. On tape he is just as much of an animal as he is during testing. It’s like sticking a safety in the middle of that 3-4 defense and letting him lose. He looked the part and performed every bit of it."
One under-the-radar guy who caught my eye was Connecticut’s Sio Moore. He tested very well, ranking second in the bench press (29 reps) and fifth in the 40-yard dash (4.65). Moore also looked strong in the linebacker drills, showing good feet and strong instincts. I’d expect him to pick up the pace a little as he gained a lot of momentum going into his pro day.
The guy that impressed me more than anything was Georgia’s Cornelius Washington. There’s no way around it— his athleticism is through the roof. He had the most reps on the bench press (36), seven more than the nearest linebacker, posted the second best 40-yard dash time (4.55), the second highest vertical jump (39.0) and third longest broad jump (128.0). Looking back at his college stats, the young man who spent years in the shadow of Bulldogs stars Ogletree and Jarvis Jones didn’t have the production that many of his peers had. Still, based on his performance in Indy, he seemed to be the forgotten one on that loaded Dawgs defense. I’ll be taking another look at the tape of Washington after getting to see him live at the Senior Bowl as well as seeing his dominant performance yesterday.
Finally, the most impressive metric of the day, and probably of the entire combine, was Southern Mississippi’s Jamie Collins’139-inch broad jump, which fell just short of the actual 12-foot marker. It was one of the most athletic feats I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes. Collins is an athletic freak, but the fact of the matter is he needs to shore up some things. He's a little stiff in turning his hips and staying low. Overall he is a mid-round type guy who looks to impress and move up during his pro day.
Florida’s Jon Bostic is another linebacker who caught my eye. He ran a 4.61 40-yard dash and looked very fluid in the shuffling drill, showing good explosion when changing direction.
Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd used the workouts to illustrate why he is rated at the top of his positional heap heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Simply put, Floyd had a great performance at the Combine. He ran the 40 in a stunning 4.87 seconds, unofficially, with a 10-yard split of 1.68 seconds. Floyd was also phenomenal in the field drills with quick feet and good movement skills. It was obvious that the 6-fo0t-3, 297-pounder has amazing athleticism for an interior defensive lineman. The Combine helped confirm Floyd’s high first-round grade.
There is no doubt that Oregon outside linebacker Dion Jordan is dripping with athleticism. He put on a clinic at the Combine with a blazing unofficial 40 time of 4.53 seconds (4.60 officially) and a 10-yard split of 1.57 seconds. While the times were excellent, Jordan was even better in the field work. He was extremely fluid, showing off super fast feet as he flew through the bags. Jordan looked awesome dropping into coverage as a linebacker. He did that well in college, so it wasn’t a surprise that he looked like a natural in these drills. Jordan (6-6, 248) needs to gain weight, but he clearly is a perfect fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel Ansah showed off his supreme athleticism. The 6-foot-5, 271-pounder ran a sparkling 40 time of 4.62 seconds unofficially with a 10-yard split of 1.56. Ansah then did well in the field drills and gave more proof that he can handle outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Despite not even having seen a football game before he arrived on the BYU campus from Ghana, Ansah is an athletic freak and he did his part to maintain his early first-round status.
SMU defensive end Margus Hunt is another defensive freak. The 6-foot-8, 277-pounder put his track background on display in the workouts. He had an official 40 time of 4.60 with a 10-yard split of 1.62. That was tied for the third-fastest time. In the bag drills, Hunt showed that he is a natural bender and moved extremely well. He has very quick feet and was smooth moving between the pads. However, the big man is not all speed and finesse. The giant also tied for the lead with all the defensive linemen with 38 reps on the bench press. He truly is a rare specimen with his unique combination of size, speed and strength. Hunt’s big Combine performance isn’t a surprise, but he definitely helped himself. As for draft position, I’m standing firm on his mid- to late-second grade. He is long and athletic but I just don’t know about him with his slender frame.
Connecticut outside linebacker/defensive end Trevardo Williams is definitely a workout warrior, but he also has enjoyed quite a bit of production over the course of his collegiate career. The 6-foot-1, 241-pounder blazed an official 40 time of 4.57 seconds with a mark of 1.61 in the 10-yard split. Williams was the fastest of all the defensive linemen. He also was very impressive in the bench press with 30 reps. That is a huge total for a sub-250 defender. Williams helped differentiate himself at the Combine.
Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore had a disappointing Combine after a phenomenal year at Texas A&M. The projected top five-overall selection ran a slow 40 time at 4.87 seconds unofficially (4.95 officially) with 1.69 in the 10-yard split. Moore made a second attempt at the 40, but pulled up with a leg injury. Worse than the 40, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder managed only 12 reps on the bench press; the lowest total of any defensive lineman. Moore did at least manage to put together decent numbers in the broad jump (122) and vertical jump (35.5). However, it is easily Moore’s strength that is the biggest red flag and it could cause teams to reevaluate him.
It wasn’t surprising that LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo looked good at the Combine. The event simply helped to confirm what everybody already knows, and that he that Mingo is extremely athletic. Mingo had one of the fastest 40 times at 4.58 seconds with a 10-yard split of 1.55 seconds. He was explosive in the field drills, too. Mingo did extremely well dropping into coverage and was very fluid in and out of his breaks. The 6-foot-4, 241-pounder is a player who thrives in space and clearly isn’t big enough to play defensive end in the pros. Mingo used the Combine to show that his athletic ability is legitimate.
One highly regarded defensive end who had a mildly disappointing performance was Florida State’s Bjoern Werner. His official 40 time was a slower-than-average 4.83 seconds, including a 10-yard split of 1.66 seconds. Werner did better in the defensive line field drills as he showed good feet and burst. Werner (6-3, 266) was asked to participate in the 3-4 outside linebacker drills as well, but he looked stiff in flipping his hips and redirecting. Werner’s outing at the Combine demonstrated that he isn’t a great fit as a 3-4 edge linebacker and would need development if he’s drafted into that scheme.
Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins ran the 40 at a time of 5.31 seconds officially with a slow 10-yard split of 1.80. It wasn’t a good time for Hankins, but not terrible for a heavy tackle. Hankins didn’t do enough at the Combine to narrow the gap with the higher-ranked players like Floyd, but also didn’t hurt himself at all either. A few other defensive linemen are worth mentioning.
Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson (5.02), North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams (5.03) and UCLA’s Datone Jones (4.80) all had solid Combine performances. They had decent times, but didn’t blow anyone away. None of the trio hurt or helped themselves significantly.
Welp, on to the DB's and kicking specialists manana…