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  1. Eagles' James Bradberry fitting in well early in camp as veteran CB looking for bounce-back season Bradberry has been performing well in the early stages of camp By Jeff Kerr Mitchell Leff / Getty Images PHILADELPHIA -- Searching for a No. 2 cornerback has been a chore for the Philadelphia Eagles in recent years, typically a position of weakness even when the franchise has a strong defense. Signing James Bradberry was vital for the organization, bringing in a Pro Bowl talent to pair with Darius Slay (arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the game). The Eagles want to have an elite defense, so they brought in the personnel this offseason to have a realistic shot at that goal. Bradberry came into the NovaCare Complex with high regards, and the former Pro Bowler hasn't disappointed through three camp practices. "You hear a lot about James outside in and when you get him. James is a very intelligent football player," Eagles defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson said. "He's a fast processor. He's another guy that wants to be the best he can be. Those guys love to be pushed. "He goes out there and competes his butt off. The sky's the limit for him, as long as he does all the little things right and everything comes together." Bradberry had a strong Saturday practice, showcasing the ability to be a shutdown corner similar to his days with the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants (pre-2021). The Eagles cornerback covered both DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, making sure Jalen Hurts couldn't find his go-to targets easily. Bradberry's best play was a pass breakup on Brown on a downfield throw, an encouraging sign against a receiver who's physically imposing at the line of scrimmage. That's not a coincidence. "In this defense, he's talking to our safeties like 'I'll be here' or 'If I'm here, I got you here,'" Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox said. "I don't really have to talk to him as much, because he already kind of understands it. That's a good thing when you have people that understand the defense already. He brings a lot." Bradberry had a successful two-year stint with the Giants, finishing with 35 pass breakups with the team -- trailing only J.C. Jackson for the most in the NFL. He also finished with seven interceptions and allowed just a 66.6 passer rating when opposing quarterbacks targeted him. The Giants released Bradberry as a result of clearing up cap space, justifying the move after Bradberry allowed eight touchdown passes and a 75.8 passer rating in coverage as the primary defender. Bradberry found a home in Philadelphia soon after, looking to prove he's still one of the game's top cornerbacks. He has 82 passes defended in his career and has led his team in all six of his NFL seasons. Bradberry and Darius Slay are the only cornerbacks with 80 passes defended since Bradberry's rookie season (2016). Learning a new defense can be tedious, but Bradberry is ahead of the curve. No wonder he's had a strong first week of practice. "It's going pretty smooth," Bradberry said. "We're back there talking well. As long as we communicate and get on the same page, it usually goes pretty smooth." https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-james-bradberry-fitting-in-well-early-in-camp-as-veteran-cb-looking-for-bounce-back-season/
  2. Jason Kelce has realistic view of high Eagles expectations with memorable message to team of buying into hype Kelce spoke to the heart on expectations in the city By Jeff Kerr Getty Images Jason Kelce has been through it all in his decade-plus with the Philadelphia Eagles. From the "Dream Team' disaster of 2011 to the Super Bowl title in 2017, Kelce has seen the highs and lows of playing in a football-crazed town like Philadelphia. The Eagles made a surprising playoff trip last season and added talented players in A.J. Brown, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean to the roster. Jalen Hurts is going into his second season as the full-time starting quarterback with heightened expectations after an improving year one with Nick Sirianni (who's entering his second season as head coach). There's a reason for the city to be excited with their football team. Kelce knows the Eagles are talented too -- yet he's been on hyped Eagles teams in the past that failed to live up to expectations. His message to the 2022 Eagles was loud and clear. "In this city it feel like every year the media thinks we're really good, we end up being s---ty -- and every year the media thinks we are going to be s---ty, we end up being really good," Kelce said. "I prefer not to listen to what everybody thinks we look like on paper. The only way we're going to be any good this season is if we come out here and we work and everybody comes out with the mentality to get better. "That's each and every one of us." Kelce's experience will prove wise for an Eagles team that wants to compete for an NFC East title and showcase they can contend in the conference. The Eagles have experienced Super Bowl hype throughout Kelce's tenure with the franchise -- only to not even come close towards that goal. The year Philadelphia won the Super Bowl, few picked them to even reach the postseason. Then there was 2015, when the Eagles were going to enhance Chip Kelly's vision and take over the league. Philadelphia controls its own destiny for the 2022 season, which is the message Kelce is preaching. No social media clout will determine how they'll perform on fall Sundays. "I think we have a lot of talent," Kelce said. "I think we have a great offensive line with great skill position players. I think we have a quarterback that is continuing to improve and was a great player last year and will be a great player this year. We have to get better right now, that's all I know." Sirianni has relayed the same message to his team this week, as the Eagles prepare for what's ahead in the coming months. There's a target on the Eagles' back and the city is starving for a winning football team again. The Eagles want to live up to those expectations and give the city something to be proud of. "Our standard was high. I know the city's standard was high. And so that's not new," Sirianni said. "My message to them was very clear...When you are trying to climb a mountain, you don't look at the top of the mountain and say -- you might initially, but you don't look at the top of the mountain every single day and say, 'I have to climb that.' "You look to the part of the mountain you have to climb that day and you focus on that. That's what training camp is about, you focus on the daily deposits... All the expectations are great, everything there, but it's day by day. It's what are we going to do today to be ready to have a good pre-season game number one, and so on and so forth. "So daily deposits, and that doesn't matter -- if you live in that world, then it doesn't matter if you're an underdog, your expectations are high. You're just working on how you get better every day. That's all we're focused on." https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/jason-kelce-has-realistic-view-of-high-eagles-expectations-with-memorable-message-to-team-of-buying-into-hype/
  3. Can Jalen Hurts become next Lamar Jackson? Eagles have pieces in place to find out in critical Year 3 for QB Will Jalen Hurts take a leap in Year 3? The Eagles have shaped their offense to maximize his talents By Garrett Podell Jul 1, 2022 at 8:21 am ET•8 min read Getty Images Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts needs to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season to prove he is THE long-term face of the franchise in his upcoming third NFL season and second with head coach Nick Sirianni. "Need" may sound extreme, but the Eagles have two first-round draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, one courtesy of the New Orleans Saints. The upcoming draft has Heisman Trophy-winning Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, as well as Heisman finalist, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. However, Hurts has put together an early career resume that stylistically resembles another quarterback whose team has gone all-in to build its offensive system around his skill set -- 2019 unanimous NFL MVP and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Hurts is the only player in NFL history with over 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards within his first 20 career starts. Jackson is the only player with over 3,000 passing yards and over 1,000 rushing yards in a single season in NFL history, while breaking the league's single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback in that MVP season. Jalen Hurts vs. Lamar Jackson (First 20 career starts) HURTS JACKSON Passing yards 4,205 3,791 Passing TD-INT 22-13 33-9 Passer rating 84.7 100.9 Rushing yards 1,138 1,573 Rushing TD 13 11 Yards/rush 5.6 5.8 (Hurts: 19 career starts) Entering Week 8 last season following a 2-5 start to 2021, Sirianni halted his attempt to run an offense that suited the style of the prototypical, drop-back passers he had coached like quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck in his last eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Chargers (2013-17) and Colts (2018-20). The Eagles transformed from one of the more pass-oriented teams to the NFL's No. 1 ground attack (51% rush percentage, highest in the NFL), which allowed Hurts to help orchestrate a 7-3 finish and a playoff appearance. It was the first time Philadelphia reached the playoffs after starting a season 2-5 or worse. Thanks to Hurts, the Eagles' leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, 2021 also marked the first season of Jackson's career as a full-time, starting quarterback that his Baltimore Ravens weren't the NFL's rushing yards leader. 2021 Eagles offensive rankings WEEKS 1-7 WEEKS 8-18 PPG 22.7 (18th) 28.5 (4th) Passing att/game 34.7 (18th) 25.1 (last) Passing YPG 231.0 (21st) 178.7 (28th) Rushing att/game 23.4 (28th) 38.6 (1st) Rushing YPG 116.7 (1st) 189.9 (1st) 3rd-down pct 40% (T-17th) 49.3% (1st) 2021 Eagles rushing offense rankings NFL RANK Rushing pct 51% 1st Rushing yards 2,715* 1st Rushing TD 25 1st *Franchise single-season record According to the NFL's NextGen Stats, Hurts led the NFL in designed QB runs (72), rushing yards gained on those runs (377) and yards per carry on such runs (5.2, min. 30 such runs). Jalen Hurts 2021 statistics Passing yards 3,144 TD-INT 16-9 Rushing yards 784* Rushing TD 10* * Led all QBs "What we've done as coaches is figured out what he [Hurts] likes and what he's [Hurts] good at, so it's now just accumulating those reps," Sirianni said. One downside of an offensive system that leads to more running plays than passing plays like the Eagles did in 2021 is it works significantly better with a lead, which isn't something any team, even the best ones, can expect to have through the majority of its games. In games in which they trailed at halftime, the Eagles went 2-7. Against better teams, there's a higher likelihood of falling behind early, and the Eagles lost all six games against teams that did make the playoffs last season while winning nine of 11 games against teams that missed the postseason. Naturally, an offense that allows for a larger margin of error, a better passing attack, is something the Eagles will look to build in 2022. Hurts certainly isn't a finished product at 23 years old and entering his third NFL season, so having consistency in the coaching staff he works with for the first time in his career could pay huge dividends. He has played for four different coaches and their staffs in his last four seasons of football: Nick Saban at Alabama (2018), Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma (2019), Doug Pederson with the Eagles (2020) and now Sirianni (2021-present). "I think the biggest thing is just coming in with having the same coach consecutively, all the plays being in the same system, so I think that's been very pivotal going into the offseason and as we go throughout the plays," Hurts said at the Eagles' organized team activities in early June. "Just going through the plays and running them against our defense, just being decisive out there on the field knowing where I'm going to go with the ball based on the look that they give me. I think there's a natural maturation as I've always talked about. Just taking it day by day." His head coach echoed the sentiment that Hurts has exhibited continued growth in his offense. "Jalen is, in my opinion, more comfortable in the offense," Sirianni said. "That's just the part of the process in the second year [in this offense]. He knows where the receivers are going to be vs. different looks. He knows where to go with the football a little bit quicker." Another factor that allows any quarterback to be more decisive with his throws is trust in his receivers and after this past offseason, the Eagles have done as good a job as any in building out a talent-rich offense. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the 10th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft from Alabama, enters his second season after breaking the team's rookie receiving yards record (916), the fourth-most among rookies last season. That's significant considering it was previously held by one of the NFL's most explosive playmakers of the last decade, former Eagle DeSean Jackson. "With the time we've put in and the reps we've had, I think that's been beneficial for our connection and it will be good for the football team," Hurts said when asked about his former Crimson Tide teammate's growth. "I think it's important for us to keep stacking days on days whether that's me throwing to Zach [Pascal], throwing with A.J. [Brown], DeVonta [Smith], Quez [Watkins], or whoever." Sending a first- and third-round pick in the most recent draft to the Tennessee Titans for Brown, the NFL's leader in receiving touchdowns of 50 or more yards (7) since he entered the league in 2019, allows for Hurts to have more than one bona fide option on the outside when dropping back to pass. "It takes the pressure off the other guy," Brown said at OTAs when asked about playing alongside Smith. "[If I take] cornerback No. 1 and I go against him, that gives another really talented receiver to go against cornerback No. 2. In my opinion Smitty's a wide receiver No. 1 and he's going against a cornerback No. 2, and I expect Smitty to dominate." In addition to the Eagles top rookie receiver in franchise history (Smith) and one of the NFL's best at finding the end zone (Brown has 24 career receiving touchdowns since 2019, tied for the 10th-most in the NFL), Hurts also has a top five option at tight end back in the fold in Dallas Goedert. His 830 receiving yards ranked fifth among tight ends in 2021 and his 14.1 yards per catch ranked second among his position group behind only Atlanta Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts, the highest drafted tight end in the common-draft era (since 1967). "Jalen [Hurts] looks really good," Goedert said. "Just him going through his reads, his progressions, I feel like the ball's got a little more zip on it, he's getting it out a little bit quicker, you see kind of a 1-2-3 throw. He doesn't have as many hitches, he's seeing the game faster, which is really promising." The Eagles' offense also benefits from returning three offensive linemen who were ranked in the top 10 by Pro Football Focus at each of their positions last season in left tackle Jordan Mailata (87.4 PFF offensive grade, third among tackles behind only 49ers' Trent Williams and Cowboys' Tyron Smith), center Jason Kelce (84.4 PFF offensive grade, fourth among centers) and right tackle Lane Johnson (82.4 PFF offensive grade, 10th among tackles who played a minimum of 600 snaps). Hurts emphasizing the importance of reps wasn't lip service, he showed franchise QB-level leadership in organizing group workouts with the offense in California outside of the team's mandated activities. "His determination to be great is something that you see every day," Goedert said. "I was out there in California with him working, and the detail that he has with the coaches looking at film, looking at his throwing mechanics, things like that. He really wants to be great and he shows that each and every day." On top of the improvement with his mechanics, Hurts needs to expand his comfort in throwing over the middle of the field, an area in which Jackson and his Ravens tight end Mark Andrews dominate. Perhaps improved throwing mechanics, a higher comfort in his offensive playbook and the addition of a Pro Bowl receiver like Brown could fix this issue, but in order for Hurts and the Eagles to take the next leap, they need to rise to at least league average in throwing over the middle, something they were not in 2021, according to PFF. PFF "The reason we know Jalen is going to continue to get better is because of the character and the football character and the personal character that he has," Sirianni said. "He's just the type of guy that's going to reach his maximum potential because of all the off-the-field qualities he has. He's working every day to get better, and I'm really pleased where he is right now, but we have to continue to lay the groundwork. Fortunately for Hurts and the Eagles, they enter this evaluation season with the NFL's third-easiest schedule (their 2022 opponents won only 46.4% of their games last season) thanks to playing in an NFC East in which the Dallas Cowboys got worse, the New York Giants are starting over with a new front office and coaching staff, while the Washington Commanders are starting Eagles and Colts castoff Carson Wentz at quarterback. Philadelphia will play just five teams that made the playoffs in 2021: the Arizona Cardinals, Cowboys (twice), Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Tennessee Titans. The 2022 season couldn't be set up much better for Hurts to make a Jackson-like sprint up the NFL's quarterback hierarchy. All that's left for Hurts is to continue to keep "stacking days on days" until Week 1 arrives. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/can-jalen-hurts-become-next-lamar-jackson-eagles-have-pieces-in-place-to-find-out-in-critical-year-3-for-qb/
  4. Ranking all 32 NFL rosters ahead of 2022 training camp: Bills, Buccaneers, Chargers crack top five Assessing the most talented lineups entering the summer By Cody Benjamin USA Today Training camp is just around the corner in the NFL, and then comes the 2022 season. Plenty of teams have been busy this offseason, spending big to upgrade their lineups. Others have been more focused on rebuilding, tearing things down with the hopes of a brighter future. But which clubs boast the best all-around talent entering the hottest days of summer? Let's rank all 32 teams strictly according to their rosters going into camp, with full knowledge that the remainder of the offseason, the preseason and particularly the real games this fall will come to determine the true pecking order: 32. Falcons Arthur Smith is essentially starting from scratch for a second straight season, and this time, he doesn't have Matt Ryan's veteran savviness to at least mask the offense's thin weaponry. Kyle Pitts and Drake London could form a solid big-boy duo at pass catcher, but there's still a general lack of explosiveness here. Regardless of whether it's Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder at QB, this is shaping up to be a plodding old-school attack with Cordarrelle Patterson and Damien Williams as the "featured" ball-carriers. Arnold Ebiketie and A.J. Terrell are promising youngsters at premium positions on defense, but that unit as a whole isn't particularly deep, either. Few teams feel more firmly entrenched in purgatory, until a real post-Ryan gamble occurs under center. 31. Texans You'd be forgiven if you thought the Texans just carried over their porous roster from a 4-13 finish in 2021. Davis Mills seemingly has NFL-caliber poise to go along with prototypical QB size, but once again he'll have mostly scraps with which to prove he belongs as a long-term starter. Brandin Cooks is underrated out wide, but Houston's line is still suspect, and management inexplicably remains committed to the Patriots-style hoarding of interchangeable running backs. Can you imagine, in 2022, being scared to face the Texans' stable of Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, Dameon Pierce and Royce Freeman? Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre may freshen up the secondary under Lovie Smith, whose own aging track record doesn't inspire much confidence, but yet again the Texans are banking on free-agent leftovers to steer the ship. It feels like a matter of when, not if, Houston will be resetting operations once more. 30. Bears David Montgomery USATSI If team brass is really "all in" on Justin Fields at QB, it's not acting like it, saddling the former first-rounder with a still-shaky line and thin receiving corps. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert give them a solid backfield, and Darnell Mooney offers legit speed, but all of those guys are better suited for complementary roles. Under new coach Matt Eberflus, a defensive mind, it'll be a minor miracle if Fields grows in confidence and decision-making while working around such a mediocre offensive supporting cast. The "D" is a slightly different story, with Eberflus possessing both proven vets (Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, Al-Quadin Muhammad) and likable rookies (Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker), perhaps retaining Chicago's signature stinginess. In today's NFL, however, a defense that might be good is far from enough to remain competitive, let alone contend for big games. 29. Giants How much of a boost do all their prospective play-makers get from Brian Daboll's entrance at head coach? Because for all the upside offered by Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney in recent years, they've delivered pretty pitifully. Perhaps Daboll will finally integrate Jones' mobility into the offense, and capitalize on the big-play size (Golladay) and speed (Toney) of his targets, but until we see that happen, with an O-line still in transition, it's hard to trust them with the ball. Kayvon Thibodeaux should certainly enliven their front seven, which already boasts foundational pieces in Azeez Ojulari and Dexter Lawrence, but the back half remains a major question mark, especially with former Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry now out of the picture. New general manager Joe Schoen made clear in his actions this offseason that 2022 was more about deconstructing the lineup than building a new one. 28. Lions Good for Dan Campbell and Co. adding speed to a surprisingly promising offensive lineup, with Jameson Williams and D.J. Chark now atop a pass-catching corps also featuring T.J. Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown. But even with D'Andre Swift and a solid line, it's hard to envision Jared Goff returning to his Rams peak at QB. This is an example of the signal-caller really lowering the average. If he proves us wrong, it'll be because he capitalized on the growing pieces around him. The defense is another story. Aidan Hutchinson was a smart addition, deepening the thin pass rush, but there are holes throughout the rest of the unit, particularly on the back end. Jeff Okudah and Mike Hughes, two former first-rounders struggling for steadiness, are the headliners of their still-ailing secondary. 27. Jaguars Their placement here, despite owning two straight No. 1 draft picks and spending like crazy in free agency, is an indictment on management. Yes, Trevor Lawrence is better off under center, where he's now got the tutelage of Doug Pederson and added targets in Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. Yes, the Brandon Scherff addition up front could do wonders for the pocket. But altogether, the supporting cast isn't high-octane as much as it is ... middlingly upgraded? That could change if Travis Etienne breaks out as a hybrid weapon, or James Robinson returns at full speed, but those are gambles. There are at least a few more young faces in which to buy stock on defense, chiefly pass rushers Josh Allen and Travon Walker, and linebackers Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd. But the secondary is littered with overpriced vets. As much as Pederson may do for the Jaguars culture, he'll need a major step forward from Lawrence to drag the rest of the lineup to extended win streaks. 26. Seahawks Welcome to life after Russell Wilson, and a prime example of a QB making all the difference in a lineup. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are an explosive one-two punch out wide, Noah Fant is an emerging player at tight end, and Rashaad Penny might be just fine as Pete Carroll's next bell-cow ball-carrier, but behind an iffy line, neither Geno Smith nor the more gunslinging Drew Lock warrant much trust as permanent starters. The "D," meanwhile, has a few new admirable starters in Shelby Harris and Uchenna Nwosu, but remains dangerously mercurial off the edge and on the back end. 25. Commanders Terry McLaurin USATSI New QB Carson Wentz might have better all-around weapons in Washington than he did with the Colts, considering Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin can both be game-changers at top speed. Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson emerging out wide would be a bonus. But what is Wentz's ceiling at this point? Wild-card-caliber stuff? Defensively, Ron Rivera's front remains loaded, with Chase Young rejoining Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, but who's gonna cover people if prominent vets like William Jackson III and Benjamin St-Juste don't take major steps forward? 24. Patriots Bill Belichick's oversight may well guarantee this roster always exceeds expectations, and no doubt QB Mac Jones has flashed the accuracy to stay competitive for the long haul. The defense is stingy more often than not, too, and Matt Judon is an underrated force off the edge. But the weapons aren't necessarily scary, with Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne all arguably best suited for No. 2/3 roles, and the secondary is increasingly dependent on aging vets. No one would be surprised if Bill gets another playoff bid from this bunch, but no one's really anticipating a deep run, either. 23. Panthers Carolina is the butt of many jokes because of its string of utter misfires at QB, and Sam Darnold's continued grip on the top job is a reminder of that. But the general dysfunction there has overshadowed an otherwise solid young core. Christian McCaffrey may or may not be durable anymore, but D.J. Moore is a bona fide No. 1 wideout, the O-line is much improved after investing in Austin Corbett and Bradley Bozeman, and the defense has an array of blue-chip prospects, from edge rusher Brian Burns and interior man Derrick Brown to edgy corner Jaycee Horn and play-making safety Jeremy Chinn. 22. Titans The Titans technically replaced star WR A.J. Brown by adding Robert Woods and Treylon Burks, but only one of them has proven to be a quality starter in the NFL, and QB Ryan Tannehill is under pressure to perform behind an O-line introducing two new starters. That's not to say they won't be physical and competitive again under Mike Vrabel, especially with Derrick Henry healthy and the defense finding an emerging front man in Jeffery Simmons. But if you can't consistently pass the ball, or defend the pass, in today's NFL, your roster probably needs some long-term tweaking. 21. Saints New head coach Dennis Allen has some big names at his disposal; the questions are mostly regarding their availability. Consider Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, the big three at QB, RB and WR. Winston is coming off an injury, Kamara is due for a suspension, and Thomas has barely played in two years. Rookies like Chris Olave and Trevor Penning may offset the uncertainties out wide and up front, where Terron Armstead departed, but even then, Winston's proven to be a rather mercurial arm. The "D," even with notable losses like that of Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams, still has trusty regulars in Cameron Jordan and Demario Davis, but how much do Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye have left in the tank? 20. Jets Zach Wilson USATSI If you want an example of a team doing everything in its power to support a young QB, look no further than the Jets, who addressed basically every top need this offseason. Zach Wilson now has better protection (Laken Tomlinson), more viable targets (Garrett Wilson, C.J. Uzomah) and a much-improved defense, including new starters Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Jermaine Johnson and Jordan Whitehead. The pieces have to gel, and Wilson has to make better decisions, but this team will quickly rise up the rankings if the execution is there this fall. 19. Cardinals Sometimes we make the mistake of equating big names to elite value, and that might be Arizona's biggest issue of late. On the surface, James Conner, Zach Ertz and A.J. Green are fine starters for Kliff Kingsbury's big-play offense. But none of them are especially durable at this point in their career, so new No. 1 target Marquise Brown could have an integral role in Kyler Murray's next steps at QB, where he's flashed MVP potential but fizzled out late in the year. The porous defense is more concerning, where it's up to a few past (J.J. Watt) or present (Budda Baker) stars to run the whole show. 18. 49ers What does Trey Lance have to offer? That's the big question, assuming Kyle Shanahan actually follows through with plans to turn the QB keys over to his athletic but unpolished investment, and part ways with the serviceable but creaky Jimmy Garoppolo. And what about Deebo Samuel, Shanahan's top weapon out wide and on the run? If he stays, the offense is still in decent shape, no matter who's throwing the ball, for the trench warriors (namely star left tackle Trent Williams) and short-area targets (George Kittle) are still elite. The "D" has different pros and cons, with Nick Bosa and Fred Warner dominating in the front seven but the secondary once again looking to outside help (ex-Chiefs corner Charvarius Ward) for consistency. 17. Steelers Mike Tomlin hasn't necessarily had top-15 QB play for the better part of three years, so the uncertainty of Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett under center probably won't break this club's spirits. Besides, the line is revamped with new guard James Daniels, and the foundation is there for a physical, old-school approach: Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth and the WR trio of Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens are a young but feisty bunch. If anything's gonna keep Pittsburgh in the hunt, though, it's the "D," which still has big questions at corner, where fliers like Levi Wallace and Akhello Witherspoon will take over, but boasts some of the game's top disruptors in T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick. 16. Colts Matt Ryan brings more stability at QB after the rocky finish to the short-lived Carson Wentz era, but does he have the stuff to elevate an offense whose once-vaunted line now features Matt Pryor at left tackle and added just rookie Alec Pierce to a thin receiving group? Jonathan Taylor's dominant presence in the backfield sure helps, as does a defense with the firepower to make a deep run (Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore are underrated additions to a lineup that already boasted DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard and Kenny Moore II). You just wonder how far a team with limited vertical options can go. 15. Browns Deshaun Watson USATSI Cleveland has been hailed as one of the best, deepest rosters in the NFL, and it's true there's no shortage of weapons on both sides of the ball: RB Nick Chubb, WR Amari Cooper, DE Myles Garrett, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, CB Denzel Ward are all proven or rising stars. But the receiving room is thin beyond Cooper, the line lost center J.C. Tretter, the secondary is still banged up, and most of all, the biggest asset of them all, new QB Deshaun Watson, looks like a lock to miss significant time thanks to a suspension for his extensive legal disputes involving 24 different accusations of sexual assault or misconduct. Jacoby Brissett, his likely replacement, might be serviceable, but he's bounced around as a backup recently for a reason. 14. Dolphins All eyes are on Tua Tagovailoa's development at QB, but new coach Mike McDaniel has more than enough toys to make a strong debut no matter what happens under center. Setting aside the massive stable of running backs he's built for his presumably ground-heavy approach (Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin), he's also got two dynamic wideouts in Tyreek Hill, the game-breaking speedster; and Jaylen Waddle, the shifty target machine. The trenches are also much improved with Terron Armstead taking over at left tackle and Connor Williams entering on the interior. Miami's "D," which stayed feisty under ex-coach Brian Flores, also has playoff-caliber potential. Christian Wilkins and Emmanuel Ogbah make a formidable front, Jaelan Phillips could be a stud off the edge, and they've got a familiar but steady trio headlining the secondary in Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Jevon Holland. The pieces are there for an actual step forward. 13. Vikings He may not have the resume to inspire confidence in a title run, but Kirk Cousins has been an above-average starter for most of his career. As long as he's paired with Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson, two of the game's most electrifying players at their respective positions, he'll have Minnesota in the mix until late in the year. As is often the case here, the line could stand to be more consistent, but throw in secondary pieces like Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr., and it's a really balanced offense. Mike Zimmer's departure, meanwhile, might actually be freeing for the defense, which got a veteran facelift thanks to the additions of Za'Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks at linebacker. Smith should help take pressure off Danielle Hunter off the edge, and Hicks should improve the run "D" next to Eric Kendricks. 12. Raiders Derek Carr is a borderline top-10 statistical passer, and now he's got Davante Adams to target alongside Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. That's one of the best pure skill groups in the NFL when you factor in Josh Jacobs' bruising running. But how long can their iffy line -- basically everyone except left tackle Kolton Miller -- hold up? Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones make up an elite pass rush, but the second and third levels of Vegas' defense are still rife with questions. At corner, for example, the addition of new faces like Anthony Averett and Rock Ya-Sin isn't guaranteed to mask coverage deficiencies seen in starters like Johnathan Abram. 11. Broncos Everything is solid in Denver; the question is, what's special? Take Russell Wilson, their prized acquisition, who instantly makes them better at QB but may or may not be past his best days of MVP contention. Can he elevate their good, not necessarily elite, WR trio of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick? Either way, they should be able to replicate some of the old-school approach that worked for Russ way back in Seattle, with Garett Bolles headlining a sturdy line and the Javonte Williams-Melvin Gordon duo giving new coach Nathaniel Hackett a pair of starting options on the ground. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos look just as well-rounded, albeit with questions. Adding Randy Gregory opposite Bradley Chubb could give Denver one of the AFC's most fearsome pass rushing duos, but health is a major factor. Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons, meanwhile, are ballers in the secondary, but the other starting spots are much less clear. 10. Ravens Marcus Peters Evan Habeeb / USA TODAY Sports They've seemingly doubled down on a run-first approach with Lamar Jackson under center, jettisoning Marquise Brown (and a more proven WR corps) in favor of added responsibility for tight end Mark Andrews and a stable of rehabbing rushers, including J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. But they know how to run it well! And the line, presumably with a healthier Ronnie Stanley back at left tackle, should be improved with a pair of new starters in Tyler Linderbaum and Morgan Moses. The defense is really where Baltimore could make its money, as lynchpins like Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey return from injury. More impressive is the youth they've added at each level: Travis Jones up front, David Ojabo off the edge, and Kyle Hamilton on the back end. Paired with ex-Saints standout Marcus Williams, Hamilton has the versatility to transform the Ravens back to one of the NFL's feistiest contenders. 9. Eagles Jalen Hurts is already a relatively high-floor QB because of his running back-like mobility, and now he has a setup befitting legit growth as a passer, with the imposing A.J. Brown joining DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert downfield. Even in the event Hurts doesn't make big strides throwing the ball, Philly still has an elite line, with Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson still in Pro Bowl form, to power a multifaceted ground game. Miles Sanders just might be underrated as a ball-carrier at this point. And then there's the "D," which got upgrades at every level. The massive Jordan Davis is now on the interior alongside Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, ex-Panthers star Haason Reddick is now rushing off the edge with Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat, and former Giants Pro Bowler James Bradberry has teamed up with Darius Slay to give the team two quality cover men. If Nick Sirianni can't at least replicate his debut 9-8 record with this bunch, there will be cause for concern. 8. Packers The Aaron Rodgers Effect. Green Bay didn't have a particularly inspiring offseason, failing to add a single impact veteran to an offense that lost perennial Pro Bowler Davante Adams out wide, but the reality, like in Kansas City and Tampa Bay, is that every skill-position starter looks better when a game-changing QB is running the show. If Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb or rookie Christian Watson don't break out downfield, then Matt LaFleur still has a lightning-and-thunder combo in the backfield, with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon built to produce in tandem. The Packers also have more defensive juice than they get credit for. Rashan Gary is poised to emerge as the top edge rusher with Za'Darius Smith gone for good, and both Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker should have big roles as rookies. Durability remains a question in the secondary, but when healthy and at their peak, Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage and even Rasul Douglas stay around the ball. Without Rodgers, this might be a wild-card team. With him, it can still be more. 7. Cowboys Regardless of whether they ever meet expectations (hint: they often don't), the Cowboys do not lack premium talent. Longtime left tackle Tyron Smith is an underrated question mark due to his health, and Amari Cooper's departure out wide puts a bigger burden on Michael Gallup, but there is so much proven chemistry between the stars here: QB Dak Prescott, RB Tony Pollard, WR CeeDee Lamb, TE Dalton Schultz and OG Zack Martin are all among the best or most promising at their positions. Dallas' brightest stars might be on defense: Micah Parsons looks like a generational, almost position-less play-maker rushing the QB from the middle of the field, and Trevon Diggs, despite boom-or-bust coverage tactics, is a pick magnet. If only their front four were more well-rounded, they might have a case to approach the top five best rosters across the league. 6. Chiefs Patrick Mahomes is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here, perhaps more than ever before. Paired with his gunslinging and Andy Reid's oversight, there's little doubt newcomers like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will put up numbers. But there's no replacing Tyreek Hill's pure electricity, so the onus is even more on Mahomes and longtime favorite Travis Kelce to keep the train moving. It helps that Kansas City's line is still rock solid, with Orlando Brown Jr. back at left tackle. First-rounders George Karlaftis and Trent McDuffie will be key to the team's development at pass rusher and cornerback, respectively, mostly because they're Day One starters by default. It's certainly possible K.C.'s secondary will take a dip, depending on the health and consistency of safeties Juan Thornhill and Justin Reid, replacing Tyrann Mathieu. But again, as long as No. 15 is under center and Reid is shepherding this roster, how can you write them off? 5. Bengals Joe Mixon USATSI The hottest underdog story of 2021, they are underdogs no longer, especially because of the MVP-level pairing of Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase. No QB or team enjoys a deeper, more explosive pass-catching group, with both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd creating space alongside Chase. Throw in Joe Mixon at running back, and a remade O-line now featuring ex-Bucs guard Alex Cappa and ex-Cowboys tackle La'el Collins, and Burrow has all the tools to keep Cincinnati near the front of the pack. Unless Zac Taylor's play-calling regresses, the bigger questions lie on defense: can the underrated unit survive top passing teams with Eli Apple and Chidobe Awuzie on the outside? And how will rangy safety Jessie Bates III fit in as he endures contract issues, even if his hurdles are just mental? Rookie defensive back Dax Hill could play an integral role at both spots. 4. Buccaneers This starts and ends with Tom Brady, whose arm has seemingly gotten stronger in his 40s but is most influential for his unmatched prep, poise and vision. Part of the reason TB12 can't be ruled out in his quest for an eighth (!) ring, however, is the title-winning offense he runs. Even with Chris Godwin coming off injury and Rob Gronkowski retiring, the trio of Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette and newcomer Russell Gage make for a Grade-A group when working alongside the game's best QB and one of the NFL's best blocking units, headlined by Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs. The pressure will be on Todd Bowles to run the show with Bruce Arians stepping back from the sidelines, but at least Bowles' defense is also well-stocked by itself. Akiem Hicks brings added beef to the front, the linebacker crew remains lethal, and Antoine Winfield Jr. holds down the back end. There's also the fact this roster has been there, done that. 3. Rams The reigning Super Bowl champions have reason to believe they can remain the class of the NFC, and it starts with the pieces around Matthew Stafford, who so enjoyed Sean McVay's setup he nearly landed an MVP award to go with a Lombardi. With or without Odell Beckham Jr., the receiving corps is one of the NFL's best thanks to Cooper Kupp's reliability and, now, Allen Robinson's size. Their title-winning line remains mostly intact, too, and a healthier Cam Akers gives them a high-upside RB1. There are minimal questions on "D," where depth could be tested behind No. 1 cover man Jalen Ramsey, but veteran Troy Hill is back after a one-year hiatus in Cleveland. As long as Aaron Donald is on the field, opponents will have to scheme around his disruptions. And longtime Seahawks standout Bobby Wagner should only make the heart of the unit smarter. As long as the biggest names execute when it matters, L.A. cannot be counted out of any game for at least another season. 2. Chargers Fresh off an offseason spending spree, they're one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL, on paper. Justin Herbert was already a top-10 QB, but with Mike Williams back out wide opposite Keenan Allen, and Gerald Everett plugged in as a safety valve at tight end, and Zion Johnson joining an O-line already outfitted with studs like Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley, there's no reason they shouldn't have a top-five offensive attack. That's not even accounting for Austin Ekeler as a Swiss Army Knife. And then there's Brandon Staley's defense, which improved at literally every level. You've got bulk up front with Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, relentlessness off the edge with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, and ball-hawking at corner with J.C. Jackson and Asante Samuel Jr. Throw in Derwin James at safety, if he stays healthy, and it's an all-star unit from front to back. Staley's growth as a coach may steer the ship to its ultimate destination, but talent-wise, you can't ask for much more here. 1. Bills Stefon Diggs USATSI It's no wonder Josh Allen's getting lots of MVP buzz entering year five. Not only is the QB a star in his own right, but he's got an enviable supporting cast, starting with a one-two-three punch of Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Jamison Crowder out wide. That group alone can put on a clinic with route-running (Diggs), deep speed (Davis) and slot work (Crowder), and James Cook's addition to the backfield should give Allen another outlet. The line isn't perfect, but Allen's natural athleticism doesn't require it. Sean McDermott's defense, meanwhile, is probably even more improved coming off three straight playoff runs. Who will dare play their front four (Von Miller, Ed Oliver, DaQuan Jones, Greg Rousseau) with confidence? Behind them, it's one play-maker after another, with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds manning the middle, Kaiir Elam joining Tre'Davious White in coverage and the aging but savvy safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer rounding out the secondary. If this team doesn't at least advance to the AFC Championship, fans across New York will be sorely disappointed, and rightfully so. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/ranking-all-32-nfl-rosters-ahead-of-2022-training-camp-bills-buccaneers-chargers-crack-top-five/
  5. Eagles' Lane Johnson says Jalen Hurts 'carries himself with a lot of poise' and 'demands respect' Hurts is still looking for consistency as a passer heading into Year 3 By Jared Dubin / Getty Images There was a lot of smoke this offseason about the Philadelphia Eagles potentially looking to make a change at the quarterback position. They were connected in rumors to Russell Wilson, for example, and with three first-round picks in the coffers, they had the ammo to make a deal if they'd wanted to. Of course, things did not work out that way. The Eagles stuck with Jalen Hurts -- at least for this year. And Hurts has at least one big fan along his offensive line in right tackle Lane Johnson, who sung the QB's praises this week. "He just carries himself with a lot of poise. I mean, he demands respect," Johnson said on NFL Total Access. "Just the way he approaches day-to-day activity, how he trains, what he does in the film room. And he's a great motivator. He's a great leader. (He's) super behind the scenes, even during summer, he's connecting with a lot of the guys. Lot of receivers. Doing 7 on 7. Just doing typical work to prepare. I know he's excited about the new guys that we have that we drafted and acquired over the offseason, and really just getting ready to go to work." Hurts has shown incredible dynamism as a runner so far in his career, rushing 185 times for 1,056 yards and 13 touchdowns in his 19 starts. He's been a bit less consistent as a passer, though, completing only 59.1% of his throws at an average of 7.2 yards per attempt, with 21 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. The Eagles came out last season with an extreme pass-heavy slant and did not find much success, so they pivoted to a run-oriented offense that seemed a better fit for Hurts' skills, and the offense became much more efficient. Having traded for A.J. Brown this offseason, it looks like Philly wants to get the passing game to another level. Whether or not Hurts is the player to take it there remains to be seen. The Eagles do still have multiple first-round picks in the chamber if Hurts does not live up to expectations and they want to make a trade or secure one of the top-rated passers in next year's draft. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-lane-johnson-says-jalen-hurts-carries-himself-with-a-lot-of-poise-and-demands-respect/
  6. Brandon Graham hints 2022 could be his final year with Eagles, might finish his career elsewhere Graham wants to play 15 years in the NFL, but will all 15 be in Philadelphia? By Jeff Kerr USATSI Brandon Graham has a goal of playing 15 years in the NFL, a mark he wishes to obtain even if they're all not with the Philadelphia Eagles. While Graham expressed his desire to play his whole career with the Eagles, that may not be as easy as it may seem. Graham would be open to ending his career with another team once he becomes a free agent after the 2022 season. "You know what? I would -- but it would only be probably for a year," Graham said, via JAKIB Sports' Sports Take. "The kids are together right now and they're settled, so that always -- I know they wouldn't up and leave right away -- so being away from them and the family, that would only probably last a year. "We'd see how it works out, but I'd probably end up playing 14 (years) instead of 15. My goal is to finish on 15 if I could, as an Eagle." If Graham really wants to get that 15th season, there's the possibility it may not happen with the Eagles. Graham will be 36 if he plays his 15th season -- and the Eagles may want to search elsewhere for pass rushing help. For 2022, the Eagles could use Graham on a defensive line that had just 29 sacks last season, the second-fewest in the NFL. In Graham's last full season (2020), he finished with 51 pressures, 46 tackles, 16 quarterback hits, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles in earning a Pro Bowl berth. Only four players in the NFL had eight sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles in 2020 --T.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, Haason Reddick, and Graham. He played just two games in 2021 due to a ruptured Achilles. Heading into year 13 in the NFL, Graham has this year with the Eagles before both sides have to decide his future. He's hoping year 14 -- and possibly year 15 -- is in Philadelphia as well. "I'm here right now, I've got another opportunity. It's the last year on my deal, they're gonna honor me for this year, and whatever role it is man just enjoy it," Graham said. "Because you didn't have football last year, you had time with the kids, and you still got one year left of football if that's what you choose to do. Man, I'm about to enjoy it." https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/brandon-graham-hints-2022-could-be-his-final-year-with-eagles-might-finish-his-career-elsewhere/
  7. Eagles' DeVonta Smith coming out of shell, showcasing fun personality entering second NFL season Smith's charity softball game shows a side of him Philadelphia is starting to see By Jeff Kerr LEHIGH VALLEY, Pennsylvania -- DeVonta Smith would rather let his talking come on the football field, yet even a man of a few words can open up when becoming comfortable in his surroundings. Smith is experiencing that in Philadelphia, a city where the talented young wideout is growing up before the Eagles' very eyes. Smith has only been in the NFL for a year, yet his impact around the league was felt with the celebrity NFL players who chose to participate in his first charity softball game at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday. In addition to Smith's presence, Eagles teammates Jalen Hurts, Darius Slay, Brandon Graham, Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox, Boston Scott and Nakobe Dean joined him on the hour-plus trek to Allentown. Of the non-Eagles, Micah Parsons (Dallas Cowboys), Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), Patrick Surtain II (Denver Broncos), Mack Wilson (New England Patriots), Jaylen Waddle (Miami Dolphins). Elijah Moore (New York Jets), Terrell Edmunds (Steelers), and La'Mical Perine (Jets) participated in the event. Quite the impressive guest list for a player as soft spoken as Smith, who has admitted he's starting to come out of his shell as a player and person. His charity softball game with all these NFL stars supporting him is a big step. "I've gotten better with it. It doesn't bother me and I feel a lot more comfortable," Smith said. "It's fun, I'm getting a lot more comfortable with it and finding new things about myself. (I'm finding out) I can talk a lot more than I want to." How was Smith able to land these impressive party invitations after only one year in the league? Being a Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama helps, but only the soft-spoken Smith could describe it best -- "Know people that know people." "Just seeing how he plays on the field, everything about him," Edmunds said. "Talking to him, playing against each other -- and now this year we get to play him for real, not just a preseason game. We started knowing each other from talking and now mutual friends (around the league). I just wanted to come out here and help him support a great cause." What Smith has already accomplished in just one NFL season has Eagles fans excited for his future. Smith had 64 catches for 916 yards and five touchdowns last year for the Eagles, setting a franchise record for receiving yards in his rookie season. His 14.3 yards per catch was seventh in the NFL (minimum 60 receptions) and was one of only nine players with 60 catches, 900 yards, and 14 yards per catch last season. And if you ask Maddox, it wouldn't surprise if Smith does take the next step in his game, judging by what he sees going against Smith in practice every day. "He's a hard worker," Maddox said. "He works hard to perfect his craft each and every day. He's the first one in and the last one to leave. He definitely has a great character on and off the field and is a great leader in our building. I'm excited to be here for him and support him." Goedert watched Smith grow in his rookie year to the player he is now. The Eagles tight end won't be surprised if Smith evolves into one of the NFL's best wide receivers in Year 2. "His route-running, fine-tuning things. He's just being more detailed," Goedert said. "It's just like any year, you grow and develop. He's come a long way from being great already. I'm excited to watch him when the time comes. He's going to do a lot of special things." The maturation on the field is coinciding with Smith's growth off the field. Smith isn't becoming a outspoken player by any stretch, but becoming familiar with his surroundings in Philadelphia has allowed him to evolve into a better version of himself. Smith is the type of character who represents the Eagles' franchise well, showcasing he wants to be in Philadelphia for a long time. "I just want to keep progressing. Just build off what I did last year," Smith said. "Know the things I did wrong and not make those same mistakes. One thing I can say about Philly -- they're all in. If you're doing the things you're supposed to do, they'll love you. If you're not doing what you're supposed to do, they'll be on you. "It's a great place. That's the type of place you want to be. Fans that are passionate on everything. Being here. I love it." https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-devonta-smith-coming-out-of-shell-showcasing-fun-personality-entering-second-nfl-season/
  8. A.J. Brown says Eagles have two No. 1 wide receivers with DeVonta Smith: 'The sky's the limit for Smitty' Brown is already very impressed with what he's seen out of his new running mate By Jordan Dajani Mitchell Leff/Getty Images The Philadelphia Eagles were big winners this offseason, and a main reason why is because of their trade for star wideout A.J. Brown. During the 2022 NFL Draft, Philly sent a first and third-round pick to the Tennessee Titans for Brown, and gifted him a four-year, $100 million extension the same evening. While bolstering the wide receiving corps was a goal for the Eagles this offseason, they do have a prospective No. 1 wide receiver entering his second year in the league. Last year, the Eagles used the No. 10 overall pick on Alabama's DeVonta Smith, who virtually rewrote the SEC record book during his time at Alabama, and left the college ranks as a National Champion and Heisman Trophy Winner. In his first season with Philly, Smith set an Eagles rookie record with 916 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 64 catches. Brown and Smith could be a dynamic duo soon, and the former believes his new team has two No. 1 wide receivers. "In my opinion, Smitty is a wide receiver No. 1," Brown said, via NFL.com. "And he going against a cornerback No. 2, I expect Smitty to dominate. Just taking pressure off each other. Even being on the same sides, so you can't really double. It's great having another great wideout besides you." Smith has already mentioned that he's excited to learn from his new Pro Bowl running mate. Brown exploded on the NFL scene in his rookie season back in 2019, catching 52 passes for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns. In his second season, he upped the ante with 70 catches for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns. He believes Smith could experience a second-year jump like the one he saw because of his special skillset. "He's a really good route runner," Brown said of Smith. "Guys early on in their career, like first year, Year 2, they're still developing and he can run every route in the route tree. Just a little [nuances], little things that, of course, that we all can get better at. And just keep tuning up our game and keep developing. I think the sky's the limit for Smitty. So, I'm excited for him Year 2. I'm excited for the steps he takes." https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/a-j-brown-says-eagles-have-two-no-1-wide-receivers-with-devonta-smith-the-skys-the-limit-for-smitty/
  9. Top 25 NFL players 25 and under: Justin Herbert headlines 2022 stars; four QBs, six WRs make the list Assessing the top young talent around the league By Cody Benjamin The NFL isn't always a young man's game. Take, for example, two of the best quarterbacks still doing it in the NFL: Tom Brady, 44, and Aaron Rodgers, 38, just might be the favorites in the NFC this season, and rightfully so. But that doesn't mean football is hurting for young talent. Rookies are increasingly expected to contribute early, and a slew of hotshot signal-callers, like recent Super Bowl starters Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes, contended for titles on their first contracts. And that's just the QBs. Each year at CBS Sports, we rank the top 25 players 25 and under. And this year, in particular, was incredibly difficult. Why? Because the NFL is absolutely loaded with promising young players. That's one of the reasons we've included such an extensive honorable-mention list for 2022; there are too many up-and-comers to properly acknowledge in a list of 25. Still, we're confident our top pecking order will convey just how many stars of today and tomorrow reside in football. Before we get to the rundown, some criteria: Why is age 25 the cutoff? Generally speaking, most top players enter the NFL at ages 20-21. That means their first contracts tend to run right up until about 25. It doesn't mean 26-year-old superstars aren't young, but this gives us an easy dividing line. That way, in many cases, you can view this list as the top players still on their rookie deals (or deserving of new ones). What is the cutoff for a player turning 26? We're counting a player as long as they are 25 or younger when the 2022 season officially begins on Sept. 8. It doesn't matter if they turn 26 in Week 2; anyone who begins the year 25 or younger is in play. Is anyone else excluded from the list? Yes, this year's rookies. While we could project top picks like Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux onto the list, our focus is on players who have already established themselves in the NFL, even if for just one season. Hence ... What goes into the ranking? Both past performance and projection, as well as, to a lesser degree, positional value. So it helps if a player has already been really good for three years, but it also helps if his future outlook is really bright. It also helps if the player is a quarterback rather than running back, for obvious reasons. Try not to get too caught up in whether this ranking indicates where they currently rank or where we think they will rank after 2022; it's a hodgepodge of where they stand right now and where we think they're headed. Without further ado, the ranking: 25. Panthers S Jeremy Chinn (24) Carolina's woes have overshadowed his impact as a sideline-to-sideline playmaker. As a quasi-linebacker/cover man, he's racked up 224 tackles, 10 QB hits and forced or recovered six fumbles in two years. That's production you have to game-plan around. 24. Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb (23) CeeDee Lamb USATSI Playing in a stacked receivers room alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, he's still produced like a star-in-the-making, totaling 2,037 yards and 11 scores in two years. With Cooper gone, he's poised to see an even bigger share of Dak Prescott's throws as the explosive counterpart to Gallup and Dalton Schultz. 23. Buccaneers LB Devin White (24) Is he a perfect linebacker? Surely not, as evidenced by slip-ups in coverage. But you can't teach speed, and he has it. Over his last two seasons, as a lynchpin of Todd Bowles' championship defense, he's been a missile at the heart of their unit, totaling 268 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 34 QB hits and 23 tackles for loss. 22. Titans DT Jeffery Simmons (25) Jeffery Simmons USATSI If you're looking for the next Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox, this is probably your guy. Since a quiet rookie year, Simmons has emerged as the superpowered anchor of Tennessee's feisty front, never more clearly than during the Titans' mauling of Joe Burrow in the 2021 playoffs. He plays even bigger than he is, and after an 8.5-sack breakout, he's still got room to grow. 21. Panthers DE Brian Burns (24) You can see why Panthers fans must be so frustrated about the QB uncertainty; there are promising core pieces ready to help Carolina compete. Burns might be the best, as he's stayed around the QB ever since his arrival. In three years, he's logged 25.5 sacks, 55 QB hits and 26 tackles for loss. And he's not in his prime yet. 20. Bengals S Jessie Bates III (25) He wasn't nearly as dominant during Cincinnati's underdog Super Bowl candidacy in 2021, but Bates was one of the most underrated starters at his position for his first three seasons. The total package at the back end, he's a true deep safety with the athleticism and physicality to offer both pass and run support. 19. Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick (25) If Bates deserves to reset the safety market, then so does he. The former Dolphins first-rounder set such a high standard as a ballhawk immediately after coming over from Miami that his 2021 numbers (124 tackles, seven pass deflections, two INTs) registered as just OK. He is the perfect modern safety in the way he leverages his athleticism in coverage. 18. Panthers WR D.J. Moore (25) The Allen Robinson of Carolina, Moore has put up bona fide No. 1 numbers despite erratic QB play. Rightfully rewarded with a new deal this offseason, he's looking to log a fourth straight season of at least 65 catches, 1,100 yards and four touchdowns. 7. 49ers LB Fred Warner (25) San Francisco has a history of fostering prototype linebackers, and Warner has fit the bill for some time. As durable as they come, missing just one game in four years, he makes his presence felt all over the field, totaling a whopping 504 tackles since 2018. 16. Cowboys LB Micah Parsons (22) Micah Parsons USATSI Lest we allow recency bias to crown Parsons after one year, it's hard not to envision the Penn State product headlining Dallas' defense for a decade-plus. A physical freak whose traits transcend the "linebacker" label, he instantly reshaped the Cowboys' pass rush with a 13-sack debut and has the upside to mask his defense's weaknesses. 15. Chargers OT Rashawn Slater (23) It didn't take long for the Northwestern product to shore up Justin Herbert's blind side in Los Angeles. And there are fewer jobs more important than keeping a franchise QB upright. Slater already has the makings of a perennial All-Pro at left tackle. 14. Commanders DE Chase Young (23) The former No. 2 overall pick has "just" nine sacks through two years, but that's mostly because an ACL tear prematurely ended his sophomore campaign. Like Nick Bosa, he's got the physical and technical pedigree to be a top-10 edge presence for years. 13. Bears LB Roquan Smith (25) Maybe it's the Bears' recent struggles that have hidden his elite impact at the heart of Chicago's "D," but Smith deserves even more recognition than a pair of All-Pro nods. He's always been a heat-seeking tackling machine, but the last two years, he's emerged even more as a presence in opposing backfields, totaling 30 tackles for loss since 2020. 12. Eagles WR A.J. Brown (25) He's the biggest reason the Eagles are actually a good bet to make an NFC East title run now. As long as he and the team monitor his usage, he should be a perfectly imposing No. 1 for Jalen Hurts. The man is big, plays big and, best of all, also plays fast. 11. Seahawks WR DK Metcalf (24) DK Metcalf USATSI He's just the more physically freakish version of Brown, his fellow 2019 second-rounder. That's simplifying, of course, but what Metcalf lacks in steady eye-popping numbers he makes up for with raw dominance on jump-ball opportunities. He's a speed demon with a linebacker's size, guaranteed to offer big plays as both a deep and red-zone target. 10. Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (23) Yes, running backs are more interchangeable than most positions, but in Taylor's case, the Colts' offense quite literally runs through him. Not just because they force-feed him, but because he does a ton with the ball in his hands. In two years, he's racked up 3,639 yards from scrimmage, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, while scoring 32 touchdowns. 9. Packers CB Jaire Alexander (25) Even after missing most of 2021 due to injury, he remains one of the top young cover men in the game. A few more takeaways would elevate him to perennial All-Pro, but he brings an unfazed aggression and physicality to one-on-ones. 8. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (25) Murray's a bit of a difficult code to crack. On one hand, he's ended all three NFL seasons either hurt or in a slump, has overseen a combined Cardinals record of 22-23-1 and is all but demanding a new deal before a single promising playoff game in Arizona. On the other, he's easily a top-10 dual threat when at the height of his game, with a fiery arm and unending elusiveness. Odds are, whether in Arizona or elsewhere, his talent will keep him in the big-game conversation for longer than most QBs. 7. Buccaneers OT Tristan Wirfs (23) Redraft the 2020 class, and Wirfs probably isn't making it out of the top five. Sure, he mans the right side rather than the coveted blind-side spot, but few men have had a more direct hand in Tom Brady's Tampa Bay resurgence. A premier title-winning pass-blocker who's still growing, he's exactly the type of lineman you plug into your lineup expecting 10-plus years of Pro Bowl protection. 6. Bengals WR Ja'Marr Chase (22) Ja'Marr Chase USATSI A walking -- no, sprinting -- highlight reel, Chase couldn't have had a more promising debut, teaming up with old LSU buddy Joe Burrow to give the Bengals the most dangerous QB-WR pairing this side of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams (now defunct). Just get the ball in his hands. That's the game plan with Chase, who averaged 18 yards per catch as a big-play machine. 5. Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (23) He laid the groundwork for Chase to exit LSU and enter the NFL as an instant home run threat. The lanky No. 1 is on a Randy Moss pace in Minnesota, serving as a constant outlet for Kirk Cousins and single-handedly spreading out the Vikings' offense. His team couldn't have found a better Stefon Diggs successor, adding both swagger and electricity in Jefferson. 4. 49ers DE Nick Bosa (24) No one moves the needle in the trenches for the front-seven-dependent 49ers more than Bosa, who's totaled 24.5 sacks in three years despite missing 14 games (!) in 2020. This is just an old-school defensive end with the strength and speed to overmatch everyone in front of him. With 37 tackles for loss and 58 QB hits in his young career, he's due for a monster deal. 3. Bengals QB Joe Burrow (25) Joe Cool is everything you want in a franchise QB: prototypical size, championship-level poise, and steady mechanics across the board. Advancing all the way to the Super Bowl in year two confirmed him as top-10 material, even in a stacked AFC, and with an improved line, he should feel even freer to spread the ball from the pocket. The only chief concern, if you're looking to nitpick, is his long-term durability, considering he's not a definitively mobile signal-caller and has already had a big knee injury. 2. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (25) If you prefer Burrow here (or higher), we're not gonna fight you over it. Jackson certainly still has to prove himself as a consistent/big-game passer, especially if his future is tied to a run-heavy system in Baltimore or elsewhere. But there's just no way most teams wouldn't love to inject his pure, MVP-level electricity into their lineup. With an underrated arm and lightning-fast speed, he can never be counted out, so long as he's healthy. 1. Chargers QB Justin Herbert (24) Justin Herbert USATSI The crown jewel of a loaded crop of ascending AFC QBs, Herbert is the first player in NFL history to throw 30-plus TDs in each of his first two seasons. And he's made it look incredibly easy. Funny enough, he hasn't yet made the playoffs like Burrow or Jackson or even Murray. But he throws the ball better than all but maybe ... Rodgers? Brady? If this is his starting point, imagine what his peak could be. L.A. fans should be very grateful to have such a big, joyful, laser-armed face of the franchise. *** Honorable mention Jaguars RB James Robinson (23), Raiders RB Josh Jacobs (24), Commanders RB Antonio Gibson (24), Eagles RB Miles Sanders (25), Giants RB Saquon Barkley (25), Eagles WR DeVonta Smith (23), Bengals WR Tee Higgins (23), Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle (23), Lions TE T.J. Hockenson (25), Falcons TE Kyle Pitts (21), Jets OT Mekhi Becton (23), Browns OT Jedrick Wills Jr. (23), Bengals OT Jonah Williams (25), Chiefs C Creed Humphrey (23), Panthers DT Derrick Brown (24), Jets DT Quinnen Williams (24), Raiders DE Maxx Crosby (25), Packers OLB Rashan Gary (24), Jaguars OLB Josh Allen (25), Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds (24), Chiefs LB Nick Bolton (22), Broncos CB Patrick Surtain II (22), Falcons CB A.J. Terrell (23), Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs (23), Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield Jr. (23), Dolphins S Jevon Holland (22), Bengals K Evan McPherson (23) Maybe next year Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (22), Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (24), Patriots QB Mac Jones (24), 49ers QB Trey Lance (22), Jets QB Zach Wilson (23), Rams RB Cam Akers (23), Lions RB D'Andre Swift (23), Steelers RB Najee Harris (24), Broncos RB Javonte Williams (22), Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy (23), 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk (24), Steelers WR Chase Claypool (24), Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (22), Bills WR Gabriel Davis (23), Bears WR Darnell Mooney (24), Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth (23), Seahawks TE Noah Fant (24), Lions OT Penei Sewell (21), Colts DE Kwity Paye (23), Dolphins OLB Jaelan Phillips (23), Giants OLB Azeez Ojulari (22), Ravens OLB Odafe Oweh (23), Panthers CB Jaycee Horn (22) Just too old Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (26), Bills QB Josh Allen (26), Browns RB Nick Chubb (26), Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (26), Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (26), 49ers WR Deebo Samuel (26), Commanders WR Terry McLaurin (26), Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki (26), Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz (26), Colts OG Quenton Nelson (26), Packers OL Elgton Jenkins (26), Chiefs OT Orlando Brown Jr. (26), Browns DE Myles Garrett (26), Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins (26), Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (26), Ravens S Marcus Williams (26), Chargers S Derwin James (26) https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/top-25-nfl-players-25-and-under-justin-herbert-headlines-2022-stars-four-qbs-seven-wrs-make-the-list/
  10. Eagles' Shane Steichen takes over full-time play-calling duties under Nick Sirianni for 2022 Steichen split play-calling duties with Sirianni for much of 2021 By Cody Benjamin The Eagles will have a new play-caller to go along with their new toys in 2022. Well, sort of. A year after serving as coach Nick Sirianni's right-hand man, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen will take over full-time play-calling duties starting this season, he told reporters Thursday. Sirianni suggested late in 2021 that he and Steichen had shared the responsibility for much of their first season in Philadelphia, but Steichen clarified this week that he became the primary play-caller about midway through last season. That timeline is a notable one, considering the Eagles experienced much of their 2021 offensive success down the stretch. After opening the year rather pass-heavy, with young quarterback Jalen Hurts struggling to consistently win through the air, Philadelphia became one of the NFL's top rushing teams during its run to the playoffs, with Hurts and Co. leaning mostly on the ground. Sirianni has since attributed the team's late turnaround to Steichen's influence on play calls, among other things. Now, Steichen will call all the plays. Sirianni, who previously worked as the Colts' offensive coordinator, still has a hand in developing the game plan and overseeing Steichen's calls, but the latter will be in charge of the down-by-down decisions. It remains to be seen whether the Eagles' offense will look drastically different from its late-2021 run, even with Steichen assuming full responsibilities. The team's blockbuster addition of former Titans receiver A.J. Brown this offseason suggests the club is interested in expanding its passing game, which also features DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. Hurts, meanwhile, has thrived as a runner but is more likely to secure the long-term QB1 job by proving his development as a passer. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-shane-steichen-takes-over-full-time-play-calling-duties-under-nick-sirianni-for-2022/
  11. Eagles surging as projected NFC East, playoff contenders after James Bradberry becomes latest 2022 addition The computers like them some Birds By Cody Benjamin May 18, 2022 USA Today Images Days after his release from the Giants, Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry has landed with the rival Eagles, signing a $10 million deal Wednesday to pair with Darius Slay in Philadelphia. He's also helped boost projections for the team's 2022 season. Caesars Sportsbook has the Eagles' current Over/Under set at nine wins, but SportsLine's latest simulations are even more optimistic in the wake of Bradberry joining Philly's new-look lineup. Since March 1, when SportsLine had the Eagles pegged as roughly a .500 team, the team has added a projected 1.5 wins and nearly doubled its chances of winning the NFC East and conference, while more than doubling its Super Bowl chances. Here's a look at their simulation totals at the start of the offseason up to now, with Bradberry and others in the fold: WINS DIVISION TITLE PLAYOFFS NFC TITLE CHAMPIONSHIP March 1 8.5 22.5% 45.8% 3.9% 1.5% Current forecast 10.0 41.9% 68.9% 7.6% 3.4% Difference +1.5 +19.4% +23.1% +3.7% +1.9% Bradberry, of course, is but one of several key influences to the Eagles' 2022 outlook. Here are some of the team's most notable additions, Bradberry included, since finishing 9-8 under first-year coach Nick Sirianni in 2021: WR A.J. Brown (trade with Titans) DE/LB Haason Reddick (free agency) DT Jordan Davis (draft) LB Kyzir White (free agency) LB Nakobe Dean (draft) CB James Bradberry (free agency) CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr is buying into the hype, projecting a 12-win finish for Sirianni, Jalen Hurts and Co. in 2022. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-surging-as-projected-nfc-east-playoff-contenders-after-james-bradberry-becomes-latest-2022-addition/
  12. Eagles sign James Bradberry: Giants' dead cap hit larger than what Philadelphia paid to ink CB The Giants are still in the midst of their rebuild with the dead cap hit from Bradberry By Jeff Kerr Getty images The New York Giants are taking steps toward rebuilding their roster, making tough salary cap decisions along the way. James Bradberry was a victim of the salary cap, as the Giants had to release him in order to sign their draft picks and create much needed salary cap space. New York released Bradberry earlier this month, as the former Pro Bowl cornerback had a cap number of $21,863,889 remaining with the team. The Giants saved $10,136,111 in salary cap space with the move, but unfortunately had to witness Bradberry sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. Bradberry agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with the Eagles -- as the Giants will pay more in dead cap space from Bradberry's contract than what he'll make in Philadelphia. New York is paying $11,727,778 in dead cap as a result of the Bradberry contract, part of the immense rebuild the Giants are going through after the Dave Gettleman tenure. Bradberry has 82 career passes defended and has led his team in all six of his NFL seasons. Him and Darius Slay -- who are now teammates in Philadelphia -- are the only cornerbacks with 80 passes defended since Bradberry's rookie season (2016). The Giants had to part ways with key veterans in the secondary this offseason. Along with Bradberry, Logan Ryan was a cap casualty -- as New York is paying $12,650,000 in dead cap as a result of his release. Instead of having Bradberry and Ryan, the Giants are going with a secondary of Aaron Robinson, Adoree' Jackson, Xavier McKinney, and Julian Love. The franchise is still rebuilding as a result of the contracts Gettleman handed out over the last several years. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-sign-james-bradberry-giants-dead-cap-hit-larger-than-what-philadelphia-paid-to-ink-cb/
  13. Howie Roseman addresses Eagles' needs in secondary after NFL Draft: 'We just have to keep working' Roseman says the Eagles won't stop trying to improve holes on the roster By Jeff Kerr Getty Images The Philadelphia Eagles made gigantic steps this offseason in emerging as a serious contender for the NFC East title. General manager Howie Roseman used his draft capital to acquire A.J. Brown, while selecting Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean in the same draft last month -- filling plenty of positions that needed improvement on the roster. While the Eagles improved their team, they still have some holes on the roster that need to be filled. Philadelphia needs some work in the secondary, an issue Roseman plans to address this offseason if the front office can make it work. "We're always going to come out of a draft with some positions where people are going to go, 'I wish they were a little better here,'" Roseman said on JAKIB Media's Sports Take Wednesday. "The world championship team this year will have some issues right now. "We just have to keep working. We're in a better spot than we were. We took a down year, an embarrassing year a few years ago, and we'll keep building. We're trying to get back into a position where we have that kind of fun again." Philadelphia has Darius Slay at one of the outside cornerback spots and Avonte Maddox in the slot. The cornerback spot opposite slay remains open with Steven Nelson's departure to the Houston Texans. The Eagles have internal candidates in Zech McPhearson, Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent Jr., and undrafted free agents Mario Goodrich and Josh Jobe competing for the spot. James Bradberry, Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, Kevin King, Joe Haden, and Kyle Fuller are the top options available on the open market. The Eagles resigned Anthony Harris at safety and Marcus Epps is the favorite to start opposite him. K'Von Wallace is a candidate for one of the starting jobs while Andre Chachere will also provide depth at the position. The free agent market for safeties isn't as deep, with Landon Collins and Jaquiski Tartt as the top options available. There's some work that needs to be done in the secondary. As Roseman reminded everyone, the Eagles traded for Ronald Darby in August of the Super Bowl year (2017) -- so there's time to find a player who's available. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/howie-roseman-addresses-eagles-needs-in-secondary-after-nfl-draft-we-just-have-to-keep-working/
  14. Eagles 2022 NFL schedule: Week-by-week matchups, dates, times, TV channel, previews Assessing the teams set to square off with Philadelphia this year By Jeff Kerr USATSI The Philadelphia Eagles have entered the 2022 season with increased expectations, thanks to a surprising playoff appearance few saw coming. Led by the the league's No. 1 rush offense and the emergence of Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterback, Philadelphia finished with a 9-8 record and qualified for a playoff berth in a challenging NFC. For a team in a transition year, the results were much better than expected. The Eagles decided to use their draft capital and make a run at the NFC East title, acquiring A.J. Brown to be the No. 1 wide receiver -- and then signing him to a contract extension. Hurts has a wide receiver cast of Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins -- all under 25 years old. The Eagles also have Dallas Goedert at tight end and Miles Sanders at running back, creating one of the youngest skill position units in the NFL. Philadelphia added edge rusher/linebacker Haason Reddick on defense to improve the pass rush, along with selecting defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean in the 2022 NFL Draft to improve the front seven. The Eagles are expected to have one of the top offensive and defensive line combinations in football this year. Philadelphia is expected to contend for a playoff spot again as Hurts takes the next step to prove he's the franchise quarterback for the organization. An exciting schedule with primetime matchups will only add to the intrigue for the Eagles in 2022. Below, find a complete look at the teams set to square off with the Eagles this year, as well as a rundown of their 18-week regular-season schedule (once announced). 2022 opponents Cowboys (home, away): The Eagles-Cowboys matchups always seem destined for prime time, and 2022 should be no different as they'll be Dallas' biggest contender for the NFC East crown. Philadelphia will have to get past a three-game losing streak against Dallas, as Hurts is 0-2 in his two starts against the Cowboys. Commanders (home, away): Carson Wentz will make his return to Philadelphia for the first time, as the Eagles will play their former franchise quarterback twice with the Commanders. This matchup will be appointment viewing in Philadelphia, especially since the Eagles are 8-2 in their last 10 meetings with the Commanders. Giants (home, away): Philadelphia will continue its I-95 rivalry with New York, seeing the Giants for the first time with Brian Daboll as head coach. The Eagles are 13-3 in their last 16 games against the Giants, splitting the season series last year. Packers (home): The Eagles will get to see Aaron Rodgers come to Philadelphia for the first time since 2016 in a matchup against the NFC contenders. Philadelphia is 1-5 against Rodgers all-time. Vikings (home): The Eagles' home opener will be against the Vikings, who return to Philadelphia for the first time since 2018. Philadelphia last beat Minnesota in the 2017 NFC Championship Game and hasn't defeated Kirk Cousins since he signed with the Vikings. Saints (home): Another year the Saints come to Philadelphia to face the Eagles, the third consecutive year the teams will face off at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have won both those matchups, but are expected to see Jameis Winston at quarterback this time around. Jaguars (home): Doug Pederson, the only coach in franchise history to win a Super Bowl, returns to face his former team for the first time. The Eagles have a statue of Pederson in the stadium, so there will be loud ovation for this one. The Eagles haven't lost to the Jaguars since 2006. Titans (home): Facing the AFC South champions will be a tough task for the Eagles, but A.J. Brown will be seeking vengeance against his former team in the process. The Eagles are 1-5 in their last six games against the Titans. Steelers (home): For the first time since the 2020 season, the Eagles and Steelers will face off in the battle for the Keystone State. Pittsburgh hasn't beaten the Eagles in Philadelphia since 1965, as the Eagles have won nine straight. Bears (away): The Eagles will head to Soldier Field for the first time since the "Double Doink" playoff win in 2019, but a lot has changed for both franchises since then. They'll see Justin Fields for the first time to start. The Eagles have won five straight against the Bears and haven't lost in Chicago since 2010. Lions (away): This will be the second consecutive season the Eagles head to Detroit, snapping a three-game losing streak against the Lions last year. Philadelphia is 3-2 all-time at Ford Field. Cardinals (away): Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray put on some fireworks the first time they met in 2020, so this rematch in the desert will be a fun one on the schedule. The Eagles haven't won in Arizona since 2001, and never won a game in State Farm Stadium. Colts (away): This was the highly anticipated rematch with Carson Wentz, but the Colts moved him to Washington. Instead, Philadelphia will face Matt Ryan in the team's first visit to Lucas Oil Stadium since 2014. The Eagles haven't lost to the Colts since 2006. Texans (away): Philadelphia has never lost a game in Houston, going 2-0 in their appearances at NRG Stadium. The Eagles are 5-0 all-time against the Texans. Full 2022 schedule WEEK OPPONENT DATE TIME (ET) TV 1 at Lions Sept. 11 1 p.m. Fox 2 vs. Vikings Sept. 19 (Monday) 8:30 p.m. ABC 3 at Commanders Sept. 25 1 p.m. Fox 4 vs. Jaguars Oct. 2 1 p.m. CBS 5 at Cardinals Oct. 9 4:25 p.m. Fox 6 vs. Cowboys Oct. 16 8:20 p.m. NBC 7 BYE 8 vs. Steelers Oct. 30 1 p.m. CBS 9 at Texans Nov. 3 (Thursday) 8:20 p.m. Amazon 10 vs. Commanders Nov. 14 (Monday) 8:15 p.m. ESPN 11 at Colts Nov. 20 1 p.m. CBS 12 vs. Packers Nov. 27 8:20 p.m. NBC 13 vs. Titans Dec. 4 1 p.m. Fox 14 at Giants Dec. 11 1 p.m. Fox 15 at Bears Dec. 18 1 p.m. Fox 16 at Cowboys Dec. 24 (Saturday) 4:25 p.m. Fox 17 Saints Jan. 1 1 p.m. Fox 18 vs. Giants Jan. 7 or 8 TBD TBD https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-2022-nfl-schedule-week-by-week-matchups-dates-times-tv-channel-previews/
  15. Ten bold NFL predictions for 2022 season: Russell Wilson wins MVP, Aaron Rodgers calls it a career and more Jason La Canfora also predicts the Eagles will be in the NFC title game, but the Pats are in trouble By Jason La Canfora May 7, 2022 USATSI Who doesn't love fearless predictions? Especially in the dog days of May, with the draft now a week ago and real football still months away? The prime free agents are already signed. We've seen more blockbuster deals than anyone could have anticipated. Rosters are well taking shape. We can start to think we know things about the 2022 season, right? Certainly, more information will be available next week when the schedules are revealed. It tends to be a significant factor, as it's not just who you play, but when you play them. But for these purposes I don't believe it would sway much. There are some things I am starting to believe – or talk myself into – and some hunches I am willing to play, and what better time than now to share them (and open myself up for ridicule and derision I the process!). So after much deliberation and consternation, I am willing to put these 10 bold predictions into the universe. Feel free to throw them back at me: 1. Russell Wilson, 2022 MVP I am Team Russ. Always have been. Always will be. Dudes like this don't get dealt in their prime. And make no mistake, he is still very much in his prime. This is the best cast he has had around him in a long time. This is a coach who is going to be the opposite of Pete Carroll and will be skewing everything possible in favor of the passing game. It's go time. They have speed. They have big targets. They will have a scheme that has worked wonderfully well in Green Bay and with the L.A. Rams, among others. I see Denver as being a very real factor in a loaded AFC, and Russ is going to get his cookies. 2. David Ojabo will have a monster season … in 2023 I love the Ravens' selection of the Michigan pass rusher in Round 2 as much as any pick in this draft. He is a top 10 talent and he has natural pass rush instincts and moves and a ceiling as high as any pass rusher in this draft, including the top two picks. He will be an instant fit in Baltimore's evolving scheme under new coordinator Mike Macdonald. He is going to be the first impact pass rusher the Ravens have developed and cultivated since Terrell Suggs. But it ain't gonna be this year. At least I figure it won't be. After his horrible pre-draft injury, and given the Ravens' massive injury woes in recent years and multiple issues with players returning from surgery, a redshirt year and a monster season a year from now makes sense to me. 3. Aaron Rodgers will retire after the season Green Bay won't be the same this season. He keeps losing more and more of his guys. Davante Adams is gone and his offensive line might be standing to look much different in 2023. Yes, walking away from another $60M guaranteed in 2023 sounds crazy to most of us. But I anticipate some real regression from this group and they will be in decline and this cat does his own thing and revels in it. Would it really be out of character to put the Packers through all this drama the last two offseasons just to hang it up in the middle of a new extension? And wouldn't it be even more quintessential Rodgers if he did it after … 4. Packers will trade Jordan Love Someone will get desperate. This kid is going to want to play. He should get a chance to play. Sitting three years is ridiculous and someone is going to need a QB at some point due to injury, even if Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield are dealt. 5. Lamar Jackson will be on a franchise tag by this time next year An extension has proven to be elusive and the QB market is going to keep changing dramatically once Wilson gets his new deal (and probably Kyler Murray, too). Jackson will be okay with playing things out unless the Ravens drastically alter the scope of what they are willing to do. Neither side will press the issue in the short term. A tag will seem inevitable. And once it comes it will only drive the price up more and will only further complicate the ability to get something done long-term unless someone blinks. 6. Deshaun Watson will play fewer than eight games No one knows exactly what the NFL will decide here. But I can't imagine any decision coming until right before the season and I don't think the NFL will be worried about looking too stringent. They seemed perfectly fine with Watson in the shadows all of last season and won't be worried about it this year, either, especially after how the Browns reworked the QB's contract to minimize the financial hit of a suspension. Better to appear to be taking these allegations very seriously than not seriously enough, he got a full salary not to play last year and won't lose much no matter how longer he is suspended this year. Thus the only way to signal intent is with the length of the penalty. I expect it to be considerable. 7. Browns will eat $12M of Baker Mayfield's contract They have no real choice if they want to get anything for him. This will only get more messy and more ugly the longer it goes. They have to bite the bullet and they will eventually bite the bullet. Have done it before and will do it again and this is a case of addition by subtraction. They'll have enough drama with Watson. Can't have it from the No. 3 QB, too. 8. The Lions will not be a last place team Low bar to clear but they are finally ready to clear it. I love their draft, as is well documented at this point. I hated the Bears draft and, well, basically their entire offseason. Justin Fields is gonna get clobbered. Detroit is actually going to get better. They will play a weak schedule. They are poised to make gains. 9. The Eagles will be in the NFC title game I was big on them a year ago and telling you guys in October that they will surprise people. They made the playoffs. They are ascending and have had a great offseason. The rest of the conference is largely in regression. I think Jalen Hurts has some 'it' factor to him. They will have more bite on defense and can play keep-away on offense. 10. The Patriots are in trouble Mac Jones losing Josh McDaniels (and now having a mystery coordinator) and this franchise adding next to nothing a year after spending big won't fare well. A front seven that fell apart down the stretch a year ago doesn't look much better to me. The Dolphins and Jets won't be easy to walk all over next season. A sophomore slump or two would be damning. I have my reservations. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/ten-bold-nfl-predictions-for-2022-season-russell-wilson-wins-mvp-aaron-rodgers-calls-it-a-career-and-more/
  16. A.J. Brown says Jalen Hurts played a huge role in his trade to Eagles: I will 'go to bat for him every Sunday' The ex-Titans star insists the Eagles QB helped finalize his move to Philly By Cody Benjamin Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports All indications are that one thing in particular really propelled star wide receiver A.J. Brown from the Titans to the Eagles: money. Failed negotiations for a long-term contract reportedly prompted Tennessee to ship the Pro Bowler to Philadelphia during the 2022 draft, and the Eagles quickly inked their new wideout to a $100 million extension. But something -- no, someone -- else made the relocation just as alluring to Brown: quarterback Jalen Hurts. At least half of the questions at Brown's introductory press conference Monday centered on Hurts, with the former explaining that a longtime friendship with the third-year QB helped drive and finalize his move to Philly. "It started -- he was recruiting me to Alabama, and I chose Ole Miss," Brown said, "but we stayed in contact this entire time. We became really close friends. I'm extremely excited to play with him. We always joked about it, but we never thought it would be reality ... He made it a lot easier to make the decision, just because I know he has my back, and I have his." Hurts recently attended his daughter's birthday party, Brown said, where they imagined an NFL future together. "Every time we get together, we always get a throwing session in," he said. "Every time ... In the middle of the throwing session, Jalen said he (was) gonna ask them to trade for me. (But) we had no idea this would happen." Hurts, as it turns out, "was kinda putting a bug in their ear," Brown suggested, echoing recent comments from Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, who noted that Brown's connection with Hurts was an added bonus to acquiring the No. 1 receiver. The QB wasn't the only reason Brown sought a move out of Tennessee, which he acknowledged several times was a bittersweet decision. Brown "wanted (his) work to be appreciated" as "one of the top guys in the league," for example, and the Eagles showed clearly, in their actions and pocketbooks, they "believed in me." Yet he's confident his connection with Hurts will make the new partnership especially fruitful on the field. "We already have that friendship, so we can hold each other accountable," he said. "We know what makes each other tick ... I see a guy who is talented, believes in himself, has a strong arm, he's on time. I think the sky's the limit for him, and I'm gonna go to bat for him every Sunday. Because he's my friend. It's a different mentality you bring when you're playing for somebody that's important to you. It's not about yourself (anymore), it's about you playing for someone else. So I'm gonna go above and beyond for this team and for him." https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/a-j-brown-says-jalen-hurts-played-a-huge-role-in-his-trade-to-eagles-i-will-go-to-bat-for-him-every-sunday/
  17. 2022 NFL Draft winners and losers: Jets, Ravens, Eagles get top hauls, bumpy road for Patriots, Baker Mayfield Here are our winners and losers from all seven rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft By Jordan Dajani Anne-Marie Caruso/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK The 2022 NFL Draft has come to a close, and it was one for the books. Las Vegas saw NFL draft records broken, multiple star wide receivers traded in the first round and quarterbacks suffer historic falls into the third round. There were also punters being drafted as soon as the fourth round! There were winners and losers. Some front offices are celebrating their draft hauls while other players are now more nervous about their place on the depth chart thanks to their team's dealings this weekend. There's plenty to discuss, so let's break down our winners and losers from the 2022 NFL Draft (check out our tracker of every single pick along with grades and analysis here). Winner: New York Jets General manager Joe Douglas crushed this draft. The Jets landed cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner at No. 4 overall, and then Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson at No. 10. They were seen by many as the top players at their respective positions, and both will be immediate-impact guys. The Jets weren't done there, however, as they traded back into the first round to select Florida State pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson. This was a player mock draft experts had in the top 10, and some in the top five. As he continued his mysterious fall down draft boards, the Jets couldn't help but squeeze in at the end of the round to pick him up. New York scored what may be three top 10 players on Day 1! The Jets also made a couple of other intriguing picks. They took former Iowa State running back Breece Hall in the second round, who may be the No. 1 back in this class, and then Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert in the third round, who is considered by some to be the top tight end in this draft class. Loser: The rookie quarterbacks Most mock drafts had at least two quarterbacks being selected in the first round. When Thursday night came, however, we saw just one quarterback selected in the opening round with Kenny Pickett to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20 overall. The next quarterback didn't come until the third round at No. 74 overall, as Desmond Ridder went to the Atlanta Falcons. A dozen picks later, Malik Willis went to the Tennessee Titans, and then Matt Corral was picked by the Carolina Panthers. To put all of this in perspective, there was only one quarterback taken in the first 50 picks. This is just the sixth time in the common draft era that has happened, and the first time since 2000. There were 54 picks made since the first quarterback was selected, which makes it the second most picks between the first two quarterbacks being selected. The record was set in 1975, when 63 picks elapsed from first to second signal-caller. In all, nine quarterbacks were selected, with five coming on Day 3. Winner: The University of Georgia The year of the Dawg. Georgia won the College Football Championship this past season thanks to one of the best defenses in college football history, and they were well represented in the NFL draft. UGA had five defensive players drafted in the first round -- including No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker -- which is the most by a single school in NFL history. Two more defenders were drafted in the third round, which set another record with the most defensive players selected from a single school in the first three rounds of any NFL draft. In all, 15 players from Georgia were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. That is also an NFL draft record. Loser: Baker Mayfield It was thought maybe Mayfield could be moved during the NFL draft depending on which quarterback-needy teams missed out on prospects. The perceived favorite to land Mayfield was the Panthers, as NFL Media reported that they and the Cleveland Browns had continued to discuss a potential swap. Instead of trading for Mayfield, the Panthers traded up into the third round and selected former Ole Miss signal-caller Matt Corral with the No. 94 overall pick. Mayfield has been waiting for a trade for over a month, as the Browns won the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes earlier this offseason. Mayfield is due $18.85 million in 2022, and the Browns have probably realized by now that they will have to eat some of that money. Then, there's also the compensation question. Who is going to want Mayfield? Maybe the Detroit Lions? Winner: Philadelphia Eagles The Eagles were a huge winner in the 2022 NFL Draft. On opening night, they traded for Titans star wideout A.J. Brown, and gave him a four-year, $100 million deal that includes $57 million guaranteed, per ESPN. The Eagles were a team expected to be in the mix for a wide receiver in the first round, but after trading for Brown, Howie Roseman turned his attention to the defense, drafting 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive tackle Jordan Davis out of Georgia. Running the football against him and Fletcher Cox is going to be nearly impossible. Philly wasn't done there. In the second round it stole Nebraska offensive lineman Cam Jurgens, who figures to be Jason Kelce's successor at some point. Then, the Eagles recorded what may be the steal of the draft in Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. The first-round talent fell to No. 83 overall due to reports of a pectoral strain that some thought may require surgery. However, he's expected to be a full participant in OTAs next week! Every year, there are talented prospects who fall for what are truly stupid reasons. There's a great chance teams will be kicking themselves for passing on Dean multiple times. Loser: Ryan Tannehill It was a rough weekend for Tannehill. Not only did he lose his No. 1 wide receiver in A.J. Brown, but Tennessee then drafted his potential replacement in Malik Willis. The Liberty signal-caller was selected by the Titans with the No. 86 overall pick, much to the joy of Titans fans. Not only is Willis seen as the quarterback in this class with the most upside, but Tannehill is not exactly a fan favorite in Nashville right now. He threw three interceptions in the Titans' playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, undercutting a historic performance from the Titans' defense. Tannehill is now under some pressure, which hopefully is a good thing moving forward for Tennessee. Winner: Baltimore Ravens The Ravens clearly had one of the best drafts, and it's because they took the best available player more often than not. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton may be the best player in the draft, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum is a legitimate first-round talent and David Ojabo is a first-rounder if he doesn't suffer a torn Achilles. Maybe he will miss his rookie season, but it's worth it if he's a star for many years to come. It wasn't just the first few picks that the Ravens scored highly on. Fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele is a 6-foot-8 offensive tackle who could have a bright future in the league, cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis was an "A+" pick and then Baltimore took two tight ends in Charlie Kolar from Iowa State and Isaiah Likely from Coastal Carolina. That sounds like a weird strategy, but Likely is a versatile pass-catcher who probably will line up in several different spots. I don't think the Ravens had the No. 1 draft of any team, but it certainly was one of the best. Loser: New England Patriots The Patriots don't give a damn about your mock drafts or what you think of their class, which is somewhat respectable. They shocked the world in the first round by taking Chattanooga offensive guard Cole Strange with the No. 29 overall pick. In the second round, New England selected Baylor speedster WR Tyquan Thornton -- which was probably the Pats' best pick of the draft, but it's thought he could have been taken in the third round instead. Another interesting pick was that of quarterback Bailey Zappe. There's nothing wrong with drafting a quarterback, and Zappe is a very interesting prospect, but drafting him in the fourth round just seemed rich. Winner: Kansas City Chiefs The offseason overall has been disappointing for the Chiefs, as they traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins and watched all of their rivals improve in pretty dramatic fashion. However, they had one of the best drafts. Kansas City filled two obvious needs in the first round with cornerback Trent McDuffie out of Washington and Purdue pass-rusher George Karlaftis, and then landed Patrick Mahomes' newest receiver in Skyy Moore out of Western Michigan in Round 2. While he's not a hair over 5-foot-10, Moore's incredibly quick and a legitimate playmaker from the slot. Some viewed him as a legitimate first-round talent. All five of the Chiefs' Day 3 picks received a grade of B or higher from CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Chris Trapasso. Kansas City landed two more big cornerbacks in Joshua Williams from Fayetteville State and Jaylen Watson from Washington State, as well as Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, who has plenty of upside. To finish out the draft, the Chiefs drafted running back Isaih Pacheco from Rutgers, and another safety in Nazeeh Johnson from Marshall. The Chiefs' class will be headlined by the first three picks, but they did a great job hammering the defense -- especially the secondary. This was a great haul. Winner: Punters A total of four punters were taken in the 2022 NFL Draft! Per CBS Sports' John Breech, this year marks just the second time since 2000 that four punters were selected in the same draft. Ravens (Round 4, pick 130): Jordan Stout, Penn State Buccaneers (Round 4, pick 133): Jake Camarda, Georgia Bills (Round 6, pick 180): Matt Araiza, San Diego State Bears (Round 7, pick 255): Trenton Gill, N.C. State Shockingly, Araiza -- known as the 'Punt God' -- wasn't even one of the first two off the board. Winner: Minnesota Vikings pick presenter This was probably the best moment of the NFL Draft. When we get past the first round, various team legends, current players and fans get the opportunity to announce some of the picks. For the Vikings, former running back Ed Marinaro was selected to announce the No. 42 overall pick. What happened next was amazing. Marinaro began rambling at the podium, and a producer actually had to walk out and push him along. Incredible. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/2022-nfl-draft-winners-and-losers-jets-ravens-eagles-get-top-hauls-bumpy-road-for-patriots-baker-mayfield/
  18. Eagles select Grant Calcaterra at No. 198: Scouting report, three things to know about SMU tight end Everything you need to know about Grant Calcaterra By Jeff Kerr USA Today Images The Philadelphia Eagles used their final draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to select SMU tight end Grant Calcaterra at No. 198 overall in the sixth round. Calcaterra caught 38 passes for 465 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season for the Mustangs. Calcaterra will compete for one of the tight end spots on the Eagles roster with Jack Stoll and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (converted from wide receiver). Tyree Jackson's recovery from injury will play a role in Calcaterra's roster chances. Here's a scouting report and three things to know on the Eagles' newest tight end: 'F' tight end Calcaterra projectes as a 'F' tight end at the next level, which means he can play slot receiver, fullback, and maybe some wide receiver. He's also a good pass blocker, not having a single blocking penalty last season. Former EMT Calcaterra actually retired from football due to multiple concussions in November of 2019. What did he do with his second career? He took EMT classes and eventually earned his license, working with an ambulance company. Calcaterra had a passion to become a firefighter and went to fire technology school, while also working a construction job. Calcaterra returned to football thanks to being inspired by the 2020 NFL Draft and transferred to SMU. Best friends with an All-Pro TE Calcaterra first played at Oklahoma before transferring to SMU, and his best friend at Oklahoma was Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, who led NFL tight ends in receptions (107) and receiving yards (1,361) -- earning a First Team All-Pro selection. Calcaterra was also close with Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma. Scouting report Strengths Receiving tight end. Decent burst off the ball, and gliding running style is what stands out most about his game. Runs sharp routes and plants and drives back to the football on comebacks. Good hands. Just enough speed to stretch it vertically. One-trick pony type, but his specialty is, of course, how TEs are being used in today's NFL. Weaknesses Not very advanced or effective as a blocker. Has the athleticism to be adequate blocking in space, but he has a long way to go. Stiffness appears after the catch, and he's not a contested-catch type. Older prospect who caught passes from Baker Mayfield while at Oklahoma. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-select-grant-calcaterra-at-no-198-scouting-report-three-things-to-know-about-smu-tight-end/
  19. Eagles select Nakobe Dean: Scouting report, three things to know about Philadelphia's newest linebacker Everything you need to know about the Eagles selecting Nakobe Dean By Jeff Kerr Getty Images The Philadelphia Eagles selected Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft at No. 83 overall. Dean, who was projected as a first-round pick, fell amid concerns of the linebacker declining surgery on a severe pectoral strain while working out this offseason. Dean could miss the entire 2022 season, but the risk was worth the reward for the Eagles. He'll be reunited with defensive tackle Jordan Davis in Philadelphia, who the Eagles selected at No. 13 overall. Here is a scouting report and three things to know about Dean: Box linebacker Dean was the definition of a traditional linebacker on defense for Georgia last season, taking 582 snaps in the box for the national champions. His pressure to the quarterback is excellent, generating 31 of them in 2021 -- sixth among linebackers in the nation. He's the extra blitzer needed in Jonathan Gannon's defense. Field general The Bulldogs' defense was arguably the best in the nation in 2021, led by Dean as the leader of the unit. Dubbed the "field general" by Georgia, the Bulldogs led the country in scoring defense (9.5 points per game) and red zone defense (60% of possessions resulted in scores) in the regular season. Georgia was second in total defense (254.4 yards per game) and ranked third nationally in passing yards allowed (172.7 yards per game) and in rushing defense (81.7 yards per game) in the regular season. Dean was the only player in the nation with five sacks (had six sacks), two forced fumbles, and two interceptions in 2021. Georgia allowed just 10.2 points per game (regular season and playoffs), the fifth-best scoring defense since 2000. Dean was the leader of that unit. Smart on and off the field Dean graduated high school with a 4.3 GPA and carried a 3.55 GPA in mechanical engineering at Georgia. The Butkus Award winner (best linebacker in nation) was also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which goes annually to college football's defensive player of the year, but also gives equal weight to personal character. Dean has been described as "selfless' and a culture changer." He'll be a leader on the Eagles' defense. Scouting report Strengths Smart, speedy linebacker who reads plays in a hurry and attacks. Minimal-to-no hesitation to his game. Tremendous blitzer. Bendy and authoritative. Fights through blocks well. Flashes of quick feet and closing speed are elite. Coverage ability is about as close to NFL-ready as you're going to get at linebacker. Can counter negative plays on film with splash plays. The type of three-down playmaking linebacker you want today. Weaknesses Not amazing at beating blocks en route to the ball carrier because he is a tick undersized. Change of direction is typically good. Not amazing. Occasionally will miss a big tackle. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/news/eagles-select-nakobe-dean-scouting-report-three-things-to-know-about-philadelphias-newest-linebacker/
  20. Eagles draft Cam Jurgens at No. 53: Scouting report, three things to know about Philly's newest center Everything you need to know about Cam Jurgens By Jeff Kerr getty images The Philadelphia Eagles selected Nebraska center Cam Jurgens, one of the top interior lineman in the class, with the No. 51 overall pick (Round 2) in the 2022 NFL Draft. Jurgens is set up to eventually take over for Jason Kelce on the Eagles offensive line, when the All-Pro center does indeed retire. Philadelphia adds even more depth to an already deep offensive line. Here are three things to know on Jurgens, the newest Eagles' offensive lineman: Dominant at Nebraska Jurgens allowed just one sack on 1,016 pass-blocking snaps in his college career at Nebraska. He also allowed just four quarterback hits and 29 hurries in that span. Jurgens has played 2,066 snaps in his career at center and is expected to remain there in Philadelphia. Reliable starter Jurgens ended up starting 31 of 32 games in his college career at Nebraska, transitioning to center after being a 245-pound high school tight end. He'll thrive in a zone-based, or run-heavy offense -- the latter which the Eagles run throughout the second half of last season. He'll get to develop and correct his over-aggressiveness under Jeff Stoutland. Natural athlete Jurgens shined basketball court and in the discus and shot put at Beatrice High School in Nebraska, averaging 12.5 points per game in his junior season and claiming the Class B state championship four times in discus and three times in shot put. He also was an all-state honorable mention selection in basketball. Scouting report Strengths Plays with a mean streak and looks to end your existence on each pulling assignment. Former tight end who did not fully make the transition to center until 2019. Strong core that allows him to absorb contact well. Plays with a balanced frame and is quick out of his stance. Athletic center who would seamlessly transition to a wide-zone blocking concept. Weaknesses Gets too erratic and loose at times. Allows defenders on his hip too often as a result of not marrying his hands and feet. Does a good job of making initial contact in space but staying engaged is a chore. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-draft-cam-jurgens-at-no-53-scouting-report-three-things-to-know-about-phillys-newest-center/
  21. Eagles select Jordan Davis: Scouting report, three things to know about Philadelphia's newest DT Everything you need to know about Jordan Davis By Jeff Kerr Steve Limentani/ISI Photos / Contributor The Philadelphia Eagles traded up with the Houston Texans to select Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis at No. 13 overall. Philadelphia moved up from the No. 15 spot (their first of two first-round selections), giving up their first (No. 15), a fourth-round pick (No. 124) and two fifth-round picks (No. 162, No. 166) to Houston for the rights to select Davis. Davis had two sacks and five tackles for loss in 2021 for the national champion Bulldogs, having 32 tackles in 14 games. He also had five quarterback hits and 17 hurries last year. Here are three things to know about the Eagles' newest defensive tackle: Award winner Davis won the Chuck Bednarik Award last season, given to the best defensive player in college football. He also won the Outland Trophy for best interior lineman. An unanimous All-America selection, Davis was a force for the national championship team at Georgia. He's not an excellent pass-rusher, but is dominant against the run -- having an 85.9 run defense grade over the past two seasons. That was the best in the SEC. Davis projects as a nose tackle in the NFL and will slide into the rotation with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Fastest 340+ pound lineman Davis showcased tremendous speed at the NFL combine, running a 4.78 40-yard dash time for a player that weighs 341 pounds. That's the fastest 40 time for a player listed at 340 pounds or more since 2000, beating Dontari Poe's time of 4.89. Davis and Poe are the only two players over 340 pounds to run sub 5.00 second 40 times. Can play offense Davis actually has 12 career snaps on offense in goal-line situations, including one career rushing touchdown. The Eagles could use the Davis in sub-packages on the goal line as an extra blocker, or use his athleticism to provide a change-up for defensives looking to stop the league's No. 1 rushing offense from last year. Scouting report Strengths Classic oversized nose tackle who will make big defensive tackles look small on the field. Absolutely mammoth individual with length that matches his immense girth. Great athlete for his size. Has enough athleticism to get lateral on stretch runs. Block disengaging is, of course, a strength. Supreme pop on contact. Impressive closing speed in space on running backs. High floor, lower ceiling DT. Weaknesses Not someone who'll win many battles with burst or quickness at the NFL level. Only good, not great against double teams because he can get a little high in those scenarios. Average pass-rush move arsenal. but does have a nice arm-over. Conditioning is good for his size, but he's unlikely to be an every-down defensive tackle. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-select-jordan-davis-scouting-report-three-things-to-know-about-philadelphias-newest-dt/
  22. Jalen Hurts throwing to A.J. Brown amidst trade speculation on weekend prior to Eagles offseason workouts Hurts and Brown were working out together this offseason By Jeff Kerr Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK The Philadelphia Eagles have been in the market for a wide receiver this offseason, yet the fruits of their labor have only resulted in Zach Pascal. There are still wide receivers available to be had, especially the players from the 2019 draft seeking lucrative extensions in the reset wide receiver market -- whether its with their team or with another one. Which is where A.J. Brown enters the picture. The Tennessee Titans and Brown appear to be at an impasse in contract negotiations, as Deebo Samuel leaked the Titans won't up their offer of $20 million per year for Brown -- who can get more with the reset wide receiver market. Samuel and Brown are both represented by the same agent (Tory Dandy), so there's more than just words coming out of Samuel's mouth. Days before the Eagles are set to begin offseason workouts, Brown was seen catching passes from Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts this past weekend. Does it mean anything regarding Philadelphia as a potential trade destination for Brown (if he wishes to be traded)? Hurts doesn't typically post a lot on social media, but it's interesting how he would post a workout with Brown. The Tennessee Titans, Brown's current employer, don't appear willing to trade Brown at this point in time. Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson said Friday he doesn't "foresee that happening." Hurts and Brown have also been friends for a number of years. Hurts was at Brown's draft party in 2019 when Brown was selected by the Titans and the Eagles quarterback was present for a birthday party for Brown's daughter this offseason -- which partly explains why the pair were working out together. Brown has 24 touchdown catches since the start of 2019. (DK Metcalf is the only one from his draft class to have more after his first three years.) His 185 catches and 2,995 receiving yards are the second most for a player after three seasons in Titans franchise history. Brown is averaging 16.19 yards per catch since the start of the 2019 season, only trailing Mike Williams (16.78) for the best mark of the NFL (minimum 150 receptions). While Brown does make sense for the Eagles, a team that does need a big-play receiver on the outside, Philadelphia may be a team to watch if the Titans can't reach an extension and try to trade him. The Eagles have two first-round picks in the 2022 draft and five picks in the top 101 as ammunition to facilitate a deal -- should they wish to do one. It helps that Hurts and Brown seem to have a connection already, even if it's just two players working out trying to improve their games. Their workout may be nothing more than that. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/jalen-hurts-throwing-to-a-j-brown-amidst-trade-speculation-on-weekend-prior-to-eagles-offseason-workouts/
  23. NFL insider notes: Factors that fueled Eagles-Saints draft trade, plus optimism for top QB prospects Also, salary cap space isn't a real indicator of intent to win a Super Bowl By Jason La Canfora Apr 6, 2022 at 12:24 pm ET Getty Images The Eagles' sweeping draft-pick swap with the Saints this week wasn't really about next year's supposedly improved quarterback draft class. It was, at its core, about asset reallocation and balance and sustained team building. And it makes total sense. Philadelphia and New Orleans swapped first-round picks for 2022 and, along the way, the Eagles picked up an additional first-round pick in 2023 and a second in 2024. The Eagles have been largely lauded for the trade, and for good reason. Only I wouldn't focus so much on the relative strengths and weaknesses of any potential draft position group as part of the post-trade calculus. After talking to multiple sources with knowledge of each team's thinking, here is what I would posit. For the Eagles, this was about the relative merits of having three swings in the first round of one particular first round, rather than what could be gained by having the latitude to move up and down future draft boards that comes with already having multiple first-round picks in tow. In terms of team building, if you manage to hit on all three first-round picks, then you are staring at potentially three fifth-year options with major pay jumps all coming at once, versus having that spread out over multiple years. "It's really about trying to balance your roster and be in best position to execute a short- and long-term plan," is how one source summed it up. And I totally get it. Furthermore, consider the rare dynamics of this first round. Eight teams control half of the first round, with two picks each. When you look at the teams ahead of the Eagles, the Giants, Jets and Texans control six of the first 13 picks alone. Trying to mock that up and discern the players who will fall to you is difficult under normal circumstances, and bizarre under these ones. Consider how much that dynamic could impact future trades, and the ramifications of what that means as to actual player selection. Could there be more certainty in 2023, with fewer teams having multiple picks? "I would think that was on Howie's (Eagles GM Howie Roseman) mind when he pulled this off," one NFL GM told me. "I have never seen a draft like this before, with so many teams holding multiple first-round picks. Never. Never. Never. This is a new one for all of us. This is unique." As for the Saints, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this is about a quarterback for them, or having enough draft capital to leap ahead of QB-needy division rivals like the Falcons or Panthers. New Orleans can be a tough team to read, but I spoke to multiple GMs who believe this trade is more about going all-in right now (like their trade up for Marcus Davenport a few years back) than it is about finding their QB of the future or beating someone to the punch for that. "The Saints in general play their cards very close to the vest, but I don't think this is about moving up to grab a quarterback," another GM said. "They really like Jameis (Winston) and I think they are looking around at the NFC, and thinking they have as good a shot as anyone, especially if they land two impact players with these picks. It feels more to me like the kind of move they made when Sean (former coach Sean Payton) was there than it does about finding a quarterback for two or three years down the road." Two top-10 QBs? Newsflash: NFL evaluators are largely higher on this class of quarterbacks than the media, and the three teams I spoke with early this week all believe two passers are going in the top 10 picks. At least two. It's been all the rage to tear these kids down, but execs I speak to who aren't in the market to draft a top QB -- and therefore have less to gain or lose by lying about their true feelings about them -- continue to posit that the run on them will start quite early. Possibly, with the Lions at second overall, and surely by the time the Panthers (sixth overall) and Falcons (eighth overall) are on the clock. "You guys (in the media) are harder on these kids than we are (in the scouting community)," one high-ranking exec said. "I don't care what anyone whispers, (Kenny) Pickett and (Malik) Willis are legitimate quarterback prospects. Willis, if it all comes together, could be really special, and Pickett played like a first-round pick last year. If I am doing a mock draft right now, two of them are in the top 10 and four of them are going Thursday night. It's not as bad as some are making it out to be." Follow the money The NFL has fans fooled into following salary-cap numbers like they are a real indicator of intent to win a Super Bowl, and as if that is a telling metric on actual spending. It isn't. Please, please, please, look at actual payroll figures. That's where it's at. And in light of the Bills making yet another huge splash this week, securing top receiver Stefon Diggs to a massive extension with $70M guaranteed, I'd urge all of you to keep track of projected cash committed to the 2022 season as a far greater barometer of an owner's attempt to win a Lombardi Trophy than how much -- or how little -- cap space any team had on paper at any given time (because it's a soft cap and always fungible, anyway). According to Spotrac, as of Wednesday morning, there were 15 teams projected to be above the $208 million salary cap in actual spending (nearly half the league), with some teams far in excess of that number. Here are the top-five cash spends in the NFL, currently, per Spotrac: Browns $252 million Rams $242 million Dolphins $234 million Bills $232 million Saints $232 million Keep in mind, every owner gets roughly $360 million per year just for the rights of their games to be broadcast nationally. Don't fall for the okeydoke. Wanna know if the owner of your team is really going for it or not? Follow the money and keep your eye on the cash spend. Not everyone who spends big is gonna win, but you better be drafting your backside off if you think you are going to win anything of note if you're in the bottom third in spending. More insider notes There are definitely some strong splits of opinion of Oregon edge prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux. Is he really someone who will top 10 sacks regularly? How high is the ceiling? He has not exactly rubbed every team the right way through this process. Still enough talent to keep him in the top 10-12 picks, I suspect, but opinions vary. Despite an Achilles injury suffered at his pro day, Michigan edge prospect David Ojabo remains likely to hear his name called in the first round from what I gather. A strong team picking in the back of that round will want the fifth-year option on him, knowing 2022 will likely be a redshirt rehab year. Too much potential to let fall to Day 2. The veteran pass rush market -- and there is no shortage of them still out there -- seems likely to be seriously impacted by how deep this pass rush group stands to be. Expect a flurry of signings just after the draft among veterans OLB/DEs in early May, among the teams that don't land what they need in the selection process. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-insider-notes-factors-that-fueled-eagles-saints-draft-trade-plus-optimism-for-top-qb-prospects/
  24. Eagles among several teams showing interest in trading for Dolphins WR DeVante Parker is signed through the 2023 season By Tyler Sullivan Mar 24, 2022 at 5:46 pm Wesley Hitt/Getty Images The Miami Dolphins were the latest team to shake the AFC to its core by striking a blockbuster with the Kansas City Chiefs to land wideout Tyreek Hill. Just about 24 hours removed from that deal and it appears as if another trade could be on the horizon. Several teams have shown interest in Dolphins veteran receiver DeVante Parker, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Among those interested clubs, Jackson reports, is the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson does note that it is unclear what the Dolphins plan to do with Parker at the moment. As things stand with the current roster, the 29-year-old is slated to compete for the No. 3 spot on the receiver depth chart with free-agent signee Cedrick Wilson. Of course, Hill and 2021 first-round pick Jaylen Waddle are the top two options at the position. If the team decides to move off of Parker, they could look to get back some draft capital to refill the cupboard after shipping five different picks -- including a 2022 first-rounder -- for Hill. Parker is under contract through the 2023 season with relatively minor cap hits that are around $9 million each year. He's also due a base salary of roughly $5.7 million in both 2022 and 2023. The Louisville product has spent his entire career with Miami to this point after he was selected with the No. 14 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. While he does have a 1,200-yard season on his résumé, he hasn't truly lived up to that first-round billing, averaging about 675 yards a season. Still, he is a productive wideout that should provide a boost to a team that needs some pass-catching help. As it relates to a possible pursuit by the Eagles, the team does have 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith in the fold, but not much after that with Jalen Reagor, Zach Pascal, and Quez Watkins headlining the rest of the unit, so Parker would make some sense in Philly. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/eagles-among-several-teams-showing-interest-in-trading-for-dolphins-wr-devante-parker-per-report/
  25. Fletcher Cox trade rumors: Teams showing interest in acquiring longtime Eagles DT, per report Cox was nearly dealt at last year's trade deadline By Bryan DeArdo Jason Kelce is coming back, but there is some uncertainty as it relates to another longtime Eagles star. The Eagles continue to receive interest from other teams regarding six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cox, who was nearly traded before last year's draft deadline, is entering the final year of his current contract. It would likely take a significant offer for a team to acquire Cox, who at age 31 is showing no signs of slowing down. Last season, Cox recorded 3.5 sacks, 25 tackles (seven for loss), two forced fumbles and a touchdown off of a fumble recovery. A former first-round pick, Cox has recorded 58 career sacks, 78 tackles for loss, 14 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns. The Eagles posses one of the NFL's most productive defensive fronts. Former Steeler Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat earned Pro Bowls last year after each player tallied 7.5 sacks. Defensive end Brandon Graham, a key member of the defense for over a decade, is looking to bounce back in 2022 after missing 15 games last year after tearing his Achilles. On defense, Philadelphia has seven players and four starters who are slated to hit free agency. Specifically, three of the Eagles' four starting defensive backs are expected to test the market when the new league year begins on March 16. There are several talented defensive tackles who are expected to hit free agency. Those players include Brandon Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph, Vernon Butler, and Larry Ogunjobi, among others. But it appears that more than one team is interested in pursuing Cox, who would bring both talent and experience to a defensive unit. https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/fletcher-cox-trade-rumors-teams-showing-interest-in-acquiring-longtime-eagles-dt-per-report/
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