I've given up on the mock drafts, and have vowed to abstain for the next four weeks. The guesswork means nothing. The projections are just hot air. I'm living in a bubble until April 28 arrives.
It's the only way to survive the pre-draft hype, which is ramping up and should reach record peak levels. With the eighth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select ...
Until then, I'm going to do everything I can to sidestep the noise, because that's what it is. And let me say this: I love the draft "experts." I think the pre-draft chatter is absolutely fantastic for those who are into the projections and the various scenarios and the idea of throwing every rumor against the wall and seeing what sticks.
I just prefer to minimize the stress.
The Eagles are performing their due diligence as they travel across the country and back and attend various Pro Days and have private workouts and get to know as much as they can about as many draft candidates as possible. They'll begin their in-house hosting of draft prospects soon and they'll have all-day-and-night meetings as they narrow down the "wish" list for April 28-30. Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman will consider the various reports presented to them by the coaching staff -- each coach writes up reports on the draft-eligible players at their various positions -- and the scouts who have been on the draft trail for the last 11 months.
Most of what you're going to hear in the next four weeks is absolutely nonsense, Trades up, trades down ... how much of it is real and how much is imagined? How much is planted by teams that want to get stories out in the public to carry out an agenda? There are a lot of draftniks out there who need their voices to be heard, fact or fiction.
It's all a really fun time for the fans and, geez, go have a blast. I'll be the guy in the bubble over here trying to drown out the draft decibels. Instead, I'm going to focus on the players who start their offseason conditioning program at the NovaCare Complex on Monday. I will continue talking to the coaching staff to get a feel for what they have in mind for 2016. I'm going to fixate on what the Eagles have on the roster right now, instead of who might be on the team this season.
With that said, there is a lot to discuss ...
- How will the Eagles line up their wide receivers this season? There are a lot of reps to be had between now and September and the depth chart isn't even close to being established. Jordan Matthews is going to have a chance to get some reps outside, but nobody is ignoring the production he's had as a slot receiver. You could very well see him move back and forth as the Eagles try to take advantage of his size. This group is a nice test for new receivers coach Greg Lewis. The Eagles have talent at wide receiver, but the year-to-year production has been a question for Josh Huff and newcomers Rueben Randle and Chris Givens, and Nelson Agholor had a tough rookie season in 2015. Can Lewis smooth out the rough edges and make the receiving corps more productive and consistent?
- A potentially large move for Mychal Kendricks at linebacker this season if the Eagles go with Nigel Bradham on the strong side and Jordan Hicks in the middle. Kendricks played the SAM spot in the team's 4-3 defense in 2012 and then moved inside when the defense went to a 3-4 front in 2013. He potentially will slide over to the weak side this season. Kendricks talks about the transition back to the 4-3 in this week's Eagles Live Podcast, Episode 11. Look for it later this week.
- Speaking of Bradham, here is what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has to say about him: "He's an off-the-ball linebacker that can cover a lot of ground and you can put those guys in a lot of different positions. They're not necessarily just niched as a strongside or weakside player."
- Talked to Schwartz this week about his new additions -- you can hear that interview on the Eagles Live Podcast, Episode 11 as well -- and he kept talking about his players being multi-dimensional, particularly on the back end. "If you're a one-trick pony, offensive coordinators are going to find you pretty quickly," Schwartz said. "If you're a run-only defender, they're going to find a way to put you in coverage. If you're poor in run support, they're going to find a way to put you in run support. You have to be good at a lot of things." With that in mind, I'm really looking forward to seeing how Rodney McLeod teams with Malcolm Jenkins in the deep secondary. McLeod has played cornerback in his past football life and he covers a lot of ground, plays with fearlessness and is an intelligent guy. The comparison that I've heard from Schwartz, and this is from back when Schwartz coached in Tennessee for 10 seasons, including 2001-2008 as defensive coordinator, is Blaine Bishop. Bishop was a four-time Pro Bowl player in Tennessee and an All-Pro once (2000). He played for the Eagles in 2002, but was clearly not as his best in that season, the last of his NFL career. In his prime, Bishop was one of the best safeties in the game.
- Nothing to update with defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and his contract situation. Cox is under contract for the 2016 season and both the Eagles and Cox have said they would like to get a long-term deal done to keep Cox in Philadelphia. This is a situation that demands full attention from both sides. Could be something that really gets going again after the draft.