Kiwak: Garoppolo, Mettenberger scouting reports

Bleeds-Green.com presents another exclusive piece on some of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft:

The following scouting reports are courtesy of Mike Kiwak, sports staff writer for The Penn in Indiana, Pa.

(5) Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: 6-2, 226 pounds

Pros: Lightning quick release, one of the fastest in recent memory. His mechanics may be the best in the class; they’re smooth throughout his body, from his torso to his feet. He possesses an above average arm. He’s generally very accurate and has good field vision. He shows the ability to scan the field and find the open man. Velocity on passes inside 20 yards is impressive. Maintains a great mental pace on the field and sets up very fluidly. He has a natural, smooth delivery. He’s confident but he generally knows his limits. He’s shown improvement throughout his out his college career. Mobile in the pocket and capable of picking up yards with his feet. He spreads the ball around. Has very good ball placement. He has a short memory after making mistakes. He’s level-headed and always under control with a strong leadership presence. He had elite college production.

Cons: Level of competition should be a concern. It’s a very large jump from FCS college teams to NFL squads. Velocity is lacking on certain throws, particularly those outside 20 yards. Small hands can cause problems with fumbles. Decision making could use improvement, specifically while under duress; Improvements with vision tie in with this. Will he be able to adapt to the speed of the NFL? He needs to continue to develop his pocket awareness and internal clock to feel pressure. He holds the ball too long at times and will take unnecessary hits. He drops his eyes when faced with heavy pressure. While generally tame, he still takes unnecessary risks. He’ll need to learn how to drop back from under center.

My Take: Garoppolo is a very interesting prospect. He has a lot of favorable traits, but teams may be scared away due to his small school background. Overall, Garoppolo looks to be the perfect example of a West Coast quarterback, whose best fit is an offense where he can get in a rhythm and make quick decisions with the ball. He will have no problems finding a suitor in the league. With some development, Garappolo could become a quality NFL starter.

Comparison: Ryan Tannehill.

Draft Projection: Late first round/early second round.

Best Fits: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Houston Texans.

 (6) Zach Mettenberger, Louisiana State University: 6-5, 224 pounds

Pros: He has prototypical size. Mettenberger has one of the best arms in the class. He possesses an absolute rocket that can make any NFL-caliber throw. He can generate impressive velocity to any level of the field. He operated a pro-style offense under LSU OC Cam Cameron. He stands tall and confident in the pocket. He doesn’t throw on the move often, but when he does he does a good job squaring his shoulders and delivering a catchable ball. Compared to his 2012 season, he improved greatly in 2013, with decision making, accuracy, mechanics and vision all seeing development. This is a testament to his impressive work ethic. Pressure does not rattle him often. He can stand and deliver a pass with a defender up in his face. Ball placement is impressive. He can fit the ball into some pretty absurd windows. He displays confidence in his wide receivers; He’s not afraid to lob it up in single coverage and let his target make a play on the ball. He’s a very tough competitor.

Cons: He is an absolute statue in the pocket. Sluggish feet and deliberate movements are a concern. He does not move very well in the pocket and isn’t going to make defenders miss the sack very often, if at all. Delivery is slow, which allows defenders to get in better position to defense the ball. His torn ACL is going to push him down the board because of an inability to participate in a majority of off-season work outs. He needs to be more decisive; too many times I saw him hold out for the play to develop and take a bad sack in the process. With his relative immobility, this will be vital for him if he hopes to succeed on the professional level. He has a live arm, which leads to issues with touch. He’s going to have to speed up his mental process when determining defenses and identifying pressures. He was never known for being a leader during his collegiate career. Strong off-field character concerns after a March 2010 arrest for sexual battery.

My Take: Mettenberger is a classic drop-back passer with a very impressive arm. He is generally raw at the position, though, and he will require some serious coaching before he sees any significant starting time. He has high potential and, much like Carr, he projects well into a vertical offense that allows him to make the most of his great arm. If he realizes his potential, Mettenberger could be a long-term, high-quality starter.

Comparison: Joe Flacco

Draft Projection: second round/third round.

Best Fits: Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans.

*Number in parentheses denotes positional ranking. Scouting report compiled using six games of film study (five games from previous season and one from the year before).

Coleman lands in Minnesota; Eagles considered Spiller

The 2014 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, but there’s still some news flowing from the free agency front.

According to CSN Philly, the Eagles considered trading for Bills running back C.J. Spiller before landing Darren Sproles from the Saints.

Per CSN’s Geoff Mosher, Philadelphia contacted Buffalo about Spiller this offseason, but there wasn’t mutual interest in a deal and, ultimately, a trade offer wasn’t made. The Eagles, however, would go on to bring in a similarly skilled player in Sproles in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick, adding a veteran behind LeSean McCoy in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense.

The reported link between the Eagles and Spiller seems logical after the team’s addition of Sproles. Like the former Saints back, Spiller has drawn recognition for his pass catching out of the backfield, earning a Pro Bowl appearance in 2012 as one of the Bills’ most productive all-purpose players.

In other news, former Eagles safety Kurt Coleman was announced as a signing of the Vikings on Monday.

A seventh-round draft pick of Philadelphia out of Ohio State in 2010, he became a free agent this offseason after his rookie contract expired, and after the Eagles’ addition of defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Maragos, he appeared to be headed elsewhere. Fans often threw Coleman onto the list of failed post-Brian Dawkins starters, but he made a name for himself as a reserve and on special teams, flashing big-play potential with four interceptions in 2011 and 93 tackles the year after. Despite his smaller size (5-11, 200 pounds), Coleman was also noted for his aggressive nature in the secondary.

Report: Eagles made offer for Dion Jordan

The Eagles didn’t add a pass rusher in free agency this year, but according to a report, they did, in fact, try to trade for one.

Per a report by Bob Grotz of The Delaware County Daily Times, Philadelphia made an offer to the Dolphins for 2013 first-round draft pick Dion Jordan almost two months ago. The offer, which may or may not still be on the table, reportedly included the Eagles’ second-round draft pick this year as well as backup outside linebacker Brandon Graham.

The Eagles’ reported interest in Jordan seems logical for several reasons, not including the team’s apparent need for help up front. The third overall pick in last year’s draft, he had just 26 tackles and two sacks as a rookie, but seemed to be a poor fit for Miami’s defense, in which he saw an average of just 20 snaps per game, according to Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. Well regarded for his size and athleticism coming out of college, Jordan also has a connection with Eagles coach Chip Kelly, for whom he played at the University of Oregon.

Longtime starter Trent Cole and free agent addition Connor Barwin found success as OLBs in the Eagles’ 3-4 defense last year, but with Graham’s long-term role unclear, the team appears devoid of top-level pass rushing depth. Former Texans linebacker Bryan Braman was signed last month, but he is expected to serve mostly on special teams, leaving reserves like Casey Matthews and DE/OLB Vinny Curry as the only rotational options.

If talks between the Eagles and Dolphins don’t resume (or simply continue, depending on the status of the reported trade offer), Philadelphia could look to bolster its outside linebacker corps through the 2014 NFL Draft.

Vick, Jets to close out Eagles’ 2014 preseason

The 2014 NFL season is just around the corner and the Eagles now know how they’ll start this year, unveiling this week their four-game preseason schedule.

According to the team’s official website, the Eagles will open the preseason with two straight road games, first in Chicago against the Bears and then in Massachusetts for a matchup with the Patriots. The Eagles’ third game, often considered the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, also serves as the preseason home opener with the Steelers coming to town. To close out the preseason, Philadelphia is slated to take on the Jets, who have played the Eagles in the preseason for more than 10 consecutive years.

The third preseason game figures to draw the most attention for its significance in narrowing the roster, but Eagles fans could also have their eyes on the fourth game thanks to the likely appearance of former quarterback Michael Vick with New York.

Kiwak: Derek Carr scouting report

Bleeds-Green.com presents another exclusive piece on one of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft:

The following scouting report is courtesy of Mike Kiwak, sports staff writer for The Penn in Indiana, Pa.

(4) Derek Carr, Fresno State: 6-2, 218 pounds

Pros: He’s got one of the best arms in the class. He throws a tight spiral and can make any NFL-type throw. His fade route is particularly worth mentioning, which is a very useful throw to have in your arsenal at the pro level. He also throws the best deep ball out of all the possible first round quarterbacks. He’s athletic and can make plays with his legs if necessary. Carr has a great pump fake. He displays the work ethic that a team wants from their starting signal caller. He’s a leader who’s mature enough to handle being a face of the franchise. He knows how to read a defense and make pre snap adjustments. He’s got adequate timing and accuracy on short and intermediate routes. Good ball placement. He’s not afraid to take shots downfield. He also knows when to throw the ball away. He’s generally a good decision maker. He’s experienced. He was a three-year starter and a team captain for the Bulldogs. He was far and away the best passer at the Senior Bowl.

Cons: He displays a less-than-ideal ability to handle the pass rush. His mechanics, footwork and decision making all tend to suffer when presented with heavy pressure. Even then, both could use improvement. He puts too much emphasis on his arm without regarding the rest of his body. Anticipation is not a strong suit. He appears to struggle with seeing the field sometimes. He stares down his targets too often. He also puts his receivers in tough situations that more than once ended with the target getting decked. He beat up low-tier competition for a majority of his college career and struggled against high-level competition (See USC game as an example).

My Take: Carr shows intangibles a team wants with their franchise field general, but he has a few issues that need to be worked out as well. However, he is an educated young man and it is blatantly evident through his on-the-field play that he commits a great amount of time to film study. I believe he’s more talented than his older brother, former No. 1 overall pick David Carr, and he is best fit for a high-flying, vertical offense that takes advantage of his arm talent. Carr could very well become a top-15, borderline top-10 starter in the pros.

Comparison: Jay Cutler.

Draft Projection: First Round

Best Fits: Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

*Number in parentheses denotes positional ranking. Scouting report compiled using six games of film study (five games from previous season and one from the year before).

Eagles notes: Knott suspended; Avant lands in Carolina

Both a current and former Eagle were in the news this week (and no, it was not DeSean Jackson).

Linebacker Jake Knott, an undrafted free agent signing of the team last year, was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2014 season due to a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Knott has since released a public apology via the Eagles, saying he was unaware that nutritional supplements he’s been consuming were banned by the NFL. According to the league, he is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason activities until Week 1.

A product of Iowa State, Knott recorded 8 tackles as a reserve and special teams player in 2013.

In news pertaining to the former Eagle, longtime No. 3 wide receiver Jason Avant landed with a new team Monday, signing a one-year contract with the Panthers. Avant, known as much for his leadership as his reliable hands in eight years with Philadelphia, was released last month in an anticipated salary-saving move.