Previous month:
March 2016
Next month:
May 2016

Galvis, strong pitching lift Phillies to fifth consecutive victory

By: Matt Rappa, managing editor

Final: Phillies 4, Indians 3  ❖  Attendance: 23,636

PHILADELPHIA — Thanks to a three-RBI performance from shortstop Freddy Galvis, the Philadelphia Phillies (14-10) were able to secure their third consecutive series victory — and fifth consecutive win overall — as they defeated the Cleveland Indians (10-11) Saturday evening at Citizens Bank Park, 4-3.

With 245 strikeouts over 216 1/3 innings, the Phillies pitching staff has set a Major League Baseball record for strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in the month of April, 10.19. The previous record was set by the Boston Red Sox in 2013, 9.94 (255 strikeouts in 231.0 innings pitched).

Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez recorded his eighth save of the season in as many opportunities in the ninth, tying with five other players for second-most in the category.

The Indians have now lost five straight one-run contests. The Phillies, on the other hand, have won eight of their last nine.

WP: Andrew Bailey (1-0, 0.00 ERA) ❖ LP: Tommy Hunter (0-1, 9.00 ERA) ❖ SV: Jeanmar Gomez (8)

Continue reading "Galvis, strong pitching lift Phillies to fifth consecutive victory" »


Eagles scouting report: 251st overall pick linebacker Joe Walker

 

The Eagles wrapped up their 2016 NFL Draft in ironic fashion, drafting linebacker and former Oregon Duck Joe Walker with the 251st overall pick. The Walker selection made it an even split for the Eagles with their eight draft picks (four on offense, four on defense). Whether or not the Walker pick was a subtle slight at Chip Kelly is something we'll never know.

Walker will likely need to make his bones on special teams or in sub packages at the next level. He likely got drafted off a strong showing at Oregon's pro day, but will still need to play with a considerable chip on his shoulder to crack an NFL roster. He's generally undersized and some scouts question whether he can play with the sort of aggression necessary for a player his size

What will help Walker down the road as a linebacker is his ability to field his position in the passing game. Most evaluations of Walker highlight his coverage ability, while doubting whether or not he can play against the run. Though he won't soon be shoo-ing the gaps to blow up plays in the backfield, it seems as if Walker is a willing tackler on plays down the field. 

Linebacker is an area of the defense where there are major question marks from a depth standpoint. Because of this, Walker will likely have a chance to show coaches what he's capable of with the 2nd string defense in training camp. If he's able to demonstrate a knack for the position and flash on special teams, he very well could end up on the roster. So much of making a team as a 7th round pick is opportunity for exposure. Walker will have that in Philadelphia, given the depth chart situation at linebacker. What he does with that is squarely up to him. 

Here's NFL.com's Lance Zierlein's take on Walker as a prospect: 

Walker's pro day numbers forced some scouts to go back to the film on him. What scouts likely saw was a player with nickel linebacker ability who can play in space and who has the instincts and ability to make it into camp and fight for a spot at the back end of the roster or on the practice squad.

 

Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice


Eagles scouting report: 240th overall pick defensive end Alex McCalister

 

The Eagles continued their run on defensive players with the 240th overall pick in the draft Saturday by taking former Florida Gator Alex McCalister. McCalister projects as a true 4-3 defensive end, catering towards Jim Schwartz's attacking defensive line scheme. There's no doubt that Mccalister is raw and needs to build up considerably from a physical standpoint. That being said, if the Eagles are able to keep him in line off the field, he could be an interesting project to bring along. 

The former four-star recruit did not see the field very much in Gainesville, for both injury and extracurricular reasons. When he was able to string together some playing time, many could see why he was a sought-after prospect. He managed 12.5 sacks with limited time on the field, and pass-rushing is as valuable an attribute as there is in the NFL. He probably saved himself from being undrafted by performing well at the combine. 

From what can be gathered courtesy of the NFL's scouting report on Mccalister, the skill element of playing the position isn't what will have to be worked on with him. He has natural abilities in both rushing the passer and playing in space. He might not have the football instincts that some of the greats do, but there is something to mold from in terms of athleticism. 

Much like Mills, it is the off-field issues that have to concern one with Mccalister's NFL projection. Seeing the field as little as he did, even if it was in the SEC, is a major concern. For nearly an entire season of that absence to be as a result of off-field issues is a major red flag going forward. One would want to give the young man the benefit of the doubt of being a college kid making poor decisions, but for every reclamation project it seems as if there are troubled kids who only turn into troubled adults. 

The Eagles seemed to use their first two picks in the 7th round to try and hit a relative 'home run' on a player they feel that can turn his life around. With McCalister, it will take a full commitment to keeping his nose clean and putting in the requisite gym work to build up to a NFL-sized player. It would take a few years for this to happen and there's a chance that he could find himself on the practice squad in 2016. One would have to think if the Eagles can hit on McCalister or Mills, they'd consider the 7th round a success.

Here's NFL Network's Lance Zierlein's take on McCalister: 

Despite playing in less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps for the Gators over the past two seasons, managed to notch 12.5 sacks. His character must be questioned and he doesn't possess an NFL-­ready frame or instincts. McCalister is a project in need of muscle and coaching, but his traits as a rusher are exciting if he can build upon them.


Eagles select Oregon LB Joe Walker with the 251st overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft

 

With the 251st overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected Oregon linebacker Joe Walker. Walker is the team's final pick in this year's draft. It was also the 4th straight defensive player they took after prioritizing the offensive side of the ball with their first four picks.

 

 

Walker measures in at 6'2" and 236 pounds. His pro day results feature a 4.56 40-yard dash, 23 bench press reps, and a 6.81 3-cone shuttle. His impressive showing likely wrapped up a 7th round selection for the Oregon linebacker.

Walker totaled 205 tackles (120 solo) while at Oregon. He also had five sacks and one interception. His speed will likely help him at the next level, potentially as a pass-defending linebacker in sub-packages. Tackling was not his strong suit in college and he will have to work on that if he hopes to make the Eagles roster. 

Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice


Eagles scouting report: 233rd overall pick safety Jalen Mills

 

The Eagles made their first of two 7th round selections on Saturday by scooping up LSU safety Jalen Mills with the 233rd overall pick. The pick continued their run on defensive backs, after they had taken Blake Countess with their lone 6th round selection. 

For a four-year starter out of LSU, it may be somewhat confounding for a player like Mills to fall to the 7th round. The SEC juggernaut is notorious for producing NFL caliber defensive backs, some of which did not have the experience that Mills had. As is always the case in the draft, there are reasons that players like Mills tumble the way he did. 

First and foremost, it's worth noting the off-field factors that have Mills looking at a steep uphill climb to try and make an NFL roster. He was arrested for a second-degree battery charge in 2014 for an altercation with a woman. The charges were reduced and dropped, but that (clearly) doesn't always ease the concerns of an NFL team with 53 roster spots. Character concerns were a major sticking point with the last regime. It would appear that has changed going forward for the Eagles. 

From an on-field standpoint, there's a lot to like about Mills. Like Countess, he has position versatility. He is capable of playing safety and slot cornerback. He has faced high-level competition his entire career and played on a defense that prides itself on shutting its opponents down. 

NFL scouts praised his fundamentals in coverage, most notably his footwork and tracking ability with the ball in the air. His strength appeared to be in zone coverage, where Mills' awareness shined. Some will question whether or not he has the speed to stick with NFL receivers in man coverage.

 

Whether or not Mills ends up as a safety or a slot cornerback should not affect how the Eagles project him going forward. Both positions are important in the pass-happy NFL and several of their NFC East opponents boast impressive groups of skill players. Lance Zierlein of NFL Network provided the following 'big picture' outlook of Mills: 

Mills was injured in the off­season and missed some time early in the season while recovering from a fractured fibula. Mills isn’t as physical as teams would like in run support but will do what he has to. In man coverage, he's rock ­solid until he has to chase vertical jack­rabbits and then it can get a little dicey. Mills will probably get action in sub ­packages early on, but might not be the every-­down player that some expect.

Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice


Eagles select defensive end Alex McCalister with the 240th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft

 

With the 2nd of their three 7th round picks, the Eagles selected defensive end Alex McCalister out of Florida with the 240th overall pick. They acquired the pick via trade with the Minnesota Vikings.

Mccalister measured at 6'6" and 239 pounds at the NFL combine. By defensive end standards, it's clear Mccalister needs to put on substantial weigh before he can think of contributing on the field. The Florida product had an impressive combine showing in terms of the individual drills, clocking a 4.80 40-yard dash to go with a 128.0 inch broad jump, 7.01 second 3-cone drill, and 4.00 20-yard shuttle. 

In three seasons at Florida, Mccalister notched 30 solo tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks. He was dismissed during his final season at Florida for a violation of team rules, bringing into question his off-field makeup. He has the framework to potentially turn into a legitimate player along the defensive line, and will be given the chance to do so working under Jim Schwartz. That being said, he will have a lot to prove as a 7th round pick with the types of question marks that he has.

Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice


Eagles select safety Jalen Mills with the 233rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft

 

With the 233rd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected safety Jalen Mills out of LSU. Mills is the 2nd straight secondary player selected by Philadelphia after they took Blake Countess in the 6th round.

 

Mills measured in at 6'0" and 191 pounds at the NFL Combine. He started all four years at LSU, though he did not take the field his senior season until the final six games after a leg injury suffered in August of the prior offseason. 

In his career at LSU, Mills collected 216 tackles (134 solo), to go with four sacks and six interceptions. At the combine, Mills ran a 4.61 40-yard dash (4.48 at the LSU pro day), put up 16 reps on the bench press, and had a 37.0 inch vertical jump. 

 More information on Mills to come later on in the day.

Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice


Eagles scouting report: 196th overall pick defensive back Blake Countess

 

The Eagles traded back in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft and acquired defensive back Blake Countess out of Auburn with the 196th pick (down from 188). Countess was the first defensive player selected after four on the offensive side for the new Eagles regime. While the team seems to be solid at the safety position as it stands, the cornerback spot is riddled with question marks and the addition of Countess should add some much-needed depth/competition at the position. Countess is 5'9" and weighs 184 pounds.

Countess is an intriguing prospect who has taken a winding road to the NFL. He started his college career at Michigan before ending up at Auburn as a graduate transfer. Injuries played a major role in Countess going from a much more heralded prospect, to a day three selection.  When he was still at Michigan he suffered a torn ACL in the season opener against Alabama, costing him the entire season. He was able to battle back from the devastating injury and turn in a few good seasons with the Wolverines before the arrival of Jim Harbaugh, along with a different defensive philosophy, triggered the move to the SEC.

 

Countess was not invited to the NFL Combine, despite turning in a respectable season with the Tigers. He did, however, stand out at Auburn's Pro Day. His 21 reps of 225 pounds would have ranked him at the top of the defensive back chart, and his unofficial 4.49 40 is more than adequate for an NFL defender. Combined with his playmaking abilities (6 interceptions coming off of injury in 2013), Countess could be an interesting day three pick who could contribute down the road.

 

The Eagles did host Countess for a pre-draft visit prior to this weekend. He is a player that was clearly on their radar and, especially after trading back in the 6th round, they're likely happy he was still on the board. Much like the offensive linemen they've taken in the 2016 Draft, Countess has position versatility. Tommy Lawlor notes that he played both cornerback and safety at Auburn, and could provide depth behind Malcolm Jenkins/Rodney McLeod if the cornerback group is too deep. 

The injury issues are clearly a concern for Countess and they may have already cost him some of the athleticism that would help him at the next level. That said, with his ability to play all around the secondary, and demonstrate some of the attractive qualities he did at Auburn's pro day, Countess has given himself every opportunity to succeed given his draft projections.

Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice


Eagles Trade 188th Pick, Select CB Blake Countess with 196th Pick

The Eagles were back on the clock for their sixth-round pick, and they traded it to acquire an additional pick.

The Eagles moved the 188th overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings for the 196th overall pick in the sixth round and the 240th pick in the seventh round. With the 196th overall pick, the Eagles selected cornerback Blake Countess from Auburn.

Continue reading "Eagles Trade 188th Pick, Select CB Blake Countess with 196th Pick" »


Eagles Scouting Report: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai

A focus for this Draft was going to be offensive line and the Eagles are addressing that head-on.

Their second fifth-round pick at 164th overall was used to select TCU offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

Get to know the newest Eagles lineman with a scouting report.

Continue reading "Eagles Scouting Report: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai" »