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September 22, 2017

Mailbag: Are the Eagles likely to get a third-round pick for Eric Rowe?

In our weekly Eagles chat on Thursday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time, or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Fred Sanford: Do you think the Eagles expect to get a third-round pick from the Pats (from the Eric Rowe trade)? Did this factor into their decision to trade their third-round pick for Ronald Darby?

First, for quick reference for those of you who are unaware of the Eric Rowe trade conditions, the Eagles traded Rowe to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. That fourth-round pick can become a third-round pick if Rowe played 50 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps in 2016 (he did not), or if he plays 50 percent of the snaps in 2017.

In 2016, Rowe played 42 percent of the Patriots' snaps. So far in 2017, he has played 53 percent of their snaps on defense:

 Eric Rowe snap countsSnap played Possible snaps Percentage of snaps 
 Week 137 69 54% 
 Week 234 65 52% 
 TOTAL71 134 53% 

The results so far are encouraging. Rowe did not start Week 1, however, in a move that surprised Patriots reporters, he started Week 2 over 2016 Second-Team All-Pro corner Malcolm Butler. He left that Week 2 game on the first defensive series in the second half with a groin injury and did not return.

Rowe has received praise from Bill Belichick, via Stephen Hewitt of the Boston Herald.

"Eric was in a tough situation last year," Belichick said of Rowe, who was traded to the Patriots last September. "He came in during the season, didn’t have the benefit of training camp and the foundation of the system was a lot of catching up along the way, which I thought he did a real good job of, and he helped us a lot. This year it’s been much better for him to be able to be here from the beginning, with a year of experience behind him. But much better understanding of what he’s doing, what our opponents are doing, some of the techniques and so forth that we use are a little different than what they had in Philadelphia, so he’s definitely gaining with the experience that he’s received and earned."

Within that same article, however, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia noted that the Pats' usage of their corners is matchup-based and that Rowe hadn't necessarily jumped Butler on the depth chart.

Still, it's looking a lot like Rowe is going to be a key player on the Pats' defense this season. Obviously, he'll have to stay healthy to reach the necessary snap counts the Eagles hope he gets. To note, he was listed as a limited participant in practice both on Wednesday and Thursday on the Patriots' injury report.

As for the Rowe trade making the Eagles feel more comfortable making the trade for Ronald Darby, I think it's more simple than that. The Eagles desperately needed cornerback help, and a third-round pick (plus Jordan Matthews) was the cost of doing business.

Question from Smooth: Brian Westbrook yelled at me on Twitter because I suggested firing Duce Staley. Could you see a different running backs coach come in next year?

I assume that Twitter exchange was this?

Nobody is firing Staley at this point in the season. However, I do think it's a fair question to ask. Staley has been the Eagles' running back coach since 2013. LeSean McCoy had 2,926 rushing yards for the Eagles in 2013 and 2014, combined. Of course, he was aided by Chip Kelly's offense, which was clicking his first year as a head coach in the NFL. Not to mention, McCoy was already (and still is) a great talent.

Since McCoy was traded during the 2015 offseason, here's a quick list of all the Eagles running backs who have received carries for the Eagles: DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall, Terrell Watson, and LeGarrette Blount.

Take Sproles (again, an already great player) out of that mix, and you have a lot of running backs who underachieved (or are currently underachieving) in their time in Philly.

Question from Jay: With the Eagles replacing Seumalo at LG, does this seem like a bad sign for him at center next year as the plan seemed to be, or is center less demanding and his skill set fits the position better?

Seumalo played LG, RG, and RT his rookie season, and showed promise as a potential long-time starter in the NFL, with the versatility to play multiple positions should other guys along the line go down. In college, Seumalo's primary position was center, where he started since he was a freshman. He also played at LT, RG, and RT.

The Eagles list Seumalo at 6'4, 303, which many have pointed out is on the smaller end for a player at guard in today's NFL. Out of curiosity, I compiled the heights and weights of all the starting left guards in the NFL (according to Ourlads' depth charts). Here are the results, sorted by weight, from heaviest to lightest:

Player Team Height Weight
Kelechi Osemele Raiders 6'5 335
Quinton Spain Titans 6'4 334
Mike Iupati Cardinals 6'5 331
Ramon Foster Steeers 6'6 325
Lane Taylor Packers 6'3 324
James Carpenter Jets 6'4 321
Andrew Norwell Panthers 6'5 320
Richie Incognito Bills 6'4 319
Rodger Saffold Rams 6'5 318
Matt Slauson Jets 6'5 315
Shawn Lauvao Redskins 6'3 315
Anthony Steen Dolphins 6'3 314
Andrus Peat Saints 6'7 313
Bryan Witzmann Chiefs 6'7 311
Kyle Long Bears 6'6 311
Kevin Pamphile Buccaneers 6'5 310
Max Garcia Broncos 6'4 309
Xavier Su'a Filo Texans 6'4 307
Justin Pugh Giants 6'4 307
Nick Easton Vikings 6'2 307
Clint Boling Bengals 6'5 306
Graham Glasgow Lions 6'6 306
Luke Joeckel Seahawks 6'6 306
Patrick Omameh Jaguars 6'4 305
Andy Levitre Falcons 6'2 305
Zane Beadles 49ers 6'4 305
Joe Thuney Patriots 6'5 304
Isaac Seumalo Eagles 6'4 303
Joel Bitonio Browns 6'4 302
James Hurst Ravens 6'5 296
Chaz Green Cowboys 6'5 291
Jeremy Vujnovich Colts 6'5 290

While Seumalo is on the lower end at 303 pounds, he's not egregiously light, as there are 16 starting left guards weighing in at under 310 pounds. To note, the Eagles list new starter Chance Warmack at 6'2, 323, which would make him the sixth heaviest starting LG in the NFL.

In his dreadful performance last Sunday in Kansas City, Seumalo was beaten in a variety of ways by a variety of players. He was beaten by speed and power alike, although he was at his worst when he was physically dominated by Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones.

I believe the plays in which Seumalo was beaten by speed are more fixable. Against Jones, he often looked like he didn't have a chance, physically. With a very physical defensive tackle in Damon 'Snacks' Harrison of the Giants upcoming, the Eagles were perhaps concerned that Seumalo would be similarly dominated once again.

While you would certainly prefer physicality at every position along the offensive line, you can hide it a bit more at center than you can at guard. The Eagles have repeatedly referred to Seumalo as a smart player, which is obviously ideal at center. However, Seumalo has a very quiet personality, which goes against the communicative traits centers must possess.

The Eagles have a year to figure it all out. For now, they are clearly disappointed in what they've seen from Seumalo through two weeks.

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