This is the last day of athlete media interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine, with defensive backs on the docket -- a major point of interest for Eagles fans. Somehow, in free agency or through the draft, the Eagles need a safety who can contribute next season, and a really good young corner would come in pretty handy, as well.
One guy the Birds could end up with at 24th overall, if they go for a safety there, is South Florida's Nate Allen. Allen isn't running here because of a left quad pull he said he suffered two weeks ago, preparing for the 40. (He expects to be full strength for his pro day March 30). But he is on hand for, as he called it, "all the pokin'and pullin'." Allen said he was "making most of the calls, directing traffic" at South Florida. He spent some time down in the box, but said he was in the middle of the field most plays.
The top safety in the draft is Tennessee's Eric Berry, who will be gone long before the Birds make a selection, unless they somehow move into the top 5 or so. Berry has another year of eligibility but was berry, berry good for the Vols last season -- to the extent that then-d-coordinator Monte Kiffin told him "I'd be a fool to come back," Berry said. One glitch is that watchng last year's tape, teams won't see him making plays on the ball much, because opponents rarely threw his way. "Teams were looking at me like I had the plague or something," he said. Berry said his combine goal was to "come here and just leave no doubt" that he is the best safety in the draft.
If the Birds go in a different direction in the first round, this is such a deep draft defensively that they might very well find a starting-quality safety or corner later. One guy who could fit that mold is Wisconsin safety Larry Asante, who called himself "a physical player, a smart player" who made all the checks and calls in a complex defensive scheme. Asante said teams interviewing him here put him "on the board" -- diagramming plays for them a lot and he feels he does real well with that.
Southern Cal safety Taylor Mays is often projected to go right around where the Eagles pick in the first round. Mays, as we've noted before, is huge -- 6-3, 230, he said he measured here. But by the end of Senior Bowl week, people watching him wondered if he really had free safety fluidity, if he might not be a better linebacker. Mays acknowledged that teams are asking him that a lot. "I'm a safety," he said. "But I'll play wherever ... whoever takes me, I'm confident I can do whatever they want me to do."
Rutgers corner Devin McCourty is the twin brother of corner Jason McCourty, now of the Titans. Devin can return and block kicks, which is kinda handy. "I think we're very similar," he said when asked about comparisons with his brother, who also played at Rutgers, and ended up starting three games for the Titans as a sixth-round rookie. "I think I'm a little more physical, and I benefited from having an extra year of college." Devin redshirted, Jason did not.
Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver said Saturday he thinks he's close to a new contract with the Birds. Today, agent Harold Lewis said he'd had "good meetings" in Indianapolis with the Eagles, but that there was "nothing more to report than that." Weaver could become a restricted free agent Friday, but in any case, the Birds aren't letting him walk.
BTW, Geoff Mosher reports in the Wilmington News Journal that "multiple league sources" say the Birds are expected to pick up Michael Vick's $1.5 million bonus payment March 5, which they pretty much have to do to get anybody to give them anything for him; otherwise teams would just wait for Vick to be released. Nothing wrong with Geoff's report, whatsover. But various aggregators are picking it up as "Eagles to pay Vick bonus." Just clarifying, the Eagles haven't said that, in Geoff's story or anywhere else -- other people are saying that's what the Eagles are expected to do. Which they are.
In the Internet age, stuff tends to get enhanced in the retelling. Big kerfluffle in the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium yesterday, over something that happened Friday. Florida QB Tim Tebow was helping reporters place their recorders on the lectern. A midwestern scribe jokingly asked "would you like to take notes for us, as well?" Tebow took the guy's notepad, scrawled his name on it, and returned it to him. In the back of the pack, another reporter thought the midwesterner had asked for and received Tebow's autograph, which is a big no-no for the working media.
This guy tweets about the "autograph." Story gets picked up all over the place. Saturday afternoon, midwestern scribe has to stand up in the middle of the room and declare "contrary to what you might have heard, I did not ask for Tim Tebow's autograph yesterday."
What a world.
In other news of interest to Eagles fans, Greg Lewis has agreed to terms on a 1-year deal to remain with Minnesota, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Lewis played in 13 games, caught eight passes and mainly saw action on special teams. G-Lew, 30, has been in the league for 7 years after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles.
Back with more soon.