PHILLY CAN'T even win the first round of the NFL draft.
Philadelphia hasn't had a first-round playoff win in any sport since 2011, but it did win the rights to host the 2017 NFL Draft Experience! The centerpiece of the weekend is the first round, which begins Thursday at 8 p.m.
Usually, it is a prime-time lovefest.
This one will be a nighttime soap opera.
As many as eight first-round prospects - 25 percent of the pool - have seen their value slip due to injury, indiscretion or both. This avalanche of ancillary issues has mock drafters are mocking their own mock drafts. From Smokin' Joe Mixon to the Urination Fabrications, there has never been a draft as intriguing as The Asterisk Draft.
"I've had that conversation with a number of general managers," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. "We've never seen a draft with so much uncertainty; and, especially, late-breaking uncertainty. It's the murkiest first round we've ever seen."
These are serious concerns.
Earlier this week Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley a likely target for the Eagles at No. 14, was accused of raping a woman April 9 in a Cleveland hotel. No charges have been filed and Conley's lawyer claims he is innocent, but Conley probably will slip out of the top 15; maybe out of Day 1 entirely; and maybe completely out of the draft.
"He's losing millions of dollars right now. To have it taken away over 'accusations' . . ." said OSU teammate Marshon Lattimore. He said he has spoken with Conley and not only believes Conley's story, but is suspicious that Conley might have been set up to be falsely accused. "It happens every year. Everybody knows what's going on."
Lattimore was on stage at the Shriners Hospital for Children during the NFL's annual "Play 60" event, which highlights the league's initiative to encourage fitness among children. Conley was scheduled to attend the event before the accusation surfaced. He now will not attend the draft.
Any team interested in Conley, including the Eagles, have their security personnel conducting their own investigations into the alleged incident.
"If he laid a hand on her, he comes off my board," Mayock said, "but you'd feel horrible for him if somebody lied."
The veracity of the issues concerning other players is not in question.
Alabama's Reuben Foster, the top-rated linebacker in the draft, and Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers both reportedly submitted diluted urine samples at the NFL Scouting Combine and therefore failed the drug test. Foster also underwent a marked physical change between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also was kicked out of the combine for causing a disturbance during his medical exam; and, finally, he had rotator cuff surgery in February. Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk.
Teams are scrambling to get last-minute medical updates on Foster and a slew of other players, including a pair of receivers the Eagles could target at No. 14. Western Michigan's Corey Davis injured left ankle ligaments while training for the combine and needed surgery. Washington speedster John Ross ran a record 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the combine in February before he had shoulder surgery.
"There's more and more medical rechecks than I can remember," Mayock said.
"It's good," Davis said. "I'm ready to go today*." (He is not.)
"The shoulder's doing really well. I should be cleared by July*," Ross promised.
Clearance by training camp won't completely allay worries about Ross. He was wildly productive for the Huskies but he did it on two surgically repaired knees.
"I've heard things about myself sliding," he admitted.
Ross' shoulder injury might actually impress some teams, since he played with the injury this season and still caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Davis, meanwhile, caught 97 passes for 1,500 yards and led the nation with 19 TDs-but he did it for a MAC school. He counted on strong workouts to vault him into the top 10, perhaps even ahead of Clemson star Mike Williams.
"I didn't have the chance to increase my draft status," Davis said. "It was definitely frustrating. I'm not going to lie. I'm a competitor. I like to influence people. I wanted to be the No. 1 receiver. I still believe I am."
If he is, he might be worthy of the comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald, who, like Davis, is a 6-3 technician. Fitzgerald went third overall. Imagine if Davis is a top-5 talent who gets drafted outside of the top 10. It would be a steal. It might not be the only one.
"I think (Gareon) is a top-10 player," Lattimore said. "Anybody that gets him is going to get a great player.
The same might be true of the team that eventually employs Mixon, the best running back in the draft. His stock plummeted after a tape was released in December that showed him punching a woman and breaking bones in her face during a 2014 altercation while at Oklahoma. Mixon was punished in 2014 and settled a lawsuit with the victim last week. Neither development diminished the Ray Rice effect.
That recording, combined with disturbingly aggressive behavior directed at a female parking attendant, made Mixon the poster child for this draft's dysfunction. His case understandably distracts from the alarming number of other problems.
For instance, Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, the most promising Buckeye defensive back, underwent postseason surgeries to repair a sports hernia and his hip labrum. Washington corner Sidney Jones ruptured his Achilles' tendon at the school's pro day workout in March. UCLA corner Fabian Moreau tore a pectoral muscle at his pro day.
Both Jones and Moreau are on the radar of the corner-starved Eagles Neither seemed as perfect as fit as Conley did . . . and, maybe, still does.
"It could be a complete lie. It could be false. But it could be true," said Ross, who stressed that he consciously avoids any and all such dangerous liaisons. "Gareon's probably a great, great guy. It just kind of sucks that it happened right now."
It's just that kind of time in Philly*.
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