Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Casey Matthews! And Here's the Kicker ...

UPDATING: Interesting final day of the draft so far for the Eagles, with two picks that resonate more than fourth-rounders normally would.

Casey Matthews! And Here's the Kicker ...

The Eagles selected Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)
The Eagles selected Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

UPDATING: Interesting final day of the draft so far for the Eagles, with two picks that resonate more than fourth-rounders normally would.

 After making a trade, the Eagles began Day 3 by selecting linebacker Casey Matthews, from Oregon, with the 116th pick overall.

Matthews, 6-1, 231, is the younger brother of Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Big brother greeted the selection with a Tweet that simply said, "EAGLES!!!!!!"Jaiquawn Jarrett onstage

Casey is expected to play weakside linebacker for the Eagles, or could be a candidate to play in the middle. He said he played a MIKE role at Oregon.

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Special draft section: From the Inquirer and Daily News

Casey told reporters after his selection that he wants to be his own man and no longer be known as Clay's little brother. He said he sees himself as more instinctive but less explosive than his brother.

Matthews, whose father and uncle also played in the NFL, was first-team all-Pac-10 and led the Ducks in tackles at 79. He tied for third in the league in fumble recoveries (3), was third on the team with three interceptions and fourth in tackles for loss with 9.0.

The Eagles then became the first team in this draft to select a kicker, choosing Nebraska's Alex Henery at No. 120, in what seems like an obvious message to veteran David Akers, whose contract is up. The Eagles used the transition tag on Akers, but he declined to sign the tender, and no one knows if there will be a transition tag in whatever system emerges after the lockout.

You don't use a fourth-rounder on a kicker and then not have him make your roster. However, the new kickoff rules could make a guy who can automatically drill touchbacks from the 35 a higher priority; it's not unheard of to carry two kickers, as the Eagles did with Akers and Norm Johnson in Akers' rookie year of 1999.

Henery made 18 of 19 field goal attempts (8-for-8 from 40-49 and 2-for-3 from 50+), all 54 extra points this past season and was a finalist for the Groza Award. The one miss was blocked.

Henery, an Omaha native, also punted for the Cornhuskers, but he was chosen in this spot as a kicker. Eagles punter Sav Rocca is also unsigned.

Henery told reporters that he expected the Eagles would use him as a placekicker and for kickoffs.

The Eagles last drafted a kicker in 1984, when they tabbed both Manny Matsakis and Paul McFadden.

Also, second-round Temple safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (see photo!) came to NovaCare to meet with the media and reiterate how thrilled he is to continue his pro career in the stadium where he played in college.

"This is like a dream come true," he said. "I’ve been playing here in Philadelphia for the past four years. This is a great coaching staff that Coach Andy Reid has, and they love me, and I love being here. So I can’t wait to get out there and practice.”

Asked whether he thought he could earn a starting spot as a rookie, he said, "“I’m always going to keep my mind open coming in here to compete for a spot and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to come in here with confidence but not cocky, not arrogant, and I’m going to come in here and be a great team player.”

EARLIER: The Eagles would have collected on the second half of their return from Washington for Donovan McNabb with their first scheduled pick of the day today, a fourth-rounder at No. 104, but they traded the pick to Tampa Bay.

The Eagles will now get Tampa Bay's fourth-rounder this year, No. 116 overall and a fourth-rounder next year. Tampa Bay selected tight end Luke Stocker from Tennessee.

The Eagles selected Nate Allen from South Florida last year in Round 2 with the 37th overall pick. Allen got off to a good start and was named the NFC Rookie of the Month for September after recording 19 tackles and two interceptions in his first three games.

His season ended in December against the Giants with a torn pattelar tendon.

The other pick could have jumped to a third-rounder, but McNabb and the Redskins did not meet either of the potential criteria: McNabb being chosen to the Pro Bowl or McNabb being present for 70 percent of the snaps on a Redskins team that won nine games.

No. 104 begins a busy day for the Eagles that includes eight selections.

Here are their picks -- although expect some trading are:

Fourth round: 104 and 120

Fifth round: 149 and 153

Sixth round: 191

Seventh round: 227, 237 and 240 (last two are compensatory and cannot be traded)

The Eagles then became the first team to select a kicker, choosing Nebraska's Alex Henry.
 
What that means for veteran David Akers is unclear. The Eagles used their transition tag on Akers, but Akers has declined to sign it and was not happy with getting tagged.
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