Andrew Breiner

NFC East Notes: Okudah, Groh, Heath, Jones

While there’s still plenty of time until the NFL Draft, but murmurs around the combine are tying the Giants to cornerback Jeff Okudah, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post. Okudah is considered the best defensive back prospect in the draft class and is expected to be a top-five pick. In his final season at Ohio State, Okudah recorded three interceptions, nine passes defended, 34 tackles, and, perhaps most impressive of all, zero holding or defensive pass interference penalties.

Here are some more notes from around the NFC East;

  • The Eagles made a number of changes on their coaching staff following a disappointing season. Most notably, Philadelphia fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh, but sources familiar with the situation tell Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer that head coach Doug Pederson told Groh he would be retained for a third season. Instead, the team fired Groh alongside offensive assistants Rich Scangarello and Andrew Breiner. While there’s no direct consequence, it’s not the ideal way to conduct business.
  • Longtime Cowboy safety and defensive back Jeff Heath has received interest from a number of teams, including Dallas, as he nears free agency, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. Watkins notes that things will pick up after the league and NFLPA resolve their CBA negotiations.
  • As previously reported, the Giants officially hired Amos Jones to join Joe Judge‘s coaching staff. Jones’ position on the staff had not been previously known. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Jones will serve as an “assistant coach/special projects and situations.”

East Notes: Rivers, Jets, Ogletree

The Patriots drafted edge rusher Derek Rivers in the third round of the 2017 draft, but the Youngstown State product has played in just six regular season games over his first three years in the pros. His entire rookie campaign was wiped out due to a torn ACL, he had a limited workload in 2018, and he sustained a knee injury during a preseason game in August that landed him on IR for all of 2019.

But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, Rivers still features heavily in New England’s plans. Reiss says Rivers remains a constant presence at the team’s facility, and if the team cannot retain free agent Kyle Van Noy — which is quite possible, given the amount of cap space that will need to be devoted to the offensive side of the ball, including the quarterback position — Rivers will need to step up.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv takes a look at a few Jets who could be cap casualties this offseason. Most of them — like CB Trumaine Johnson, whom we recently discussed as a release candidate — are obvious choices, but players like Jonotthan Harrison and Avery Williamson are more difficult calls. Vacchiano believes the club would be wise to retain Harrison at least as a depth option, and he suggests Williamson could be back on a reworked contract.
  • In a separate piece, Vacchiano names a few players the Jets should target in free agency, assuming their current teams don’t retain them. Unsurprisingly, he believes Gang Green should target the top of the O-line (Brandon Scherff, Jack Conklin) and WR (Amari Cooper, Emmanuel Sanders) markets.
  • Vacchiano undergoes the same exercises for the Giants that he did for the Jets. For Big Blue, he names LB Alec Ogletree as the most likely player to be cut on his list of seven names, and he also believes Conklin would be a perfect fit for the G-Men.
  • Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic summarizes the changes to the coaching staff that the Eagles recently made official. We had previously passed along most of those names, though Kapadia’s list also includes Andrew Breiner (hired as pass game analyst) and Dino Vasso (promoted to assistant defensive coordinator). He also offers his take on the changes, including his observation that the offensive staff now includes coaches who have very different schematic backgrounds, which suggests that Philadelphia will try to incorporate a wide variety of looks in 2020.