Ryan Connelly

NFC East Notes: Eagles, McCoy, Giants

With Brandon Brooks going down with a torn Achilles in the second round of the playoffs, the Eagles face an issue regarding how their starting offensive line will look come Week 1. But five months later, Brooks revealed a bit about where his recovery process stands. The veteran guard shared a brief workout video (Twitter link) that shows him doing agility drills again. The fourth-year Eagle will almost certainly begin training camp on the active/PUP list, and it can’t be considered a lock he will be ready for the start of the season. But this represents an encouraging sign from the mammoth offensive lineman.

In the event Brooks is not ready to go in September, a contingency plan might involve a position switch. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who replaced Jason Peters at left tackle as a rookie in 2017, has worked at guard at times this offseason. The Eagles appear to be preparing Vaitai to be their Brooks stopgap, in the event he needs more time, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. The Eagles drafted Andre Dillard in Round 1 and have rugby convert Jordan Mailata at tackle as well, so Vaitai working at guard may be a way to stay on the roster. This is interesting given that Stefen Wisniewski (24 Eagles left guard starts from 2016-18) re-signed in May. It would stand to reason the experienced interior lineman would be the Brooks fill-in, but Doug Pederson mentioned a possible Vaitai-Lane Johnson right side recently.

Shifting to more NFC East position battles, here is the latest out of the division:

  • The Eagles’ Zach Brown addition figures to clear up uncertainty about their three-down linebacker sets, with Brown joining Nigel Bradham. And despite the return of Paul Worrilow and arrival of L.J. Fort, Zangaro notes Kamu Grugier-Hill remains the third linebacker in base sets and adds it would not be a surprise to see him gut into Brown’s work in nickel sets. Grugier-Hill played 32% of the Eagles’ 2018 defensive snaps. Brown, however, posted a top-10 Pro Football Focus coverage grade last season. Grugier-Hill did not grade nearly as well.
  • Colt McCoy‘s final surgery total from the fractured fibula he suffered late last season: three. The veteran Redskins quarterback is expected to be cleared for training camp, but J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington notes McCoy indeed underwent three procedures since December — the most recent coming in April. McCoy’s knowledge of Jay Gruden‘s offense will help him in Washington’s QB battle and possibly as a mentor type once Dwayne Haskins inevitably takes over this season.
  • Once Janoris Jenkins returned to work this offseason, Deandre Baker remained a Giants first-stringer over Sam Beal this offseason. And UDFA Grant Haley resides as the favorite to replace B.W. Webb as the team’s slot corner, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com writes. While including Beal as a possible challenger for the slot job, along with fourth-round rookie Julian Love, Dunleavy notes the 2018 supplemental draft pick does not have slot experience. This would stand to make the Western Michigan product Big Blue’s CB4 to start the season.
  • Alec Ogletree has one Giants inside linebacker job locked up, and as of now, fourth-year man B.J. Goodson is the team’s base-set starter. Tae Davis remains the nickel replacement for Goodson, per Dunleavy, but rookie fifth-round pick Ryan Connelly is in the mix for this role. The fifth-rounder out of Wisconsin was viewed as one of this draft’s top coverage linebackers.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/13/19

We’ll keep track of today’s lower round draft pick signings here:

  • The Lions inked fourth-round defensive end Austin Bryant, sixth-round running back Ty Johnson, seventh-round tight end Isaac Nauta, and seventh-round defensive tackle P.J. Johnson. Bryant, a Clemson product, is a pass rush specialist who routinely used his length to get to the quarterback. He put himself on the map with 8.5 sacks as a junior and followed that up with another eight sacks as a senior. There are questions about whether his pass-rush ability is enough to offset his deficiencies against the run, but the Lions were more than happy to take a chance on him in the fourth round.
  • The Colts signed fourth-round safety Khari Willis and fifth-round defensive back Marvell Tell III. Willis was one of Michigan’s top high school players as a running back, but found his calling in the secondary at Michigan State. Tell, meanwhile, made three interceptions as USC’s starting free safety last year.
  • The Giants signed a pair of fifth-round picks: wide receiver Darius Slayton and linebacker Ryan Connelly. The Giants still have a lot of work ahead for them in signing their draft class, including first-round picks Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence.