Eagles Gamble on DGB
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Eagles made what could turn out to be a very significant move at the wide receiver position, acquiring the enigmatic Dorial Green-Beckham from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for backup offensive lineman Dennis Kelly.
From a talent perspective, this is as lopsided as it gets but Green-Beckham has had significant off-the-field issues dating back to his college days and was kicked off the University of Missouri football team after two high-profile dustups involving marijuana and a separate domestic-violence issue.
He eventually transferred to the University of Oklahoma but the 6-foot-5, 240-pound king-sized wideout never played a down for the Sooners before being drafted in the second round at 40th overall by the Titans in 2015.
DGB played in all 16 games for Tennessee during his rookie season with five starts, and produced 32 receptions for 549 yards and four touchdowns with a team-leading 17.2 yards per catch, which happened to be sixth best in the entire NFL and tops among rookies.
Among his fellow draft class at the wide receiver position, Green-Beckham ranked fifth in receiving yards. He also totaled more receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns than six of the seven wide receivers selected before him in the draft, trailing only Raiders WR Amari Cooper (72 receptions for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns).
Two different NFL scouts described Green-Beckham to 973espn.com as a top-15 talent had he not had any of the extracurricular problems in college.
“He’s a big tall, strong, physical receiver that can make plays,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after practice on Tuesday. “We are intrigued with his size and his speed. He is a big, powerful guy. As far as slant routes go, he is a big, physical presence there.
“In the red zone, if you go back and watch some tape, he has a good vertical leap. He can elevate quickly, and he can get over the top of defenders which is a comfort for the quarterback to just put the ball in his area.”
That's the good news.
The bad is that Titans coach Mike Mularkey had demoted DGB to the third-team in Nashville and was frustrated with both his work ethic and commitment to his craft.
One source close to the Titans claimed DGB was asked to work harder in offseason and came to camp out of shape, which upset the head coach. Another claimed the consistency from the young receiver wasn't there in all phases and his attention to detail was lacking.
“Not to speak on Philly’s behalf, but they inquired about it," Titans GM Jon Robinson said when asked about DGB's consistency issues. “They thought it was a good opportunity for him."
You don't get a player with Green-Beckham's skill set for a backup offensive lineman at this stage if there are no issues.
"We felt it was an opportunity to increase the level of competition at the receiver position," Eagles executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman said. "We felt the timing was right now when we had some time to work with him as opposed to doing something at the final cuts."
Despite denials, the move is a clear indictment of the Eagles current group at the position, especially after Jordan Matthews, who remains out with a knee injury.
Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor has continued to struggle with press coverage, and Josh Huff is just not a natural route runner. Meanwhile, veteran pickups Rueben Randle and Chris Givens aren't exactly regarded as saviors at the position.
"At this point in camp there is some inconsistency from day to day," Roseman admitted when talking about his other receivers. "But they are young players at that position and we are going to look at any opportunity and improve our depth at any position."
DGB is expected to arrive in South Philadelphia sometime on Tuesday and will travel to Pittsburgh for the team's preseason game on Thursday but will not play.
"He comes in with an opportunity but no promises have been made," Roseman said. "...He's got a rare skill set. Now, there is a reason he's available at this time. He's got to get more consistent like we are talking about."
Kelly, meanwhile, played in 30 games, with 15 starts, after being selected by the Eagles in the fifth round 2012 NFL Draft.
A versatile stop-gap, The Purdue product started nine games at right tackle, three games at right guard and three games at left guard during his career in Philadelphia but the writing was on the wall when the Eagles kicked left guard Allen Barbre out to right tackle once the news broke of Lane Johnson's impending suspension.
Kelly has been working as the backup right tackle throughout the spring and summer but the Eagles obviously did not have confidence in him to be a long-term replacement for Johnson, who is expected to miss 10 games due to his second PED suspension.
“I like his versatility," Robinson said of Kelly. “He has really good size, he’s versatile, he's played a lot of positions. He embodies the traits we look for in an offensive lineman – smart, tough, and dependable.”
-With the heat index scheduled to reach well past 100 again, Pederson did not make the players put on the pads for the final training camp practice and it was a light affair that lsted only about two hours for the second straight day.
-Pederson also announced who will not be playing for the Eagles when they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. Matthews (knee), cornerback Jalen Mills (hamstring), receiver Hunter Sharp (hamstring), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), defensive tackle Mike Martin (knee) and quarterback Carson Wentz (rib).will not be playing due to injury.
-Wentz, however, will travel with the team while the other players will be left home for rehab purposes.
“We want him in on all of the meetings, he’s a quarterback and needs to be there with the guys,” the coach said.
As for the injury and the lack of physical reps setting Wentz's progression back, Pederson claimed he is not worried.
“This is a special kid,” the coach claimed. “He is sharp. He stays on point and asks a ton of questions in the classroom. He has himself mentally ready to go.”
-Pederson said the starters will play the first quarter in Pittsburgh and maybe a series in the second.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen