Four-for-Four: Scorched Earth Edition

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Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The draft is nearly three months away and already the anticipation for the Eagles first round selection is drawing debate throughout the team’s beat force. Over the course of the weekend, names will come up that are familiar and some dark horses will start to emerge. The event sometimes dubbed the ‘underwear Olympics’ has a way of skewing draft stocks perhaps more than any game action some of these players participated in over their college careers.

With how the NFL has transitioned toward a 24/7/365 organization, the coverage of an event like the combine has become a marvel of modern sports media coverage. Local and national outlets send their beat force in droves and, for the better part of a week, information that seems like it is a secret code is passed along the various mediums of communication.

Friday was the first intense day of such knowledge being passed along. As some are calling this year’s draft the ‘Deepest in 30 years’, one can only expect staggering results when it comes down to the various drills and tests some of the players are put through. There was one tweet of a player that has been connected to the Eagles at their 22nd overall pick that almost made my jaw drop.

Things can change for certain, but I’m starting to think more and more that the team will end up selecting a receiver in the first round, unless they decide to trade up or down. Benjamin, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the National Championship game, figures to be among the top receivers taken in the 2014 Draft. This weekend figures to have more nuggets of information such as this that make you marvel at the advances in player preparation throughout the various levels of football. Truly remarkable.


Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) in the pocket in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

A major topic of conversation in today’s combine coverage was the size of the different quarterback prospects hands. Talking heads and draftnicks alike rave about the importance of hand size and how it is almost as important as the height of a prospect. Quarterbacks with larger hands are able to deliver more convincing pump-fakes and can hold onto the ball in tumultuous situations better than their small-handed counterparts.

As a rule of thumb, any hand-size smaller than nine inches is seen as a major red flag. Anything between nine and ten inches is enough to pass the eye test and those with mitts larger than 10 inches are often valued higher because of it. None of the projected top-three quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater (9 1/4″), Blake Bortles (9 3/8″), or Manziel (9 7/8) staggered with their measurements, although Manziel’s was seen as enough to ease some of the concern of his sub-six foot height.

If having big hands is a major factor in what it takes to be a winning quarterback, the Eagles will be in great shape because Nick Foles is sporting a pair of catchers mitts. At the 2012 combine, Foles hands measured a gargantuan 10 5/8 inches. Oddly enough, Russell Wilson’s 10 1/4 inch hands were close to Foles than Andrew Luck’s 10-inchers.

Obviously, there are countless other factors that go into being a successful quarterback. However, for Foles to be as tall as he is AND have the hand size that allows him to pump-fake and manipulate defenders is a promising situation. It is hidden factors such as this that turn mid-round picks like Foles and Wilson into starting quarterbacks for playoff teams.


This past week, former wide receiver Terrell Owens returned to Philadelphia to make the media rounds. His trip culminated in a roast that was put on by SportsRadio WIP. While it’s easiest to look back on the turmoil caused toward the end of Owens’ tenure with the Eagles, his presence the last week reminded me just how good he was and how close that team seemed to be.

The 2004 Eagles, much like a few Phillies teams in the last couple of years, were elite. The addition of Owens to the offense made Philadelphia a slam-dunk Super Bowl contender and they went out on the field and played like one almost every game that season. The bravado that T.O. brought to the city and the locker room made it a little easier to walk standing tall knowing you were an Eagles fan.

For my money, Owens’ recovery from the broken leg suffered at the hands of former Cowboy Roy Williams to play in the Super Bowl is the most remarkable feat of human physicality in sports. The fascination of the hyperbaric chamber and the documentation of the workouts put forth by trainer Rick Burkholder are still some of the most intriguing stories one can remember with Philadelphia sports. The only thing better than the Eagles finally winning an NFC Championship game by dispatching of the Falcons, was seeing Owens dancing on the sideline benches indicating he was close to a return.

His performance against the Patriots in the Super Bowl was nothing short of super-human. Owens hauled in nine catches for 122 yards and was the most dominant player for either team on the field. One could argue that an Eagles win could have altered the course of franchise history, given the resulting upheaval that occurred over the next 18 months. Maybe the organization would have succumbed to Owens’ financial demands and his relationship with Donovan McNabb may never have soured.

While his tenure with the Eagles will always be remembered for the craziness that associated it, Terrell Owens also blessed Eagles fans with one of the most enjoyable individual seasons in memory and no one can take that from him.