Archive | April, 2013

Urban Youth Racing School Celebrates its 15th Anniversary

30 Apr

By Chris Murray 

For the Chris Murray Report 

and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun 

 Siblings Davion and Jasmine Ferrell proudly show off their awards at the Urban Youth Racing School 15th anniversary Gala dinner held at the National Constitution  Center last weekend.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Siblings Davion and Jasmine Ferrell proudly show off their awards at the Urban Youth Racing School 15th anniversary Gala dinner held at the National Constitution Center last weekend. Photo by Webster Riddick.

About 15 years ago, Anthony Martin used to watch auto racing on television with a buddy of his at his home on 21st and Tasker.

A huge fan of racing, Martin once dreamed of being a race driver himself, but was too old to pursue the sport at the time. He wanted to kids to experience the passion he had for the sport in the hopes that they would someday become race professional car drivers, however.

Martin somehow got in contact with Indy racecar driver Michael Andretti who brought his car to a location in West Philadelphia.

“The first event that I ever did I got Michael Andretti to bring his race car into West Philly and that was huge,” Martin said. “It brought 300 kids out… What we saw from the kids who were there that were inner city kids that liked racing.”

For the last 15 years, the Urban Youth Racing School has not only become a place where kids can learn how to race cars and study the mathematical and scientific aspects of the sport, it has become a full-service venue that provides mentoring and educational opportunities that go beyond the sport of racing.

“The thing that was more powerful than anything else is our passion for the kids,” Martin said. “My passion has always been for the kids being successful whether they be engineers or not.”

More than 3,500 students have come through the doors of the UYRS’s headquarters on North Front Street where they have introduced young people to career and educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Urban Youth Racing School recently celebrated its 15th anniversary during its awards banquet at the National Constitution Center near Independence Mall. The young people in the program, who range in age from 6 to 18, were honored for their participation and their achievements in the program.

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams attended the award ceremonies and said the UYRS has done an outstanding job in terms of reaching young people and guiding them in the right direction.

“I’m awestruck by the breadth and the impact and the reach of the program,” Williams said. “There are a lot of anti-violence initiatives, but clearly this program is a standard bearer… Considering everything that’s occurred in this country in Boston, Connecticut or the lives of the kids who die on the street of Philadelphia, this program represents the possibility of not only removing children from harm’s way, the but the possibility of them doing something for themselves and others.”

While the dream of having one of their students compete as drivers on major racing circuits such as NASCAR has not been fulfilled, the UYRS program has expanded into several initiatives such as Urban Youth Naval Engineering Program and the What it Takes E-Mentoring Program.

“It’s grown a lot,” Martin said. “We’re strong in STEM (science,technology, engineering and math) now and our e-mentoring program.”

Over the years, the UYRS has also developed partnerships and relationships with NASCAR along with several racing teams within the sport including Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Rensi Motor Sports, the U.S. Navy, Chevrolet, Bank of America and the Knight Foundation.

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy, who gave the keynote speech at the awards ceremonies, said the Navy needs young people, especially those of color, to consider careers in the sciences and that programs like UYRS do well with helping steering kids in that direction.

“If you look at the 99 percent graduation rate and if you look at the 90 percent who go on to college and the close association that they have with the Naval professionals at our ship engineering centers here, we think we’re get these young folks back into our employment and they’re going to be the engineers and scientists of the future that keep our Navy No. 1.”

The impact of this program is not only felt on kids in Philadelphia, but children in other places. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Morgan participated in the program even though he lives in Brooklyn, New York.  His parents drove him down the New Jersey Turnpike every weekend for 22 weeks so that he can be a part of the program.

“This program means a lot to me because you learn commitment because you can’t expect everything to fall in your lap, you have to be committed,” Morgan said. “In New York, there were no mechanical engineering or racing programs like UYRS. I love racing and I want to do that or design engines.”

 

Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix Hopes for Another Golden Year in 2013

30 Apr
Four-time Olympic Gold Medalists is looking to have another good year in 2013.

Four-time Olympic Gold Medalists is looking to have another good year in 2013.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/The Sunday Sun

(from left to right) Phoebe Wright, Allyson Felix, Doc Patton and Manteo Mitchell at Penn Relays USA versus the World Press Conference. Photo by Chris Murray.

(from left to right) Phoebe Wright, Allyson Felix, Doc Patton and Manteo Mitchell at Penn Relays USA versus the World Press Conference. Photo by Chris Murray.

PHILADELPHIA-Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix is coming off a 2012 track and field season that most sprinters would dream about.

Felix won the gold medal in the 200-meter dash (21.88) and she picked up more two more gold medals as a part of the women’s 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relay teams at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The 4×100-meter relay squad not only won the gold, but also set a new world record. Felix was named the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) 2012 Female Athlete of the Year.

The 27-year-old Felix also had first place finishes in the 200-meter dash at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. and won the 100-meter in the Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar. After winning in London, Felix took a well-deserved two-month break from the track, but was still busy with commercial endorsements and traveling.

With the start of the 2013 outdoor season, Felix said she has other mountains to climb and other goals to accomplish with the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in June and the World Championships in Moscow looming on the horizon in August.

“I think any year after a major championship is difficult, just to get back moving coming off such a high,” Felix said during a press conference at the Penn Relays.  “And so for me I’ve just been trying to take things slowly. I think this is going to be a season where I have a gradual build up and hopefully will come together at nationals.”

Felix got her outdoor season going last weekend when she ran the lead-off leg for USA Red in the 4×100-meter relay as a part of the Penn Relays USA versus the World.

Unlike the outcome at the London Olympics, Team Jamaica, led by Olympic 100-meter champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, edged out Felix’s USA Red squad at the Penn Relays.

“It’s always good competition, they’re always ready,” Felix said. “We know that they’re always going to be there and they’re our main rival.”

Going up against the competition from a loaded Jamaican squad and against a talented pool of American runners, Felix is gearing up for a season where there will definitely be getting the best efforts of her opposition at various meets this season.

“It’s always harder to run with a target on your back and it’s harder once you’ve had success to keep it,” Felix said. “It’s finding the motivation, making sure your work ethic is the same and I think after you have a major championship, you always kind a question a little bit, ‘am I working as I could be. You’re constantly trying to push yourself.”

After taking a couple of months off, Felix admitted that getting back into training mode wasn’t easy, but her coach Bobby Kersee, who is known to be a task master, got her ready for the 2013 season and back to her regular training regimen.

“I was out of shape, but Bobby whipped me back into shape,” Felix said smiling. “I’m just going to take things slowly this year and it’s going to be a gradual process to get back to where I need to be.”

Felix said her big goal this season is to make the U.S. team that will compete in the World Track and Field Championships in Russia and to ultimately equal or exceed her performance at the London Olympics.

Eagles Selection Of Johnson a Good Choice

26 Apr
Eagles No. 1 draft pick Lane Johnson hopes to fit in with head coach Chip Kelly's offense.

Eagles No. 1 draft pick Lane Johnson hopes to fit in with head coach Chip Kelly’s offense.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—We all figured the Eagles would go with an offensive lineman with the fourth pick in the draft because they certainly have a need for depth at that position.

And so with Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher (Kansas City Chiefs) and Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel (Jacksonville Jaguars) off the board with the first two picks and the Miami Dolphins taking Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan after a trade with the Oakland Raiders , the Eagles went with Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson (6-foot-6, 303 pounds) as their No. 1 pick.

Considering the beating that both quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles took last season and Chip Kelly’s emphasis on creating a faster, more up-tempo offense, Johnson, who ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combines, is definitely a logical choice for this team.

“I think they like effort and guys that can move,” Johnson said in a conference call with the Philadelphia media. “I don’t know what type of offense they’re going to do, but I know at Oregon they ran a very fast-paced offense that was very similar to Oklahoma and I think I fit in with what they need.”

If anything, Kelly feels a lot happier about the depth he has along the offensive than he was when he first came in, especially with Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce recovering from injuries.

“It’s ongoing process, but do I feel better? Yes,” Kelly said. “Will we continue to look at guys in this draft? Yes.”

Even more remarkable for Johnson to be picked as high as he was by the Eagles is that he just started playing on the offensive line during his junior year where he played right tackle after playing on the defensive line and tight  end.  Johnson was a high school quarterback when he came to Oklahoma.

“I think you see a guy who’s 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, he has 35-inch arms. He has an unbelievable athletic background to him,” Kelly said. “He just has such an upside that’s the thing that excites us. Football’s about winning the game up front and when you get a guy like that and to add the guys we have. It’s a great pick up for us.”

The common theme when it comes to Johnson is that he’s raw because of his inexperience at playing  on the offensive line.  But then again, the word “raw” was used a couple of years ago when the Eagles drafted Danny Watkins, who hasn’t amounted to much since he’s been with the Birds.

When people give players the raw tag that usually means he’s going to be a project who may not get a chance to play anytime soon.  That’s a notion Kelly vehemently disagrees with when it comes to Johnson.

“He’ll determine that when he gets on the field,” Kelly said. “I’ve said since whenever I’ve coached. We don’t set the depth chart, you do. We don’t run a dictatorship, we don’t run a democracy, we run a meritocracy. If you merit playing time, then show us in practice that you merit it, show us in preseason games you merit it, we’ll put you on the field. He’ll get an opportunity to show what he can do.”

Coming into his junior year, Johnson , who was weighing about 280 pounds, was defensive end, but with injuries along the Sooners offensive line,  Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops persuaded Johnson to bulk up a few pounds and play on the line.

“From D-end to tackle, it was easy for him,” Stoops said. “He’s a great athlete, a big guy. We could tell within a couple of practices, this is going to fit him perfectly.  I said to him right then, I said right then, ‘You’re going to be a first or second round pick within the first week or so.”

Stoops proved to be prophetic, but what Eagles fans want to know if Johnson can make that transition to the pro game as quick as he did at Oklahoma.  Johnson believes that he will be a starter by the time the Eagles kickoff the regular season against the Washington Redskins.

“I think I am, yes sir,” Johnson said when asked if he thought he was ready to be a starter.

Rookie Shines in Debut as Phillies Edge the Pirates

23 Apr

By Chris Murray

Jonathon Pettibone didn't get the win against the Pirates, but strong enough to keep the Phillies in the game.

Jonathon Pettibone didn’t get the win against the Pirates, but strong enough to keep the Phillies in the game.

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Phillies rookie right-hander Jonathan Pettibone did not disgrace himself at all in his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates with family in attendance.

In fact, he looked like a seasoned veteran and did everything he could on his end. He had six strikeouts with no walks while giving up two runs and in five and one-thirds innings.

On offense, Pettibone walked and scored a run.  It was a pretty good evening for a 22-year-old youngster making his first start in the majors.

In frigid temperatures more suited for Monday Night Football than the warm-weather game of baseball, the Phillies left a bunch of men on base and still somehow came away with a 3-2 win over the Pirates in front of 35, 385 cold fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“(Pettibone) did fine for his first time pitching in the big leads. He made some good pitches at times,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who managed Pettibone’s father Jay Pettibone in the minor leagues. “Early in the game, they hit some balls hard on him. He got them out when he had to, too.”

He did give up a pair of solo homeruns to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez in the second inning and catcher Russell Martin in the fifth. Other than that, he pitched well enough to win. It was too bad he wound up with a no-decision.

“I didn’t want to pick around the strike zone,” Pettibone said. “I wanted to get ahead of guys and go after guys. That was my game plane. I just pitched to my strengths and went after these guys. Whatever happens, happens.”

What also helped Pettibone was some good plays in the field including a spectacular one-handed diving catch by rightfielder John Mayberry Jr. in the first inning when the Pirates had a man on second.

“That was great, it saved a run,” said Pettibone, who struggled in his first two starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. “Who knows what would have happened continuing from that inning. It was a big play.”

Even though the Phillies had guys reaching base, they could not get that one big hit to break open the game. The Phils scored their first two runs without getting a bat on the ball. They got their first run in the third inning on a wild pitch by Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett that scored Pettibone.

The second came in the fourth inning when Burnett hit shortstop Jimmy Rollins with the pitch while the bases were loaded. In the sixth, Rollins would put the Phillies ahead on an RBI single to right field that scored Erik Kratz, who reached on a two-out walk.

“We’ve have to win one-run games,” Manuel said. “We’ll get good pitching like we did tonight, but we have to win games. We’ve had some low-(scoring) games and we hadn’t been able to win many of those games. That’s probably the different between having a winning record and being a couple of games below .500.”

The Pirates had one last chance to tie it in their half of the ninth when first baseman Garrett Jones smacked a one-out double to right. But Papelbon got second baseman Neil Walker to fly out to left and then struck out Alvarez to end the game.

After Pettibone left the mound in the sixth, the Phillies bullpen combination of Raul Valdes, who got the win; Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Papelbon allowed just two hits in the final two and thirds innings.

 

 

 

 

Phillies score Five Runs in Last Two Innings to upend St. Louis

22 Apr

By Chris Murray

Ben Revere's RBI single in the eighth put the Phils on top for good in the win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Ben Revere’s RBI single in the eighth put the Phils on top for good in the win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Photo by Webster Riddick.

For the Chris Murray Report/The Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—It was looking like another night where the Phillies offense was going to waste a decent effort by a starting pitcher. After scoring two runs in the first inning to take a 2-1 lead, it was nothing for the next five innings.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals had taken a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh.  But in the next two innings, the Phillies offense finally came alive and scored the game’s last five runs to en route to a 7-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in a nationally-televised contest at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“I’ve seen us do some good things and I think if we can put them together, I think we can be a consistent team,” Manuel said. “We’re not quite there yet, but hopefully tonight can get us started.”

After the Phillies tied the game in the seventh on an RBI double by Laynce Nix, the Phillies took the lead for good in the eighth on an RBI single by Ben Revere that scored Michael Young, who got an infield single to start the rally on the Phils final at-bat.

For Revere, it was redemption from hitting into an inning-ending double play in the sixth inning. He said he was able bounce back thanks to taking a few deep breaths based on a form of meditation.

“I just came back into the clubhouse with a little ‘woo sah’ meditation and then I went up there and said I have to redeem myself and I saw a pitch that I drove into center field,” Revere said.

Catcher Erik Kratz, who batted eighth in the Phils lineup, put the game away on a three-run homer to the left field seats.  Reliever Mike Adams was the winning pitcher for the Phillies.

“If the bottom of the lineup isn’t doing their job, we’re not going to have wins,” Kratz said. “Tonight it was the bottom of the order. Tomorrow it’s the middle of the order, another night it might be one guy. It’s all 25 guys that come and bring it every day.”

Though he didn’t get the win, starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick certainly did his part to help his team’s cause. He allowed just two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings. He also pitched his way out of some difficult jams.

“When you don’t have your good stuff, you’ve got to battle and keep your team in the game,” said Kendrick, who threw 116 pitches. “I was able to stay in there and not give up many runs and keep the damage to a minimum. It was a nice win for us.”

The Cardinals started the scoring in their half of the first inning with a solo homerun from second baseman Matt Carpenter.

But the Phillies would bounce back in their half of the first inning. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins smacked a Jake Westbrook pitch  to the gap in left center and wound up with a triple.  After a walk to Mayberry, Chase Utley singled to right and drove home Rollins.

The Phillies took the lead on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Ryan Howard that scored Mayberry who went third on Utley’s single.   Utley hustled and took second on Howard’s sacrifice. But then Utley made bone-head play on a routine fly ball to left center hit by Young.

Apparently thinking the ball was hit harder than it was, Utley was half way around the third when Cards left fielder Allen Craig caught the ball and threw it to Carpenter covering second base for an inning-ending double play.

After giving up the home run to Carpenter in the first, Kendrick settled down and kept the Cardinals at bay. He also showed the ability to pitch his way out of some tough jams. In the fourth inning, he gave up singles to Yadier Molina and Matt Adams, but then retired the next three batters in order to end the threat.

In the sixth inning, Kendrick gave up a single to Allen Craig and after striking out Molina gave up a double to Matt Adams.  He got David Freese to ground out from third to first, but Craig scored from third to tie the game at 2-2.

Somehow Kendrick survived the inning without giving up another run. He gave up a single to right to Pete Kozma. But the ball wasn’t shallow enough to score Adams from second. Mayberry’s throw was cut off by Howard, who caught Kozma in a run down between first and second. Kozma beat the throw to second, but Rollins alertly threw the ball to third to force Adams back to the bag at third.

Kendrick escaped the inning when Westbrook was thrown out on an attempted suicide squeeze play.

The Cardinals took their last lead of the game in their half of the seventh on an RBI single by Craig that scored Jay, who reached on a two-base throwing error by Chase Utley.

Leading Off for the Phillies, Chase Utley?

21 Apr

By Chris Murray

Chase Utley has reached base safely in 16 of 18 games this season. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Chase Utley has reached base safely in 16 of 18 games this season. Photo by Webster Riddick.

For the Chris Murray Report

After a horrendous start in the lead-off spot for centerfielder Ben Revere, the Phillies have gone back to Jimmy Rollins in the lead-off role.

Revere, God bless him, was struggling at the spot and was not getting on base enough. So far this season, he has struck out (12) more than he’s walked (4). That’s not good for someone who supposed to set the table.  He’s batting .211, but was hitting below .200 in the lead-off spot before going 2-for-3 in Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was 0-for-3 with a strike out in Saturday’s game against the Cards.

On one level, Rollins going back to the lead-off spot is not a bad thing because J-Roll has often been the spark for the Phillies offense even though he hasn’t been your classic lead-off hitter over the years in terms of drawing walks and getting on base.

But I have an even better suggestion at the lead-off spot for the Phillies—Chase Utley

Here you have a guy who’s a pretty good judge of the strike zone and has a knack of getting on base. Utley is currently tied for the team lead in walks, he leads in runs scored, runs batted in, and total bases. He also has the highest career stolen-base percentage among active players at 89 percent.  In fact, he has been successful in 35 out his last 37 attempts to steal bases.

From 2005-2012, Utley has the highest on-base percentage (.383) among major league second baseman.

From the time he came off the disabled list on June 27, 2012 to the end of the year, Utley led the team in walks (43) and on-base percentage (.365).  He also reached base safely in 70-of-81 starts and was tied for the seventh in the National League for getting hit by pitches.

So far this season, Utley has reached base safely in 16-of-18 games this season.

When you look at those numbers, isn’t that what your lead-off guy is supposed to do? Utley has been the one guy on this team who can hit for both average and power.  He doesn’t mind taking a walk,  he can hit it out of the park and hit for extra bases.

I think Utley might work in the lead-off spot because I think he’s a good hitter who knows how to work the count to the point where he’s going to knock the stuffing out of the ball or he gets on base via the walk. He’s always had the ability to steal bases even though he doesn’t have the speed of guys like Rollins or even Revere.

Like Rollins, Utley is also a threat to knock the ball out of the park from at the top of the top of the order as well.

While the Phillies have good hitters like Rollins, third basemen Michael Young and of course Ryan Howard, what would the Phillies have to lose by putting Utley in the lead-off spot?

Rollins, with his speed and power, could bat at Utley’s spot and still have the ability to score and drive in runs. Once he gets on base, he can still be a threat to steal.

Like Rollins, Utley in the lead-off spot would bring some energy to the team, especially with the way he hustles and runs around the bases.  But unlike his teammate, Utley knows how to work the count and knows how to get on base by any means necessary.

If an ideal lead-off hitter is supposed to be good at drawing walks, stealing bases, scoring runs and hitting  for a high average—anywhere from .280 to about .300 and be that table setter,  I think you can make a case for Utley playing that role.

Utley does all the above-mentioned things to be a good lead-off while batting at the third spot while also having the power to go yard and produce runs.

I asked Charlie Manuel if he would ever consider putting Utley in that role and his answer was a definite, “no.”

“You know I don’t think so because he’s definitely one of our (RBI) guys,” Manuel said.

Oddly enough, Manuel, earlier this month, said the same thing when he was asked why he likes Rollins in the lead-off spot.

“I like Jimmy Rollins leading off basically for a couple of things,” Manuel said back on Mar. 30.  “One of them is the runs he produces in the lead-off hole. He’s knocking seventh, eighth and ninth hole hitters and that’s pretty big.

“How he does it? He hits triples, doubles and homers. That’s how he does it.”

Hmm, Couldn’t Utley do the same thing leading off?

Count Down to the Draft: What Will the Eagles Do with the Fourth Pick?

17 Apr

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Several mock drafts have Central Michigan's  Eric Fisher going fourth to the Eagles.

Several mock drafts have Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher going fourth to the Eagles.

The biggest concern that Eagles fans have coming into this draft other than who they’re going to take with the fourth pick is whether or not this draft as a whole will yield better results.

In the 2010 and 2011 drafts, the Eagles only three players from that group, center Jason Kelce, and safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen, have emerged as starters from that group. Players like wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Clay Harbor have been solid backups.

That’s something that even the Eagles front office acknowledges, but this year Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said the team is in a better position to find what they think is the best athlete available rather than drafting to fill a need, especially after filling some holes during  the recent free agent signing period.

“What we learned is that you can’t force your board,” Roseman said. “You can’t have some much urgency in filling a need that you change the evaluation process.   We talked about that a lot it’s something we won’t do it again.

“It was the lure of how close we felt we were close to winning a championship and I think it was the mindset of trying to do whatever takes to win that championship.”

For a team that finished 4-12 last season, the best athlete available in this draft whether it’s the fourth pick or the 140th  will be somebody that the Eagles definitely need for both now and the future.

“I think there are some quality players in this draft, and that’s our job to kind of figure that out,” said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.  “I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination there is a slam dunk anywhere.”

So let the speculation and the revisions to your mock draft begin.

Even with Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon competing for the starting job, you get the feeling that Kelly wants a younger player that he can take under his wing and develop for his read-option system.

To that end, the Eagles have had their eyes on former West Virginia star Geno Smith, who threw 44 touchdown passes during his final year; Florida State’s E.J. Manuel (6-foot-5, 240 pounds), who passed for 3,392 yards with 23 touchdown passes 10 interceptions; and Arizona’s Matt Scott, who passed for 3,620 and threw 27 touchdown passes. He also ran for 510 yards and scored six touchdown passes.

Whether the Eagles take a quarterback or any position with the fourth pick might hinge on whether or not Kelly likes what he sees on film during this week’s round of minicamp with the veterans.

“When you get to see them on the field for three straight days, running around doing things, it gives you a better understanding of what your team is and kind of where they are,” Kelly said when asked if this week’s minicamps would influence the draft.

“There are going to be some guys that maybe they were looked at as a guy that wasn’t as highly touted, but really fits into what we do, and maybe some other guys that are highly touted that aren’t exactly the right fit.”

Would Kelly and Roseman really take a quarterback with the fourth pick in a draft where there’s plenty of offensive linemen, especially considering that the Eagles have two offensive linemen in their 30s in Jason Peters and Todd Herremans who are coming off injuries?

The popular choice among some observers is Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher (6-7, 300 pounds) while others are looking at Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel (6-6, 306), the 2012 Outland Trophy winner.  Roseman said he likes the depth at offensive line for next week’s draft.

“There are some really talented offensive linemen in this draft along with some defensive linemen,” Roseman said. “This is a meat and potatoes draft.  Certainly in the first couple of rounds with lineman it’s going to be exciting. It’s hard to find big guys who can move and play with power.”

Given how beat up the Eagles quarterbacks were last season, an offensive lineman is probably where the Birds will go, especially with that fourth pick.

More than likely, the Kansas City Chiefs, who have the first pick will probably go either one of two ways—they will go after Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei or they will take Joeckel, given Andy Reid’s affinity for offensive lineman.

If the Chiefs opt take an offensive lineman Joeckel or Fisher, the Eagles couldn’t go wrong with taking Lotulelei, who has been compared to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata and Detroit’s Ndamoukong Suh as a guy who can plug up the middle and rush the passer.  If Lotulelei (6-4, 325) is really that good, the Eagles will have a beast in the middle of their defense—whether they go with a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

Some mock drafts have Philly native Shariff Floyd (6-3, 297) out of Florida going to Jacksonville the team with the second pick, but if he’s available by the time the fourth pick the Eagles might pick him up, especially if you buy into the idea that the Birds are looking for the best athlete available.

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