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Domo: Wentz's mobility likely Pederson's favorite attribute

IN A COLUMN on Carson Wentz the other day, my colleague David Murphy wrote that, after watching Alex Smith and his somewhat limited arm strength in the Chiefs' 18-16 playoff loss to the Steelers, he's convinced that Wentz's big right arm was one of the main reasons Doug Pederson preferred a future with him as the Eagles' starting quarterback rather than Sam Bradford.

IN A COLUMN on Carson Wentz the other day, my colleague David Murphy wrote that, after watching Alex Smith and his somewhat limited arm strength in the Chiefs' 18-16 playoff loss to the Steelers, he's convinced that Wentz's big right arm was one of the main reasons Doug Pederson preferred a future with him as the Eagles' starting quarterback rather than Sam Bradford.

I don't disagree with Dave on a lot of things. OK, so maybe I do. The matter of why the Eagles preferred Wentz over Bradford is one of them.

In my humble opinion, it had nothing to do with arm strength and almost everything to do with athleticism. String together every comment Pederson has made about Wentz since the Eagles drafted him nearly nine months ago and the attribute he has referenced more than any other is the kid's athleticism.

By athleticism, I'm mainly talking about mobility. I'm talking about his ability to get outside the pocket and extend plays. I'm talking about his ability to run for the occasional first down on a third-and-long when nobody's open.

That's what Wentz brings to the table that Bradford and his twice-shredded knee did not. That, and an $18 million difference in salary-cap numbers.

"A great deal of a quarterback's work has to be done in the pocket," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "But there's nothing more difficult for a defensive coach to deal with than that element that a scrambling quarterback (brings) after a play starts.

"That's the most difficult (thing) because it's so unpredictable. And we're seeing more and more of it. There's a certain style to the mobile guys. And you don't have to be a runner to be effective, to use that mobility effectively."

Eagles fans had several opportunities this season to see the problems a mobile quarterback poses for a defense, including Carroll's own guy, Russell Wilson, and the Packers' Aaron Rodgers.

"You look at the Seahawks, they make so many big plays off scramble drills," Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. "It seems like the second Russell escapes the pocket, somebody is coming open.

"They practice that. The receivers get excited about it (when Wilson scrambles). They don't think, 'Oh, crap. He's running around now.' They think, 'This is when we make big plays.' "

Wentz still needs a lot of work with his out-of-pocket accuracy, and his receivers need even more work in learning how to come back to the ball in scramble situations. That presumably will be a high priority in spring OTAs.

But as the season wore on and Wentz became less hesitant about scrambling, he clearly proved he could get outside and extend plays, which is half the battle.

He also became less bashful about using his feet to pick up a first down. Wentz finished with 15 rushing first downs, which was the 12th most among the league's quarterbacks. Nine of those 15 came in the last seven games, which was tied for the fourth most among QBs during that period.

"Our goal is for him to get one first down a game with his feet," quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said. "If that happens, that moves the chains and helps our third-down percentage."

This and that

* There continues to be speculation that the Eagles may part ways with center Jason Kelce. While that remains to be seen, there is no disputing that he didn't play all that well this season. The 6-3, 295-pound Kelce had seasonlong problems with his snaps and frequently struggled with bigger defensive tackles, including the Giants' sun-blocking tandem of Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison.

"Part of it is size,"' said longtime NFL analyst Brian Baldinger, who spent 12 years in the league as an offensive lineman. "But centers aren't typically 330. A couple of them are. But most of them combine great leverage and great feet and great hands. (Steelers center) Maurkice Pouncey isn't a lot bigger than Jason (6-4, 304). But you watch him handle these guys in the middle of the pocket, he's not getting run over."

Kelce excelled as a rookie in 2011 for then-offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who favored athletic, undersized linemen and believed blocking wasn't about size, but leverage and technique.

"Then, with Chip (Kelly), it was a track meet," Baldinger said. "They were pulling left or right almost every play, and Jason was great at that. Maybe as good as there was.

"But they don't do as much of that in this offense. It's kind of built for double-teams and power at the point. That's not Jason's game. He gets turned. He shoulders get turned. He's not one of these guys who can just get shoulder-to-shoulder with the guard and lift people out of there and get to the second level and pick guys off."

* ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper came out with his first mock draft Thursday. He had the Eagles taking Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson at No. 14. He had the Gators' other corner, Teez Tabor, going 13th to Arizona. Wilson and Tabor were the second and third corners off his board. He had Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore going sixth to the Jets. I'm still putting my money on the Eagles taking a wide receiver in the first round. "The big-play ability that Tabor provides may give him the slightest edge (over Wilson)," Kiper said when asked to compare the two Gator corners. "Wilson may be a little bit more well-rounded. Tabor's the big-play guy. Kind of like (the Chiefs') Marcus Peters. He has tremendous ball skills. A nose for the ball. Opportunistic." Tabor also has been suspended multiple times and there are questions about his long speed.

* Kiper thinks Temple offensive tackle Dion Dawkins could go as early as the second round and probably no later than the third. He expects only three offensive tackles to go in the first round: Alabama's Cam Robinson, Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk and Utah's Garrett Boles.

Figuring the Eagles

* The Eagles, who led the league in time of possession (32:16), had 32 drives of five minutes or more this season. But only 10 of them resulted in touchdowns.

* The Eagles won the time-of-possession battle in 10 of their 16 games. They were 5-5 in those 10 games.

* The defense was on the field for only 978 snaps (61.1 per game). That was the third fewest in the league and the fewest by an Eagles defense since 1996 (961).

* While Doug Pederson's offense is similar in concept to the one Andy Reid ran when he was the Eagles' head coach, there are differences. Reid liked to use two-back sets, while Pederson, who didn't even carry a fullback on the roster, almost never did. Pederson used a lot more two- and three-tight-end sets than Reid, while Reid used more four-wide-receiver formations than Pederson. Here's a breakdown by percentage of the personnel groupings in Reid's final two years in Philly compared with Pederson's first season:

WR-RB-TE ... 2011 ... 2012 ... 2016

3-1-1 ... 46.2 ... 51.2 ... 56.3

2-1-2 ... 25.4 ... 18.6 ... 29.4

4-1-0 ... 4.9 ... 6.5 ... 1.0

2-2-1 ... 11.3 ... 13.5 ... 0.5

3-2-0 ... 3.9 ... 4.9 ... 0.7

1-1-3 ... 0.0 ... 0.0 ... 10.6

Other ... 8.3 ... 5.3 ... 1.3

* Jim Schwartz's defense had some problems this season, but defending the tight end wasn't one of them. Opposing tight ends caught only 43 passes for 406 yards and four touchdowns against the Eagles. A look at how opposing tight ends have done against the Eagles over the last six seasons:

Year ... Rec. ... Yds. ... TD

2016: 43 ... 406 ... 4

2015: 72 ... 778 ... 6

2014: 59 ... 758 ... 1

2013: 80 ... 1020 ... 3

2012: 71 ... 787 ... 4

2011: 66 ... 765 ... 5

* The Eagles finished sixth in average drive start (30.3-yard line) and 12th in opponent average drive start (27.7).

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