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Fan-Demonium: Homegrown Talent

Posted Feb 1, 2016

The Eagles had a busy week, working out new deals with Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson. Re-signing your own players isn't as exciting as adding free agents from other teams, but it is critical to building a strong team.

It wasn't always like this for the Eagles and keeping good players. Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Eric Allen, Keith Jackson, Keith Byars and Fred Barnett all left to sign elsewhere in the prime of their careers. That's a tremendous amount of talent. Those players made a combined 20 Pro Bowl appearances for the Eagles. With the flick of a pen, they were gone to other teams.

Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie hired Tom Modrak to be the team's general manager in May of 1998. One of the first things Modrak did was to evaluate the talent on the team and decide who should get a contract extension. In the next couple of years the Eagles gave new deals to Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Duce Staley and Jermane Mayberry, a group that would help the Eagles win four straight NFC East titles and make a Super Bowl appearance.

There is real value in developing players and keeping that homegrown talent around as long as you can. Those players tend to have a special bond with the team. Outside free agents usually make decisions based on money. Learn from history. One of the reasons that the Roman Empire fell is that over time they struggled to find enough Roman citizens to keep the army as big as it needed to be. They began to use mercenaries. Those men were good warriors, but their loyalty was to money, not each other, their leaders or Rome.

Teams that build through the draft can sustain success. They find young talent, develop it and then sign those players to extensions. It allows a core of players to build up over time. They develop a closeness and bond that outsiders are less likely to get. It is great to see the Eagles having key players they do want to keep around.


Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

Senior Bowl Recap

I was down in Mobile, Alabama last week for the Senior Bowl. I saw a couple of players the Eagles might be interested in with the 13th pick in this year's NFL Draft.

Quarterback Carson Wentz got his first big-time exposure. He starred for North Dakota State the past couple of seasons, but never had to deal with the kind of media and attention he got in Mobile. There were national networks, all kinds of local TV stations and tons of reporters on hand and everyone wanted to talk to Wentz, who is likely to be a Top 15 pick.

Wentz was terrific, on and off the field. He was easily the best quarterback on the field. There were some cold, windy days in Mobile, but Wentz had the arm strength to still throw perfect passes all over the field. He had good mechanics and looked the part of an NFL quarterback. It was kind of funny to see him at 6-6 and 233 pounds, while the quarterback from USC (Cody Kessler), was the undersized, scrappy player at only 6-1 and 224 pounds. Wentz is a terrific athlete and also has a real presence about him. He wasn't nervous about being in the spotlight and carried himself like he should be there right with the guys from Alabama, USC and Penn State.

I'm sure the Eagles liked what they saw. Unfortunately, other teams will feel the same way. There is no guarantee that Wentz makes it outside the top 10.

If the Eagles work out a deal with Sam Bradford and the focus turns from quarterback to offensive line, they could target Cody Whitehair from Kansas State. He played left tackle for the Wildcats, but projects more to guard in the NFL. Whitehair played guard in Mobile and was outstanding. He has the right combination of size and athletic ability to be a good starting lineman in the NFL. Whitehair is very smart and technically sound. He is the kind of player who would have a chance to push for a starting role as a rookie.

There were plenty of other players to like. Joe Dahl played left tackle in college, but at 6-4 and 299 pounds he has more of a guard build. He played guard in Mobile and had an impressive showing. Another guard I liked was Josh Garnett from Stanford. He played guard in college so there is no position change for him.

Safeties Sean Davis and K.J. Dillon caught my eye. They can cover, but also will tackle. Jeremy Cash and Miles Killebrew are big safeties who impressed with how physical they could be.

There were all kinds of good defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl. I could see Jim Schwartz liking long, tall pass rushers like Carl Nassib and Bronson Kaufusi. They won't be high picks, but each guy could develop into a starter over time. There were several good defensive tackles to be interested in. The Eagles already have Cox and Bennie Logan in place so I don't know how high of a pick they will be willing to spend on depth. Matt Ioannidis from Temple could be a possible target. I also liked Quinton Jefferson from Maryland. He is 6-4 and 289 pounds. He could play inside or outside.

Aside from Wentz, there was no quarterback who really stood out. Brandon Allen played well, but is a bit undersized. Hand size is an issue for him, which is something NFL teams pay attention to when it comes to quarterbacks. One player I do have some interest in is Kevin Hogan. He doesn't have a great arm and he's not a gifted athlete, but Hogan is a veteran quarterback who ran a pro-style offense for four years at Stanford. He knows how to read defenses and make pre-snap adjustments. Doug Pederson talked about wanting a quarterback who could do that. That could make Hogan a player who would fit what the Eagles want. Hogan won't be an early pick and he's the kind of player who will need some time to develop, but he could be worth keeping an eye on.

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