Three days, 10 draft picks, four trades, and then the post-NFL draft signing frenzy and the Eagles' roster is forever altered. But it's not complete. And there are still questions to answer, battles to be fought, and a depth chart to be established. After taking a few breaths following the three days of the 2020 NFL Draft here are some leftovers to chew on as we ponder what's next …
- The immediate agenda item is the team's voluntary offseason program, which starts in a virtual manner today. It's a nine-week session and you can find the details here …
- There are still some on-field roster needs and whether they are filled by more additions – Howie Roseman is always on the lookout, as we know – or from the current roster remains to be seen. But how about these to think about for a minute?
1. Do the Eagles think they have enough at running back with, as the top three at the moment, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Elijah Holyfield? There is talent here, to be sure, but the lack of NFL experience is apparent with Sanders and Holyfield entering their second seasons and Scott his third. Do the Eagles think Holyfield can be the "power back" that they've had in recent seasons with LeGarrette Blount and Jordan Howard, to name two? Sanders and Scott are a dynamic and complementary tandem and maybe that's enough, but it's something to watch.
2. Darius Slay is going to start at one cornerback position, we know that. Who is the other starter? At this point, the starter is going to emerge from a group that includes Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Craig James, Tremon Smith, and Trevor Williams. We don't know much about the latter two, and lost on-field reps in the spring and potentially summer won't help them impress coaches. Jones is in his contract year, so he needs to be at his absolute best. Maddox and Douglas want to be on the field, plain and simple. Somebody needs to stand out in the preseason.
3. In the slot, the Eagles figure to have good competition with Nickell Robey-Coleman, one of the league's best, battling with Cre'Von LeBlanc and maybe rookie K'Von Wallace, depending on where Jim Schwartz decides to look at Wallace. I guess Jalen Mills is also a candidate as he's been a starter and has played well, but if the Eagles want to expand his role into the safety spot … that's another situation that, with maybe no on-field work in the spring, is very tenuous. You wonder how much experimenting Schwartz can do with limited practice reps to go around.
4. At linebacker, Nathan Gerry is the most experienced and most accomplished player the Eagles have. He and T.J. Edwards and Duke Riley are the leading contenders to start, although the Eagles play with two 'backers on the field quite a bit of the time. That is certainly a group to watch playing behind what should be a dominating defensive line.
5. Doesn't it seem like the offense is pretty darn stacked right now? The Eagles added all kinds of promise and depth at wide receiver in the past three days, so the veterans know there are some talented young heads coming after their playing time. That competition is going to be great to watch in Training Camp. Tight end is loaded. Offensive line has a new face at left tackle with Andre Dillard, but the Eagles are confident that the 2019 No. 1 pick is ready for his next step. Depth is always a concern, but when the line is healthy, it's a great group. Quarterback Carson Wentz is one of the best in the game and Nate Sudfeld is poised to be a solid No. 2. Jalen Hurts has a lot of learning to do, but he also has a lot of talent and is a winner everywhere he goes.
- No. 1 draft pick Jalen Reagor has some swagger, to be sure. He plays that way and he dominates as a do-it-all receiver. He was on a Zoom conference call with some Eagles season-ticket members on Friday and a fan asked him which current NFL player he would compare himself to. His answer: "I would say two guys – a combination of Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill." When told that later in the day, Head Coach Doug Pederson said, "We will see about that, but the similarities are there with the explosiveness that he has and with the speed to run past defenders. That certainly would be a great combination."
- What kind of players are the Eagles looking for? I think this quote from Vice President of Player Personnel Andy Weidl from the Saturday post-draft press conference sums it up the best: "We're looking for people that are fundamentally different. The love and passion for football, it's non-negotiable. They're caring, their character, they do the right thing persistently, and they have a relentless playing style that you can see on tape. The motor, it burns hot. You see them finishing plays. They have a team-first mentality. They're selfless individuals. So, I think those baseline traits are what we try to focus on in our players, and it just mirrors what they do on the field, on the tape, and how they handle themselves off the field and the training and preparation and everything that we talked about."
- All of the pre-draft hype around the wide receiver class was justified given the way teams treated the position. Eight were selected among the first 35 players drafted (most ever according to Elias Sports Bureau), 26 were taken in the first five rounds and 36 were taken in the seven rounds (tying the 2003 NFL Draft total). The Eagles did their part, drafting three – Reagor, John Highsmith, and Quez Watkins.
- Wallace roomed with Brian Dawkins, Jr. at Clemson and, of course, has gotten to know THE Brian Dawkins over the years. Dawkins Tweeted out a message to Philadelphia on Sunday, saying, "Philly, do me a solid, let (K'Von) strive to be the best version of K'Von he can be. He's shown himself willing & able to listen, learn and grow. Earning the right to be a trusted leader (at Clemson) and in his family, with his faith, work ethic, and passion."
Fair enough. I liked this quote from Weidl describing why the Eagles liked Wallace as they scouted him: "You know, the thing about K'Von Wallace is his tape, and what stuck out was his physicality, his tackling, his ability to play around the line of scrimmage. The mentality he played with, the motor he played with. He's a guy that likes contact. He gets to the ball. He passes people to the ball, and when he gets there, he strikes. We saw that. It was consistent with the motor that he played with, the mentality he played with, and we really enjoyed it and thought he fit what we were doing and what we're putting together here."
Can Training Camp arrive any faster, please!?!?