Philadelphia Eagles News

Draft Class Hopes To Make Immediate Impact

  • The five-man draft class, led by tight end Dallas Goedert, is making things interesting as the depth chart takes some early shape.

Check out how the big guys up front are doing during training camp.

Training Camp, 2018 has made its first turn, in a way. We're a week away from the preseason opener. The players had their second "live" practice of the summer on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex, which very well could be the final time ballcarriers are taken to the ground in this camp. While the focus is very much in the day-to-day mode, the schedule says the games start on August 9 when Pittsburgh visits Lincoln Financial Field.

So, there is a very real line of demarcation happening here. And the depth chart, for what it's worth at this point, is taking a form of some kind.

For the veterans, hey, they know how to get through camp and peak for the regular season. The rookies are new to all of this, and they are keeping it as simple as possible: Make it through one day and prepare for the day to follow.

"I'm trying to stay in the 'now,'" cornerback Avonte Maddox said. "That's all you can do. The days are long and there's not much down time. I'm finding that I just stay within myself and focus on that moment and I'll be alright."

A five-man draft class hopes to collectively make a contribution in 2018 and we have a sense – albeit faint – of how much the rookies can contribute this year. With that in mind, here is a Draft Class Update to provide some context to how much progress the players have made.

DALLAS GOEDERT, TE

The early returns are very impressive on Dallas Goedert, the team's first draft pick (second round) and the 49th overall selection. While he still has a lot of work to do, Goedert is showing excellent receiving skills, good effort in his blocking at the line of scrimmage and strong route-running ability. Defenses are going to have a handful with both Zach Ertz and Goedert on the field.

And while Goedert is a humble, hard-working kid, he's also got some confidence. He knows he can play at this level, and he thinks he can play right now and help the Eagles in his first season.

"I think I've got a good shot at playing," Goedert said. "The way I look at it, it's up to me to determine how much time I get. If I go out there and prove that I know what I'm doing and that I know my assignments, and practice well and play well in the preseason, I think they're going to use all the tight ends as much as they can. If I go out there and mess up on every play, they're not going to play me. It's kind of on my shoulders."

Goedert isn't messing up very much in this Training Camp. He's been a shining light, and it's obvious for everyone to see.

AVONTE MADDOX, CB

It all starts with leverage and then it moves to feet and then you must use your hands properly at the cornerback position, and every moving part must be coordinated to have success at the NFL level. In college, the best athletes generally win. Technique isn't as much a part as it is in the NFL.

Avonte Maddox is learning that as he's gone through the spring and the first week of Training Camp. He's working against a diverse group of receivers, including one of the best slot receivers in the NFL, Nelson Agholor. Every day is a new experience and a new step forward.

"I'm learning so much every day," he said. "I'm competing and I'm having fun, getting better. Everyone is good, everyone is fast, and everyone is strong at this level. You've got to be sound in your technique to have a chance. I'm enjoying the challenge. You don't survive unless you have the right technique. I love it. I know I'm improving."

Maddox arrives at the NovaCare Complex around 7:50 every morning as he prepares for the 9 a.m. practices and the days extend past 8 p.m. The long days lead to short windows to rest and recover, but that's OK with Maddox, who is working among many at the nickel spot as the Eagles look for a replacement for Patrick Robinson, a standout at the position last year.

"It's really competing against yourself, not anybody else," Maddox said. "You're judged by what you do. You need to bring it every day."

JOSH SWEAT, DE

After making some very visible progress in the last few days, Josh Sweat left practice on Thursday with an ankle sprain. Hopefully Sweat won't miss much practice time, if any. He's a rangy pass rusher, very tough to block with his long arms and Sweat has a strong burst. The Eagles knew they were drafting a player coming off a high school knee injury who never came all the way around at Florida State, but he showed enough flashes there and in the post-college season to merit a fourth-round draft selection.

At a crowded and talented defensive end position, Sweat showed up early and often in camp. He has flashed some very real ability. We'll see if his injury presents a new challenge, or if it is just a blip in his progress.

MATT PRYOR, G/T

Here's an interesting sixth-round draft pick. Matt Pryor has opened eyes in Training Camp. He's a huge guy who has played both guard and tackle. At 6-7, 338 pounds, Pryor has to show that he's athletic enough to play tackle, so for now let's project him as a guard. Ultimately, Pryor will need more strength and refined technique to reach his ceiling, but he's definitely shown something in this camp. He's on the come.

"No complaints. I think I'm doing pretty well," he said. "Training Camp is practice and meetings and then we go back to the hotel and look at some film. I think my adjustment has gone well. It's a pro-style offense, not a spread, and I feel like I've come a long way. You have to bring your 'A' game every day. Stout (Jeff Stoutland, offensive line coach) says, 'You have to earn your spot every day,' so that's what I'm trying to do. I'm bringing my lunch pail to work every day and having that mindset. I'm pleased with how everything has done. Lot more to do, but I feel I'm getting better every day."

We'll see Pryor in the preseason games and judge him against other teams. He's worth the watch.

JORDAN MAILATA, OT

The team's seventh-round draft pick is a work in progress, as has been documented during camp. The Eagles see Jordan Mailata as a piece of clay they hope will form an NFL offensive tackle some day in the future. When that is, honestly, nobody knows.

But here we are, five weeks from the regular-season opener. A whole lot is going to happen between now and then to determine just how the Draft Class, 2018 fits into the immediate picture for the Eagles.

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