It was a long and productive 2022 NFL Draft weekend for the Philadelphia Eagles, both at the NovaCare Complex where they selected five players, added veteran wide receiver A.J. Brown in a trade, and then worked the phones furiously to secure the post-draft rookie class, and in Las Vegas where the "Inner Circle" of Eagles fans had an up-close-and-personal look at the Draft Theater and all of the mayhem that goes along with it. In the aftermath, here are some items to clean out from the NFL Draft Notebook ...
1. Howie Roseman told me last week prior to the draft that he wanted to get "special players" for the Eagles. Did that happen this weekend?
"I think there's no doubt that we got special people," he told me late on Saturday night as he was heading upstairs at the NovaCare Complex to unwind with his personnel team and the coaching staff and everyone who helped make the weekend a success. "And I think that when we look at A.J. Brown, he's proven to be a special player in the National Football League. I think these guys have the ability to be special players, but we know that this is a prove-it league and they need to come in and work hard and transition from college football to the NFL to show that they are as special in the NFL as they were in college football."
And that's kind of the bottom line, isn't it? The transition phase has already started ...
2. First-round draft pick Jordan Davis was selected No. 13 overall on Thursday night and among his immediate moves was to visit the Eagles fans in attendance and bounce around with them. The giant of a man had his first taste of the passion of Eagles fans, something that resonated with him that night.
"Definitely felt the energy and the excitement from them," Davis said, who explained several times through the weekend that his mother was an Eagles fan from the Donovan McNabb era. "My mom, she's going to be with me and she's going to love every bit of it. I know they show a lot of love for their football team."
That's certainly going to be the case for Davis, who exhibits the characteristics the Eagles seek in players, especially the humility and team-first attitude he expressed. Davis had to earn his playing time at Georgia and fit into the galaxy of stars there. He did that, very well in fact, and brings that kind of attitude to this defense.
"When I first got to Georgia, my main mission was to get on the field and play, and whatever that took or whatever I had to learn, I was willing to do it," Davis said when he arrived in Philadelphia on Friday and met the media. "That was one of the things I learned in Georgia. That's one of the things we take pride in at Georgia as a defensive line unit, is being selfless members of the team. I always say, 'Two on me, somebody's free,' and when you have a mindset in play like that, everybody's pulling in the same direction. There's no individuality in the team. I don't want to be that individual; I want to be a team player."
3. Speaking of "perfect," the reaction from second-round pick center Cam Jurgens to being selected by the Eagles and scouted by Jason Kelce, who called Jurgens his favorite player in the NFL Draft. Here is what Jurgens had to say about the Eagles becoming his favorite team as the pre-draft process went along.
"It kind of became my favorite team throughout the process talking to them," Jurgens said. "There were a lot of fun teams I got to talk to during the process, but they were the main ones that stuck out to me. I feel like it's a really great system that fits what I do, and getting to learn from Kelce, that's a dude I watch and that's what I want to emulate and be like."
That's kind of the idea ...
Anyway, Jurgens was also a great track and field athlete in high school. Coached by his mother, a seven-time National Champion in track and field, Jurgens won four Nebraska state titles in the discus and three in the shot put. The kind of explosiveness he showed in those events translated to his performance at center, where the Eagles saw a highly skilled former tight end dominate with his quickness and leverage at the line of scrimmage and his second-level athleticism win in the screen game and in the open field. Jurgens blocked to and through the whistle on every snap, impressing the Eagles.
"I felt like it translated a lot to football because throwing shot put, throwing discus, it's all lower body and hip-snap and being able to use your body and legs and your lower half and getting into good position to generate the most power and create the most force," Jurgens said. "That's all the O-line is and that's all you do when you block."
4. Third-round pick linebacker Nakobe Dean has a playing style that wins – he's fast, he's physical, and he is relentless. Dean was able to play that way at Georgia in part because he took the classroom – watching film as well as gaining a 3.55 GPA in mechanical engineering – very seriously.
"I feel like for the most part, me studying, the studying aspect of what I have to do off the field translates to me in a football sense, having to put in the hours and hours to watch the film to make sure I'm going watch the film until I feel like I'm ready is never a set time," he said. "It's always you're going to watch the film and you're going to work until you feel like you're ready as far as the playbook, you know, I'm ready to dive into it. I feel like that helps me the most."
5. What is it like to have your name called in the NFL Draft? Well, linebacker Kyron Johnson had a family party waiting and hoping for his name to be called and when it happened in the sixth round, the moment was everything he dreamed it would be. "The phone is ringing and I'm like, 'OK everyone, this could be it.' I wanted to be cool and just treat it normal, but it wasn't. My heart was racing. I was so excited," he said. "Philly's on the other line and I just thought that everything I've worked for my entire life. And then you see your name on the TV screen and everyone was going crazy and celebrating. Then you kind of take a deep breath and you're excited and everything and you realize that it's time to get to work and I can't wait to do that in Philly."
6. A highly recruited player coming out of high school, Grant Calcaterra's collegiate career at Oklahoma was sidelined by a series of concussions and he stepped away from football for a full season. Turns out, that year away was the best thing Calcaterra could have done.
"It was crazy. I'll say during that time, I was trying to be a fireman out here in Southern California. I went to EMT school. Got my license. Got hired as an EMT. Went to fire technology school. Applied for different fire jobs in L.A. and San Diego. Worked construction," he said. "I guess during that time, I kind of learned that I can kind of do anything I set my mind to. I was able to move up the ranks in the firefighting community really fast. I learned a lot about myself, how I can deal with adversity, how I can persevere through tough situations. I think that made me grow as a player and as a person this last year at SMU. Extremely grateful for that experience."
Calcaterra played last season at SMU and had a fine year and says he's now a better player after having a new perspective and being more mature. "I feel great, better than I ever have," he said. "I see the game differently. It's slower for me. I understand more of what's around me and what defenses are trying to do."
7. In case you missed it, newly signed Eagles wide receiver Devon Allen participated in the Penn Relays over the weekend and won the 110-meter hurdles with an event-record time of 13.11 seconds. He's a three-time National Champion and twice an Olympian who has been part of the Eagles' offseason program since it began. He's bonded quickly with his teammates.
"With Devon you see just flat-out speed," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said on Saturday. "One thing that was really cool I thought is that his teammates being there (at the Penn Relays) to support him and connect with him while he ran in the Penn Relays this weekend. I think there's something out there with (Darius) Slay being right there on the track. I can't say enough about Darius Slay – he'll be mad I said Darius, but he's a great teammate. Any time I get a chance to say that, I'm going to verify that over and over and over again. He is a phenomenal teammate, and he was right there with him watching him win the 110 hurdles today. What did he run, a 13.1, 13.11? Yeah, that's amazing."
8. The Eagles have moved J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to tight end. Here is Sirianni talking about it.
"He was a heavier wide receiver, and it's not going to be hard for him to put on some weight and take his athleticism over to the tight end side where he can create a little bit different mismatches there against safeties and linebackers as opposed to corners and nickels. So, I think that will help J.J.," Sirianni said. "Last year he was our, what you would call our enforcer, right, our hockey enforcer as far as you go in there and you block this guy and get physical with him, and he did a really good job with that. I think we saw the talent there that he's got some nastiness to him, some feistiness to him. He showed it on special teams as well. And now he's going to try to do that at tight end, and we are excited about the project that we have at hand for him."