INDIANAPOLIS – In their first public remarks since the end-of-the-season press conference on January 19, Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni once again reiterated the team's confidence in Jalen Hurts and expressed excitement to see how the 23-year-old develops after leading the Eagles to the postseason in his first full year as the starting quarterback.
"He led us to the playoffs and obviously we want to go further than that and we're really confident that Jalen is the guy that can help us do that," Sirianni said during his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Sirianni explained that there are four key aspects to evaluate when it comes to the quarterback position:
3. Ability to create
4. Arm strength
Sirianni was emphatic about Hurts' arm strength – "There's no question that Jalen Hurts has the arm strength to make all the throws." – and ability to create, whether it's with his legs in the run game or maneuvering in the pocket to buy more time for his playmakers. The other two elements will improve, Sirianni said, with more experience.
"He just continues to get better whether that's from Alabama to Oklahoma, or Oklahoma to his first year in the NFL, or first year to the second year," Sirianni said. "We just know that progression is going to continue and it's because of the person he is and that he loves football. The guy loves football and he's just willing to do the things that he needs to do to get better and that's why he does continue to get better."
Hurts continues to make good progress in his recovery from offseason ankle surgery. Roseman said that the team is "really optimistic about his readiness for the offseason program" in April.
The Latest on Jason Kelce
All-Pro center Jason Kelce has yet to make a decision about whether or not to return for a 12th NFL season in 2022.
"We've been in communication. We're hopeful. There's been no final decision made," Sirianni said, adding that the team delivered a keg of beer to Kelce on Wednesday to help sway the center's intentions.
If Kelce were to choose retirement, Sirianni professed that there are internal options as well as the chance to acquire players in the draft and free agency.
"I was fortunate to come to a team that had great offensive and defensive line depth and we had some bumps and bruises this year that we really needed to rely on that," Sirianni said.
Salary Cap Space and Plenty of Draft Ammo Mean the Eagles Can be Flexible
The Eagles have room under the 2022 salary cap to spend in free agency and 10 picks in the upcoming draft, including three in the first round. Roseman has options -- and plenty of them -- to be flexible when it comes to improving the roster throughout the entire offseason. He and the personnel staff also have the benefit of seeing the players work in Sirianni's schemes for a full season.
"I think when you look at the first year with a coaching staff and their willingness, especially this coaching staff, to take some of the guys that we have and say, 'Let me see how this guy looks in my system.' Now, instead of having hypothetical situations, you have tape on that, you have film on that," Roseman said. "We can walk through what we thought about this guy and this is how he fits. That's huge in terms of evaluating our own team, which is the first thing we've got to do. We got to evaluate our own team."
Free agency will allow the Eagles to check the boxes so that the Eagles don't have to force anything in the draft. Roseman said that having three first-round picks won't change the process. Instead, it just "heightens the opportunity that we have."
As the Eagles glean information about the prospects this week at the Combine, Roseman cited that it's a deep draft across the board at all positions. Sirianni may only be entering his second year as a head coach, but he's been in the league long enough to know that his team will be much different in 2022.
"This team's never going to look the same. You're always on this mission to make your team as good as you possibly can with as much talent as you can with the right type of guys as you can to be able to handle the ups and downs of the season," Sirianni said.
The Eagles will attempt to unearth players with the IQ and mental makeup that helped this past season's squad rally from a 2-5 start and reach the postseason.
Even without the Combine a year ago, the Eagles formed a promising draft class led by 10th overall pick DeVonta Smith that featured contributions from several players all the way through the undrafted ranks.
"I think when you look at this league, the most important thing is consistency over time, not being a flash in the pan, doing things and getting better. We talked about the jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and how important it is to improve," Roseman said.
No Rock, Paper, Scissors This Year
In a way to break the ice last season, especially with the virtual format, Sirianni engaged the players in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors in an effort to get a feel for the prospects' competitiveness. At the very least, the players relaxed their guard.
For a different spin, Sirianni, who sported a Sixers hoodie at his press conference, brought a smaller-scale basketball hoop to the team interview suite for a unique way to connect with the players.