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Eagles OTAs: 5 observations as the rookies mix in with the veterans

Isaiah Rodgers
Isaiah Rodgers

Phase Three of the Eagles' offseason program kicked off on Monday where teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or "OTAs." No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Wednesday marked the first OTA that was open to the media and consisted of three 7-on-7 periods along with individual position group and special teams work. Here are five observations ...

1. With the wide receivers working on the near sideline, they were the natural position group that drew my eyes first as practice got underway. Veteran A.J. Brown took the first rep in every drill and looked like his normal self. DeVonta Smith was not in attendance for today's voluntary session, but that meant we got to see more reps for some of the younger guys as they prepare for a summer-long competition for jobs throughout the rest of the depth chart. Everyone looked up to par throughout individual drills, but one thing that stood out to me was the way some of the bigger receivers on the depth chart moved. When you look at rookie Johnny Wilson and young veterans Jacob Harris and Shaquan Davis, you see big, tall, long wideouts who probably don't move all that efficiently. Well, you'd be wrong on that last part. I was somewhat taken aback by how smooth the young receivers looked getting in and out of cuts. This will be a fun position battle to watch through the summer. – Fran Duffy

2. After individual sessions and some routes on air, the team got together for a couple of 7-on-7 sessions. Young veteran Isaiah Rodgers got the look with the first-team opposite Darius Slay, working at the right cornerback spot. This is our first time seeing Rodgers up close in an Eagles uniform after he signed here last offseason, and he had his moments today in practice. He gave up a catch against Brown on a comeback route early on, but it was tightly contested. I thought Rodgers reacted really quickly at the top of the route. A similar rep happened in the next period against Parris Campbell. The corner got his revenge in one of his final reps of the day, getting a PBU against tight end Dallas Goedert along the sideline. This cornerback competition is another one that will be worth the price of admission this summer. – Fran Duffy

3. Rodgers wasn't the only cornerback who flashed. We got our first look at the team's top draft picks in Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean working against the veterans. Mitchell played on the right side of the defense with the second-team unit and was matched up often against Harris, who as Fran mentioned earlier is long and tall at 6-foot-5. The offense tried to beat Mitchell deep over the top, but Mitchell displayed sticky coverage being in Harris' hip pocket, earning praise from his teammates after one incompletion and netting a pass breakup on another. DeJean was on the field with Mitchell as the nickel cornerback and also worked on the outside, displaying the versatility that made the Eagles move up in the second round to select him. DeJean was also in the mix fielding punts (along with the NFC's reigning leader in punt return yardage in Britain Covey and fellow rookie Ainias Smith) from Braden Mann, who earned a contract extension in the spring after joining the team in the middle of last season. – Chris McPherson

4. At linebacker, we saw the two free agent additions in Devin White and Zack Baun get the first-team reps, but I spent a good amount of time watching the third-team pairing as well. Rookie Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and young veteran Brandon Smith seemed to have a friendly competition going throughout practice, as they raced each other to the ball on seemingly every rep. Smith punched the ball out and forced a turnover along the near sideline on one play. Smith, a former star at Penn State, is tall, long, and rangy. He has a unique body type and traits to work with, for sure. This will be another position group under the spotlight through the rest of the offseason. – Fran Duffy

5. The Jalen Hurts to A.J. Brown connection looked sharp, but it was good to see Kenny Pickett and Tanner McKee in the mix as well. Pickett, the former first-round pick of the Steelers, is in his first OTAs with the Eagles after being traded earlier this offseason, while McKee enters his second season after showing promise during last year's Training Camp and preseason. Each had his moments with Pickett connecting with tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on a nice seam ball down the middle of the field as well as displaying nice ball placement on an out route to Covey. McKee, meanwhile, had precise timing on a sideline pass to Harris and a perfectly placed ball down the middle of the field to tight end E.J. Jenkins. – Chris McPherson

Rookies meet the veterans. Veterans meet the rookies. Find out what happened as the rookies are now fully assimilated into the team's offseason program.

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