As the Eagles enter the dog days of summer, here's how the team's two rookie Georgia Dawgs, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, are developing so far in camp:
DT Jordan Davis
"He's huge. I've never seen somebody like that," said linebacker Kyzir White, speaking about the 6-foot-6, 340-pound, first-round draft pick Jordan Davis.
That's been a common sentiment spoken around the NovaCare Complex since the onset of Training Camp.
On Monday, eyes were on the rookie picked 13th overall from the 2021 National Championship-winning University of Georgia, as he lined up against similarly large offensive linemen in one-on-one drills. Unsurprisingly, he plowed through the guard in front of him.
Later in practice, he earned first-team reps lining up along the interior. When Davis performs well, it's hard to miss – because he's hard to miss.
White, an offseason acquisition from the Los Angeles Chargers, confidently predicts that there will be more space for the rest of the defense when Davis is on the field.
"I'm definitely glad he's on our side. He's gonna definitely make things easier for the linebackers," Kyzir White said. "He can clog everything up for you."
The size is there, and for a player of that stature, the speed is there, too. Davis ran a 4.78 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine – the fastest ever for a player over 330 pounds since at least 2006. As for his standing broad jump, he is believed to have set the record for players past the 300-pound mark.
"Now, I just have to learn how to go forward," Davis said. "That's the biggest adjustment for me."
At Georgia, he occupied opposing offenses lining up at nose tackle, sacrificing his own statistics to free up his teammates like Nakobe Dean, who totaled 72 tackles in their 2021 championship campaign. In Philadelphia, he's looking to build upon his lateral agility and use his mass to propel forward through his opponents.
Favorable for Davis, he's had duality in his practice opponents thus far, stacking up well against both a 12-year experienced NFL vet and a reputably strong and energized rookie, in centers Jason Kelce and Cam Jurgens respectively.
"I strive for improvement. So when I'm able to go against really good guys, guys who have been All-Pro, Super Bowl Champions, and then also guys that are coming in as a rookie, I can ask him how he feels after the end of the day. It kind of gives you the best of both worlds," Davis said.
His collegiate success leading the nation's top defense to Georgia's first National Championship in 41 years has earned him accolades like the 2021 Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top interior lineman, and the Chuck Bednarik Award winner – named for the Eagles Hall of Famer – given to the best defensive player in the nation.
But now, like he said, in both the mental and literal sense of the phrase, he aims to keep moving forward.
"I feel like every day while I'm out here, I'm getting better," said Davis. "I'm working on something in my craft, working on something in my game to contribute."
LB Nakobe Dean
Before he was drafted 83rd by the Eagles in the 2022 NFL Draft, Nakobe Dean was a student-athlete, maintaining both an impressive 3.55 GPA in mechanical engineering and a reputation as college football's best linebacker.
Despite playing every game as a freshman at Georgia, Dean began his collegiate career having limited football IQ in terms of defensive coverage; candidly, he says he 'faked it till he made it.'
Now, in Philadelphia, it's the opposite. Without the demand of his coursework, he's taken his proven study habits to the playbooks.
"Here, it's a little different. I'm more of a football-savvy person. When I came to Georgia, I didn't know every coverage from Cover 1 to Cover 9. Now I know all the coverages. I'm playing how the Eagles want us to play," said Dean.
"Me not having homework and everything, I've got a little bit more time to study. I'm doing more studying, becoming more of a student of the game than I already was. I feel it has helped me a lot."
The youngest player on the Eagles' current roster, Dean has attributed much of his growth in camp to the influence of Eagles veterans.
"There's a lot of people who've been playing this game for a long time. People in year 10, year 12. I'm trying to take it in from guys like Fletch (Fletcher Cox), BG (Brandon Graham), Kels (Jason Kelce)," said Dean.
"I'm 21 now, so I was like 9 years old (when they were drafted). There's definitely something you can learn from watching them, talking to them, seeing how they do things."
His accolades aside, Dean needs to impress in Training Camp and preseason to earn a role, as he's not the only new face in the linebackers room. The team's freshly bolstered defense includes offseason additions of linebackers White and Haason Reddick, both with several years of league experience.
But he's up for the challenge.
"They push me just as much as they push everybody else, you know. The expectation is high here," Dean said.
"I love the organization and the fact that they hold guys to a standard, just kind of how we did it in Georgia."