With the Rookie Camp underway, Tommy Lawlor offers these seven thoughts about the Eagles' first-year players.
1. Favorite Draft Pick – Halapoulivaati Vaitai. I think the big man has the tools to become a starting left tackle in the NFL. Usually guys like him are gone by the fifth round.
2. Most interesting pick – Wendell Smallwood. I wasn't sure what the Eagles would do at running back. Would they add someone early? Would they go for a big guy or someone who is more of a weapon? I liked Smallwood and even linked him to the Eagles in a mock draft a few weeks back.
3. Most Surprising Pick – Isaac Seumalo. There were other offensive linemen on the board with bigger names, but the Eagles obviously wanted Seumalo. It sounds like NFL teams were higher on him than those of us who analyze and write about the draft. Seumalo has good tape, but intangibles must also help him. His father is a coach so I'm sure Seumalo's passion for the game of football really comes through when you get to talk to him. He also is a very smart player so I'm sure the coaches and scouts who met with him were highly impressed.
4. Best Value Pick – Jalen Mills. Anyone who is a four-year starter at defensive back for LSU is special in my book. Getting that guy in the seventh round is incredible value.
5. Favorite Rookie Free Agent – The Eagles added 16 undrafted free agents. My favorite is Bruce Johnson, the center from Maine. He is 6-3 and 302 pounds. Johnson won the Rimington Award in the FCS this year, meaning he was the top center in the nation at that level. Put on the game tape and it is easy to fall in love with Johnson. He is rattlesnake mean. Johnson doesn't just block people. He wants to put them on the ground and then punish them. Johnson was dominant at his level so the challenge will be adjusting to NFL competition. I loved watching this young man play in college so I can't wait to see him as an Eagle.
6. No Receivers Were Selected - The Eagles checked out a lot of receivers in the pre-draft process so it might have surprised some people that none was selected. I think the team would have loved to add one, but viewed that more as a luxury item. There were bigger needs. The Eagles have spent picks on receivers in recent drafts and then signed young free agents like Rueben Randle, Chris Givens and T.J. Graham this spring. There is some young talent in place at that position. The Eagles then added to the group by signing a key undrafted player in Cayleb Jones, a star receiver from Arizona.
7. Character Concerns – There was a lot of talk about the Eagles taking chances on some players who had character issues. This organization has done a good job over the years of adding high-quality players, so I tend to trust them when they take chances on prospects. One of the things that I noticed is that the players had an incident that hurt them, but not a prolonged track record of issues. You can get past an incident if you do your homework and find out the player has done and said all the right things since then. When there is a pattern of bad behavior, it feels like you asking for more trouble in the future.