MOBILE, Ala. – The Senior Bowl is certainly not a new experience for Doug Pederson, but it a first-time perspective for the head coach, who now expands his focus to both sides of the ball after years of studying only the offensive players.
"That's probably the biggest thing," Pederson said on Wednesday. "Viewing the entire field and not just one specific side."
Pederson held court and discussed a variety of topics as the Eagles continued the scouting process at the Senior Bowl, which has been a huge part of the team's draft practices that last several seasons: The Eagles have drafted 24 players since 2010 who have participated in the Senior Bowl.
- The team has added to its coaching staff, hiring longtime coach Chris Wilson to oversee the defensive line group. Wilson, recently hired at the University of Missouri, jumps to the NFL after coaching for 23 years, 19 of them along the defensive line, at the collegiate level.
"I sat down with him, actually, this morning, and had a great interview with him. (Defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz and I spent about 2 1/2 hours with him and he's got attention to detail, fundamentals, he's a technician. He's worked with some of our guys before, he's recruited some of our guys before, actually, so he's very aware of the talent that we have and he'll fit our system well."
Pederson vetted "a lot" of names before deciding on Wilson, who coached Fletcher Cox at Mississippi State in the 2010 (when he was co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach) and 2011 (defensive coordinator/defensive line coach) seasons. As a sophomore in 2010 under Wilson, Cox had 29 total tackles, 6 1/2 tackles for loss and 2 1/2 quarterback sacks. In 2011, Cox recorded 56 tackles, 14 1/2 tackles for loss and five quarterback sacks. Cox also blocked four kicks in those two seasons. He entered the NFL Draft after his junior season and was the 12th player taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.
"He came highly touted and I wanted to spend some time with him and ultimately make the right choice at that position," Pederson said.
Additionally, the team added Joe D'Orazio to the coaching staff as the offensive quality control/assistant wide receivers coach. D'Orazio coached tight ends at Columbia University last season. In 2013 and '14 he served as the senior assistant to head coach Andy Reid in Kansas City and, in 2010, was with the Eagles in Training Camp as an operations intern.
- Pederson believes that left tackle Jason Peters has "several good years left in him" which would be huge for an offensive line that needs to perform better than it did in 2015. Said Pederson of Peters: "He does the right things in the offseason to get himself ready to go for another year. I'm really looking forward to visiting with him, sitting down and talking to him and, No. 1, seeing where he's at and motivating him for the future." Pederson said he would like to have Peters back for 2016.
- The news that the team signed tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek to contract extensions this week was welcomed by Pederson, who put Travis Kelce in the Pro Bowl this past season. The Chiefs relied hugely on Kelce. They could do the same with Ertz and Celek. "I'm excited to have both of those guys. They're very talented, good group. You throw (Trey) Burton in the mix and you've got another young, talented guy and you've got some dynamic tight ends right there. Three guys that you can use and I'm excited to work with them in the spring."
- Will the Eagles carry a fullback on the roster? That remains to be seen. Kansas City carried a fullback on its roster last season, Anthony Sherman, who played just 188 offensive snaps. Pederson said he hasn't decided on whether he will carry a fullback. A possibility is using Burton as a fullback on certain occasions. "Not sure yet, honestly," Pederson said. "We carried one in Kansas City (Sherman) and he was a good special teams player. There's the other option of the third tight end possibly filling that role."
- Pederson is "just getting that ball rolling" with regard to the evaluation process working with the personnel department. His coaching staff is together for the first time in Mobile and he likes the mix. "I think we've got a good group of experienced coaches with a good mix of young, energetic, eager guys and I think that's the thing with today's football. You've got to have guys who have a little juice, a little energy and both sides of the ball are going to have that."
- Yes, Pederson has spoken with quarterback and pending unrestricted free agent Sam Bradford. He said so on Wednesday. And, yes, Pederson said the conversation was a "great" one. "Sam and I had a great conversation a couple of days ago. I look forward to working with him. It's just something that we'll continue to evaluate and we'll pull that trigger one way or the other when the time comes." No decision has been made, said Pederson, on whether the Eagles want to bring Bradford back for 2016 and beyond. Pederson said that Bradford indicated to him that the quarterback would "love to be back" with the Eagles and that he would "definitely fit the type of offensive structure that I'll bring."
- The big name at the Senior Bowl is North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, and Pederson is impressed with what he's seen from Wentz the last two days of practice. "I liked him, I liked him," Pederson said. "He's got great size, good mobility, strong kid, good arm. It will be interesting to sit down and eventually talk with him to see where he's at mentally, but, by the eye, talented kid, looks like he could play in this league."
- Elements of the sports science program are likely to stay in place under Pederson. He will learn more about the benefits as time goes on.
- Wide receiver Jordan Matthews has been extremely productive in his first two seasons running out of the slot position, primarily, in Chip Kelly's offense. Pederson thinks Matthews could play inside or outside, based on what he's seen so far from the hard-working player. "I think Jordan can play inside or outside," Pederson said. "I think he's talented enough to do that and that's something, as we get into OTAs and really see what he can do, that we can make that decision. But I think that he's a guy that can be moved around quite a bit."