After months and months of build-up, the 2016 NFL Draft is in the books. The Eagles added eight new players through the draft. Chris McPherson, Fran Duffy and Alex Smith gave their thoughts on the final Journey to the Draft Podcast presented by AAA of the 2016 season.
The first order of business was to talk about the cornerstone of the Eagles' draft this year - quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles made the bold move to trade up to the second overall pick with their eyes set on Wentz, and the process culminated on Thursday night as Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the former North Dakota State star as the Eagles' first-round choice.
During extensive film study with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell, Duffy believes Wentz's transition to the NFL will be a smooth one.
"There are really so many aspects of Carson Wentz's game that translate well to the NFL and that was something that I really wanted to get across in all of the segments that we did with Greg Cosell on draft weekend," Duffy said. "Looking at his pocket poise and decision-making, obviously the arm strength is there, the physical traits are great, but we focused on his pre-snap ability and we found all these different examples of things that translate to the NFL, those quarterback skills. Carson Wentz has all of that, and it's not like he played in 700 plays in his career and I pulled three that were good. He played consistently throughout his career."
The crew went in-depth on all of the Eagles' draft picks, including Blake Countess and Jalen Mills, two late-round players who could play key roles in Jim Schwartz's defense.
"It's going to be a really interesting competition," Duffy said. "However you list them, as a corner or as a safety, I think the value comes in subpackages. You have two guys who can play down in the slot and they can do that at a high level and hang with slot receivers in the middle of the field. That's a really, really important thing to have in this defense when you go to subpackages."
"I think Jim Schwartz is going to have a lot of fun with those two players," added Smith. "I just think that Jim Schwartz came in here and he really wanted to add an edge to the Eagles' defense and I think that's what they did in free agency with guys like (Ron) Brooks, (Leodis) McKelvin and obviously Rodney McLeod, and these are two more players who can bring some nastiness to that secondary."
"This secondary has got some talent," Duffy said. "You can say the same thing about the offensive line and that second tier or the backup line, but I'm really excited to watch the secondary competition this summer."
Also on the Journey To The Draft Podcast presented by AAA:
Official Visit with Jalen Mills at 37:00
Draft Mailbag at 39:09
This week on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast, Fran Duffy and Greg Cosell took a different approach. Instead of the typical structured layout, Duffy decided to simply press the record button as he and Cosell watched the third day of the NFL Draft live as it played out. No two-technique, no Saturday Scouting, but a 30-plus minute general discussion on the draft highlights the latest episode.
One of the biggest discussion points came early on as the duo discussed exactly what they're looking for as they look at tape and how they evaluate players entering the draft.
"Scouts are dealing a lot more with the measurables ... but coaches, Fran, are really looking at scheme adaptability because they want to line up players within their scheme," Cosell said. "Now particularly on Day 3, you're dealing with players who are guys who may not play 60 snaps a game if you're talking about defense. You might draft a player today who you may feel will be excellent if you play a lot of dime with six defensive backs. You may draft a player that's your dime safety and he plays 20 snaps, but you feel that that's a really valuable piece to the scheme that you run. Really, you're looking for scheme fit and scheme adaptability and having players who can come in and play to some degree."
Later in the show, Duffy and Cosell discussed the idea of developing prospects after the draft and whether or not position changes can be beneficiary, specifically how it relates to offensive linemen.
"How many times do we see left tackles in college and think 'Hey, they're pretty good. They have traits,' but we don't think they're left tackles in the NFL?" asked Cosell. "If you draft a guy and think he's a left tackle down the road, do you just put him there and live with the learning there or do you move him to right tackle? Lane Johnson was viewed as highly athletic coming out of Oklahoma and that he was a definite NFL left tackle. Now don't forget that he came to Philadelphia with Jason Peters here, but that type of player. I don't think there was any question about his athleticism to play left tackle, but a lot of people felt like he wasn't truly ready to play to left tackle."
"A couple years later, Jason Peters gets hurt and (Johnson) plays left tackle against Dallas and you can say that was one of the best games of his career," added Duffy. "You see what happens with some time, some coaching, some patience with a player like that and how he can reach his potential."
This offseason, the Eagles worked to shore up the safety position by signing Rodney McLeod in free agency and inking Malcolm Jenkins to a new five-year deal. This week on the Eagles Live podcast, Dave Spadaro caught up with both safeties, discussing how the first few weeks of the offseason workout program have gone for the two.
"Right now, we're just trying to get a feel for one another," McLeod said. "I think that's what we're trying to do as a unit in general, just trying to get a feel for what guys are good at and how they're going to use us. Right now, I can't give any specifics but we both play single-high, we've both been down there in the box. So, whatever works the best for us that's what we're going to do."
"He's a natural," Jenkins said of his new teammate. "He's a guy who's been kind of in that role. He's had to make calls, so it's been good for me to get a running partner that really takes command of his side of the field. It frees me up to kind of do some more things and communicate more. He's a young player with a lot range, a lot of speed and I'm excited to see him play."
Both McLeod and Jenkins are looking forward to being part of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's scheme, which can be described with one keyword – attack.
"It's going to be aggressive," Jenkins said. "That's the biggest thing I've taken so far is he's preached the word 'attack' over and over and over. It'll be one of those things where we want to set the tempo, want to set the pace and it starts with our guys up front. That'll be cool. He also allows his (middle) linebacker and safeties to really control everything on the field, so we'll be an extension of him. We won't be locked in to bad calls. … I think it will be a flexible, attacking defense that wants to cause havoc first and foremost."
Also on the Eagles Live podcast:
Off the Field with Rodney McLeod at 1:19
Three Questions with Malcolm Jenkins at 3:25
Interview with Howie Roseman at 4:53
Interview with offensive coordinator Frank Reich at 9:45
Interview with Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie at 12:10
Press Coverage with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio at 15:32