It turns out that all those pre-draft rumors about the Eagles' interest in a young quarterback were correct after all. With their third-round pick, No. 88 overall, the Eagles selected Arizona quarterback Nick Foles. After three years as a collegiate starter, Foles, 6-5, 243, set all the relevant Arizona passing records, doubling down on his high school performance when he broke the records set by some guy named Drew Brees. But of course, those records mean nothing when projecting Foles as an NFL quarterback.
So what made Foles so coveted by the Eagles?
"You're getting a big man, but also a good athlete," said head coach Andy Reid after the pick, noting that Foles had been recruited as a basketball player by the likes of Georgetown, Texas and Baylor. "I like the way he throws the football. Then he's also a smart guy, which helps. It's a different offense. He's going to have to learn this offense, but that's ok. He's smart enough to do that. It was unanimous with our coaches, they all liked him. We'll see how it works. I'm curious to get him in here and see him throw the football around."
Part of Foles' allure was his ability to handle adversity during his Arizona career (Foles transferred to Arizona after one year at Michigan State). In his senior season, Reid said, Foles played behind an offensive line comprised completely of freshmen, meaning that he was under consistent pressure.
"He never complained about it," Reid said. "He rallied those kids around him. He took some pretty big hits knowing that those kids were going to be some pretty good players down the road, but they were learning at that time. His percentage under pressure was as good or better than anybody in the country.
"There are a lot of guys that can take the hit but then their production after the hit isn't good. There are guys who can't take the hit at all. And then the guys you want to find, those are the ones who get hit, they bounce themselves back up, and then they're throwing strikes right afterwards. There's no flinching. You've got to have an iron will to do that. He was able to do that at the college level and we're hoping that transfers."
Foles, it turns out, was one of two quarterbacks the Eagles had their eye on in the middle rounds. After working out what Reid said was five quarterbacks during the pre-draft process, the Eagles narrowed their focus onto Foles and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. When Wilson, the opposite end of the spectrum from Foles size-wise at 5-11, was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with the 75th overall pick, the decision was taken out their hands and the draft room was happy to have Foles still on the board 13 picks later.
Now, Foles joins veteran Trent Edwards and 2010 fourth-round draft choice Mike Kafka in a metaphorical wrestling match for the two backup quarterback jobs behind Michael Vick. Kafka, Reid said, is still a player in whom the Eagles have plenty of confidence.
"They're all competing," said Reid of the four quarterbacks on the Eagles roster. "I can tell you I don't know Trent as well, but I know Mike Kafka and I like what I've seen from Mike. I like what I've seen from Michael Vick. I keep going back and saying those two, this is their first offseason working with us.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Mike Kafka. And I've got a lot of confidence that Mike (Vick) is going to continue to play. He's a young 32 you'd say. This isn't to replace (Vick). That's not what I'm doing with this pick. I want to get another quarterback. We all know that's an important position. If you see one out there you like, you snag him up, bring him on board and let him compete."
Let the games begin.
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