They are digging deep in draft preparation now, visiting with college prospects and cross checking information and watching tape for the final few times. Dotting the I's and crossing the T's. Busy times for Chip Kelly and the decision makers at the Eagles and slow times for us.
So what can we expect in the three-plus weeks leading to the NFL Draft on April 30-May 2? Here are some thoughts ...
- Free agency isn't over. Teams are going to add pieces here and there to round out the roster prior to the draft. It's a buyer's market at this point. There are still some quality role players out there, some veterans who can fill a roll, who can add depth and competition, who want to find the right situation for 2015 and maybe the year after. I'm not talking about someone like wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who visited Miami last week. Crabtree reportedly is looking for $4.5 million in 2015 and he's been patiently waiting for the right deal to come along. There are still a good number of veterans who have skill sets to help teams. We'll see if the Eagles get involved prior to the draft.
- Trade talk is something that happens with every NFL team at this time of the year. And it works in a lot of ways, actually. Teams have talks to set up draft-weekend scenarios -- do you really think those complicated trades made in the 15-minute "on-the-clock" window are negotiated only in that period of time? -- as well as to shore up rosters prior to the draft? In other words, it's entirely possible that Kelly is engaging in talks to trade or acquire players prior to the draft as well as set up draft-weekend "what-if" situations.
- Teams are permitted to host draft prospects until two weeks prior to the start of the first round. That is a process that is ongoing as the Eagles, like every team, get some face-to-face time with potential draft picks. Also, coaches and the personnel department continue to spend time at the various Pro Days around the country as players get in their final workouts for NFL scouts.
- The Eagles begin their offseason conditioning program on April 20. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, every team's official, voluntary offseason program is conducted in three phases. Phase 1 consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. Phase 2 consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a "separates" basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted. Phase 3 consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or "OTAs." No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
- In the meantime, a lot of players are already taking part in workouts and conditioning on their own at the NovaCare Complex.
- The Eagles have some contract business to tidy up with wide receiver Jeff Maehl an exclusive-rights free agent and running back Chris Polk and defensive lineman Cedric Thornton both restricted free agents.
- Team needs? The Eagles have an interest in bolstering every part of the roster, of course. From this standpoint, the secondary could still use a piece or two, wide receiver still lacks numbers and the offensive line is an area to address. But it's fair to say that Chip Kelly has his own vision and we would be best served to expect everything and to rule nothing out.
- Otherwise, yeah, a slow time. The Eagles signed wide receiver Miles Austin last week to add to the mix at that position. In a wild and busy and fun offseason, having nearly a full week go by without more action seems like a month.