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What We Learned About Eagles This Spring

This is summer vacation for Eagles players and coaches, who leave the NovaCare Complex until late July with a high degree of confidence, energy and the understanding that a whole lot of work is ahead. What did we learn about the Eagles in the spring that was, well, very much a positive experience from every angle?

"We put in a new offense and we learned it and I think we played some fast, confident football," tight end Zach Ertz said. "That's a positive for me."

"Getting back out on the field and knocking off some rust, that's exactly what I wanted," cornerback Nolan Carroll said. "It was important for me and I'm right where I want to be heading into Training Camp."

"The big thing is that everyone came out healthy, for the most part, and in the big picture that's really important," defensive end Connor Barwin said. "You don't want to lose anybody in the spring."

It was good. Really, really good. The Eagles went through a lot of change in these last six months, as you know. A reorganization in the personnel department. A new coaching staff. Quite a bit of turnover on the roster. Trades to move up and the opportunity to make a franchise-altering draft pick.

Good stuff. Now it's time to digest it all.

  • The quarterback picture was the big story of the offseason and, as the dust has settled and vacation started for the players, the trio that the Eagles have put together are going about their business in a very professional manner. The quality of play from Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz was high in the spring practices and all have a firm grasp of the offense. As for the drama, move on. There isn't any here. Bradford is the starter and Daniel is No. 2 and Wentz is No. 3 heading into Training Camp. There is a lot of talent here. Remember back in 2009 when the Eagles had Donovan McNabb (former No. 2 pick overall), Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick (former first overall draft pick)? That was a supremely talented group, but McNabb was on the tail end of his career, Kolb was still not developed and Vick was coming from his jail sentence. This quarterback room has Bradford healthy and still very much in his prime, Daniel a master of the system who threw the ball well in the spring, and the ultra-talented Wentz, who is developing. It's going to be fun to watch.
  • A couple of positions that appear to have a lot of depth: Offensive line, defensive line and cornerback. The Eagles have some players on both sides of the line of scrimmage who are going to be valuable backups and who, on the defensive side, are going to work nicely into the two-deep idea of rotating players. At cornerback, Leodis McKelvin may have been the best cornerback, with Ron Brooks right there and a slew of youngsters, including seventh-round draft pick Jalen Mills, also pushing. With those three, along with Carroll and Eric Rowe and Denzel Rice and Aaron Grymes and Randall Evans, the Eagles will have strong competition in camp.
  • Can't wait to see Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod together with the pads on. Head coach Doug Pederson is going to have some "live tackling" periods in camp, particularly in those first three days when the full team is together as Andy Reid did. So we will have a lot that we'll learn in the first week of camp.
  • How deep are the Eagles at linebacker? Najee Goode is a quality backup behind Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks, but can seventh-round draft pick Joe Walker step in at MIKE and play if needed? This is a position to watch.
  • From the looks of the three-day minicamp, the wide receivers are catching the football more consistently, but there have been some drops. Fact is, there are always going to be some drops for every team. The goal is to be perfect, and that's not going to happen. Josh Huff made a sensational leaping grab in Thursday's practice and Nelson Agholor had a really good day, and then all I'm reading is how many drops both players have had. Maybe my perspective is different. I think this receiver group has some real promise. Ronald Darby was terrific in the spring and Rueben Randle seems motivated to be more consistent and reliable and productive. Chris Givens adds some speed to the mix and is going to challenge for some playing time. Huff, overall, is far better than he's been in his two previous seasons. A couple of the young guys, Marcus Johnson, Xavier Rush, Paul Turner and Cayleb Jones particularly, did some good things.
  • Don't be shocked if the Eagles keep four running backs and four tight ends. Chris Pantale and Trey Burton are going to get looks in camp in fullback situations.
  • A couple of players to watch along the defensive line when the pads go on: Mike Martin, a veteran tackle who isn't big but who plays with great effort, and Destiny Vaeao, a rookie free agent from Washington State who has some ability. Good group at tackle with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen and Taylor Hart leading the way.
  • Rookie Blake Countess is making some good things happen at safety. No doubt he pushes for a roster spot, at least.
  • The kicking game is going to be a strong point once again here. Donnie Jones was outstanding punting the football in the spring and the placekicking job will be contested. Both Cody Parkey and Jake Elliott are NFL-quality kickers. This will come down to the preseason games.
  • Is Ryan Mathews going to be the "workhorse" running back here? Does he need to be? Looking forward to seeing an improved Kenjon Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood in camp with pads on and the defense attacking. We'll learn a whole about a group that has running backs coach Duce Staley excited. He's the one who is coaching these players and he thinks the group has been doing all the right things.
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