10 interesting facts about Eagles' 2019 rookie class

10 interesting facts about Eagles' 2019 rookie class

The Eagles' rookies had their three-day minicamp last weekend and the veterans will join next week at OTAs. That will be a big moment for them.

Until then, here are 10 interesting facts about the 2019 Eagles’ rookie class: 

1. The Eagles drafted just five players for the second straight year. The only draft class in team history that was smaller was the four-player class back in 1989. The Eagles have taken just 10 players in the draft over the last two years, tied with the Titans for the fewest in the NFL. Excluding the Eagles, the 31 other NFL teams averaged 16.13 players drafted over the last two years. 

Because of the lack of draft picks, the Eagles in the last two years have thrown money at undrafted players, trying to bring in the top talent of the guys who didn’t hear their names called. 

2. By now, you might have heard that JJ Arcega-Whiteside interned for Condoleezza Rice last summer. But you might not know he was born in Spain and his parents were both professional basketball players. English is his third language. Interesting guy.  

3. Undrafted guard Sua Opeta from Weber State did 39 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press. That was the most of every player invited to this year’s combine. Just eight players have done more on the bench at the combine in the last 10 years. Just three of those eight were offensive linemen. Mitch Petrus from Arkansas did 45 reps back in 2010. Petrus was a fifth-round draft pick and played 27 career games. For more perspective, Brandon Brooks did 36 reps (nothing to sneeze at) at his pro day in 2012. 

4. The Eagles took Miles Sanders in the second round with the 53rd pick. That’s the exact same pick the Eagles used 10 years earlier to draft LeSean McCoy in 2009. Sanders is from Pittsburgh and Shady went to school in Pittsburgh. 

In the modern era, five running backs have been taken with the 53rd pick — and three of them by the Eagles! The Birds also took Perry Harrington out of Jackson State in 1980. In four years with the Eagles, Harrington rushed for 635 yards. He played two more seasons with the Rams to make for a six-year career.

5. Because Saquon Barkley was ahead of him for two years at Penn State, Sanders had just 276 rushing attempts in college. In the last five years, there have been 19 running backs taken in the top two rounds. The only other one with fewer rushing attempts in college was Josh Jacobs (251), this year’s No. 24 pick. 

From 2015-2018, the average collegiate rushing attempts for the 17 running backs taken in the first two rounds was 591. Sanders had less than half of that. 

6. When the Eagles took Shareef Miller with the last pick in the fourth round, he became the first Philly native drafted by the Eagles since running back Bruce Perry out of Maryland in the seventh round back in 2004.  

7. According to ProFootballFocus, Andre Dillard gave up just one sack in 748 pass-blocking opportunities in 2018. He gave up two sacks in 810 pass-blocking opportunities in 2017. So that’s three sacks in 1,558 drop-backs during his last two college seasons. That’s just one sack in every 529 opportunities.  

8. Eagles fifth-round QB Clayton Thorson had more career rushing touchdowns at Northwestern (27) than Jacobs, Sanders, David Montgomery and Damien Harris had in their respective college careers. Thorson is seventh on the all-time Northwestern list for rushing TDs.  

9. The Eagles drafted two Penn State players — Sanders and Miller — for the first time in four decades. In fact, the Eagles hadn’t drafted a single player from Penn State since 2007, when they took Tony Hunt in the third round. Back in 1979, the Eagles took WR Scott Fitzkee in the fifth round and C Chuck Correal in the eight round. They drafted just four total Nittany Lions in the 40 years between their two double-dips. 

10. Cornerback Jamalcolm “Jay” Liggins was signed as a UDFA from NAIA program Dickinson State. If you haven’t heard of Dickinson State, you’re certainly not alone. Dickinson, North Dakota, is west of Fargo and Biskmark on Interstate-94, about an hour drive past Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the Montana border. A former track star, Liggins turned heads when he competed at the North Dakota State pro day in late March. 

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Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Eagles have reportedly hired Marquand Manuel as the new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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