Eagles

Fringe 1st-round receiver Brandon Aiyuk undergoes core muscle surgery

Fringe 1st-round receiver Brandon Aiyuk undergoes core muscle surgery

Possible first-round receiver Brandon Aiyuk reportedly had surgery today in Philadelphia, according to NFL Network. 

The speedy Arizona State receiver is thought to be a possible late-first-round or second-round pick in the NFL Draft later this month. 

Meyers, who is based in Philadelphia, is widely considered to be the top surgeon in the country for this procedure. He draws in athletes from all over the country for this particular surgery. 

It’s the same surgery DeSean Jackson ended up needing last year and that another draft prospect, Laviska Shenault, had in February. 

The big question with Aiyuk is this: What does this do to his draft stock? 

Well, a surgery a little over two weeks from the draft certainly won’t help. But at least it explains why he ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. That’s not a bad time at all, but Aiyuk looks faster in games and that’s probably because he is. 

The likelihood of no OTAs is an interesting wrinkle in this. The normal recovery time after this kind of surgery is around 4-8 weeks. So because there likely won’t be any practices until training camp, there’s a good chance Aiyuk will be completely healed by then. 

In an Eagles-only mock draft on March 31, I had the Eagles taking Aiyuk with the 53rd pick but I wasn’t completely convinced he’d be there. This injury/surgery makes it slightly more likely that he is. 

Replacing N’Keal Harry for the Sun Devils in 2019, Aiyuk had a big season, catching 65 passes for 1,192 yards (18.3) and 8 touchdowns. But he also played just two seasons at ASU after transferring from a JUCO program. 

Despite the injury, Aiyuk tested well at the combine. And his freakish wingspan gives him a giant catch radius. 

Where Aiyuk really shines is with the ball in his hands. He also returned kicks and punts at ASU and his YAC ability is impressive. Aiyuk would be a great weapon for Doug Pederson and the Eagles’ offense. 

Maybe this surgery helps him fall into their range in Round 2. 

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Eagles 2020 breakout candidate: Will Jalen Reagor have a big rookie season?

Eagles 2020 breakout candidate: Will Jalen Reagor have a big rookie season?

Over the next two weeks, I’m taking a look at 10 Eagles players who might be primed for a breakout season in 2020. I have already looked at Boston Scott, K’Von Wallace, Sidney Jones and T.J. Edwards

Up today: Jalen Reagor 

Age: 21

How acquired: Drafted in 1st round (No. 21) 

Entering: Year 1

There will be high expectations for the Eagles’ first-round pick during his rookie season. The Eagles chose Reagor over several other options, including Justin Jefferson, who might have been the more pro-ready player. But they chose him because of his speed and big play-making ability. 

There’s no question the Eagles can use a big-time playmaker on offense. 

After DeSean Jackson went down last season, the main element the Eagles lacked on offense was elite speed. While Reagor didn’t run very well at the combine, putting up a 4.47, he was much faster at his virtual pro day and those faster numbers backed up what the Eagles saw on tape. They think they’re getting a speedy and explosive player. 

DraftKings right now has the over/under number on receiving yards for Reagor as a rookie at 650.5. 

To put that number into perspective, there have been just seven players in Eagles history to have 651 receiving yards in their rookie seasons. In the last 30 years, the only three are Jordan Matthews in 2014, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and DeSean Jackson in 2008. 

One reason why Reagor has the chance to hit the over on that prop bet is because he should have some opportunity. The Eagles need him to get involved early on in his career because there are significant question marks at the position. The top two returning receivers in 2020 are Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. And Greg Ward is a nice piece but shouldn’t keep Reagor off the field. 

Now, it won’t be easy for a rookie receiver to come in and make an impact, especially in a year where there were no OTAs or minicamps. And maybe the Eagles’ goal is to bring Reagor along slowly. But they shouldn’t. 

Reagor should get ample playing time to start his rookie season and it should increase as the year goes on. With all that opportunity and with his explosive ability, he has a real chance for a big rookie season. 

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What we've learned the past week about the Eagles

What we've learned the past week about the Eagles

I was really struck by something Nick Foles wrote the other day in his powerful and heartfelt message explaining his feelings following the death of George Floyd.

And even though Nick isn't an Eagle these days, I think his message really helps define what's truly special about this franchise.

"My favorite part of playing football has not been winning a Super Bowl or running the Philly Special," Foles tweeted out. "It has been to glorify God and to play with men from all different backgrounds and races. Men come together to achieve the common goal of winning games no matter what their background. To do that, they must love one another, genuinely. It becomes a real brotherhood. I have been a part of some special teams. The special teams did not always have the best playbook, but they did have the strongest brotherhood."

I think we all understand what teams Nick is talking about.

This is a special place. This is a special franchise. And it didn't just happen by accident.

It's easy to scoff at Howie Roseman when he talks about bringing in character guys. And it's easy to dismiss Jeff Lurie as a billionaire who's only interested in making money. 

But Lurie is a community-minded owner who's created a culture where people genuinely respect each other, where doors are always open if there are conflicts, where communication and dialogue and understanding are paramount.

And Roseman has for the most part brought in players who fit that culture. And generally, if you're wondering why the Eagles haven't signed some guy who made a bunch of Pro Bowls or why they've cut ties with a productive player seemingly in his prime, it's because of fit.

And it's pretty clear after four years of watching Doug Pederson that his greatest strength is his ability to inspire 53 men not just to play football at the highest level but to be good people.

To care about each other and listen to each other and understand each other.

Which is what Foles was getting at. 

That 2017 team was very good but it wasn't the most talented team we've ever seen around here. But the togetherness and unity and trust was off the charts. 

And I think we're really seeing the exact same thing right now.

Man, you listen to Jason Kelce, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz and DeSean Jackson, and maybe I'm naive or overly idealistic, but I get a real sense of people who want to make a difference and genuinely care about each other.

You can't have two more different people than Jason Kelce and DeSean Jackson. 

A burly, white offensive lineman from Cleveland who plays Jack Johnson on the guitar and a speedy African American receiver from Los Angeles who blasts hip-hop in the locker room.

But to hear Kelce talk about how DeSean inspired him to open up and speak about racism, and then to hear DeSean speak about how much that meant to him, this is meaningful and this is real and this is inspiring.

The more athletes and celebrities who use their platform to influence and educate and demand change the more we have a chance to move beyond the racism, homophobia, bigotry and sexism that are so prevalent in our society.

Talking about winning football games seems irrelevant in the big picture right now, but there's no question that a team that has unity and respect and understanding in the locker room is going to be better equipped to withstand the challenges of a football season.

But this is about more than that.

This is a franchise that's easy to be proud of not just because of how many games they win but because of what they're all about as people.

And anybody who still believes athletes can't make a difference just hasn't been paying attention.

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