Eagles

2020 NFL Draft profile: Justin Jefferson a fit for Eagles at 21?

2020 NFL Draft profile: Justin Jefferson a fit for Eagles at 21?

For the next few weeks before the NFL Draft on April 23-25, we’ll be looking at some viable options for the Eagles and the No. 21 pick. 

One of the most popular mock draft options for the Eagles, Justin Jefferson isn’t widely considered to be one of the top three receivers in this class. That group includes CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. But Jefferson might be the best of the rest. 

In 2019, Jefferson (6-1, 202) had a monster season, catching 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he did most of is work operating out of the slot. And he played in an offense with the likely No. 1 quarterback, a likely top-10 receiver in next year’s draft and an offensive coach who jumped to the NFL this offseason.  

So how good is Jefferson and how much was he a product of being in a great college offense? 

It’s a fair question. But down the stretch, Jefferson played his best ball in LSU’s most meaningful games. In the last three games of the season (SEC Championship, CFP semifinal and CFP National Championship), Jefferson caught 30 passes for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns. 

And then at the combine, he ran a 4.43 and had jumps of 37.5/126.0, showing he has the athleticism to play at the next level. 

Current roster at WR: The Eagles don’t have a whole lot they can count on. Alshon Jeffery is an aging receiver coming off a Lisfranc injury and who might be a locker room problem. DeSean Jackson is a 33-year-old speed receiver coming off a sports hernia surgery. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is entering Year 2 after a disappointing rookie season. And Greg Ward deserves a chance but he’s played in just seven NFL games. Those are their top four right now.  

How he would fit: Based on what the Eagles currently have, Jefferson would need to come in and play immediately. We all know the questions about whether or not he can play outside (they’re legitimate questions and concerns), but the Eagles need all types of receivers right now and that includes slot guys. So in his rookie season, you could expect to see most of Jefferson’s work to come inside but the Eagles would then add more and more to his plate. 

What Ward was able to do last season was very impressive, but the Eagles can’t hesitate to pull the trigger on Jefferson because they have Ward in the slot. Sorry. If the Eagles view Jefferson as a first-round pick, they have to take him and they have to get him on the field this season. 

Eagles’ history at WR in draft: In their history, the Eagles have used a first-round pick on a receiver just five times: Nelson Agholor (2015), Jeremy Maclin (2009), Freddie Mitchell (2001), Kenny Jackson (1984) and Mike Quick (1982). Some hits and some misses in there. 

But recently, their history drafting receivers in any round hasn’t been great. Since Howie Roseman became GM in 2010 (minus 2015 when he wasn’t in charge), the Eagles have drafted seven receivers: Riley Cooper (5th), Marvin McNutt (6th), Josh Huff (3rd), Jordan Matthews (2nd), Shelton Gibson (5th), Mack Hollins (4th), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2nd). The only player to get a second contract after their rookie deal was Riley Cooper. 

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Eagles' coaches to continue working at home despite NFL policy change

Eagles' coaches to continue working at home despite NFL policy change

In a bit of a surprising move, the Eagles have decided to keep their coaching staff sequestered at home, despite an NFL policy that would allow them to return to work at the NovaCare Complex on Friday.

The NFL is allowing coaches — but not players — to work at team facilities starting Friday, as long as local and state guidelines allow it.

But Doug Pederson is apparently so happy with the way virtual sessions between the coaches and players have gone over the past several weeks that he doesn't see a reason to bring his coaches into the building yet.

"The virtual collaboration over the past three months has proven that the contributions and value of our employees is not dependent upon their physical presence at the facility," the team said in a statement.

Many Eagles assistants don't live in Philadelphia year-round and the new coaches on Pederson's staff haven't had the chance to look for homes yet.

Because players aren't allowed into the complex — other than injured or rehabbing players — it wouldn't really change the way the Eagles are holding virtual OTA sessions.

The current set of offseason workouts is scheduled to end on June 25, and training camp is scheduled to begin about a month later.

The Eagles will be opening the NovaCare Complex and the Linc to a limited number of employees next week.  

"Over the last 12 weeks, our organization has remained connected, united and focused on our preparations for the upcoming season," the Eagles said in an unattributed statement. 

"We have been planning for and will begin a phased approach of gradually returning a limited number of employees to the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field beginning Monday in compliance with the state and local guidelines, NFL policies and in consultation with medical experts."

The Eagles closed the NovaCare Complex on March 13 and players and coaches have been meeting virtually since. 

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Drew Brees fumble highlights how much Carson Wentz nailed it

Drew Brees fumble highlights how much Carson Wentz nailed it

As we watch Drew Brees backpedal, apologize and now try to smooth things over with his teammates and his city, one thing is becoming clear. 

Carson Wentz nailed it. The first time. 

Wentz last Friday became one of the first high-profile white athletes in America to speak out about the killing of George Floyd. He stopped short of specifically calling out police brutality but he condemned “institutional racism” and his approach was one of understanding and empathy. It was honest, it was refreshing and it was unifying. 

Then there’s what Brees said. 

Brees in an interview on Wednesday reiterated his response from 2016 about the peaceful protests against police brutality and racial injustice once held by NFL players during the national anthem. Brees said he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.” 

For Brees’s black teammates who have been fighting for racial equality, and for those affected by racial injustice, those words hurt. Not just because Brees completely missed the point of those protests but because of his complete lack of awareness. It hurt more because it came from someone they thought was an ally. 

Malcolm Jenkins on Thursday said he had spoken to Brees but he still posted his emotional responses to those comments. A strained Jenkins choked back tears as he talked about how much the words from Brees pained him. 

One of the big problems for Jenkins was the loss of trust. In an emotionally charged week, during which Jenkins has been trying to effect real change, someone he considered to be an ally, a friend, a brother, completely discounted the cause. 

To Brees’s credit, he did apologize on Thursday morning. While many will argue that his apology fell short in many areas, it’s at least a start to his rebuilding trust in the locker room and in New Orleans, where crowds of protesters on Wednesday chanted “F— Drew Brees!” Some will accept his apology, some will want to see more and some never will. 

For his sake and for the sake of his teammates, I hope the apology wasn’t hollow. I hope Brees learns why his words hurt so many. 

It’s hard to imagine Brees watching those videos of Jenkins and not wanting to rectify the situation. Imagine causing so much pain to someone you’re supposed to care about. 

While plenty of Saints players have spoken out against their quarterback’s words this week, many Eagles players have gained even more respect for their quarterback. DeSean Jackson earlier this week said his white teammates like Wentz, Zach Ertz and Jason Kelce stepped up. In that moment, Wentz wasn’t just a leader of a football team; he was a leader of the community. 

This isn’t about football right now. But eventually, there will be NFL games and it’s fair to wonder how these parallel situations will play out short-term and long-term in their respective cities. One team seems to be weaker because of this and one team seems to be stronger. 

While Brees caused what might be irreparable damage to the brotherhood of his football team and to his legacy in New Orleans, Wentz took a huge step forward as a leader of his locker room and the community. 

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