Carson Wentz, Jared Goff set to face off in battle of 2016 NFL draft top picks

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Carson Wentz, Jared Goff set to face off in battle of 2016 NFL draft top picks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Chocolate and vanilla ice cream will finally battle it out this weekend at the LA Coliseum. 

That was the way Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman compared Jared Goff and Carson Wentz just before the 2016 draft. The Eagles had just traded up to the No. 2 pick and Roseman said the Eagles would be happy with either quarterback. 

That, of course, was hogwash. 

The Eagles wanted Wentz all along and when they traded up to that second spot, they knew the Rams were using their pick on Goff. 

Things have worked out pretty well for both. As Wentz and Goff prepare to face off this weekend in Los Angeles, both have their teams at the top of the standings of their respective NFC divisions. 

While the young QBs are trying to stay focused on facing good defenses this week, they understand why the first game between the top two picks of the 2016 draft is such a big storyline. 

"I think it's exciting," Wentz said from Angel Stadium on Wednesday afternoon (Get an inside look at the baseball diamond turned football field). "I think it's exciting any time two quarterbacks like this face off. Offense is playing their defense and vice versa, but I think it's definitely exciting for the league. Jared and I are both excited about it."

Wentz and Goff actually know each other pretty well. They share the same agency (Rep1 Sports) and worked out together during the 2016 pre-draft process. Wentz thought the natural competition before the draft helped both prospects. 

Goff did meet with the Eagles leading up to the draft a year ago and was actually with them when the Rams traded up to the No. 1 spot. He said he enjoyed the coaching staff. 

Wentz and Goff became friends over those few months in the spring of 2016 and have kept in touch since. During the season, both are busy so communication is limited, but they have texted a few times. 

"I'm very happy for [Wentz] and everything he's accomplished so far this year and through his career, including last year," Goff said on a conference call with Philly reporters on Wednesday. "Everything he's done, it's all been earned. He's worked really hard to get where he's at, just from my brief experience with him." 

Wentz said he will always follow Goff's career, but not because they'll be forever linked. He said he'll follow his career because the two are friends. 

It's been pretty easy for them to follow one another this season. Their two teams have already faced six common opponents, so while watching game tape of opposing defenses, Wentz and Goff have been able to see the other plenty. 

"I think the biggest thing is he's accurate," Wentz said. "He makes some throws that are impressive and he's accurate and he's pretty decisive. It's fun to see how far he's come in this year and to kind of see him develop."

The two have been great so far this season: 

Goff: 9-3 record, 62.2 completion percentage, 3,184 yards, 20, TDs, 6 INTs. 

Wentz: 10-2 record, 60.7 completion percentage, 3,005 yards, 29 TDs, 6 INTs.  

While their numbers have been similar this year, Wentz got off to a much hotter start in his career in 2016. The big reason for that was probably his surroundings. Wentz landed in a spot with nearly unlimited resources to help a quarterback. Goff didn't. He had a defensive head coach and a former tight ends coach as his offensive coordinator. 

New head coach Sean McVay, along with an infusion of talent, has done wonders for Goff's career. 

"Very similar to what makes Carson so special, Jared had those traits, those characteristics," McVay said. "They just needed to pull them out." 

Eagles rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins shares the same agency as Goff and Wentz. While he knows Wentz really well, he has met Goff and thinks he's a really nice guy. 

Hollins knows both of them well enough to understand that neither will get swept up in the No. 1 pick vs. No. 2 hoopla this week. 

"I think it's a really fun storyline for you guys," Goff said. "For us internally, we're focused on trying to win the game and do everything we can this week to best prepare ourselves to beat the Eagles." 

Eagle Eye: Eagles facing a unique situation with Darren Sproles

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Eagle Eye: Eagles facing a unique situation with Darren Sproles

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Darren Sproles' upcoming retirement. Does it put the Eagles in an awkward position on game days? Why do players care so much about their ratings in Madden? Also, Barrett shares how he decided on his jersey numbers throughout his football career?

1:00 - Derrick is back! What did he do with his time off?
5:30 - Barrett spent time with his grandson ... who ate pancakes with ketchup.
10:00 - Darren Sproles says 2018 will be his final year.
15:00 - Why do players care so much about their Madden ratings?
19:30 - If you can script your career, how would you want to retire?
22:30 - How did Barrett decide on his jersey numbers?

Subscribe and rate Eagle Eye: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

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Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

One thing Andy Reid was spot on about during his long tenure with the Eagles was the importance of building around both lines. 

Big Red always made the offensive and defensive lines a priority, and during the Eagles’ stretch of deep playoff runs — from 2000 through 2009 — the O-line was anchored by guys like Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Todd Herremans and the D-line by Corey Simon, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Hugh Douglas.

During that 10-year stretch, the Eagles had the most wins in the NFC and the third-most wins in the NFL, and the one constant during that stretch was solid line play. 

Donovan McNabb was very good when healthy most of those seasons, and the Eagles always had good running backs and corners, but the heart of those teams was up front.

Just look at how Big Red drafted. Eight of his 11 first-round picks were linemen. After taking McNabb in 1999, all six of Reid's picks in the first half of the first round were linemen.

They obviously didn’t all work out, but Reid was committed to both lines, and Howie Roseman, then a young, rising personnel executive, was paying attention.

The Eagles have done a lot of things differently in the five years since Reid's final season here, but one thing Doug Pederson and Roseman believe in is building around the lines, and it sure paid off last year.

According to figures on salary cap website Spotrac, the Eagles in 2017 were the only team ranked among the top five in the NFL in both offensive line and defensive line spending.

And the only team that had a parade in February.

And they’re only going to spend more this year.

The Eagles will spend 22.36 percent of their 2018 cap money on the offensive line, fourth most in the league, and 28.84 percent to the defensive line, fifth most.

That’s more than half their 2018 payroll on the big guys up front.

The Jets — sixth in O-line spending, 10th in D-line — are the only other team in the top 10 in both.

Seven of the Eagles’ 10 highest-paid players last year were linemen, as are eight of their 13 projected highest-paid players in 2018.

And five of those guys — Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Vinny Curry and Jason Peters — are actually holdovers from the Reid era.

Think of them as Reid’s parting gifts to the 2017 championship team.

Creating a Super Bowl roster was a complicated process for Roseman, and to be able to make this sort of financial commitment to the two lines means you just don’t have much money left for everything else. 

The only way to make that work is to build with cheap labor elsewhere. 

And that means younger players on bargain-basement rookie contracts, cheap but productive quarterbacks and low-round picks and undrafted players with cheapo contracts excelling.

It means drafting well and making exceptional free-agent decisions without overspending.

It’s a crazy juggling act, and Roseman juggled all those things magnificentely last year.

In fact, according to Spotrac’s data, the two lines are the Eagles' only positional groups ranked even among the top 15 in the NFL.

The secondary and QB positions rank 16th in cap allocations, tight end 18th, running back 21st, wide receiver 27th, linebacker 31st and special teams 32nd.

These numbers are all based on the 53 highest-paid players currently under contract, so they will change slightly once the final roster is set, but they won’t change much.

The Eagles were very good in a lot of areas last year — really, in every area — but their offensive line was the best in football and the best in Eagles history, and the defensive line was easily one of the two- or three-best in football.

Everything the Eagles did, everything they accomplished, started up front.

Put Peters back on the O-line and add Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett to the D-line with an increased role for Derek Barnett, and both lines could conceivably be even better this year.

It’s going to get harder for Roseman to keep paying the Eagles’ linemen the way he has. Once Carson Wentz signs his next contract, the Eagles’ entire salary cap balance will change. 

Those $25 million annual cap hits for one guy have a tendency to make roster decisions way more challenging.

So it will be tricky for the Eagles to re-sign Graham. He wants a fortune, and he deserves a fortune. 

But even if Roseman can’t get that done, Barnett has three more years on his rookie deal, and that’s the key to making this whole thing work. 

You can’t re-sign everybody, so if you want to remain elite, you have to draft well so you can replace the people you invariably lose.

You lose Patrick Robinson, you have Sidney Jones waiting. You lose LeGarrette Blount, there’s Corey Clement ready to go. You lose Mychal Kendricks, you hope a Nate Gerry can contribute. Trey Burton leaves, and Dallas Goedert is cheaper and better.

You get what you pay for. And the Eagles right now are paying for the best in the business.

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