Eagles

Dave Zangaro's 15 leftover notes, random thoughts from the 2019 NFL combine

Eagles

It was a long and eventful handful of days in Indianapolis for the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. 

As always, the entire NFL takes over the small downtown for the week. I arrived to town on Tuesday and left on Saturday evening. I wrote about letting Nick Foles walk as a free agent, the reaction to the Carson Wentz story, faith in Nate Sudfeld, showing interest in running backs and more. 

But it’s time to clean out my notebook and my brain. Here are some other things I didn’t get to write about: 

1. Just because the Eagles don’t have a ton of cap room, don’t expect Howie Roseman to sit on his hands when free agency hits on March 13. He talked about how the organization always wants to be aggressive in everything it does.

“We think that’s the recipe for success,” he said. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing Roseman said about this was about how the Eagles have found success bringing in second-tier free agents like in 2016, when they signed players like Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod. 

“I think when you’re talking about those top guys, you’re bidding against 20, 25 teams,” Roseman said. “The step below, you’re bidding against five or six. It’s just hard to stay in that ballgame because we have a lot of players on long-term contracts who are making a lot of money. It’s hard to be in a situation where we’re going to be the highest bidder for a free agent.”

 

That’s a pretty good glimpse into the mindset of the front office as free agency approaches. 

2. Roseman spoke last week before the Eagles re-signed Brandon Graham and extended Jason Kelce. But he hinted toward it on Wednesday, saying they want to “give our top players top-market deals and use free agency to supplement that.” 

They’ve done that in recent years by keeping players like Graham, Kelce, Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, etc. 

3. The setup at the Indiana Convention Center is crazy. There are already so many hotels in downtown Indianapolis and I’ve heard they plan on building more. It’s always fun to see the other conferences that come to town around the same time as the combine. This year, they were beginning to set up for a work truck show. 

4. I asked new Bengals head coach Zac Taylor if he thought about adding his brother — Eagles QBs coach Press Taylor — to his staff this offseason. He said he didn’t, but not because he doesn’t think Press has a very bright future in the NFL. 

“I know I’m his brother, but I talk with him more than I talk with any other coach around the league, almost on a daily basis,” Zac said. “We are very like-minded. He’s a very creative person and feels valued there in Philly. He’s in a good place, so that wasn’t a discussion that we had. He is one of the smartest coaches I know.”

The Eagles obviously think a ton of Taylor too. He came here under Chip Kelly and not only did Doug Pederson keep him, he keeps promoting him too. 

5. Some reporter who wasn’t from Philadelphia somehow snuck in the first question when Pederson was at the podium (not bitter at all) and it was about Dallas Goedert. Sure, there were more pressing questions, but Pederson praised the young tight end and talked about the importance of getting him involved. 

“I think that’s gonna be a source of topic for us as a coaching staff moving forward,” Pederson said. “He’s a big piece to our success.”

In his rookie season, Goedert played 48 percent of the offense’s snaps. Pederson said their 12 personnel package is still all about matchups week to week, but I think we can expect to see even more of the promising TE in Year 2.  

6. The Eagles still have some big decisions about players currently on the roster. That starts with Tim Jernigan, Jason Peters and Nelson Agholor. If I were them, I’d part ways with Jernigan, keep Peters and try to extend Agholor. 

 

7. Ran into DeMeco Ryans on Saturday. He’s now an inside linebackers coach for the 49ers. Always good to see that guy. Mufasa seems to be enjoying the coaching life. 

8. It’s crazy to me that fans show up to watch the bench press. There aren’t a ton of seats, but they’ll go watch and cheer on competitors. The combine keeps getting bigger and bigger and now there are reports about the on-field drills eventually becoming primetime viewing. It wouldn’t surprise me. 

9. While the Eagles would have obviously loved to have been in the Super Bowl, there are advantages to having a fuller offseason. Pederson wouldn’t name players, but said there are some Eagles who had offseason surgeries who will have more time to heal either by OTAs or training camp. Remember last offseason, when guys like Graham had ankle surgery that lingered into the season? That’s less likely this time around. 

10. Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns said he put on 21 pounds since the end of the college football season to weigh in at 249. How did he put on the weight? By eating 5-6 meals per day (and shakes). He said that came out to around 4,000 calories per day. Yikes. The impressive thing is he still ran a 4.53 in the 40. 

11. You’ll always hear from the combine about which players met with which teams, but it’s important to know how the process works. There were 337 players invited to the combine and each team gets 60 formal, 15-minute interviews. But then there are informal interviews, where teams meet with plenty of others. It can be a good indicator of where there’s interest, but it’s not the only indicator. And some teams even like to hide their interest in certain players as to not tip their hand. 

12. With a little more time gone, Pederson and Roseman were asked to reflect on the 2018 season. Pederson said, “We were a play away,” talking about the Saints game. He followed up by saying he couldn’t guarantee they would have scored on that late drive, but if they beat New Orleans they would have had a ton of confidence moving on. He’s probably right. 

Roseman loved how the team fought through adversity behind leadership and won a playoff game, but acknowledged the team didn’t accomplish its goals. That’s true too. Both things are true. The Eagles showed something late, but it doesn’t excuse the poor start to the season. 

13. As you might expect, there was a ton of talk all week about Patriots owner Robert Kraft around the city. Plenty of jokes were thrown around at his expense. It was one of the stories everyone seemed to be talking about. 

 

14. For some reason, a bunch of mock drafts have the Eagles taking a cornerback in the first round. I think that’s extremely unlikely and this quote from Roseman about the cornerback position says a lot: 

“We’ve invested a lot of draft picks at that position and you have to give your young players a chance to grow. You have to give everyone, really, a chance to grow in their roles. We’re looking forward to them all taking another step, those young guys.”

15. When my Uber driver to the airport found out I was from Philly, he said: “Thanks for the coach!” They seem to like Frank Reich in Indy. 

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