Eagles sign rookie class, hand out jersey numbers

Eagles sign rookie class, hand out jersey numbers

The Eagles have signed all five of their draft picks in advance of the start of rookie minicamp on Friday. 

The rookie pay scale implemented by the 2011 CBA has made this process much easier. Long gone are the days of rookie holdouts. 

In addition to their draft picks, the Eagles officially signed 10 undrafted free agents. All of these names had been previously reported, but now they’re official: LB Joey Alfieri (Stanford), T Ryan Bates (Penn State), LB T.J. Edwards (Wisconsin), RB Nico Evans (Wyoming), G Nate Herbig (Stanford), G Sua Opeta (Weber State), C Keegan Render (Iowa), DT Anthony Rush (UAB), WR DeAndre Thompkins (Penn State), DT Kevin Wilkins (Rutgers).

In addition to signing their draft class, they also gave all five of their draft picks jersey numbers: 

Andre Dillard: 77

We already knew this one thanks to his press conference on the day after he was drafted, but Dillard will take over the No. 77 that was most recently worn by Michael Bennett last season. The last OL to wear it was Taylor Hart. At Washington State, Dillard wore 60, so 77 is solid. 

Eagles history with 77: Phil Ragazzo, Bernie Kaplan, Tex Williams, Carl Fagioli, John Eibner, Jim Kekeris, Gus Cifelli, Jim Weatherall, Don Oates, John Kapele, Ray Mansfield, Ray Rissmiller, Ernie Calloway, Gerry Philbin, Jerry Patton, Don Ratliff, Rufus Mayes, Tom Jelesky, Michael Black, Donald Evans, Antone Davis, Keith Millard, Howard Smothers, Richard Cooper, Lonnie Palelei, Artis Hicks, LaJuan Ramsey, Mike McGlynn, Demetress Bell, Damion Square, Kevin Graf, Barrett Jones, Taylor Hart, Michael Bennett.

Miles Sanders: 26

Sanders let this one slip on his Instagram account last week, but it’s a solid number for the rookie. It was the only number available in the 20s (aside from Shady’s 25, they weren’t giving that away), so it was an obvious choice. Sanders wore 24 in college, but Jordan Howard has that in Philly. Jay Ajayi had 26 the last couple years. 

Eagles history with 26: Joseph Kresky, Jack Norby, Dan Barnhardt, Forest McPherson, Winford Baze, Wimpy Giddens, Lester McDonald, Dave DiFlippo, Clarence Peaks, Al Nelson, Art Malone, John Sanders, Michael Haddix, Ben Smith, Al Jackson, Jerome Henderson, Darnell Autry, Lito Sheppard, Sean Jones, Mike Bell, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Cary Williams, Walter Thurmond, Jaylen Watkins, Jay Ajayi.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside: 19

Arcega-Whiteside’s college number was available, so he took that. He’ll continue the trend of receivers wearing jersey numbers in the teens. One day, I’d like to see one of them buck the trend and get back to the 80s, but this works. Golden Tate took 19 after he was traded to the Eagles during the 2018 season. 

Eagles history with 19: Roger Kirkman, Orrin Pape, Jim Leonard, Herman Bassman, Fritz Ferko, Tom Burnette, George Somers, Harold Pegg, Dan Berry, Tom Dempsey, Guido Merkens, Troy Smith, Sean Morey, Carl Ford, Michael Gasperson, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, Greg Salas, Miles Austin, Paul Turner, Golden Tate.

Shareef Miller: 76

Not a huge fan of this one — 76 just seems kind of bulky, like it’s made for an offensive lineman. But Miller wore 48 in college, so he wouldn’t have been allowed to have that in the pros as a defensive end. Seventy-six is a relatively infrequently used number with the Birds. 

Eagles history with 76: Lester McDonald, John Eibner, Frank Kilroy, Len Szafaryn, Volney Peters, J.D. Smith, Bob Brown, Joe Carollo, Jerry Sisemore, Adam Schreiber, Broderick Thompson, Barrett Brooks, John Welbourn, Alonzo Ephraim, Calvin Armstrong, Stacy Andrews, Reggie Wells, Phillip Hunt, Allen Barbre.

Clayton Thorson: 8

At Northwestern, Thorson wore 18, so he came to the pros and just lost the first part of it to get a pretty classic quarterback number. Although it is a travesty the Eagles haven’t retired the No. 8 for Donnie Jones. 

Eagles history with 8: Chuck Hajek, Davey O’Brien, Al Coleman, Paul McFadden, Luis Zendejas, Brad Goebel, Preston Jones, Dirk Johnson, Chas Henry, Donnie Jones.

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Carson Wentz vs. Donovan McNabb in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Carson Wentz vs. Donovan McNabb in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Alshon's future, a crazy Shelton Gibson stat, Carson Wentz vs. Donovan McNabb and lots more in this weekend's 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations! 

1. The question I’ve been asked more than any other since the season ended is: “What are they going to do with Alshon?” And it’s an intriguing one. Howie talked about Alshon when he met with the media a couple weeks ago, and bringing him back - if he’s healthy - makes sense in a way. When he’s healthy, he’s the most talented WR on the roster … by far (I know, I know, low bar), they’ve got to pay him anyway, and you can’t replace an entire corps of wide receivers, so why not keep the best one? But then I keep coming back to … I just don’t want this guy in my locker room. I don’t want him anywhere near Carson Wentz. I don’t want him near the young, impressionable wideouts the Eagles are going to draft. It’s a tough call, especially because of the economics. And Jeffery’s foot injury complicates everything. But bottom line is I just don’t think it’s a good idea for him to be in the building, and it’s up to Roseman to figure out a sensible way to make sure he's not. 

2. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator. He’s obviously a bright offensive mind, but what I like is that he’s an outside voice who can bring some fresh ideas to Doug Pederson, but philosophically he’s coming from the same general place as Doug. Harrell is a disciple of Mike Leach - he played for him and coached under him - and Leach is not quite part of the Andy Reid coaching tree, but he used to visit Reid, Marty Mornhinweg and Pederson at Lehigh to pick their brains about their offense. They’re different enough because there’s no direct connection between Pederson and Harrell, but there’s enough common ground that it seems like a heck of a fit. 

3. I wrote this past week about Doug Pederson’s struggles hiring assistant coaches, and one of the more troublesome trends is that he’s now fired three coaches he brought in and then promoted. He hired Carson Walch in 2018 as assistant wide receivers coach and promoted him to WR coach after one year, he hired Phillip Daniels in 2016 as a quality control coach and promoted him to d-line in 2018 and he brought in Mike Groh as WRs and promoted him to offensive coordinator after the 2017 season. Groh lasted two years and Walch and Daniels one year. I don’t get how you can be so wrong about guys who’ve been on your staff that you want to get rid of him that quickly.

4. For the first time since 1984, the Eagles didn’t have a punt return of 20 yards this year. Their longest  was a 17-yarder by Darren Sproles on opening day. In 1984, their long was a 16-yarder by Evan Cooper against the Patriots. Overall, the Eagles ranked 25th in punt return average at 5.8, their lowest figure since 5.7 in 1983. Makes it tough on everybody when so many of your drives start deep in your own territory. Greg Ward is a nice slot receiver, but he's not a punt returner. Just another need for 2020. 

5. There’s no down-side to Connor Barwin joining the Eagles’ front office. He’s a smart guy, he knows the game, he really loves this team and wants to see it succeed as much now as when he played here. The more people like Connor Barwin in your organization the better off you are.

6. I still believe in Carson Wentz, but interesting to think that four years into Donovan McNabb’s career he had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games. 

7. One-time Eagles training camp phenom Raheem Mostert, who plays for the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, has a higher career rushing average than every running back in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

8. Shelton Gibson has more position coaches than receptions in his career. Gibson has three career catches. He’s had four position coaches - Mike Groh in 2017, Gunter Brewer in 2018, Adam Henry with the Browns this past season and then Carson Walch for a week. If Gibson stays here this offseason? That disparity will go up.

9. Just a reminder for those clinging to their membership in the Jim Schwartz Sucks Cabal: Since 2016, the Eagles are No. 7 in the NFL in points allowed, No. 1 in run defense, No. 3 stopping third down, 10th in sacks, 9th in takeaways and 2nd in first downs allowed. With a Super Bowl title in there last time I checked. And allowing 17 points per game in six playoff games. And that’s with two players you’d classify as elite — Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins. He's not the problem.

10. Jason Peters has been an Eagle for so long he blocked for Brian Westbrook! Crazy, ain’t it? Going to be tough to see J.P. go. But it’s time. 

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Eagles reportedly interested in Mike Kafka as candidate for offensive coordinator job

Eagles reportedly interested in Mike Kafka as candidate for offensive coordinator job

On Friday, we heard about the Eagles’ interest in an outside-the-box candidate to become their next offensive coordinator.

This next name is firmly inside the box. 

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Eagles are expected to request permission to interview Chiefs QBs coach Mike Kafka for the job. 

But there’s a chance, according to the report, that Andy Reid blocks that interview request to keep his quarterbacks coach around. This offseason there was a reasonable possibility that Kansas City’s offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy would get a head coaching job. That didn’t happen but if he were to ever leave, Kafka would be the next guy up. So while Reid has always helped his assistants move up in the coaching world, it would make sense for him to want to keep Kafka around. 

Even if the Chiefs win today, the Eagles would still have a window to interview Kafka before the Super Bowl if Reid grants permission. 

This was a link that was easy to find early. 

Kafka, 32, was one of the first and most obvious names to surface after Mike Groh was fired. 

Kafka has been a quick riser in the coaching world and there’s a ton of familiarity between him and Doug Pederson. While they didn’t coach together in Kansas City, Kafka played for Pederson in 2010-11 and his time under Reid means that he came up very much like Pederson did. 

The Eagles drafted Kafka in the fourth round out of Northwestern back in 2010 but he didn’t have much of an NFL career. His only action with the Eagles came in 2011, when he played in four games, completing 11 of 16 passes. He bounced around to many different teams in the next few years after that. 

When his playing days were over, Kafka became a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2016 before Reid hired him as a quality control coach in 2017. He has been quarterbacks coach in KC for the last two seasons. 

There are two schools of thought for this offensive coordinator job. The Eagles can go with familiarity or they can go with innovation. Either could work but there’s probably a little more risk going with innovation. 

The Eagles already interviewed USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, a coach who uses the Air Raid offense and could bring a fresh set of ideas to Pederson. But there would also be some obvious benefit in sticking with the safe route and hiring a guy like Kafka, who is also a young and fast-rising candidate. 

Either way, the Eagles’ next offensive coordinator will not call the plays. That job still belongs to Pederson. 

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