With new perspective, hard to find fault with Eagles’ draft

With new perspective, hard to find fault with Eagles’ draft

I can’t find a single fault with the Eagles’ draft this year. The entire class gets an A-plus in my book.

I also didn’t have any preconceived notions about what the Eagles should do going into the draft. I didn’t research hundreds of prospects like I did in years past. I didn’t read a single mock draft. I wasn’t of the opinion there were certain positions the club needed to prioritize in the first round, and I certainly couldn’t identify my favorite sleeper target in the seventh.

Most I enjoyed any draft since… possibly ever.

You can write me off and say that just means I don’t know what I’m talking about. Admittedly, my only knowledge going into the 2019 draft was what I absorbed naturally by being connected to the NFL, which is still probably a good bit more than the average person. I just couldn’t regurgitate a bunch of stats and measurements I gleaned from scouting reports or tell you who Todd McShay had the Eagles taking in his 700th mock and why his imaginary choice was ill-conceived.

But my newly relaxed attitude toward the draft gave me a different perspective on the Eagles’ class. I didn’t see college athletes I had studied or devise a blueprint for how the weekend should go. I simply saw a shrewd move to trade up and steal a highly touted left tackle prospect in the first round. I saw an obvious need filled with a running back, then another weapon for Carson Wentz in the second. And I saw a pair of Day 3 picks with low percentages of panning out regardless of who they are, where they’re from or what they play, and no reason to be bent out of shape.

So, when I read the day-after report cards on the Eagles’ draft – an exercise always fraught with folly – the grades were far more divisive than I had anticipated, with marks ranging anywhere from an A to a C. C? What was not to like?

The Eagles passed on Player X with the first pick? Well, yeah, a potential top-10 talent at an integral, difficult-to-fill position slid to No. 22. It changed the team’s plans, too. Again, I wasn’t pulling for any one player, so this looked like a tremendous value to me, nothing more.

The Eagles had a more pressing need at Position Y in the first? I suppose you could make that argument, as it’s subjective, though Jason Peters is 37, on the final year of his contract and coming off consecutive injury-plagued seasons. Seemed like a plenty big need.

The Eagles made only five picks? Again, a rare opportunity to get their left tackle of the future in the 20s altered plans, so they dealt a couple extra picks to move up. They also swapped a seventh for a current NFL player. Stocking up on a bunch of late picks like cheap scratch-offs is fine, but if they came away with the cash in hand instead – meaning guys who can all play – that’s clearly preferable.

The Eagles lost too many picks in the trade up? To answer a question with another question: Would you rather a starter at left tackle for the next decade or a couple more Day 3 talents who may not make it to next season?

The Eagles took a flier on a developmental quarterback they liked? I wasn’t aware Nate Sudfeld is a proven commodity as a backup or is even guaranteed to be here a year from now. We’re in the fifth round, so not really sure why this is even an issue.

The Eagles didn’t address Position Z? Maybe the front office didn’t view it as a glaring need, or the draft board simply didn’t present an opportunity. Teams can go in with a mindset they’re going to tackle a specific problem, but people would be more upset over a bunch of obvious reaches or passing up superior talents just to fill holes.

Had the Eagles drafted Jon Harris or Marcus Smith, I would’ve recognized there was a problem. Otherwise, the whole thing is unpredictable to a degree that borders on random.

Am I saying the Eagles authored the perfect draft? No, and I’m sure such a thing does not exist. But in my eyes, most of these players were just names on a list prior to this weekend, and the needs of a roster already brimming with talent were all relatively equal.

Viewing the draft through that lens and blocking out much of the noise – oh, and reminding myself this front office built a Super Bowl champion not two years ago – made me far more content with everything the Eagles did.

I’ve gotta tell you, it’s a better feeling than trying to nitpick the class to death when nobody knows how the players will even turn out.

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Eagles reportedly have a new secondary coach

Eagles reportedly have a new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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