Eagles

A progress report for Eagles' draft picks after spring practices

A progress report for Eagles' draft picks after spring practices

The Eagles ended up not making a first-round selection in April after they traded out of the No. 32 slot. 

Eventually, after all the trade dust settled — and there was more — the Eagles ended up drafting five players, their smallest draft class since 1989. 

But now that we’ve gotten through the rookie minicamp, OTA practices and the mandatory minicamp, it’s time for a draft class progress report. 

2-49: Dallas Goedert
It’s obviously really early, but Goedert looks like a great pick. He was so impressive, he was the only draft pick from this year to make Doug Pederson’s list of six young players who impressed him this spring. 

It’s always tough to figure out how a player from FCS (South Dakota State) will adapt to the NFL game, but the skills Goedert has are hard to teach. He’s big, long, has great hands and is — at the very least — a willing blocker. 

During the spring, we saw Goedert’s hand-eye coordination and body control on full display. It’s why I think he’s going to become a monster in the red zone (see story)

We’ll learn more about Goedert when the pads go on, but I don’t anticipate him slow down. 

4-125: Avonte Maddox
A little bit of an up-and-down start for the undersized (5-9) cornerback from Pitt. The Eagles didn’t care about his size when the drafted him, mainly because of his high compete level. 

While he played outside cornerback in college, even with his lack of height, many thought he projected as a nickel cornerback in the NFL. Apparently, the Eagles agree. Because during the spring, Maddox worked in the slot, but never got time with the first unit. 

It’s going to be a learning process for Maddox. And because of that, we saw some hiccups for the 22-year-old this spring. There are probably a few factors here: learning a new position, catching up to the speed of the game and learning the playbook. The Eagles shouldn’t be too concerned yet. 

4-130: Josh Sweat
So far, Sweat is looking like the steal of this draft class. Once a highly-touted prospect coming out of college before a devastating knee injury, Sweat still had a productive career at Florida State. Right after he was drafted, Sweat said he thought he was a better fit with the Eagles than he was with the Seminoles. Turns out the DE was right. 

Sweat stood out as much as any defensive lineman can stand out in non-padded practices in May. The first thing that jumps out about Sweat is his size. He’s 6-5 and while he could stand to pack on some more muscle to his frame, he’s already an imposing player. 

Now, some of his success this spring probably came from facing extremely inexperienced offensive tackles, but either way, Sweat was impressive. He’s obviously buried on the depth chart, but he should have a chance to make an impact as a rotational player. 

6-206: Matt Pryor
I still love that Pryor was the biggest guy on the roster for less than an hour after they drafted him. At TCU, Pryor played both OT and OG, so the big question about him at the NFL level was about which position he would play. So far with the Eagles, he’s played both. 

The Eagles listed him as a tackle when they drafted him, but to me, he looked better at guard in college. Apparently, the Eagles have some of those same thoughts, because as the spring went on, it seemed like Pryor got more and more reps inside where he can use his strength. 

Now, there are certain downsides to a guy who is 6-foot-7 playing guard and it starts with leverage and throwing lanes for the quarterback. But if Pryor is more natural at guard, that’s OK. The Eagles really love versatility on the OL and Pryor has the potential to back up four of the five spots along the line. 

7-233: Jordan Mailata 
For much of the spring, Mailata was a turnstile, but no one said this was going to be easy. The big rugby dude is off to a rough start, but that’s to be expected for someone who wasn’t a football player a year ago. 

On his very first snap of his first day on the job at rookie minicamp, Mailata didn’t hear the snap during an offensive line drill and just stood there. It looked like that scene from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” — Do less, but you have to do more than that. 

We actually saw real improvement from Mailata over the last few weeks. I know, I know, there was only one direction to go, but the Australian showed off the power and athleticism that attracted the Eagles in the first place. He was always going to be a project. 

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Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

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Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

Wendell Smallwood working his way back into the running back picture, the bizarre NFL career of Bryce Brown, Michael Bennett and Shakespeare, the handshake that never was and Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason.

Only one place you’re getting all this!

It’s all this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations, and it starts here:

1. It’s been interesting watching Wendell Smallwood this preseason. He’s a guy who when training camp began I didn’t give much of a chance to, only because he’s never been able to stay healthy and the Eagles went into camp with a deep, talented stable of backs. But while Matt Jones, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey have been banged up and on and off the field, Smallwood has not only stayed healthy, he’s made the most of his reps. He looks terrific. I’ve always felt Smallwood is a talented kid. I wrote about him last week and how he spent the offseason learning how to take better care of himself, and so far it’s paying off. Much of making an NFL roster is simply handling the workload during camp and proving to your coaches that they can rely on you. And Smallwood hasn’t missed a rep. This preseason. Not one. So far he’s outlasted the other guys in that battle for the fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles. Has he done enough? With a couple weeks before final cuts, it’s too early to say. But he’s definitely worked himself from the brink back into the mix.

2. I’ve been disappointed by Mack Hollins’ training camp. He’s one guy I expected to make a big leap in Year 2, and while he still might, he hasn’t flashed yet. Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs have both outplayed Hollins in practice. Hollins has that great size and is a valued special teamer and as a second-year fourth-round pick he’s probably got the team made. But I expected to see more. Treggs is another guy who was off the radar when camp began but has that great speed and keeps showing up at practice. And Gibson simply looks like a different guy from last year. The depth the Eagles have at wideout is insane. Guys like Rashard Davis, Greg Ward Jr. and DeAndre Carter probably have no shot to make the team, but once upon a time, they would have been starters around here.

3. Michael Bennett is an interesting dude. Someone in the locker room used the phrase, “All’s well that ends well,” and he said, “Where’s that phrase from?” I said it’s the name of a Shakespeare play, and he said, “A lot of people think Shakespeare wasn’t a real person.” I said, “Yeah, there’s a theory that he was three different people.” His response: “I’m three different people.” 

4. I know a lot of people think the whole “Tom Brady hasn’t shaken Nick Foles’ hand” thing is overblown, but it really bothers me. There are certain customs in sports that are there for a reason. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever, and he should have sought out Nick either on the field immediately after the game or somewhere after the game — the lockers weren’t too far apart. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but sportsmanship means a lot to me. I know one thing: If the Patriots won that game, Nick Foles would have found Tom Brady, told him “Great job,” and shook his hand. 

5. Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason was insane. He rushed 20 times for 141 yards against the Giants and 13 times for 116 yards against the Saints. His average of 7.8 yards per carry is second-highest in NFL history in a single postseason (minimum 30 carries) behind Hall of Famer Marcus Allen’s 8.03 in 1983. He’s the only back in NFL history with back-to-back playoff games with 100 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and a touchdown. His 257 rushing yards are third-most in NFL history by a back in a two-game postseason (behind Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson in 1985 and Arian Foster in 2011). 

6. I love listening to Doug Pederson talk about why he’s so aggressive as a play caller. Because generally, he admits he really has no idea. I think it almost evolved by accident. He started going for it on fourth down in 2016 with nothing at stake and it started working, and he just felt comfortable doing it, and he just got in that habit, and the team got used to it and enjoyed it, and by the time the Super Bowl came along it had developed into his personality and the team was completely in step with him, and the success of the Philly Special was the product of that. You can’t run that play if you’re the least bit tight or indecisive, but the team had gotten so used to Pederson doing anything at any time in any situation it was just another play. The man is a genius.

7. Chip Kelly and Pederson have the same number of regular-season wins after two years. 

8. You figured that had to be wrong so you looked it up, didn’t you!

9. I’ve never seen an assistant coach grow as much as Frank Reich did in his two years with the Eagles. When he first started out as Doug’s offensive coordinator, he seemed to be painfully shy around the media, gave one-word or brief answers during press conferences and appeared generally uninterested in providing anything remotely revealing about football or the players he coached. By the time he left, he was one of the most interesting, insightful and quotable assistant coaches I’ve ever been around, and his commentary after the Super Bowl about Nick Foles’ performance was brilliant. I’m convinced this transformation had a lot to do with him getting the Colts head coaching job. Teams don’t want a head coach who can’t handle the media, and Frank in a very short time went from a guy who wasn’t comfortable in those situations to one who embraced them.

10. Bryce Brown had one of the strangest career arcs in Eagles history. He averaged 15 yards in his first 10 NFL games and 19 yards in his last 30 NFL games. In between, with LeSean McCoy injured, he ran for 178 yards on just 19 carries against the Panthers and 169 yards on 24 carries against the Cowboys, with two TDs in each game. Only three players in NFL history have had consecutive games with 165 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and 2 TDs — LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and … Bryce Brown. Other than those two historic games in a seven-day span, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry and 18 yards per game. But for a brief bit of an otherwise forgettable 2012 season, he made NFL history. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss the likelihood of Carson Wentz not being healthy for the regular-season opener. Is this the best team Doug Pederson has had in Philadelphia? Also, how do players approach the second preseason game?

1:00 - Updating Carson Wentz's status.
4:00 - Guys still confident Wentz will start against the Falcons?
7:00 - Doug Pederson says this is the deepest team he's had.
10:30 - Doug Pederson and Nick Foles speak about preseason snaps.
15:00 - How do players approach the second preseason game?

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