NFL draft

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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NFL mock draft 2020 roundup: Yes, it's starting ridiculously early

NFL mock draft 2020 roundup: Yes, it's starting ridiculously early

You thought mock draft season was over? 

You thought wrong. 

Sure, we just made it through the 2019 draft, but that hasn’t stopped these mock-drafting animals from getting right back on the horse. Before long that horse will die and these guys will be beating it. But we have our first of the 2020 NFL mock drafts. 

I rounded up 10 of them and they all have the Eagles picking between 23 and 26, based on Vegas odds to win the Super Bowl. 

Here are their mocked picks: 

LB Paddy Fisher (Northwestern) — Ben Standig (NBC Sports Washington)

CB CJ Henderson (Florida) — Luke Easterling (USA Today) 

LB Paddy Fisher (Northwestern) — Bill Bender (Sporting News)

Edge Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State)  — Trevor Sikkema (The Draft Network)

LB Troy Dye (Oregon) — Dane Brugler (The Athletic)

CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah) — Matt Miller (Bleacher Report)

LB Jacob Phillips (LSU) — Seth Trachtman (YardBarker)

CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah) — Eric Single (MMQB)

S/LB Isaiah Simmons (Clemson) — Dan Kadar (SB Nation)

DT Lorenzo Neal (Purdue) — Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports)

All defense! Maybe this is a reaction to the Eagles’ going offense with their first three picks in this most recent draft. The mock-drafters are trying to insert balance back into the world. 

If you consider Simmons a linebacker (and I do) that’s five of 10 saying the Eagles will draft a linebacker in the first round. A friendly reminder: The Eagles haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round since they took Jerry Robinson out of UCLA in 1979. They had a pretty big need for one in this last class and they didn’t take one at all. So it seems the Eagles just don’t value the position as much as fans want them to. And the idea of Howie Roseman taking a linebacker from Oregon (Chip Kelly’s former home) just makes me chuckle. Two votes for Paddy Fisher from Northwestern. 

Also two votes for cornerback Jaylon Johnson from Utah. Because it’s so early, I have no idea what the Eagles’ situation at cornerback will be by next year’s draft. They have a bunch of young and talented corners, so some of those guys could really prove themselves or cornerback could be a desperate need if they all fail. 

The crazy thing here is that just one mock-drafter had the Eagles taking a lineman. The Eagles have been pretty honest about how much they value taking linemen, both with their words and with their actions. Wilson gets it. 

This will be our first mock draft roundup of about a thousand before April 2020. But we’ll make sure it gets a little closer before we do another one. 

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Shareef Miller not taking status as role model to Philly kids lightly

Shareef Miller not taking status as role model to Philly kids lightly

As far as inspirational inner city-to-the-NFL stories go, Shareef Miller’s meets all the typical criteria. 

He’s from a rough neighborhood, was raised in a single-parent household and suffered unfathomable loss at the hands of violence. As inspirational as his story is, it’s not all that uncommon in the NFL. He’s not even the only player in the Eagles’ locker room with a similar backstory. 

This difference is that Miller is from here. He’s ours. 

And now, after getting drafted by the Eagles — a moment he said was “surreal” — he feels an obligation to not just produce on the football field, but to also be an inspiration to kids who grew up where he grew up and who face the same struggles daily that he was able to overcome. 

“That’s really going to help my community,” Miller said on Saturday. “It’s really going to change a lot of things. It’s going to give these kids someone to look up to. That’s what it’s all about. I’m happy I’ve been put in this situation so I can shed light on the younger kids coming up in this generation.”

Miller, whom the Eagles drafted with the last pick in the fourth round on Friday, grew up in the Frankford section of the city. He went to Frankford High before transferring to George Washington High, a decision orchestrated by his mother that he said “changed his life.” 

But just before he went to Penn State, Miller’s older brother, Mikal, was shot and killed in 2015. The loss of his role model hit Miller hard. Hard enough that he even considered not going to Penn State. But his mother, Tekeya Cook, has been his rock. According to Miller, she kept him level-headed and pointed in the right direction. 

Mom is such a rock that during their celebration on Saturday — Miller and his family rented a loft in northeast Philly to watch the draft — she told her son that it’s now time to get to work. 

Miller will be on the field at the NovaCare Complex soon enough for rookie minicamp and then OTAs, but his work as a role model is already well underway. First, kids from his old neighborhood saw him go to a Division I school, but now they’re going to see him play in the NFL about 15 minutes away from their homes. 

Miller isn’t taking his role as an inspiration and mentor to local kids lightly. 

I’m definitely excited for this role because I’m all about these young kids in the inner city. A lot of times in our city, the opportunity is small and a lot of us don’t have anyone to look up to and we don’t have any hope. That’s why it’s easy for kids in the inner city to [turn to] violence. Now they have me – someone who came from where they came from. 

What more can they ask for? I’m going to be that voice for them and, you know, when I get myself together and situated, I’m definitely going to go back in my community and do whatever I can to help these kids reach their full potential. Go to school, get a great education, go to college and live out that dream. Whether it’s the NFL, NBA or whatever they want to be.

It can be tough for a professional athlete to play in their home city. There’s extra pressure and there’s a natural trap of falling in with the wrong people. A few years ago, when I profiled Brandon Graham, he told me one of the biggest realizations in his life was that when he went back to Detroit, he just couldn’t hang out with the same people like he used to. It’s tough, but he had to cut some destructive people out of his life. 

That might not be easy for Miller, who is just 22. But that process already started when he transferred high schools many years ago. He said he has a small group of people in his support system, people who want the best for him. 

Miller doesn’t think playing in his hometown will be a distraction. If anything, he sees it as a huge positive. There are a bunch of kids who are growing up just like him who will likely agree. 

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