NFL draft

10 interesting facts about Eagles' 2019 rookie class

10 interesting facts about Eagles' 2019 rookie class

The Eagles' rookies had their three-day minicamp last weekend and the veterans will join next week at OTAs. That will be a big moment for them.

Until then, here are 10 interesting facts about the 2019 Eagles’ rookie class: 

1. The Eagles drafted just five players for the second straight year. The only draft class in team history that was smaller was the four-player class back in 1989. The Eagles have taken just 10 players in the draft over the last two years, tied with the Titans for the fewest in the NFL. Excluding the Eagles, the 31 other NFL teams averaged 16.13 players drafted over the last two years. 

Because of the lack of draft picks, the Eagles in the last two years have thrown money at undrafted players, trying to bring in the top talent of the guys who didn’t hear their names called. 

2. By now, you might have heard that JJ Arcega-Whiteside interned for Condoleezza Rice last summer. But you might not know he was born in Spain and his parents were both professional basketball players. English is his third language. Interesting guy.  

3. Undrafted guard Sua Opeta from Weber State did 39 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press. That was the most of every player invited to this year’s combine. Just eight players have done more on the bench at the combine in the last 10 years. Just three of those eight were offensive linemen. Mitch Petrus from Arkansas did 45 reps back in 2010. Petrus was a fifth-round draft pick and played 27 career games. For more perspective, Brandon Brooks did 36 reps (nothing to sneeze at) at his pro day in 2012. 

4. The Eagles took Miles Sanders in the second round with the 53rd pick. That’s the exact same pick the Eagles used 10 years earlier to draft LeSean McCoy in 2009. Sanders is from Pittsburgh and Shady went to school in Pittsburgh. 

In the modern era, five running backs have been taken with the 53rd pick — and three of them by the Eagles! The Birds also took Perry Harrington out of Jackson State in 1980. In four years with the Eagles, Harrington rushed for 635 yards. He played two more seasons with the Rams to make for a six-year career.

5. Because Saquon Barkley was ahead of him for two years at Penn State, Sanders had just 276 rushing attempts in college. In the last five years, there have been 19 running backs taken in the top two rounds. The only other one with fewer rushing attempts in college was Josh Jacobs (251), this year’s No. 24 pick. 

From 2015-2018, the average collegiate rushing attempts for the 17 running backs taken in the first two rounds was 591. Sanders had less than half of that. 

6. When the Eagles took Shareef Miller with the last pick in the fourth round, he became the first Philly native drafted by the Eagles since running back Bruce Perry out of Maryland in the seventh round back in 2004.  

7. According to ProFootballFocus, Andre Dillard gave up just one sack in 748 pass-blocking opportunities in 2018. He gave up two sacks in 810 pass-blocking opportunities in 2017. So that’s three sacks in 1,558 drop-backs during his last two college seasons. That’s just one sack in every 529 opportunities.  

8. Eagles fifth-round QB Clayton Thorson had more career rushing touchdowns at Northwestern (27) than Jacobs, Sanders, David Montgomery and Damien Harris had in their respective college careers. Thorson is seventh on the all-time Northwestern list for rushing TDs.  

9. The Eagles drafted two Penn State players — Sanders and Miller — for the first time in four decades. In fact, the Eagles hadn’t drafted a single player from Penn State since 2007, when they took Tony Hunt in the third round. Back in 1979, the Eagles took WR Scott Fitzkee in the fifth round and C Chuck Correal in the eight round. They drafted just four total Nittany Lions in the 40 years between their two double-dips. 

10. Cornerback Jamalcolm “Jay” Liggins was signed as a UDFA from NAIA program Dickinson State. If you haven’t heard of Dickinson State, you’re certainly not alone. Dickinson, North Dakota, is west of Fargo and Biskmark on Interstate-94, about an hour drive past Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the Montana border. A former track star, Liggins turned heads when he competed at the North Dakota State pro day in late March. 

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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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