In Episode #21 we talk with Wheaton College Defensive Coordinator Rod Sandberg to get his thoughts on Eagles 6th round pick and the pride of Wheaton, Andy Studebaker. We learn about the Andy the person and the player, talk about his transition from DE to LB, and find out why the Eagles have such a big following in Chicago...You can listen to the full interview here!
Here are the cliff notes.
JB - Start of by telling us a bit about Andy the person
Rod Sandberg - "As a person he's an incredible young man. Very very discinplined in all that he does. Wheaton college is a pretty academic school and he excelled here. The same reason he's a great football player, that work ethic and drive is what made him a success in the classroom.
Some reports said that a big reason Andy caught the eye of some NFL scouts with a highlight video that was produced for him. Was that the case and is the internet becoming a new way to market players to the NFL?
I've seen the Andy Reid clip where he says check him out on Youtube... but I think that's a bit of a misnomer. Every NFL team in America came to see Andy in his senior year. They sent their scouts and he had a lot of exposure going into his senior. He was off to a great start but then he got hurt. He had surgery, got healthy and had his pro day late.. much later than most and he just crushed that thing. NFL teams have those results, there were 8 teams there and they all share results. The video certainly didn't hurt him, but I really think it was his physical ability that got him that.
What would you say was the first moment that the thought came into your head that Andy could play in the NFL?
I don't know if there was one moment. It was maybe a culmination after his junior year. You step back and look at what he accomplished as junior. He led the entire nation in sacks, that's some production. You can be productive and not very physically talent, but Andy started to develop physically over 3 years. We knew he was a good recruit, but over the 3 years to see his body develop as he hit weight room and put on weight. He just became a freak. Then we saw his production and we thought... he's got a shot
It's interesting because in 2006 the Eagles drafted Chris Gocong, who was another DE from a small school that led the nation in sacks, so it seems they really value that big production.
They're one of the few NFL teams that do that. They don't care where you're from, they just want you to produce and they want their kind of players. We were very excited when Andy was drafted by the Eagles because we knew it was a great fit. We knew they'd give him a chance, we knew they would use his skills because he's a freak.
Talking about Chris Gocong and Andy's skills, Gocong was a DE in college and was moved to LB in the NFL. The Eagles have said that the plan is to move Andy to LB as well.
Yeah, hes right behind Chris Gocong. I talked to Andy yesterday and that's where he played in the 3 day camp and that's where they have him this week.
When you talked to Andy did he give you any insights as to some of the Eagles' plans for him? Is the plan for him to play strong side linebacker?
You know the Eagles defense is pretty complex... and Andy strictly played DE for us, we never asked him to drop in coverage, so Andy has a lot to learn. I think it's wise they're playing him strictly at SAM behind Gocong and with guys like Boiman. They're wise to let him settle there and learn. I know that once a day they let him move to a DE position for a pass rush drill, but that's very limited and I don't think they're doing that to see how he'll do.
Jim Johnson has talked a bit about maybe showing some more 3-4 looks this year and I thought that a guy with Andy's skills might thrive in an outside LB/pass rusher role.
Yeah going into the draft his agent and our staff thought a 3-4 team was a team that might be interested in him because a 3-4 team might as their LBs to rush the passer more and that's what Andy is good at. If Jim Johnson does go to more of that it's only going to play to Andy's strengths. I'll be honest, he has his work cut out for him to make the team. They're a great team with great defensive players. He's going to have to stay healthy and he's going to have to adjust quickly. The great thing is he's a smart kid and he's capable of that. This guy has the physical skills to play LB, but it's another thing to go do it when you've never done it before. Andy has been very grateful for Chris Gocong and the help that he's given. He's been awesome as far as tutoring him and answering his questions. Like you said, he's been through it all before.
For any late round pick it's always tough to make the team, but one area that will be important for a guy like Andy is special teams. For a guy his size and with his athleticism that's somewhere he could really carve out a place. Do you think he can do that and did he play ST at Wheaton?
Definitely something he can do, because he's a freak physically. He was definitely a starter on our punt coverage team and he played on the punt return team. We didn't let him cover kickoffs, but he was on the kick return team as a freshman. He sat in on every one of those meetings though, so he's had some very good exposure to it. I do expect him if he's going to make the team he's going to have to step up on special teams, stay healthy, and obviously learn the new position and I think he can do all three of those things..
Some great insight there from Rod Sandberg, Andy Studebaker's defensive coordinator at Wheaton, and I definitely recommend you give the full interview a listen. I especially thought the stuff he had to say about the relationship between Andy and Chris Gocong was pretty cool. It certainly sounds Gocong sees some of himself in Studebaker and it's great to hear that there's obviously a good atmosphere of teamwork in that young LB corps. In such a young group, you also have to be encouraged that it appears Gocong is taking on a leadership role. You'll hear in the interview how much coach Sandberg talks about Andy's athleticism and call him a "freak." Clearly that's what the Eagles saw. They saw this raw athleticism and decided it was worth spending a 6th round pick to find out whether they can mold that physical talent into a real NFL player.
Coach Sandberg finished up the interview by saying that between Andy Studebaker and Donovan McNabb the Eagles have a lot of people in Chicago pulling for them.