While most of the Eagles post-draft buzz is rightfully surrounding the Eagles' seven new draft picks and fifteen undrafted free agents, there seems to be a little bleep on the radar about an almost forgotten Eagles 2014 addition: the return of second year defensive lineman Joe Kruger. Alex Smith of PhiladelphiaEagles.com put up a nice column about Kruger this week calling him the "Eagles' 8th draft pick."
The book on Kruger (
a New York Times Best Seller) last year seemed to be that he was entering the draft a year too early. For what it's worth, many draftniks seemed to think Kruger would have benefited from spending another year at college in order to develop his game and body more. Kruger decided against a return and instead opted to enter the 2013 NFL Draft, where the Eagles selected him in the seventh round. After suffering an injury late in the preseason, Kruger was placed on the Eagles' injured reserve list and missed the entire season. While he wasn't able to officially practice with the team, Kruger was able to take advantage of the time off and work on getting stronger. According to an interview with PE.com, Kruger has added significant weight since last offseason. (Bold emphasis is mine.)
"I've gained about 20 pounds, so I'm up to 290 pounds and I'm just ready to play," Kruger explained. "It was definitely frustrating sitting back and watching and wanting to be out there, but I think it was good (to have more time to learn the defense). I was at 269 pounds playing the four technique, so I needed to put on some weight and I did that. I've learned the scheme and I've gotten to know everyone and I just feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year. It was frustrating, but at the same time it's been good, so I'm just excited to get back out there and use this new weight."
So in the end, Kruger did receive that developmental time that many suggested he needed in order to become a better prospect. With the additional weight and the bonus of learning the scheme, Kruger will be an interesting sleeper candidate to watch for the Eagles in training camp and preseason.