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Some Thoughts On The Eagles Before The 2016 NFL Draft

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

There is rarely a dull moment at One NovaCare Way, and this is no exception. The Eagles are crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s as they prepare for the NFL draft Thursday through Saturday. The players and coaches have Phase 2 of the offseason program happening on the heels of the voluntary minicamp. And quarterback Sam Bradford has stepped away from the voluntary workouts to ask the Eagles to trade him so that he can find a situation that he feels suits him better.

Just a routine offseason in the NFL …

OK, so it’s not. It’s been extraordinary for the Eagles as they transition into the Doug Pederson Era as head coach. They hired Pederson and the coaching staff, signed eight players from the 2015 roster to new contracts, Bradford included, went aggressively into free agency, engineered some monster trades and upgraded from 13 to 8 to 2 in the draft’s first round.

And now the starting quarterback is skipping the voluntary portion of the offseason, igniting a remarkable volume of emotion from fans and from the media.

From the team side, the Eagles are going about their business focused on the draft and on those players present at the NovaCare Complex. Here are some thoughts on everything going on …

  • On Bradford, I’m not sure there is much more I can say. I will follow the lead of Howie Roseman, who calmly voiced his support for Bradford as the starting quarterback for 2016 for the Eagles and who said, "We look forward to seeing Sam again in the near future." There are no plans, that I am aware, to trade Bradford. The Eagles expect Bradford back and they expect him to get ready for the 2016 season. Guarantees beyond this season? Bradford signed a two-year contract in March, so the parameters of the relationship were established at that time. The Eagles expect Bradford to return to the NovaCare Complex and to have an outstanding season and to take this team into the postseason and beyond. The best thing for Bradford is to learn the offense, work on his game, get in the best shape of his life and have a terrific season. The future? That takes care of itself based on performance.

  • With Bradford missing the workouts, Chase Daniel and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are on the field throwing the football. Daniel knows the offense and has been told by Pederson that, in some ways, he’s here as a player-coach because he is so ingrained in the system and can help the rest of his offensive teammates. Thompson has bounced around the NFL since 2011 and has a rocket arm, so he benefits with the daily reps.

  • The Eagles are going to take a quarterback with the second overall pick on Thursday night and while the whole world expects Jared Goff to go first to the Los Angeles Rams, the Eagles are prepared to go with Goff if Carson Wentz is the first draft pick. I believe they truly are pleased with both prospects. The key to developing the young quarterback? Making sure that Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFelippo give the kid as many reps as possible during the Organized Team Activities and in Training Camp, and that the draft pick is on top of everything mentally. "There is only so much you can give a third quarterback as far as reps during the season, so the work on the field really comes in the spring and summer," Pederson said in an interview on Monday. "After that, it’s mostly mental, learning the game, the nuances of the NFL and the offense here. It’s a whole process."

  • I just don’t believe the Eagles are going to put the first-round draft pick on the field this season unless there are no other alternatives. They want to bring Wentz/Goff along the right way. This is a long-term view of the quarterback position, no matter how good he looks in the preseason against third-string players or how much the media or fans call for it during the season. Andy Reid did it right with Donovan McNabb in 1999: McNabb didn’t start until he learned how to handle the complexities of the NFL blitz. McNabb had four years of experience at Syracuse, starting 49 games. If the Eagles take Wentz, obviously, his depth of experience and level of competition in the collegiate game has been very much different.

  • The Eagles have seven draft picks from Thursday-Saturday and while quarterback will be the focus on the first pick, the team has some areas to address for the next six selections. You can expect the Eagles to hit the offensive line, maybe even with the 79th pick (third round). It’s a deep draft for offensive linemen. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Eagles try to add an edge pass rusher and a wide receiver at some point. Really, if the Eagles use 3-4 of those picks on the line of scrimmage, and then a wide receiver and a linebacker, it would make sense.

  • This is not a great draft for running backs, but there are some prospects in the late rounds. Are any of them better than Kenjon Barner, who has worked so hard on his body in this offseason. I chatted with him briefly on Tuesday morning and he said he’s reduced his body fat and has added muscle. His arms are huge now and he’s bulked up his legs, too. Barner had a terrific preseason in 2015 and could be a player who has a more prominent role in the offense in 2016.

  • Marcus Smith and Bryan Braman are listed as defensive ends on this roster, so at the moment the Eagles have just six linebackers on the roster. They need numbers and they need depth. Can Jordan Hicks play effectively and stay healthy at middle linebacker? Can coordinator Jim Schwartz bring out the best in Mychal Kendricks? Is Nigel Bradham as "rangy" as Schwartz has said? Can Najee Goode be a reliable backup at all three positions, or even challenge for a starting job?

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