Eagles news and notes for 1/27
MOBILE, Ala. – The Eagles have been touting Joe Douglas' role in the 2017 NFL draft, but they haven't said as much about Douglas influencing free agency.
That's because Douglas has worked his whole career in college scouting, the team's 40-year-old, first-year player personnel vice president acknowledged Wednesday. When it comes to veteran players and how they might fit into the Eagles' plans and salary cap, the lead role definitely belongs to de facto general manager Howie Roseman.
"I've really tried to focus this year on diving into the pro side, getting to know the league as well as I could, getting to know our team as best I could," Douglas said Wednesday, in an afternoon session with reporters at the Senior Bowl.
"It's definitely been an adjustment – for so long, just strictly worrying about college, and going on (campus) visits. It's definitely been a challenge . . . I'm learning a lot from Howie as far as the agent side of the business, the salary cap, the trade side," Douglas said. "I've been in on a ton of those meetings. I'm just learning a lot."
Douglas stressed that the draft board, though his responsibility, will be informed by everyone on the scouting and coaching side who puts in work evaluating players.
Roseman said earlier this month that Douglas has "got a way of looking (at) and evaluating players, that is different than what we've done in the past, and quite frankly, we needed that."
Cap hit: $596K
Roob: Vaitai overcame a shaky first game against the Redskins and really put together some solid tape before injuries ended his season prematurely. Where does he fit in? Too early to say. He could conceivably move in at right tackle when Jason Peters finally retires or moves on and Lane Johnson – presuming he’s not serving another suspension – swings out to left tackle. Or could be that he’s just earmarked to be a back-up tackle for the next eight years. But either way, Vaitai showed enough to show that he belongs here in some role.
Dave: Had Lane Johnson not been suspended, Vaitai probably would have spent his rookie season on the bench. Instead, the fifth-round pick was thrown into the fire and nearly melted. But he was able to withstand a terrible first game and proved to himself and the team that he belongs in the league. With him and Isaac Seumalo, the Eagles drafted two linemen who can grow in Philly.
Cap hit: $555K
Roob: A darkhorse, but one that I think has a shot. Joined the Eagles as a seventh-round draft pick out of Oregon of all places last year and spent the year on injured reserve with a torn ACL suffered in the Steelers preseason game. Walker played well before he got hurt, has some size, seems to be very good against the run. Walker is one of those guys who probably won’t ever be a starter, but considering the Eagles’ lack of depth at linebacker, has a chance to not just make the team in the summer, but stick around as a backup linebacker and a special teamer. He’s a longshot but I say he stays.
Dave: It’s a shame Walker ruptured his ACL last preseason because the seventh-rounder had a really good training camp and was going to be the team’s backup and play a role on special teams. He’s been in Philly as he heals from the ACL injury and will spend the offseason here. If he can recover fully, he should be able to compete for that role again.
You never who is going to become a stud WR. Antonio Brown wasn’t supposed to be nearly this good when he came out. Julian Edelman was beyond a long shot. Jordy Nelson was well-regarded, but not to the level of player he’s become.
You draft players like that with the idea that they will be part of a WR corps. If they become even more, that’s great. You just can’t count on that.
The Eagles may try to sign Alshon Jeffrey in free agency. Or they may get Mike Williams or Corey Davis in the draft. Those are the only really high level WR targets I know of for now. That doesn’t mean the Eagles have to get one of those guys. They can focus on building a WR corps.
Sterling Sharpe was an elite WR in the early 1990s. Brett Favre loved him. Sharpe suffered a serious neck injury and had to retire. Green Bay won the Super Bowl without him. Their WRs were Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Don Beebe, Terry Mickens and Desmond Howard. Andre Rison was added during the season in a trade.
Brooks was very good, but not an elite Jerry Rice/Herman Moore/Michael Irvin level of player. Brooks and Freeman were 3rd round picks that developed into key players for the Packers and helped them to win a Super Bowl and almost a second one.
There are no elite receiver prospects here in Mobile, but there are some good players. You can make an argument the Eagles should draft a couple of them to build up the overall set of WRs.
MOBILE, Ala. -- The offseason mantra for the Eagles is very clear, and it is repeated often: Surround quarterback Carson Wentz with the right pieces. Make Wentz, who was so very impressive in his rookie season, the best he can be in Year 2 and beyond. What that means, exactly, remains to be seen, but it no doubt includes making the wide receiver positions more productive.
It’s no secret that the Eagles didn’t get enough from the wide receivers in 2016. Jordan Matthews worked hard and caught 73 passes, but he scored only three touchdowns as he battled an ankle injury late in the year. Nelson Agholor, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2015, didn’t take the hoped-for step forward and produced 36 catches, 365 yards, and two touchdowns. Dorial Green-Beckham, acquired in a late-summer trade with Tennessee in exchange for backup offensive lineman Dennis Kelly, contributed 36 receptions, 392 yards, and two scores.
Neither Rueben Randle nor Chris Givens, signed to one-year, low-risk, hope-for-reward contracts late in free agency, made it out of the preseason. Rookie receivers Paul Turner and Bryce Treggs showed they were still a ways away from contributing at a high level in the NFL, if at all.
So the Eagles enter this offseason knowing that, as they add pieces around Wentz both on offense and, truthfully, on defense, wide receiver is also on the want-to-improve menu. Some of that improvement has to come from within with new wide receivers coach Mike Groh overseeing the position. It’s certainly also likely that, in some way, shape, or form, the Eagles add some significant pieces.
Again, how they do it remains one of the offseason’s great stories to follow. Free agency, the draft, trades … isn’t everything on the table for the Eagles?
MOBILE, Ala. – Tre'Davious White is perhaps the top cornerback prospect at the Senior Bowl this week, but the LSU product missed practice on Thursday and will not play in Saturday's game after injuring his ankle on Wednesday.
The Eagles still had two practices to evaluate White, who excelled for NFL personnel this week. The injury occurred in front of Eagles executive Howie Roseman, who was seen watching White being evaluated on the sideline.
"He's been ultra-productive," Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said of White. "He's tough as nails. He plays nickel, he plays outside. He has ball skills. And you can stack his production level up with any cornerback coming out in this draft."
White was a four-year starter at LSU and was a first-team all-American as a senior. Pro Football Focus rated him as the top cornerback in college football, when he played both inside and outside.
"I feel like I have some of the best feet in the country," White said. "I've won way more battles than I've lost."
Douglas also praised White's leadership, noting that White wore the coveted No. 18 that LSU gives to players who are supposed to be the epitome of what they want their program to represent. Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan wore the number when he played for LSU.
White is close with Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills, who was a college teammate. Mills said that his finger-wagging after successful plays is a tribute to White.