Eagles Spring Rookie Report Card
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Tim Hauck spent 13 years as a safety in the NFL and let's just say the current Eagles' assistant didn't earn his pension by sticking to tight ends like he was Earl Thomas.
Hauck was a hitter and perhaps that's why the Montana native was pretty straightforward when asked what can you learn from spring work in the modern NFL.
"Not much," Hauck, Philadelphia's safeties coach under Jim Schwartz, joked.
Schwartz himself calls the offseason a time for teaching while training camp serves as the evaluation period. In other words, no matter how good you might look in shirts and shorts, it doesn't mean all that much in August when the pads come on and the physical part of professional football is put on the table.
There is no better example of that than the Eagles' fourth-round pick from a year ago, undersized running back Donnel Pumphrey, a player who looked like a burgeoning star in the spring only to fall off the table by the summer when his lack of size and strength was exposed.
The spring is much more important for the rookies and younger players, however, and here's a status report of where the Eagles' rookies stand as we speed toward camp in late July:
Tight end Dallas Goedert - At 6-foot-5 and nearly 260 pounds, Goedert looks like a potential clone of Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz with imposing length and athleticism coupled with a gaudy catching radius and tremendous hands. If Goedert can handle the physical aspect of the position, Philadelphia will have to seriously think about using more 12 personnel.
"Just the athleticism right now that you see pops," Eagles coach Pederson said when discussing Goedert during minicamp. "He's getting a lot better in his detail of his routes. ...He detailed the routes, he had great hands. He's a big target, made some plays in the red zone last week (and) making some plays this week. I just think he's a young player. Every day is a new day. He's learning as he goes. He's learning how to practice. He's learning our game. It'll be -- for tight ends in our system, it's going to be a different story, obviously, when training camp comes and the pads come on, we'll see the physicality that he has then. So those are all things that as we go, he'll learn and improve on."
Cornerback Avonte Maddox - The undersized, speedy Maddox spent most of the spring inside with the second-team defense while Schwartz rotated players like De'Vante Bausby, Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills in the slot with the first team. Remember Maddox played outside the numbers at Pitt so he's learning as he goes but at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds in an environment where the Eagles are loaded at outside corner the slot is Maddox's quickest path to playing time.
"It's a different position," Maddox admitted to 973espn.com when discussing playing inside vs. outside. "There's a lot more traffic so you have to understand your responsibilities."
Defensive end Josh Sweat - Sweat is a first-round talent who fell to the fourth because of a catastrophic leg injury in high school which threatened his football career. Now years away from the injury Sweat admitted he will need a brace at all times so there is always going to be the underlying injury concerns but looking at him, the Florida State product comes straight out of central casting when it comes to NFL edge rusher at a rangy 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds with room to grow.
The Eagles are so deep at DE that Sweat won't be needed until 2019 at the earliest but keep this one on the back-burner because Sweat will have every opportunity to develop into a difference maker. The Eagles kept him at right end throughout the spring working behind Derek Barnett and Sweat often made Jordan Mailata's introduction to American football pretty difficult.
"He's a young player. He's explosive. He fits what we're trying to do defensively, which is get off the ball and create a little penetration and some pass rush," Schwartz said when discussing Sweat this spring. "He's long. I think he's got a great future. He's got his challenges also. Number one, being a rookie and trying to learn and overcoming the knee injury that he had when he was in high school. So everybody's got a little bit different challenge. But we're excited about him. We think he fits really well."
Offensive lineman Matt Pryor - If it wasn't for the 6-foot-8, 350-pound Jordan Mailata, people would look at Pryor and say that's a really big dude. At 6-7 and 332, Pryor spent his spring behind Brandon Brooks at right guard with the second team and then would kick out to right tackle with the third team behind Lane Johnson and Taylor Hart. OL coach Jeff Stoutland raved about Pryor's versatility so it's evident Philadelphia is trying to nurture that.
Stoutland also admitted you would prefer that guards be 6-3 or 6-4 so the quarterback has an easier time with his throwing lanes. Brooks was a Pro Bowl selection at 6-5 but 6-7 is really tall for inside so Pryor's best position is likely going to end up being RT. For now, the Eagles have an easier time than most dealing with length on the interior of the OL because all the QBs -- other than South Jersey native Joe Callahan -- are 6-5 or taller.
Left tackle Jordan Mailata - If you wanted to create an NFL left tackle in a lab you'd probably come out of it with Mailata, the ex-Australian Rules football player trying to make the transition to American football. Mailata's physical gifts are off the charts but he's greener than the grass at the NovaCare Complex after a week of downpours. Mailata will be ticketed for the practice squad and forget about all the talk you will hear between now and September about losing him on waivers. Other teams can't waste a 53-man roster spot on a project that could take years to develop.
DT - Bruce Hector - Hector got the most money to sign in the undrafted class and the Eagles are likely going to need a body inside while Tim Jernigan recovers from his back surgery.
S - Jeremy Reaves - The Eagles are looking for that third safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod and Reaves seems like the most well-equipped to challenge Tre Sullivan.
PRACTICE SQUAD HOPEFULS:
WR Anthony Mahoungou - The Paris native has imposing size and length at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds so he could be regarded as a worthy developmental type.
OG Aaron Evans - Evans is already showing some leadership skills by helping Mailata learn the pro game.
OT - Toby Weathersby - The former LSU starter was considered a draftable commodity by most. He's not the best athlete in the world but he's got the frame to be a RT in this league.
DE - Joe Ostman - Ostman will play in this league for a long time. He's got natural pass-rushing skills and a non-stop motor. Dodged a bullet when he hyperextended his knee at minicamp.
LB - Asantay Brown - Undersized LB with some coverage skills that Schwartz seems to like.
S - Stephen Roberts - Former Auburn safety made some plays with the ball in the air.
S - Chandon Sullivan - The back end is a true competition with a ton of young options and Sullivan could make a run as well.
WR/KR Tim Wilson - The East Stroudsburg product earned a 90-man roster spot by showing off some versatile skills at rookie camp but the numbers game is tough for him.
OC - Ian Park - Park spent the spring as a backup center and the Eagles are loaded at that particular position.
DE - Danny Ezechukwu - The numbers just don't add up for Ezechukwu but he gets the summer to learn from people like Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long and Steven Means. That's not a bad internship.
LB - Kyle Wilson - Wilson was brought in after Paul Worrilow went down with a torn ACL.
RB Josh Adams - Spent the spring sidelined with a foot injury.
S Ryan Neal - Neal sat out the spring with the injury.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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