Eagles Rookies Hope to Make a Positive First Impression
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - You think first impressions don't matter?
Consider this story from Jim Nagy, an 18-year NFL scout who now runs the Senior Bowl:
That prompted Andrew Brandt, the ex-Green Bay Packers executive who also worked with the Eagles in 2009-10 and now teaches at Villanova, to chime in with a colorful story about current Cleveland GM John Dorsey.
Rookie camp isn't going to make anyone in the NFL, even the most pedigreed of draft picks, but it can break you pretty quickly if you show up and are overmatched.
The Eagles' rookie class will get the opportunity to catch the eyes of the brass -- in a good or bad way -- for the first time during a minicamp that runs from Friday through Sunday.
There are no pads and certainly no contact but there is the comp of other high-level athletes both on the field with you and from the past.
The ceiling of any prospect takes time and includes many intangibles which will contribute to it along the way but coaches can figure out pretty quickly what the floor is and whether a player has the baseline ability to potentially succeed in the NFL.
It's only a necessary first step but by Mother's Day Doug Pederson and his staff will have a much better feel for how their 2019 rookie class fits into what the Eagles are trying to accomplish.
And that starts with putting the new players under the microscope and observing how they pick up the limited information they are started off with.
Certain players -- like first-round left tackle Andre Dillard and second-round wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside -- have the luxury of an extended ramp-up time due to the presence of proven veterans in front of them on the depth chart. For second-round running back Miles Sanders, who will be expected to handle a larger role as a complement to Jordan Howard, the career kickoff is much more important.
For the second consecutive year, the Eagles draft class is a small one, the three aforementioned players as well as fourth-round defensive end Shareef Miller and fifth-round quarterback Clayton Thorson.
All five draft picks were signed on the eve of the camp.
A 10-man undrafted free agent class was also announced, a group slightly smaller than expected.
Undrafted players to keep an eye on include three interior offensive linemen because the Eagles are still looking for a competent game-day backup who can handle the pivot as well as both guard spots.
If players like Penn State’s Ryan Bates, Weber State’s Iosua Opeta and Stanford’s Nate Herbig don't make a positive first impression Howie Roseman could look at the veterans left on the open market, a group which still includes Stefen Wisniewski.
Others officially signed were Stanford LB Joey Alfieri, Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards, Wyoming RB Nico Evans, Iowa C Keegan Render, UAB DT Anthony Rush, Penn State WR DeAndre Thompkins and Rutgers DT Kevin Wilkins.
Dickinson State CB Jamalcolm Liggins, Cincinnati defensive back Tyrell Gilbert, Vanderbilt defensive end Louis Vecchio, and Fairmont State linebacker Jerry Iweh were only offered rookie camp tryouts.
After the camp wraps up on Sunday the next step is May 21 when on-field work with the veterans begins.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen