July 05, 2020
In recent seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles have tried to cross-train some of their rookies at multiple positions in training camp. In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, we're told that the Eagles "won't give their rookies three or four things to do," and will instead allow them to focus in on learning one position.
In June, Doug Pederson was asked if WR Jalen Reagor would be cross-trained, like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was as a rookie during the 2019 season.
"It's the hardest thing we are dealing with with our younger players is not having the grass time in the off-season with phase two and phase three," Pederson said. "But right now, he's going to come in and he's going to learn one position and he is going to learn from DeSean Jackson, and learn everything he can. Obviously the playbook is extensive and we just have to see what he's taken from the off-season to training camp, and then once we see his potential and his growth, then we can use him in multiple spots.
"But one of the things that all of our receivers really have the capability of doing is moving inside, whether they are an outside guy going inside or an inside guy going outside. We'll keep him at one position to start and we'll grow from there."
As for the rest of the rookie draft class, here is where we'll project each player to begin their careers with the Eagles:
• QB Jalen Hurts: He's a quarterback (duh), and he'll be trained as such. While there's a possibility that Hurts could see a snap here or there as something other than a quarterback throughout the season, the idea that the Eagles are going to introduce some extensive package of specialty plays for him to run is far-fetched.
• LBs Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley: Normally the Eagles want their linebackers to begin learning all the linebacker positions immediately, even if just for the sake of understanding what their teammates are doing. The Eagles will have to find the right balance of letting Taylor and Bradley each focus in on one spot while teaching the defensive scheme in its entirety. They both fit the WILL linebacker profile in the Eagles' defense.
• S K'Von Wallace: Wallace was a versatile defender for Clemson, so he'll be an interesting player to watch throughout training camp. Rodney McLeod will likely be starting in his same role as the FS, with Jalen Mills taking over for Malcolm Jenkins. The bet here is that Will Parks will be McLeod's backup and Wallace will back up Mills. Slot corner might have made some sense as well, but the Eagles have plenty of depth there, with Nickell Robey-Coleman, Cre'Von LeBLance, and even Sidney Jones as capable slot corners.
• OL Jack Driscoll: If there's maybe one exception on the cross-training front, it could be Driscoll, who played both guard and tackle in college. In a normal offseason, we're told that center reps would have been on the table for him as well, but that's out, for now. The Eagles' depth is shakier than it has been in recent years across the board along the OL, but they're probably a little better at OT currently, depth-wise, than they are on the interior. As such, Driscoll will likely start off at guard, and should have a chance to compete with Matt Pryor for Brandon Brooks' starting RG spot.
• WRs John Hightower and Quez Watkins: Hightower and Watkins are both speed guys, but do you have them primarily learn DeSean Jackson's spot while Reagor is doing the same, or do you try to teach them another position? The guess here is that they'll all learn the Z position initially, and hope for long-term success over immediate contributions.
• OT Prince Tega Wanogho: He'll play tackle, clearly, but on which side? The Eagles could continue to let Mailata work on both sides, and allow Wanogho to focus in on LT, where he primarily played at Auburn.
• DE Casey Toohill: Toohill fits a similar profile as Joe Ostman and Genard Avery, as something of a smaller, but athletic pass rusher, so it will be interesting to see if they try to use him in the Joker role that Ostman and Avery both played in 2019. Initially, however, they're probably more likely to just let him start out in a straight-up DE spot.