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April 22, 2021

What they're saying: Justin Jefferson 'definitely excited' he's not with Eagles, NFL Draft tips, Nick Sirianni and more

Eagles NFL

The 2021 NFL Draft is now just one week away, and things are heating up — at least in the form of Eagles talk — in the city as the team prepares to make 11 picks next weekend.

The top dogs in the process, Howie Roseman, Andy Weidl and Nick Sirianni, had a press conference on Wednesday and if you are reading this article you no doubt have read or heard something about that presser (and it probably has to do with Rock, Paper, Scissors). 

I, for one, have never even had to type the word "scissors" into an article before in my life, so it's been spell checked and everything. We'll briefly touch on the roshambo storyline a little later, but there is a lot more that the so-called experts have been musing about over the last day or so.

And so, without further ado, here's a quick look at what they're saying about the Eagles right now:

Justin wants revenge

Tyler Tynes | GQ

Typically we look at what reporters and pundits have to say about the Eagles, but here's a rare instance where a player is saying something quite interesting himself. The Eagles passed over Justin Jefferson last season to take Jalen Reagor in the first round, and as everyone knows, the Vikings got one of the most productive wideouts not only in the draft class but in the entire NFL last season. 

Jefferson had a one-on-one interview with GQ magazine, where he expressed both his anger about not being drafted by Philly and his eagerness to seek revenge from the Eagles for not taking him. Okay...

But it’s clear you’re a budding star. There was so much buzz around your name heading into draft night. One possibility was the Eagles. At one point, I heard that you started looking at housing in the area. You ended up falling one spot later. There was that viral video from the Vikings draft room about how excited they were to have you. What was it like to go through all of that?

Leading up to the draft, you know, they had all of those mock drafts and people sharing their opinions on who is going to go where. A lot of people had me going to Philly. And, I thought I was going to Philly. Honestly. The funny part is, Philly was on the board and then Minnesota called me. At first, I thought it was Philly. But, I answered the phone and it was Minnesota. It’s crazy how all of that happened and everything. But, I’m definitely, definitely, definitely excited that I’m on the Vikings rather than Philly.

Will it feel any better if you ever play Philly because you’ve become this star and they missed out?

I’ll always treat every game the same, no matter who I’m playing. But Philly will definitely be edgier. You know, especially because they passed on me. [GQ]

1-2-3 shoot

ESPN

You can add Dan Orlovsky to the list of NFL people who get really really excited about playing Rock, Paper, Scissors (making him the second one, after Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni). The rookie coach's remarks are getting a ton of attention nationwide, as Eagles fans and football fans alike laugh at Sirianni's explanation from Wednesday's press conference as to why he plays the children's game, via Zoom, with potential draftees to gauge their competitiveness. 

While we wanted to avoid loading this article up with takes on Rock, Paper, Scissor-gate, we did want to underline just how much this story has taken off. On SportsCenter, the QB analyst got his butt handed to him by Kevin Neghandi, who more importantly in the clip below stated quite emphatically that Jalen Hurts "will be the starting quarterback" in Philly despite both the GM and head coach going out of their way to avoid saying so. Here's the clip:

Lessons learned

Mike Kaye | NJ.com

In response to the Eagles pre-draft presser on Wednesday, Kaye went back over some recent draft misfires (there were plenty of them) and came up with seven pretty spot-on pieces of advice for the Birds as they continue to prepare for next week's event.

Here's one of the seven we particularly agree with (but the entire piece is worth taking a look at):

Don’t fall in love with a trait, fall in love with a player

The Eagles tend to fall in love with individual traits as opposed to the overall picture of a player.

For instance, wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was a dominant “50-50 ball” catcher at Stanford, and the Eagles thought he could develop into a long-term replacement for Alshon Jeffery. Unfortunately, Arcega-Whiteside struggled with route running and the playbook throughout his rookie season. While he got over some hurdles last season, the coaching staff lost confidence in him due to inconsistency, and he was a healthy scratch for a good portion of the season. The same could be said about wide receiver John Hightower, who has really impressive speed but lacks the all-around game to warrant major playing time on a consistent basis.

The Eagles need to find players who have more than just one baseline trait. Sure, it’s great to have speed threats and jump-ball receivers, and defensive linemen who can play all four positions, but they also need to be able to play well when thrust into full-time roles.

The Eagles should look at prospects the way this writer looks at pizza: the more toppings (traits), the better. [NJ.com]

No OTAs, big problem

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

A sort of under the radar piece of news trickled out a few days ago, when the Eagles revealed they would join pretty much every other NFL team in foregoing in-person minicamps this spring. It makes sense with the pandemic continuing, player safety is important. 

But, with vaccines available and with the ability to social distance and be outdoors, perhaps the Eagles are missing out on a much-needed opportunity for rookie head coach Sirianni. More from Roob:

How many times did we hear a young player last year talk about how difficult it was not having OTAs and spring practices, how it was a real setback as they tried to learn the Eagles’ offensive or defensive scheme?

Constantly.

With the pandemic first hitting last spring, the NFL eliminated all in-person OTAs, so all 32 teams held spring sessions virtually, and the first time anybody was actually on the field in uniform was for the start of training camps, a month and a half before the regular season began. Without preseason games.

No wonder so many players struggled. [NBCSP]

On the line

Paul Domowitch | Philadelphia Inquirer

And finally, some actual draft content. Over at the Inquirer, Domo is asking a pretty reasonable question. With a new scheme and new coaching staff in the NovaCare Complex, maybe the Eagles should consider taking — gasp — a linebacker?

It's been 41 years since they took one in the first round, and the way the NFL is trending, the position is less and less important every year as teams opt to load their offensive personnel with wide receivers. Still, someone has to help stop the run and cover tight ends and perhaps one of the best prospects available for the Eagles at No. 12 overall will be Penn State's Micah Parsons. He's a freak athlete and if he's there, and the best available, would Philly pull the trigger?

Linebacker hasn’t been a high priority for the Eagles in recent years. They’ve selected just four of them in the last eight drafts, and only two higher than the sixth round — Davion Taylor in Round 3 last year and Jordan Hicks in Round 3 in 2015. Taylor played just 32 snaps as a rookie last year.

They’ve done most of their free agent linebacker shopping at K-Mart, including this year with the signing of former Minnesota Viking Eric Wilson to a one-year, $3.25 million deal.

But Parsons is from Tiffany’s; a difference-maker out of the Devin White mold. He’s 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds with sub-4.4 speed. He’s an every-down linebacker who can play off-the-ball and also rush the passer. [Inquirer.com]


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