Good morning, Eagles fans. It’s April, which is a sign the NFL calendar has moved from free agency to the draft. The draft is April 26-28, but the returning players come back to work before then. They have this week and next week off before the offseason program begins on April 16.
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— Zach Berman
Pay attention to Nate Sudfeld this spring
You should expect to hear Nate Sudfeld’s name often this spring. The Eagles’ No. 3 quarterback will be in the spotlight with Carson Wentz out for offseason workouts and Nick Foles an established veteran whose workload might be monitored. Look for Sudfeld to get plenty of passes and the team to have a more complete evaluation of the 24-year-old quarterback. It’s fair to say they’re exceedingly high on Sudfeld after his first season with the team.
“He just got better,” coach Doug Pederson said. “I know you didn’t get a chance to watch him in practice, but the things we saw in practice really gave us a lot of confidence as a staff to, if he needed to go in, he could go in and sustain the role. And that’s why this offseason is going to be big for him. Get him caught up in the offense. Feel real comfortable with him. Again having three guys is a blessing, especially this early in the offseason program.”
The Eagles added Sudfeld to their practice squad before Week 1 last season. They promoted him to the active roster on Nov. 1 after the Indianapolis Colts tried to sign him. Sudfeld, who is 6-foot-6 and 227 pounds, developed a close bond with Wentz and Foles. His only playing time came in Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys, when he finished 19 of 23 for 134 yards. Pederson was encouraged by the way Sudfeld played that day, and the Eagles were confident enough in Sudfeld that they didn’t add a quarterback to the roster after Wentz’s December injury.
“We’re all very excited about” Sudfeld, owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “I think you guys know, I attend practice all the time. Nate is very, very impressive.”
As much as Sudfeld learned the offense last season, most of the development for a quarterback in his situation will come during the offseason, because he’ll get more practice reps and he’ll be part of the installation of the offense. Sudfeld wasn’t with the Eagles at this time last year, so Pederson is expecting a jump in development this spring.
“This will be a big spring for us to really get our hands on him now and really begin to detail him,” Pederson said at the combine. “Even though [John DeFilippo] did a great job with him throughout the season and got him ready to play each and every week, and what he did down the stretch as the No. 2, I really feel comfortable and excited about his future, and this spring will be big for him.”
Thoughts on the Paul Worrilow signing
The Eagles added linebacker Paul Worrilow on Tuesday to a one-year deal. His addition shouldn’t be overstated, but it was a sensible move to make. I thought depth was an issue for the Eagles at linebacker last year, and Pederson also wanted to improve special teams this offseason. Worrilow can help in both areas. Worrilow, 27, has 52 career starts. He’s an upgrade at backup middle linebacker over Joe Walker, and the team is unlikely to re-sign Dannell Ellerbe. Considering Jordan Hicks’ injury history, it will help to have an experienced reserve at that position. With Worrilow and Corey Nelson, the Eagles have already added two linebackers with starting experience who can play on special teams. Both came at low costs. Those are the types of under-the-radar signings that are smart to make for a team that returns most of its starters.
The Eagles’ offseason program begins on April 16. The key dates on that calendar are the 10 days of organized team activities and the mandatory minicamp. The OTAs will be May 22-24, May 29, May 31, June 1, and June 4-7. The mandatory minicamp will be June 12-14.
During the first five weeks of the offseason program, there is no full-team, on-field work permitted. Players can do strength and conditioning work during the first two weeks, and they can add individual drills for the three weeks thereafter.
During OTAs, the team can take part in 11-on-11, 9-on-7, and 7-on-7 drills. No live contact is permitted. Minicamp is similar to OTAs, except attendance is required and the days are longer.
What you need to know about the Eagles
- After winning the Super Bowl, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said he’s now “equally obsessed to be the first team to try to repeat in a long time.” No team has won in back-to-back years since the Patriots beat the Eagles in 2005. The Eagles’ moves this offseason certainly suggest they’re in win-now mode.
- Brandon Graham wants a new contract. The Eagles believe he deserves one. So what’s holding it up? That’s what Jeff McLane explored in his Sunday column.
- The NFL instituted a rule against lowering the helmet during a tackle. It was a polarizing decision, but Lurie and coach Doug Pederson both supported the rule, as Les Bowen writes.
- Corey Clement is a versatile football player, but can he deliver the weather?
From the mailbag
Safe to assume that LB won't be addressed in draft with the Worrilow signing? Thought a safety would be signed instead. Maybe the team likes a safety at the back of the first?
— Sports Guy (@guyofdasport) April 3, 2018
I don’t think that’s safe to say. The Eagles’ linebacker depth chart is unclear beyond 2018. You can expect Nigel Bradham to be on the team, but Jordan Hicks is a free agent after this season, Mychal Kendricks’ future in Philadelphia remains a question, both Corey Nelson and Paul Worrilow are on one-year deals, and the linebackers behind them must prove they can be starting-caliber players. If there’s a potential starting linebacker on the board at No. 32, I wouldn’t rule out the Eagles taking him. I don’t think they want to go into that pick trying to plug a hole, and there are certainly roster spots up for grabs at linebacker. Good luck determining their first-round pick — if they don’t trade back. They can go in a number of directions, and it all depends who falls.
How do the Eagles match up with the rams after all the moves made this offseason?
— Minkus (@Minkuswazhere) April 4, 2018
The rosters are not yet set, but certainly the Los Angeles Rams will enter the season as one of the top contenders in the NFC. They upgraded in a lot of areas, especially in the secondary. They still need to get the pieces to fit together, and Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the same defensive line is a spectacular combination, but they must stay healthy on the offensive line and show they can rush from the edge. The offense can be electric with the addition of Brandin Cooks, who needs to play better than Sammy Watkins did last season.
The Eagles’ strength is their offensive and defensive lines. If they can win the line of scrimmage, they can beat anybody. With that said, it will be more difficult to pass on the Rams in 2018. The Eagles had 316 passing yards vs. them last season, but the Rams’ pass defense should be better. The lingering question will be how Carson Wentz recovers from his knee injury. Regardless, it’s fair to say the Rams enter the season as one of the Eagles’ biggest challengers.
“Burton and Beau Allen are gone, so our primary two flex Full Backs aren’t on the team. What flexible player could potentially replace them? Do you think it could be Worrilow who played Full Back in HS?” — Robby, via email
This is a good question. I don’t have the answer, but I look forward to finding out during training camp. I imagine they’ll add a tight end or two during the next month who could potentially fill that role. That would be my guess. Defensive tackle Elijah Qualls could be that Beau Allen-type fullback if they wanted to test a defensive player. I don’t know whether I’d put Worrilow in that category at this point — he just signed Tuesday and high school was a long time ago. But the Eagles like to have a goal-line fullback, so I’m curious to see who that will be.