The Eagles will attend the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis this week for the first time as Super Bowl champions. That is an enviable position.
However, the combine does not have the same allure for the Eagles as in past years because they draft No. 32, and they don’t have second- or third-round picks. So they won’t be connected to many of the top draft prospects. But this will nonetheless be a busy week for the Eagles. They might not have pressing needs, but their allotment of six picks could swell with trades.
In addition to evaluating and meeting with draft prospects, Eagles officials will talk with agents and other executives and coaches from around the league. Whether it’s negotiating trades or restructuring contracts, the combine is a league-wide convention and the best place for in-person talks before free agency and the draft.
When Howie Roseman, the team’s executive vice president of football operations, and coach Doug Pederson meet with reporters Wednesday, the subjects of the questions will shift from the championship team to how they can build a roster to repeat. Roseman will speak at noon, and Pederson will follow at 12:15. There are decisions to be made about pending free agents (Nigel Bradham), expensive veterans (Torrey Smith) and players who might earn raises (Brandon Graham).
There will also be discussions about the Eagles’ reworked coaching staff. Of course, the biggest story line of the Eagles offseason is the health of quarterback Carson Wentz and whether to trade Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
The on-field workouts are set for Friday through Monday. The running backs, offensive linemen, and specialists will work out Friday. The quarterbacks will be on the field with the wide receivers and tight ends Saturday. Defensive linemen and linebackers will go through testing Sunday. The defensive backs will finish the combine Monday. All the workouts will be televised on the NFL Network.
Players will meet with the media from Thursday through Sunday. Coaches and executives from most teams will hold news conferences on Wednesday, with others scattered throughout the week.
The best player in this year’s draft might be Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who is expected to be a top-five pick. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said the combine will be a confirmation of Barkley’s physical gifts and “ought to be a victory celebration” for the star running back.
“He’s going to walk out of there four days later, and everyone is going to go, ‘Wow. He’s just as good or better than we thought he was,’ ” Mayock said. “So when he goes into the meetings at night, he’s going to blow people away also.”
Quarterbacks are always in the spotlight at the combine, and this is a deep quarterback class with five passers considered potential first-round picks. USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, and Wyoming’s Josh Allen are the top three. But two Heisman Trophy winners – Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield – are expected to be first-round picks who will generate as much attention as any players in this draft.
The deep quarterback draft class comes when there are more starting-caliber quarterbacks on the free-agent market, with Washington’s Kirk Cousins atop that list. Cousins will almost certainly change teams in March, and his free-agency prospects will be a popular conversation at the combine and will kick off a quarterback shuffle. That could also be relevant to the Eagles, especially if a quarterback-needy teams tries to trade for Foles.
Barkley will have seven Penn State teammates with him in Indianapolis: safeties Marcus Allen and Troy Apke, linebacker Jason Cabinda, cornerbacks Chris Campbell and Grant Haley, tight end Mike Gesicki, and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton. Temple is sending safety Sean Chandler to the combine. Rutgers will be represented by edge rusher Kemoko Turay.
There are also notable local players at the combine. Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey is the biggest name. McGlinchey, a Philadelphia native and Penn Charter alum, is rated by Mayock as the top offensive tackle in the draft. He is unlikely to last for the Eagles to pick him, but he would be an ideal candidate for the Eagles if he dropped that far.
McGlinchey’s college teammate, running back Josh Adams, is a Central Bucks South High School graduate who will try to work his way up the draft charts in a deep running back class. Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta, from Downingtown East, won the Senior Bowl MVP award and has created a buzz as an under-the-radar quarterback to watch.
Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett is a Woodbury product who could follow a national championship as a Day 2 draft pick. That’s also when Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore, a Philadelphia native from Imhotep Charter, will likely get drafted after being named Big Ten receiver of the year.
Other local players at the combine are Pittsburgh offensive lineman Jaryd Jones-Smith (West Catholic) and punter Ryan Winslow (La Salle); Maine offensive lineman Jamil Demby (Vineland); and Chandler, who went to Camden.