3 takeaways from the Philadelphia Eagles’ haul of undrafted free agents
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Thursday the signing of 10 undrafted free agents, who will hit the field for rookie minicamp starting Friday.
While undrafted players aren’t the best bets to make a final roster or deliver meaningful contributions to the team, a few gems can emerge from the bunch. And the Eagles are proof of that; last season, Paul Turner, Bryce Treggs, Destiny Vaeao, C.J. Smith and Byron Marshall all played for the Eagles as undrafted rookies.
Here’s the full list of the undrafted players they signed this year:
#Eagles have signed 10 undrafted free agents ahead of this weekend’s rookie mini-camp. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/NkOGHPA6PY
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) May 11, 2017
And here are three thoughts about the group:
1) Corey Clement has as good a chance as any undrafted rookie to play a big role in 2017
The day the draft ended and the Eagles agreed to sign Clement, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman faced a question about the team’s lack of a three-down running back.
Roseman responded by alluding to Clement.
That alone should hint at the expectations the Birds are planning to place on the 220-pound running back from Wisconsin. Clement won’t be guaranteed a role on the offense or a place on the team, but the Eagles are in desperate need of a big-bodied back, assuming Ryan Mathews is non-factor in the 2017 season.
Clement piled up 1,375 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns as an all-Big Ten selection last season, meaning he has a history of production on his resume. And he fits an obvious need for the Eagles.
It’s true that undrafted free agents usually don’t have an open path into NFL backfields. But executives also rarely point toward those players as potential fixes.
Clement is already an anomaly, and a strong rookie minicamp could put him in position to compete for a significant spot on the Eagles’ offense this year.
2) Charles Walker could be a steal, but his mental health is most important
Walker sent a letter to NFL teams during the pre-draft process to explain his depression was under control after he abruptly left Oklahoma in November, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Dr. Ashley Benjamin, Walker’s doctor, told teams in the letter that the 310-pound defensive tackle had responded well to medication.
Some analyst predicted Walker could have been an early-round pick in the draft had he not left the Sooners shrouded in uncertainty or faced complications with depression and concussions. So, the Eagles, in need of extra depth along the interior of the defensive line, might have added a viable option in Walker.
He’s more talented and seasoned than most undrafted rookies.
Still, Walker’s mental health is paramount. Depression and a history of concussions present concerns, and the Eagles must manage the situation with care.
3) The Eagles will have one rookie offensive linemen on the roster
Roseman has stressed the importance of building depth along the offensive line since he re-assumed power over personnel in December 2015, but the Eagles didn’t draft an offensive linemen and only signed a single undrafted one: West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky.
Starting left tackle Jason Peters is entering his age 35 seasons and right tackle Lane Johnson has been suspended twice in four years for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. The Eagles, though, haven’t added a young tackle this offseason.
That likely indicates the Eagles are pleased with the progress of the rookie linemen they brought into the fold last year. Guard Isaac Seumalo (third round) and tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (fifth round) were both draft picks that started games for the Birds in 2016, while guard Darrell Greene and tackle Dillon Gordon impressed coaches as undrafted free agents.
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