Wake-Up Call: Eagles, Caps and Gowns

Jordan Matthews
In an era where a record number of undergraduates are declaring for the draft, the Eagles are trending in the opposite direction. And it’s no coincidence.

Six of the Eagles’ seven draft picks will have earned a college diploma by the time training camp starts. The one exception,  Beau Allen, is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and just 14 credits shy of a business degree.

Look  over the team’s draft choices from the past two seasons, and there’s a decent chance the player’s bio will include some kind of scholastic achievement:

Lane Johnson a two-time Academic All-Big 12 first-team honoree.
Jordan Matthews — graduated from Vanderbilt with an economics degree in three-and-a-half years.
Taylor Hart — academic honors as a junior.

Earl Wolff – earned his degree in sports management at NC State in just three
and a half years.

And so on.

“I think it’s important from the standpoint of number one, intelligence is a huge part of what we’re looking for in every aspect that we do, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams.  So the fact that they have a degree is proven where they are from an intelligence factor,” said Chip Kelly. “The other thing, it’s also what is their commitment?  They set goals out for themselves and can they follow through for it?  A lot of people can tell you they want to do this, this and this.  But look at their accomplishments.  Sometimes when you look at those things, it’s always a plus when you have that.”

Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal did a nice job of delving deeper into the subject.

Philadelphia’s philosophy of pursuing graduates was born when Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager since 2010, and Kelly, the team’s second-year coach, each discovered that teams with the most college graduates are overwhelmingly successful. Kelly learned this late in his coaching tenure at Oregon, when former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, whose son played at Oregon, mentioned in a talk to Oregon players that in the 2000s, the two teams who happened to have loads of graduates were the Colts and New England Patriots. Those teams dominated the first decade of this century.

“I didn’t know he’d take it this far,” Dungy said, jokingly.

In a private conversation later, Dungy, now an analyst for NBC, told Kelly that his research showed players with degrees were more likely to earn a second NFL contract and make more money. He told Kelly “the guys with degrees have what you are looking for. They are driven.”

We know that Kelly gives the scouting department specific measurables that he is looking for in a player — height, weight, arm length, speed, etc. — that the coach describes as “a guideline more than a rule.” That’s probably a good way to look at the graduation/intelligence factor as well: exceptions will be made, but generally they will have a preference for  players that have completed (if not excelled in) college.

WHAT YOU MISSED

“The thing that I remember is that I could never get away from him.” More on new DB Jaylen Watkins

Josh Huff is looking to bring the “nastiness” to the NFL.

The Eagles and safety Ed Reynolds have agreed to terms.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Adrian Peterson laughed when he heard LeSean McCoy declare himself the best back in the NFL. From Fox Sports (via Penn Live):

“I definitely started laughing,” Peterson said. “It was funny because when Stephen [A. Smith] asked him the question, you know, he kind of hesitated. If you watched it, you know he didn’t believe it when he said it. So I’ve got to tell the youngsters, ‘Next time, say it with your chest, man. Say it like you mean it!”

“If you watched – if you’ve seen his response – he didn’t really mean it…But, you know, I’ve got to give the young guy credit, you know. There’s nothing wrong with having confidence in yourself, you know. But, you know, you’ve got to speak it – you know, you’ve got to speak it with more truth. He’s a heck of a running back and I like his style, so I won’t get on him too much.”

Jimmy Kempski on the state of the Eagles’ offensive line, which is the second oldest in the league.

• 13 NFL teams have no projected starters on their OL over the age of 30. 12 teams only have 1. The Eagles have 3.

• Evan Mathis is the oldest projected starting OG in the NFL.

• Jason Peters is the 2nd oldest projected starting OT in the NFL.

• Todd Herremans is the 5th oldest projected starting OG in the NFL.

• Mathis, Peters, and Herremans are all among the 12 oldest offensive linemen in the NFL.

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