Eagles Wake-Up Call: Betting On Numbers

Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the draft, Ed Marynowitz was asked for his thoughts on what it takes to hit on picks in the later rounds.

“I think the best philosophy to have is, ‘What can they do?’  There is a reason why, certainly, they’re not a guy that is in the top three rounds.  But it’s more about what they can do rather than what they can’t do in the later rounds,” he said. “I think sometimes in the later rounds you may defer a little bit more to numbers in terms of testing numbers and what they have in their body.  You want guys that have athleticism and traits that can translate.  Guys that are wired the right way in terms of being willing to develop and improve as players.”

Brian Mihalik is the manifestation of that philosophy.

The pick is in many ways about the numbers. Chip Kelly rattled them off shortly after using the 237th overall pick on the defensive lineman out of Boston College: Six-foot-nine, 300 pounds. Thirty-four-inch vertical. Forty time of 4.88.

“If you could put [a 3-4 D-lineman] together, that’s what it is,” said Kelly. “Now, he hasn’t played it, so there’s a projection there.  That’s why he got drafted where he got drafted.”

Mihalik finished with 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season while playing (arguably out of position) as a 4-3 defensive end at BC.  In his case, it’s not about what he’s been, but what they hope he can grow into with some watering.

So first, they study the roots. As they often do with their pre-draft prospects, the Eagles measured Mihalik’s knees and wrists to help determine how much additional weight his frame might comfortably bear. In Mihalik’s case, that number is 15-20 pounds, he said.

That was just the start of the poking and prodding to see just how much give this massive body has to it.

“I know when I visited the whole thing was just a whirlwind of tests that they put me through,” said Mihalik of his trip to NovaCare. “They had me hooked up to a bunch of different stuff. And then they had a whole flexibility thing, having a stick over your head and how far you can squat down, a whole bunch of hip and leg mobility [tests] and stuff like that.”

Apparently, the results were satisfactory.

According to Mihalik, the Eagles were the only team that brought him in for an official visit. He worked out for just one other team, he said — the Patriots. The Ohio native acknowledged that he was “maybe a little bit” surprised that the Eagles selected him. But given the approach to late-round picks that Marynowitz described, we shouldn’t be.

“You can tell the sports science division over here,” said Mihalik, “they’re really in tune with kind of the technology of what goes into making somebody a good player.”


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With the unrestricted free-agency period ending Tuesday, John Clayton takes a look back at how the Eagles and the rest of the NFL spent their money.

The New York Jets ($179.3 million), Jacksonville Jaguars ($174.5 million),Miami Dolphins ($137.2 million), Philadelphia Eagles ($121.2 million) and Oakland Raiders ($110.8 million) each spent more than $100 million in contracts. It was fascinating how these teams invested. The Jets, for example, hit the cornerback market hard, grabbing Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine for $127 million worth of contracts to revamp the position, along with giving safety Marcus Gilchrist a four-year, $22 million contract. Chip Kelly put $51 million worth of contracts into the Eagles’ backfield with the additions of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. The Chicago Bears (12), Jets (11), Raiders and Falcons (nine each) led the free-agency period in signings. No surprise. They were drafting in the top eight.

The Eagles found value in the sixth round in JaCorey Shepherd, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Put on the West Virginia or TCU tape and you’ll be as surprised as me as to why he went this low. Real smooth athlete who can mirror well off the snap and plays the ball well. Not a really physical corner but might just be the most natural playmaker in the entire draft at the cornerback spot.


More from the rookie availability.