Pederson: ‘I Don’t Know About’ Drafting A QB At No. 8
BOCA RATON, FL — After Jeffrey Lurie suggested yesterday that the Eagles will draft a quarterback next month, Doug Pederson confirmed this morning that he expects the team to do so as well.
However, the head coach was unsure about drafting a quarterback with the No. 8 overall pick.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Pederson said. “But I know that if you’re looking for that third quarterback, then there’s some good ones in this draft. Taking out, say, the top three, there’s still some guys in there you can develop and would be good fits at a No. 3.”
Pederson mentioned that he won’t attend Carson Wentz’s Pro Day tomorrow, but that he finds individual workouts to be much more informative when evaluating players.
He added that he came to Philadelphia expecting Sam Bradford to be his starting quarterback in 2016, explaining that he intends to “put more on [Bradford’s] plate” to utilize Bradford’s intelligence and decision-making at the line of scrimmage. When asked how he thinks Bradford may react to the Eagles bringing in a young quarterback, Pederson dismissed the question.
“Honestly, if you’re the starter, who cares? Who cares?” Pederson responded. “Why are you looking over your shoulder if you’re the starter? And that’s the way Sam has to approach this, even with Chase [Daniel] there, and even if we go out and draft a quarterback this year. If you’re the guy, you’re the guy. You’re looking forward and not behind. If you’re constantly looking behind you, then we’re going to have a problem.”
Pederson covered a plethora of other topics during his hour-long media session at the annual league meeting, including how he plans to try out Jordan Matthews at outside receiver in the spring. Pederson thinks Matthews can play outside or in the slot, but he wants to see how the third-year receiver performs in practice.
He also mentioned that Nigel Bradham fits best at strong side linebacker, while Mychal Kendricks is better on the weak side. Pederson dismissed any notion that Jordan Hicks isn’t big enough to play in the middle, complimenting the second-year linebacker on his intelligence and communication skills.
As for offensive line, Pederson said the Eagles’ starting left guard in 2016 is currently on the roster, but he was unclear when asked who that is.
“Jason Peters and Jason Kelce and [Malcolm] Bunche is in that group. There’s guys there in that guard position without getting into the whole roster and where we’re at, because nobody makes the team in March,” Pederson said. “But we do have guys that are capable of handling that spot, and solidifying that spot. We did it with free agency; Lane Johnson was a big priority, getting him back. So I think where we’re at offensively, now we can focus on the draft, I think, and filling those spots in.”
The head coach identified offensive line and the secondary as the team’s biggest needs, before adding that he’d like to add pass-rushers and linebackers. Pederson said Connor Barwin and Marcus Smith fit in as defensive ends, not linebackers, and that Smith could benefit from the scheme change to a 4-3.
He’s also unsure if the Eagles will carry a fullback on the roster, while adding that such a player would have to be good on special teams. Pederson will first look at the team’s tight ends, including Trey Burton, to see if one of them could fill that role. At kicker, the Eagles don’t have a starter penciled in because they want to see how Cody Parkey returns from injury.
Pederson also addressed Kansas City’s tampering with Jeremy Maclin, before laughing and not answering when asked if teams typically adhere to the league policy.
“I was surprised. It kind of comes as a surprise, a little bit of a shock, but I don’t know all the ins about it, so it’s hard to comment completely on the whole thing,” Pederson said. “The severity was probably the most surprising of the whole thing.”
The head coach covered several other topics, including that he won’t do joint-practices during training camp this year, and that he thinks the Eagles could easily find a young running back late in the draft or in free agency. He also doesn’t foresee Peters moving to guard any time soon, and plans to spend more time with the offense during meetings, while splitting time evenly between the offense and defense during practice.
Although he’d like to use tempo at times during games, Pederson revealed that he may not give Bradford the play calls directly. He explained that “there’s a chance” he may tell Frank Reich what to run, who would then relay it to the quarterback, which is something the head coach learned under Andy Reid.
“With a head coach’s headset dynamic, you’re on the offense, you’re on the defense, and you have the quarterback communicator,” Pederson said. “You don’t know if, sometimes — the buttons. You know, I had offense, we had two channels on offense, and then I had the coach-to-quarterback communicator on my belt pack. A lot of times, I can just see the dynamic right now as a head coach — because you’re going to want to be on the defensive side of the ball, and you got all these buttons going on, and you don’t want to mess that up.
“And Andy felt comfortable that way. He wanted to hear — here’s the other thing about it is: Who’s voice are they listening to the most in the meetings during the week? They’re listening to more of mine because I was the one actually calling plays in practice. So if Frank, for instance, is calling the plays in practice, that’s the voice that they hear. They don’t want to hear a different voice on Sunday. So that’s the other dynamic to this whole thing is who are they listening to, along with the mechanics of all the buttons and everything on your headset.”