Takeaways From Draft Weekend
A lot to digest following an eventful several days at the NovaCare. Here’s what stood out.
— A story about Carson Wentz I liked:
It would be understandable if the 23-year-old out of Bismarck needed a couple weeks to hibernate. Since capping his college career off with a championship-game win over Jacksonville State, it’s been a whirlwind tour. From the Senior Bowl to the Combine to his pro day; from official visits to private workouts to independent training; media obligations; a trip to Chicago for one of the biggest days of his life, and then off to his new home — Philadelphia — to meet with the masses…it’s been an exhausting run over the last several months.
And yet he’s not interested in any breathers.
The schedule allows for a little break now, with rookie camp slated for May 13-15. Soon after his post-draft obligations were met, he was scheduled to fly back to North Dakota to be with his family. Prior to leaving, he apparently asked members of his inner-circle: “Can we come back [to Philly] on Monday?”
Don’t you want some time to relax?
“I need to get to work.”
It’s unlikely his wish was granted, but that’s not the point.
As is the case with all the picks, it will be a while until we find out whether Wentz was the right choice. What we can say is that he sure appears to be wired the right way. You don’t have to be around him (and the people close to him) very long to understand how dedicated to his craft and competitive he is.
Those type of character traits can only help as he attempts to grow into the role of franchise quarterback.
“Through this process I’ve made a couple jokes with some people, I’m like, ‘I’m kind of going crazy, I have no playbook.’ I’m watching film, and I don’t even know what to exactly watch for,” said Wentz. “I’m not reading defenses quite the same because I don’t have a playbook, so I’m fired up to get a playbook and to dive right in.”
— Wentz’s comments regarding Sam Bradford have gotten a good bit of attention. In case you missed it, he was asked by Rueben Frank of CSN Philly if he has seen Bradford play and if so, what he thought of his style.
“I’ve seen him play a little bit. Obviously I know he was a top pick and everything not too many years ago. Obviously I know he was with the Rams and everything and now here. But I haven’t watched a ton of film on him,” he said. “I watched a lot of film on guys like Brady and Manning and Rodgers, those types of things. So I don’t know as much as some of the other guys.”
That’s been interpreted by some as Wentz throwing shade at Bradford. I disagree. I think it was just an honest answer. He’s studied the elite of the elite and hasn’t spent as much time breaking the other QBs in the league down, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It is fair to say that he didn’t show much deference to Bradford in that response or others. He had several opportunities to elevate Bradford above himself if he so desired, but I don’t really sense that’s in his DNA. That goes back to his competitive side, and possibly speaks to an alpha male trait. There’s a way to be respectful without conceding ground at the same time, and I think that’s the line Wentz will walk while Bradford is still in the building.
— Along those lines, I found Doug Pederson‘s most recent comments on Bradford interesting. He maintained that Bradford is still “our guy” but acknowledged that he is losing valuable time by choosing to stay away from the voluntary portion of the offseason training program.
He is the starter. But by losing that valuable time, does that ever become in jeopardy?
“Well, I think it depends on when he does come back and how fast we can catch him up and put him back in that situation and see where he’s at at that time. Nobody makes the team in April. We’re not making any roster adjustments and letting people go. It’s all about evaluation, and he’s in that evaluation process,” said Pederson. “But as I’ve said in the past, he was one and Chase [Daniel] is two and we’re moving on from there.”
I think it’s important to look at this from Pederson’s point of view. Here’s a new coach installing a new offense trying to garner authority over a new team, and his quarterback has gone missing. What’s more, that quarterback is not even returning phone calls. In the meanwhile, you’re rolling with your hand-picked guy — Daniel — and feeling all sorts of good about your new acquisition in Wentz.
The Eagles continue to stress that they’re not going to put too much emphasis on what happens in the spring (especially when we’re talking about voluntary activities) and that situations like these tend to work themselves out. That’s probably the right approach to have. Unsuccessful in his attempt to be traded, Bradford has little choice but to return to the fold now and needs to put his best foot forward in order to position himself well for next season, so it’s possible the thawing process will begin shortly. But it seems to me that Bradford better get into damage control mode quickly here. First-year coach or not, I can’t picture anyone in Pederson’s position taking kindly to a player dishing out the silent treatment — especially a starting quarterback. Coach and QB need to be in lock-step, and if Pederson feels he’s not getting the type of respect or level of commitment he needs out of Bradford, the result could be a kick down the depth chart. The time for a power play has passed. Bradford needs to fall in line.
Even if he does, you have to wonder if this situation is built for the many strains that come with any NFL season. It’s to be determined how this all plays out but if I had to bet, I’m betting the Eagles will regret the decision to not pull the trigger on a trade during draft weekend.
— Taking a look at the Eagles’ draft overall, there’s no question that they have gone back to a philosophy of old.
Per Jenny Vrentas, Andy Reid told the brass during his early days in Philly: I want two offensive tackles, a quarterback, two pass rushers, two corners, and I’ll figure the rest out.
Well, the Eagles secured a quarterback first, doubled up on offensive linemen (including tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai), grabbed two corners and added a pass-rusher in Alex McCalister as part of their draft haul. Free-agency, too, was largely about QBs, linemen and defensive backs.
“I’d go back to last year and having that year and really taking a step back and studying things, and what I came away with was, some of the things that you believe in philosophically, sometimes you get away from,” Howie Roseman told 97.5 The Fanatic Monday. “You try to piece it together, you’re in the moment, you’re winning 10 games, and you’ve gotta keep the main thing the main thing. The quarterback, the lines, the defensive backfield, what else really matters if you don’t get those parts right?…
“We knew that we probably couldn’t do it all over a one-year period, but that was kind of the goal going in.”
It’s impossible to know how a team actually fared immediately following a draft. But in terms of stocking up at positions they value, the Eagles succeeded.