Andy Reid: Visionary

Andy Reid: Visionary

So says Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, a Reid disciple of nine seasons, but the Eagles' former special teams and defensive backs coach wasn't simply heaping praise on his old boss. In a conversation with Geoff Mosher of the Delaware News Journal, Harbaugh defended last year's controversial decision to promote Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator.

“Knowing Juan all these years, I just know Juan is a great football coach and I wasn’t surprised at all when Andy made the move.”

“I think it takes kind of a visionary; it’s a little bit of a visionary-type choice. I can see where people wouldn’t understand it.”

Andy has been called a lot of things lately, but that's the first time in awhile -- perhaps ever -- somebody chose the word 'visionary.' Harbaugh was also confident the Eagles' defense will be 'great' next season.

“You never want to count Juan Castillo out. Never.”

Harbaugh's outspoken backing of Castillo is not exactly a surprise. The two coaches worked together in Philadelphia for 10 years, and it's not the first time Harbaugh offered strong support of Castillo. Last year, he predicted there is much more to come.

"I think he'll be a head coach in this league someday. I just think he's a special guy."

Harbaugh has enjoyed tremendous success in Baltimore, amassing a 44-20 record during the regular season, and winning at least one playoff game all four years of his tenure, though he wasn't exactly a traditional hire either. He spent nine seasons as the Eagles special teams coordinator, and one as their defensive backs coach before accepting the Ravens job. Prior to his NFL experience, Harbaugh coached special teams and various positions at the NCAA level.

It's not quite the same as jumping from offensive line to defensive coordinator, but even Reid was never a coordinator before becoming head coach of the Eagles. Just goes to show you can't always judge a book by its cover. If he's as great a coach as his peers believe, Juan Castillo will make it work in 2012.

>> John Harbaugh lends support to Reid, Castillo [Delaware News Journal]

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

Eagles draft Washington DT Elijah Qualls with final pick

With their final pick of the 2017 draft, the Eagles selected 6-foot-1, 313-pound Washington defensive tackle Elijah Qualls in the sixth round on Saturday.

He's the second Washington player the Eagles took in this year's draft. They selected injured cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round (see story).

Qualls had 77 tackles, 11½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks in 30 career games (see bio).

"I for sure stop the run well," Qualls said at the NFL Draft Scouting Combine. "And I'm actually a lot better pass rusher than a lot of people think. Typically a lot of our game plan as far as pass rushing was to keep the quarterback contained, so I really couldn't get after him like I'm capable of.

"I'm not going to say I'm one of the best pass rushers ever or anything like that — I've only been playing defensive line since I got to college. I'm still learning, but I'm a lot better than people do think."

Qualls was actually a running back in high school, but he said he got bored scoring touchdowns.

"I was 260 playing running back in high school," he said. "I had 1,300 rushing yards, though. It honestly became too easy, that's why I switched to defensive line. Scoring touchdowns wasn't exciting to me anymore, it was just something I expected.

"Then my last year, my coach came to me and said, 'Hey, would you be willing to play some defense?' My mindset was that if I played defense, I could get the ball back. So I played some defensive line, middle linebacker. I was recruited at both of those positions.

"I kind of just did a little research project trying to see what the long term was like for both running backs and defensive linemen, and defensive linemen tend to last longer, have less severe injuries, and honestly on average probably make more money, so I decided to be a defensive lineman. Plus I like the challenge."

With Bennie Logan leaving as a free agent, the Eagles have Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen and now Qualls in the mix on the interior of the defensive line.

"I feel like I can fit into any scheme," Qualls said. "I can do anything you ask me to, I played everything from zero to outside linebacker, so there's not much I can't do. It's just whether or not someone can accept me being a couple inches shorter than the person they prefer playing there.

"But I'm stronger than a lot of people, and my football intelligence is top notch."

Temple's Nate Hairston drafted by Colts in the 5th round

Temple's Nate Hairston drafted by Colts in the 5th round

The Colts selected Nate Hairston on Saturday with the 158th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

Hairston is the third Temple player to get selected in the draft. Haason Reddick was selected by the Cardinals with the 13th overall pick in the first round, while the Bills selected Dion Dawkins with the 63rd overall pick in the second round.

"Nate is a long, physical corner," Temple head coach Geoff Collins said in a statement. "I'm excited about him. Having coached some very talented defensive backs in my career, I can see him playing great on Sunday's for the Colts."

With three Temple players being selected, it ties a school record for the number of players drafted in one year. It's happened six times before, including in 2016.

Temple might be able to break that record on Day 3 of the draft with running back Jahad Thomas and quarterback Phillip Walker still on the board. Hairston also becomes the 69th Temple player to be selected in the NFL.

Hairston started 13 games at cornerback last season for an Owls defense that was ranked No. 3 in the nation against the pass. He also recorded 25 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups in his senior year.

Hairston will join a Colts defense that ranked sixth worst in passing defense last season, allowing 262.5 passing yards per game. They also only had eight interceptions last season, which ranked tied for second worst in the NFL with the Bears and Jets.