The Eagles introduced their rookie class to the NFL over the weekend, wrapping the first ever mini-camp for nine draft picks and a bevy of undrafted free agents on Monday. After the lockout eliminated off-season programs last year, it was a welcome return to normal, if a largely uneventful affair. In fact, the action on the field may not have been the most newsworthy item from the NovaCare Complex.
During his exit interview, head coach Andy Reid informed reporters that Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman will be the starters at safety, and Stanley Havili at fullback when the full team assembles for OTAs on May 22. That sets the top of the preliminary depth chart at every offensive and defensive position except linebacker.
Allen and Coleman reprising their roles from last season was not exactly a surprise since the Eagles did not add a safety through the draft.
There are still high hopes for Allen, the 37th overall pick of 2010. He looked slow during preseason last year while recovering from the torn patellar tendon that ended his rookie season early, and was benched for a healthy Jarrad Page. Allen got back into the lineup three weeks into the regular season, playing well the rest of the way with few notable exceptions.
Coleman started 13 games last season, and actually led the club with four interceptions, but spent time on the bench as well. A seventh-round pick the same year as Allen, Coleman's ceiling isn't nearly as high, and the Birds have Jaiquawn Jarrett waiting in the wings. Jarrett played sparingly in his rookie year, and while the lockout-shortened offseason certainly impacted his ability to hit the ground running, he may not have merited a second-round selection in 2011. We shall see.
At fullback, Havili replaces Owen Schmitt, who currently remains a free agent. A seventh-round pick out of USC in '11, Havili spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad, where it seems they were grooming him to take over.
Reid was less committal at linebacker, but more or less admitted he would like to see rookie Mychal Kendricks run with the starters. DeMeco Ryans has MIKE locked down, but Kendricks should get reps at one of the outside positions, especially with the news Jamar Chaney will not return from off-season neck surgery before training camp.
"I would tell you that he looked good out here," Reid said. "He made a
lot of plays and got his hands on the ball. We've just got to see where
he gets the most reps -- and normally that's with the ones. I've got to
go through all that with the coaches and figure it out."
By all accounts, Kendricks had a strong mini-camp, demonstrating his visually impressive sub-4.5 speed. You can't tell much from watching football players run around in shorts, but fast is still fast.
>> 5/14: Reid rookie camp bullet points [CSN]