Jenkins was consummate teammate with Eagles

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Jenkins was consummate teammate with Eagles

When the Eagles brought him to Philadelphia in 2011, Cullen Jenkins was supposed to be missing link along the defensive interior that would stabilize the run defense, help collapse the pocket and make quarterbacks feel uncomfortable. While Jenkins showed flashes of being just that over his two-year stay with the team, he never quite found that consistent groove the the Eagles were hoping for on the field.

Off the field, you wont find a better human being. With his quiet demeanor, Jenkins treated everyone he encountered -- both in the locker rom and out of it -- with respect. He was one of the few real, stand-up guys who would always appear at his locker and answers endless questions from the media, no matter how bleak the situation.

When I went to his home on Tuesday to interview him after he was released, Jenkins alluded to how his verbal confrontation on the sideline with Andy Reid last preseason was blown out of proportion. He admitted that, even now, the unfortunate incident still bothered him. He’s never wanted to be viewed as a confrontational or disrespectful player.  

With the Eagles committing to a new head coach and going with younger players, the 32-year-old Jenkins knew the writing was on the wall. He made too much money and had to be one of the cap casualties for a franchise looking to free up dollars in order to move in a different direction. Jenkins holds no animosity toward the Eagles organization and wishes his now-former team all the best in the future. He will bounce back with another team, hoping to put himself in a position to reach another Super Bowl before his career ends.

Jenkins leaves the same way he arrived -- with class and dignity. Before we ended our conversation, he told me he feels as responsible as anyone on that 2012 squad for the team's failure. Jenkins didn’t keep up his end of the deal over two years. He had to go, and he knows it.

But that’s Cullen Jenkins for you. He never pointed fingers, never threw a teammate under the bus. He was and always will be the consummate teammate.

Joe Douglas Era clearly underway with Eagles' selection of Derek Barnett

Joe Douglas Era clearly underway with Eagles' selection of Derek Barnett

The Joe Douglas Era is underway. Clearly. 

If folks were wondering how big of an imprint the Eagles' new vice president of player personnel would have in the organization, it didn't take long to figure out. 

Douglas' fingerprints are all over the selection of Derek Barnett at No. 14. 

Aside from Douglas' raving about Barnett's "ankle flexion" and comparing the 20-year-old to Ravens great Terrell Suggs, Barnett also fits the mold of what a Joe Douglas player is supposed to be. 

High motor, high character, high compete level. 

"Since Joe has been here," Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman said, "the things that he stressed to [the scouting staff] when we met and talked about what we wanted this team to look like, is that it's the war-daddy mentality of having guys on the field who are going to do whatever it takes to get better.

"Guys who have an incredibly high motor and tremendous character. This is the first pick with Joe here, and to get a guy [in Barnett] who — when we talk about those guys — is our example when we talk to the scouts, and when Joe talks to the scouts and says, 'This is what I'm talking about here in Derek Barnett.' I think it's a great example for the room here as we go forward over the next couple of days. This is what fits. This is what we're looking for, and this is how we want to build."

For months, the Eagles have pushed the word "collaboration." In fact, it was a favorite buzzword of Jeff Lurie's when the Eagles' owner met with reporters at the owners meetings in late March. Roseman is no longer on his own as the overseer of everything Eagles football. Roseman has some help. 

And apparently, he's listening, which might bode well for the future of the franchise. 

In addition to throwing out the buzzword "collaboration," the Eagles have also made an obvious and concerted effort to put Douglas in front of cameras right next to Roseman. The optics are appealing for a fanbase that has long lost faith in Roseman as a talent evaluator. 

Douglas learned from legendary GM Ozzie Newsome, but it's hard to pin down a resume for the Eagles' VP of player personnel. While he's been involved in multiple drafts with the Ravens and last year with the Bears, it's impossible to know how much credit and how much blame to assign to him specifically.

But at least one thing's clear a day into his first draft with the Eagles: He's having an impact. 

The Eagles weren't wowed by combine statistics when they made their first-round pick this year. In fact, Barnett didn't perform very well at this year's combine. (Roseman pointed out Barnett had the flu.) Instead, Barnett was just a really solid player for three years in college. That outweighed his lackluster performance in the underwear Olympics, just like it did for Suggs long ago when the Ravens drafted him. 

While some view Barnett as a safe pick, Douglas sees plenty of room for him to grow. 

"I think there is a higher ceiling with Derek," Douglas said. "I think he is going to get better. I think [D-line coach Chris Wilson and defensive quality control/assistant D-line coach Phillip Daniels] are going to do a great job with him and improve some of his hand technique. He even said it in his interview after he was drafted, how he's just scratching the surface of his talent level. So I expect him to definitely reach his full potential because of his make-up."

Roseman mentioned those characteristics — like high motor and character — but is that philosophy a departure from before? 

"I don't know necessarily that it's a departure, but it's more stressed," Roseman said. "And I think that that's some of the things. I mean, I think there are things that you're attracted to naturally, and I think we balance each other on that stuff. I understand the reason why it's so important to have guys like that on this football team. The more guys we can get like that who have incredible passion for the game, who have tremendous character, who will do whatever it takes to get better and who are team players, the more we're going to have success going forward."

Grading the Eagles' selection of Derek Barnett

Grading the Eagles' selection of Derek Barnett

Here's how draft pundits from various outlets felt about the Eagles' selection of Derek Barnett with the 14th overall pick:

Pete Prisco, CBS: A
Prisco "loves" the pick and says Barnett might be the "best pass rusher" in the draft.

Chris Burke, SI: B
Burke hedges, calling it a "good" and "relatively safe" pick and praises Barnett's fit in the Eagles' scheme. The negatives? The Eagles still need a corner and passed on some key players who were available (as we discuss here).

Eric Edholm, Yahoo: B+
Will Barnett be able to replicate his college his sack totals in the NFL? Edholm thinks so, pointing out that "historically, sack production translates from college (especially in the SEC) to the NFL." 

Steven Ruiz, USA Today: B
Like's Barnett's "tremendous burst off the snap" but doesn't like his ceiling compared to top pick Myles Garrett. 

Chad Reuter, NFL.com: A
Barnett is the "second-best pure edge rusher in the draft."

Walterfootball.com: B
Calls the pick "perfectly fine." Says the Eagles passed on better prospects in defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, safety Malik Hooker and tight end O.J. Howard, but maintains it's a "solid pick."

Pro Football Focus
PFF lists the Eagles' pick as one of their favorite of the night.