On the rise? Roseman: 'Arrow's up' for Nate Allen

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On the rise? Roseman: 'Arrow's up' for Nate Allen

After watching Nate Allen awake from the doldrums last season and actually become a capable safety again, the Eagles believe the fifth-year pro is ready to take another step.

Maybe even fulfill that potential he had when they drafted him 37th overall in 2010.

At the owners meetings in Orlando on Monday, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman discussed the one-year deal Allen signed last week to rejoin the club he started 16 games for last year and the improvement Allen showcased under the new coaching staff.

Allen will have the chance to compete with second-year pro Earl Wolff -- and perhaps a draft pick -- to start opposite free-agent signing Malcolm Jenkins, giving the Eagles a tandem that they believe can be effective, if not prolific.

“It’s not going to be perfect at every position, obviously. But when you talk about Nate -- we had an opportunity to go back and watch Nate and see the growth,” Roseman said. “What we’re asking him to do is a lot different than what he was asked to do in the past.

“Obviously, all the other stuff is off the charts with Nate -- his work ethic, his character, his drive to try to be a better player. So you just kind of hope to see the growth continue in a young player, because he still is a young player.

“It’s interesting -- when you look at some of these free agents who got some big money, a lot of those guys didn’t really evolve until their fourth or fifth year. Some of those guys even had to go into last year taking one-year contracts in free agency and then got paid after that. That’s what you hope for with Nate.”

Allen didn’t have an outstanding 2013, but he played very steadily and limited negative plays. More importantly, he stayed healthy and started every game for the first time in his career.

He recorded his first interception since 2011 and his first sack since his rookie season, playing for the first time in coordinator Billy Davis’ hybrid 3-4 scheme. His tackling, abysmal the two prior years, improved dramatically.

The Eagles think Allen can make more strides with another round of spring and summer camps under Davis, Allen’s fourth different coordinator.

“Yeah. We think the arrow’s up and he’ll certainly benefit from having the same cast of characters around him in terms of coaches and scheme,” Roseman said. “So that’s what we’re looking for. I think it’s really important that we create competition everywhere.

“We continue to do that, and I think that’s another thing we did when we brought in Darren [Sproles] on the offensive side of the ball. We want to have a team that has competition at all these positions, so I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

With Jenkins, Allen, newcomer Chris Maragos and Keelan Johnson, the Eagles lack star power at safety as the NFL continues its trend toward pass-first offenses. But Roseman said the team would continue to explore upgrades at the position through free agency and the draft.

There’s no reason to think the Eagles won’t draft another safety if he’s the best prospect on their board when they pick.

The Eagles let big-ticket safeties, such as Jairus Byrd and T.J Ward, go elsewhere for big-time dollars and were more than content to bring in guys who they believe fit their philosophy and scheme without choking up cap space.

“You start 22 guys, and it’s such a team game that one player isn’t going to put you over the top in any way,” Roseman said. “We sit there and try to think of any example where just one specific player puts you over the top -- obviously the quarterback position is so important in this game, but at the other 21 positions, you look at it and we have to find fits. We have to find guys that we utilize in our scheme and are right fits for our scheme.

“For us, it’s all about making sure that the guys that we’re paying money to are fitting our scheme. Not just paying because they can do something well, but we’re not going to maximize their talents. We have a limited amount of resources -- we have a limited amount of picks, we have a limited amount of money to be able to build our team.

“And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build our culture, trying to build a team. And obviously when you’re at this moment in time, sometimes it’s hard to see the complete picture. But we’re trying to execute it.”

CSNPhilly.com contributor Jeff Shain assisted with this story.

Doug Pederson Notes: Eagles' replacements on DL, West Coast, upcoming draft

Doug Pederson Notes: Eagles' replacements on DL, West Coast, upcoming draft

PHOENIX -- Doug Pederson, wearing a light blue golf shirt, walked up to the 10-seat round table full of Philadelphia reporters with a smile. 

He slowly sat down and waited. The breakfast and hour-long media session at the league's annual meetings was scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and he arrived at 8:13 and sat down at 8:14. 

He took a peak at the notebook belonging to the reporter closest to him to see the word "Mixon" scribbled in pencil. Eventually, another reporter lobbed in a question about Alshon Jeffery, but Pederson wasn't ready yet.  

The Eagles' head coach, who hadn't spoken publicly since the last day of the Eagles' 2016 season, looked down at his watch with a smile; it still said 8:14. 

But eventually, that minute hand moved and the hour-long session began. Pederson, entrapped by reporters and fresh fruit, answered around 63 questions, ranging in topics from Carson Wentz, to the team's free agent pickups and this year's draft. 

We already got into the looming competition at left guard, Pederson's view on the new free agents and his thoughts on Wentz's offseason, but there was plenty more during the session. 

Let's clean out the notebook: 

The Replacements
This offseason, the Eagles lost two of their four starters on the defensive line. Bennie Logan left for Andy Reid and the Chiefs during free agency, and the Eagles cut Connor Barwin in a cap-saving move before Barwin latched on with the Los Angeles Rams. 

For a team that entered last season thinking its defensive line was its strength, losing two starters isn't easy.

On Wednesday morning, Pederson was asked about the two guys -- at least before the draft -- who appear to be their replacements. 

The obvious replacement for Barwin is Vinny Curry, who signed a $46.25 million deal last offseason and didn't live up to the contract during the 2016 season. Curry was pegged as a starter during the spring, but Brandon Graham simply outperformed him and earned a starting role, becoming the team's best pass-rusher last year. 

Curry, meanwhile, managed just 2.5 sacks while playing just 43 percent of the team's defensive snaps. 

The Eagles simply need more out of him in 2017. 

"I love Vinny," Pederson said. "He's a tremendous leader. He’s good for our football team. We're excited to have him. With any player we have, though -- we're talking about Carson having a big year this year, and all of the guys. But Vinny’s a guy that’s going to come in and do what you ask him to do and compete. I think if you asked him, that’s probably his focus, is to come in and be that guy, be the guy that sort of takes that next step. You want to see steps being made, that they're performing at a high level. From that standpoint, expect him to come in ready to go in April."

As for Logan's vacated position, Beau Allen seems like the likely candidate to replace him. In fact, the Eagles' previous work on a contract extension for the former seventh-round pick signaled the end of Logan in Philly. 

Allen ended up starting three games in Logan's absence last year and ultimately played 28 percent of the team's defensive snaps, while Logan played 46 percent. Pederson made sure to mention that DC Jim Schwartz utilizes an eight-man rotation on the line, but Allen will need to be a big part of that. 

"Obviously, with free agency and Bennie not being here, yeah it gives him an opportunity to step in there and really show what he can do, if he can be the guy and compete and handle that load," he said. 

Kendricks still around? 
As of Thursday morning, Mychal Kendricks was still on the Eagles' roster. It just seems unlikely that's going to be the case in a few months. The team has actively been trying to trade Kendricks and he might bring in a slight return because of his age and untapped potential. 

Pederson, for his part, said he expects Kendricks on the roster to start the season. 

"For sure," he said. "Mychal's a big part of the team and I expect him there."

Until he isn't. 

A week out West? 
The 2017 NFL schedule hasn't yet been released -- that's likely to come in late April -- but we already know the Eagles' home and road opponents. And three of their road games happen way out west -- twice in Los Angeles against the Rams and Chargers and once in Seattle against the Seahawks. 

Because cross-country travel can be a pain, Pederson said the team has requested to have two of its West Coast games in back-to-back weeks so the team could stay out there and cut down on travel. 

"Yeah, looking at the schedule, one of the proposals was to try to stay out on the West Coast twice, or for two games," he said. "So we'll see next month when it comes out if we get it."

Oh yeah ... Mixon 
It didn't take long in the media session to get back to the word scribbled in that reporter's notebook. 

Joe Mixon, the Oklahoma running back, has been a hot topic around the NFL not just for his play on the field but because of a huge "red flag" that comes in the form of a video showing Mixon punching a woman and breaking her jaw. 

A team will draft Mixon in April and it will most likely be in a high round -- he's too talented to be completely written off. And, from a football standpoint, he would make sense for the Eagles. 

"As a player, I've watched him a little bit this offseason, and you know, talented player, very explosive," said Pederson, when asked to simply evaluate Mixon as a player. "He has good hands out of the backfield. You put him in there with a lot of these backs that are coming out. Dynamic, exciting back to watch."

But the evaluation of Mixon can't end there. A decision to bring in a player like Mixon would need to come from the top. In this case, it would have to be decided by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who was also asked for his thoughts this week (see story)

So how does Pederson weigh talent against character concerns? 

"It's a fine line. It's a fine line," he said. "And it's tough. It's tough, because again, you're looking for guys that can fit into your system, and you're always looking to add talent to your roster, but at the same time you have to make sure you're doing your homework on these players, again, whether it's free agency or the draft that they're the right fit for you."

Need for speed
The Eagles improved at the wideout position this offseason by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, but those contracts shouldn't stop the team from taking a receiver high in the draft if it wants. 

One of those guys is a pretty intriguing prospect: John Ross. Ross is the fastest player ever at the combine. He ran a 4.22 earlier this month and isn't just a speed guy. He's shifty and extremely talented. 

While Ross has some medical red flags, Pederson said he isn't concerned about Ross' injury history. It sure seems like the speedy Washington wideout could be a possibility at 14. 

"Well, a guy like that, he's dynamic, has good speed, elusive, quick, short-area quickness is the things you see on film with him and on tape," Pederson said. 

"He's a guy, I think, wherever he ends up, could potentially be a difference maker because of the speed and that elusive quickness with the ball in his hand."

Sorry, old school guys
It doesn't look like Pederson wants to use a roster spot on a fullback. 

While he came up in a traditional West Coast system that used the dying position, last year Pederson elected to use offensive and defensive linemen and tight ends in that lead blocker spot. 

That doesn't look like it's going to change in 2017. 

"The game has changed. If you're not adjusting to the times, those positions can sometimes be filled by other role players. That's something that we'll look at, that I'll look at. ... You're seeing the game a lot more in the shotgun, the backs are offset. Pistol formation. I might be leaning toward using that position a little bit more differently."

With future tethered to Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson not in complete control of QB

With future tethered to Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson not in complete control of QB

PHOENIX -- During his hour-long media session at the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning in Arizona, Doug Pederson was asked a simple question. 

Where is Carson Wentz right now? 

"I don't know where he is right now," Pederson said, surrounded by a pack of both national and local reporters. 

Pederson was joking. The question from a national reporter wasn't about Wentz's location, but rather about where the young quarterback is in terms of development and the head coach had some fun. 

But Pederson's answer seemed fitting. Because of league rules, coaches have to be hands-off with their players until April 17. That has to be difficult for Pederson, whose success is so greatly connected with the progress of his young star quarterback. 

"It's always the head coach and the quarterback, right? At this level?" Pederson said. "So I think that answers it. The ... success of Carson, then we all have success."

That seems to be pretty true. For now, though, Pederson simply doesn't have any control over Wentz, who has worked with private quarterback guru Adam Dedeaux this offseason. 

While Pederson didn't come out and say it on Wednesday, it would be understandable if he wasn't too thrilled about the idea of Wentz's working with a private quarterback guru on mechanics. Coaches normally like to be in control of everything -- in this case, Pederson is completely powerless. 

What changes does he expect to see in Wentz's mechanics upon his return to the NovaCare Complex in April? 

"Probably not much really," he said. "It'll be interesting when we finally get him in here to talk to him and just see how he felt about that. We just can't wait to get our hands on him, too, to begin and continue to work."

Pederson has not spoken to Dedeaux and has "no idea" about what Dedeaux and Wentz have worked on. 

When asked if he specifically told Wentz that he needed help with his mechanics, Pederson said he did not, but said he encourages all his players to develop their talent, "and if they seek out help, then they seek out help." 

Is Pederson concerned that this outside instruction could undo some of the teachings from the Eagles

"I'm not concerned with that at all," Pederson said. "I know Carson. I know his confidence, his makeup. He's got a lot of confidence in Coach (John) DeFilippo and Frank (Reich), so I'm not concerned about that."

Either way, this offseason will be much different than the last for Wentz. This time last year, the quarterback was finished with the combine and his pro day and was eagerly waiting to find out which team would draft him. The Eagles didn't even have the No. 2 pick by this point in the offseason. 

This year, Wentz is not just on the team, but is a starting franchise quarterback and the face of the entire organization. He's the focal point of everything the team now does in an effort to build around him for the future. 

"So now for him, just to be able to exhale, catch his breath and come into this offseason, knowing that he's the starter, not having to guess if he's going to be the starter is big for him," Pederson said. "It's part of his maturity, it's part of his growth at that position. We definitely want to see incremental progress. I mean, it's not going to be an overnight change, obviously. But ... each day we've got to make sure that we're getting him ready to go for Day 1, for opening day. And I know he's excited to get back, all the guys are excited to get back."

The Eagles' offseason program will begin on April 17, the first day allowed for teams with returning head coaches. At that time, Pederson will finally be able to talk to Wentz and discover what he's been up to for three and a half months. 

Until then, the head coach won't know where he is.