WR prospects at NFL combine rave about working with Carson Wentz

WR prospects at NFL combine rave about working with Carson Wentz

INDIANAPOLIS -- The day after he was spotted wearing a Carson Wentz "AO1" shirt during Senior Bowl week in January, wide receiver prospect Cooper Kupp said he was hoping he'd get a chance to meet and work out with the Eagles' quarterback. 

That chance came last month in California.

"It was awesome," the Eastern Washington wideout said during his media availability at the combine on Friday. "Any time you can spend time with a quarterback, a guy that's been through this thing. To play a year like he has and found some success. And he'll be the first one to tell you, they have a long way to go and he's excited about tackling that. It's very clear in his attitude and his mentality right now in the offseason. 

"Just to be around him, pick his brain and be a sponge was pretty special."

Rep1 Sports, which represents Kupp and Wentz, tweeted out a photo of the two of them and Cal receiver Chad Hansen on Feb. 17. While in California, Wentz also had a chance to work out with USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and North Carolina receiver Mack Hollins. 

There was a theory floated that the Eagles wanted Wentz to work out with several receivers they're interested in. BleedingGreenNation has a pretty good breakdown of that here.

It's pretty unclear if that's actually the case, but Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman did say on 94WIP that he wished there was a way to bring in receiver prospects so Wentz could work with them. This might be the next-best thing. 

The Eagles aren't allowed to talk football with Wentz until April 17, which is 10 days before the draft begins. By then, the draft board will either be completely set or just about, but they can still ask for his input. The Eagles and Wentz already met at the end of the season to discuss personnel and a plan going forward. 

But even if Wentz's working out with prospects isn't an elaborate and well-executed plan to gather intel, the workout sessions seemed to have a pretty positive effect on the prospects -- one for which they're really grateful. 

"It was a great experience, man," Smith-Schuster said. "For a quarterback like that, first round, great experience. Talked a lot of good football. I learned a lot from him not only on the field, but off of it. What to expect here."

Smith-Schuster would be excited about a possible reunion with his college teammate, Nelson Agholor, in Philly. 

"I could see myself [in Philly]," said Smith-Schuster, who had a formal interview scheduled with the Eagles for Friday night. "Carson Wentz, Nelson Agholor, former teammate, and me too."

Among the four prospects -- that we know of -- that worked out with Wentz, Kupp and Smith-Schuster are the better prospects. According to CBS Sports, both are projected to come off the board in the second- or third-round range. (While Smith-Schuster was planning on meeting with the Eagles, Kupp hadn't met with Philly as of Friday afternoon.) Meanwhile, Hansen has a chance to be a third-rounder, while Hollins will be either a late-round pick or go undrafted. 

"He's a great guy so he was really trying to help us out any way that he could," Hansen said. "It was really great experience to work with Carson."

None of the four prospects Wentz has worked out with are the absolute cream of the draft crop, but they've already found some chemistry with Wentz. 

And they certainly think an awful lot of the Eagles' quarterback. 

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas selections make Lurie think of 2002 draft

Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas selections make Lurie think of 2002 draft

Even Jeffrey Lurie couldn’t help but draw parallels between the Eagles’ selections on day two of the 2017 NFL Draft and certain aspects of the class of 2002. The difference is the stakes might be even higher for Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas than they were when the club took Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown 15 years ago.

Cornerback was by far the Eagles’ most pressing need entering the draft this year, so it was no surprise they came away with two in the first three rounds. Watching the organization choose defensive backs in succession instantly brought back memories of ’02 nonetheless.

That was the last time the Eagles successfully located a long-term solution at cornerback -- or any spot in the secondary for that matter -- in the draft. The selections of Sheppard and Brown paved the way for seven years of stability at the position, a period during which the franchise went to the playoffs five times, won three division championships and made a Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles are hoping history will repeat in some sense with Jones and Douglas, although the landscape of the roster is quite different this time around. Sheppard and Brown were able to sit behind Pro Bowl corners Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent for roughly a year-and-a-half.

The sooner Jones and Douglas are able to get on the field for the Eagles, the better.

As far as Jones is concerned, there’s no telling exactly when that will be. The two-time All-Pac-12 defender is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that dropped him from a potential top-15 pick or higher to No. 43 in the draft. Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman admitted Jones’ availability for 2017 is “to be determined.”

Assuming Jones makes a full recovery as expected -- granted, far from assured -- we’re talking about one of the best prospects in the draft. Along with the addition of defensive end Derek Barnett at No. 14, Roseman likened it to having multiple first-round picks.

“We just thought it was a really good opportunity,” Roseman said. “We’re really optimistic about it because [Jones] is 20-years-old and in doing all the research that our doctors and trainers did about this injury, we just thought it was a great opportunity for our football team.”

Lurie saw similarities to Jones and another member of the class of ’02, safety Michael Lewis.

Lewis was taken between Sheppard and Brown in the second round, and wound up departing as a free agent after just five seasons, though not before earning an invitation to his only Pro Bowl. As it turns out, Lewis was only available to the Eagles in the first place due to a medical condition -- one that didn’t prevent him from playing nine years in the league.

“[Eagles owner Jeffrey Lure] just talked a little bit about, ‘Do you remember that draft,’” Roseman said. “If you remember at the time, I think the point he brought up was Michael Lewis had a heart condition and he fell a little bit in that draft because of that, and we kind of took a chance on him here, and so he was, I guess, analogizing it like with Sidney.”

At least Douglas will have the opportunity to play right away, which is something the Eagles desperately need. It’s almost impossible to fault the front office for taking the best player available when he represents such amazing value, even if he is hurt, but the depth chart at corner was in a precarious state.

Had the regular season started on Thursday, the Eagles’ likely starting cornerbacks were 2016 seventh-round pick Jalen Mills and journeyman free-agent signing Patrick Robinson, with little-known Ron Brooks in the slot. At least Douglas serves as competition for the uninspiring group, even if he’s not ready to step in Week 1.

“The thing that really stood out in his week at the Senior Bowl, you guys probably heard me talk about it all the time, this guy is tough and very competitive,” Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “You saw it the entire week. Every rep was like the last rep he was playing. I love the way this guy competes.”

Obviously, the Eagles’ hope is Jones and Douglas are the next Sheppard and Brown, even if that wasn’t exactly the intention. Regardless, there are some potentially key distinctions.

Again, Sheppard and Brown had the benefit of tremendous veteran tutors and time to learn before being thrust into action. Douglas is competing for a job immediately, and if Jones is allowed to play in 2017, there’s a good chance he sees the field. The Eagles are in no position to bring these guys along slowly.

While Jones may be a better prospect than Sheppard was at the time, Douglas is less than Brown, at least in terms of draft capital. Sheppard and Brown were selected Nos. 26 and 59 in ’02. Jones and Douglas went Nos. 43 and 99.

The Eagles hope those will be remembered as minor details. The real plan is for Jones and Douglas to one day soon finally settle those corner spots that have essentially been up for grabs ever since Sheppard and Brown vacated them.

Even the Eagles don’t know if everything is going to work out that way, but based on the Lito-Sheldon draft, the optics sure seem good. Of course, it took the better part of two seasons for that plan to come together, too.

Options for Eagles in Rounds 4-7 of NFL draft

Options for Eagles in Rounds 4-7 of NFL draft

Here is a breakdown of players that should interest the Eagles on Saturday, the final day of the NFL draft. The Eagles have five more picks left — two in the fourth and one in the fifth, sixth and seven.

Options in the fourth and fifth round

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Perine is an old school power back. He'd be a great complement to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, although not necessarily a fit in this offense.

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
Williams (6-0, 212) has ideal size but not breakaway speed. He also has good vision and cutback ability.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
The forgotten man in Clemson's star-studded offense. Gallman is tough and versatile with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Walker had a breakout sophomore season but gained too much muscle the following offseason. If the 2015 version returns, he could be a solid player.

Shelton Gipson, WR, West Virginia
Gipson is a one-trick pony but his speed is legit. The Eagles could use a young burner.

Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
Jason Peters can't play forever. Davenport dominated at Bucknell. He's still a bit of a project, but he has tools to work with.

Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Before the season, Johnson was a player to keep an eye on as a fringe first-rounder. He struggled at times this season but is still athletic and intriguing.

Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
Johnson really flashes at times. Other times, his pad level is too high and he loses to offensive linemen despite outmuscling them.

Options in the sixth and seventh rounds

Chad Wheeler, OT, USC
Wheeler has had issues on and off the field but has shown flashes of being a decent tackle. He may not have the athleticism to hang at left tackle at the next level.

Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma
He's had concussion issues and questions about his passion. But when Walker is in the lineup and focused, he can play.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee
Reeves-Maybin is undersized but instinctive and fast. At worst, he becomes a special team's ace.

Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
Thompson is a ball-hawking safety, pulling in seven interceptions last season. It's not a position of need, but again, Thompson could help out on special teams and maybe develop into something more.