A lot of post-draft talk about the Eagles running back situation and it remains to be seen if the Eagles will actually end up grabbing any veteran of significance before training camp. I suppose it really depends on if anyone is cut loose by their team or if GM Howie Roseman is able to work something out.
As it stands right now, the team has a less than ideal group (at least on paper), but head coach Doug Pederson did his best to make it sound like he was happy.
“Wendell [Smallwood] is coming off his injury last year and he’s looking really good right now in the spring drills. We’ve got [Darren] Sproles, and Byron Marshall is a guy that we’ve been kind of cross-training as a receiver and a running back, and he’s been looking really good,” Pederson said.
“And now, Donnel [Pumphrey] is here and Corey’s [RB Corey Clement] here, so we have a chance to work some guys in there. I’m pleased with where we’re at; I’m excited where we’re at and the direction we’re headed in that position.”
Pederson also didn’t mention Ryan Matthews, which should tell anyone who had questions about Matthews coming back that he isn’t.
Source at Eagles rookie camp raving about Mack Hollins after Day 1. Philadelphia got a star in the making. pic.twitter.com/VN7EPn4ReT
— Taylor Vippolis (@tvippolis) May 13, 2017
Ok let’s really break this down. Who the hell is Taylor Vippolis and why do I care what he says? Vippolis is a former UNC wide receiver and current UNC offensive assistant. He also tweets about soccer quite a bit and has a check mark next to his name, so he must be important.
Seriously though, you could see how this went down. An assistant coach or front office guy from the Eagles did a lot of homework on Hollins before they drafted him and during this time, developed a relationship with Vippolis. Or they had each other numbers and Vippolis sent a text asking how his former player was doing, to which his Eagles contact raved about, calling him a star.
Of course the team that drafted him is going to want to look at their shiny new toy and think they made the best pick in the world. Hey, it’s a good thing that the team is impressed with Hollins after their 1st weekend together. Better than second guessing the pick. It also doesn’t mean a hill of beans until he plays in a real NFL game. Seems like he’s a pretty good lock to be a positive contributor on special teams. Let’s pump the breaks on being a star as a wide receiver, if that’s what the “unnamed source” was referring to.
Here’s a list of the Eagles Undrafted Free Agents. Most notable in the group is former Houston Cougars Quarterback Greg Ward, who is trying to make the NFL as a wide receiver. Unlike a recent QB-WR convert (Terrell Pryor), Ward doesn’t have great size or elite speed. Antwaan Randle El (5’10 191 lbs) is probably a better comparison as far as measurables.
Ward did play some receiver at Houston in his first two seasons, catching 25 balls and 2 TD’s. He also has returned punts and his running ability as a quarterback produced 21 TD’s and 1114 yards in 2015. Obviously a bit of a long shot, but he’ll have a chance to prove he can play.
He also thinks his time as a QB will help him at WR. Can’t hurt
Greg Ward Jr: ‘I can bring my knowledge at quarterback over to receiver. I think that will help me out a lot and give me an edge.’
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 3, 2017
All those undrafted guys should take a look at their head coach if they want to draw inspiration from somewhere
“I played 14 years (in the NFL) and I was an undrafted free agent. Stick to it.”
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) May 13, 2017
Another way too early 2018 Mock Draft, this one from my our friend Ben Natan of of Bleeding Green Nation. The booty for the Eagles? How bout Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley!
Philadelphia Eagles– Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Penn State: This would almost be too good to be true. The Eagles still desperately need a lead back in their backfield and Saquon Barkley looks like one of the 2018 class’ game changing running backs. I am sure the Eagles, and a lot of fans, would love to see Barkley stay in state and be Carson Wentz‘s partner in the backfield.
It’s ridiculous to even take this kind of thing too seriously this early, but if the Eagles aren’t able to fund a productive running back and they struggle at the position in 2017, be sure we’ll be talking about Saquon Barkley before the season finishes up.