Start Your Engines
Whirlwind NFL Scouting Combine Week Begins
INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL’s annual scouting combine kicks off today, with all NFL teams descending on this Heartland town for the annual activities of scouting prospects, meeting with player representatives, discussing dollar figures and, of course, capitalizing on the city’s surprising plethora of upscale bars and restaurants.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni and team personnel chief Howie Roseman, the executive Vice President of football operations, are slated to speak to the media Tuesday afternoon, along with several other head coaches and general manager types.
Podium interviews for NFL personnel run from Tuesday to Thursdays. Around 300 total former college prospects will meet with the media from Wednesday to Saturday. Their workouts go from Thursday to Sunday. NFL Network coverage will start 3 p.m. Thursday.
Meanwhile, the streets of Indianapolis will become alive throughout the week as coaching staffs, scouts, executives, agents, reporters, prospects and others involved with the league’s annual offseason event mingle and associate during the nightlife, when semi-covert conversations surrounding free agency and the NFL Draft will take place as the league inches closer to the March 13 start of the new season.
Here are some storylines to monitor throughout the week:
In a typical offseason, Roseman and his staff will meet with agents for all Eagles pending free agents and for free agents the Eagles might have interest in signing.
This, of course, isn’t a typical offseason.
The Eagles have 20 pending free agents, almost all of them on defense. Roseman will surely be spending more time trying to figure out the cost of retaining some of his priority re-signings, including safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, than the cost for others around the league.
Expect the Eagles to be modest participants in the open market and to reap the benefits of compensatory draft picks next season by losing several players to impressive contracts.
Valuation is they key term here. Teams with money to spend can reset the market in unpredictable fashion, as the Jaguars did last year with several of their free-agent signings that shocked personnel people around the league.
Some of the most important names ITB will be doing homework on this week: Gardner-Johnson, right guard Isaac Seumalo, cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hagrave, running back Miles Sanders, linebacker T.J. Edwards and safety Marcus Epps.
Expect Roseman and the agent for Jalen Hurts, Nicole Lynn, to have some serious talks this week about an extension for the team’s newest franchise quarterback. Hurts and wide receiver Quez Watkins are both eligible for extensions for the first time in their careers, having just finished their third NFL seasons.
While financial discussions for free agents at Combine week have become less pointed since the advent of the three-day tampering window, talks regarding actual numbers and term lengths can and will be discussed regarding contract extensions.
The Eagles typically announce extensions for in-house players within a few days of returning from the Combine, which illustrates the significance of those conversations held here.
The Eagles flew to Indianapolis without officially naming a defensive coordinator or offensive coordinator to replace Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen, respectively.
They reportedly interviewed former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai on Monday but made no announcement.
Despite ITB’s reporting of their plans to promote quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson to offensive coordinator, the Eagles are still required by the Rooney Rule to interview two external minority or female candidates for the position.
If the Eagles haven’t already interviewed outside candidates, they can capitalize on the almost all NFL coaching staffs being in Indianapolis to conduct some interviews. They also have a linebackers coach void and defensive quality control coach void, unless they’ve already made in-house promotions and haven’t yet announced them.
Likewise, with Johnson poised to become offensive coordinator and offensive quality control coach Alex Tanney potentially filling Johnson’s void at quarterbacks coach, the Eagles might also need to hire an offensive quality control coach.
Workouts begin Thursday, with defensive lineman and linebackers up first. Forty times and bench presses excite fans, but for most teams, the top priorities at the Combine are medical checkups and interviews. Pay close attention to the cornerbacks – a position the Eagles need to address – who work out Friday.
Medicals can factor into evaluations more than some realize – Nakobe Dean falling to the third round last year, for example – as often the information isn’t made public.
Many of the draft analysts and pundits who do mock drafts and evaluations each season aren’t aware of the exact medical information for the prospects they’re evaluating and projecting. Each team is allowed 30 prospect interviews during the week. Between the Senior Bowl, other postseason all-star exhibitions, the Combine and private workouts, the Eagles will have a chance to meet with everyone they’ve targeted.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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