May 6, 2024   5 MIN READ

Getting To Know You

Evaluations On Birds UDFA Class


The Eagles on Friday officially announced their seven-player class of undrafted free agents, the smallest contingent in recent Eagles memory.

The group, headlined by Baylor defensive lineman Gabe Hall, features an intriguing blend of projected draftees, athletic traits, potential upside, and the annual unfairly lofty expectations.

We took a closer look at the seven players under contract:

Gottlieb Ayedze

GETTY IMAGES: Raw, but athletic, OL Gottlieb Ayedze, an undrafted rookie, will get developed under Eagles OL coach Jeff Stoutland.

Gottlieb Ayedze, OL, Maryland

A mid-Day 3 projection by my charting, Ayedze (6-4, 308) landed in the ideal spot to realize his potential, as offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland will now preside over his development, picking up where Terrapins offensive line coach Brian Braswell left off.  Stoutland was on hand for Maryland’s Pro Day, even leading the initial portion of on-field drills. The renowned Eagles OL coach inherits an athletic, moldable ball of clay who might benefit from a move inside to guard.

Ayedze, 24, didn’t start playing football until his senior season at Northwest High School in Germantown, Md. He spent his first four seasons playing left tackle at Frostburg [Md.] State before transferring to Maryland for his final season, where he primarily played right tackle. Incredibly, Ayedze in his lone season in College Park, landed invites to the East-West Shrine Bowl and NFL Combine, so the upside is evident. Of the Eagles’ rookie free agent signings, I’m highest on Ayedze.

McCallan Castles, TE, Tennessee

The well-traveled Castles – who spent time at Cal, UC Davis and Tennessee – gives the Eagles a big-bodied pass-catcher (6-5, 252) to add to the mix of contenders vying for a role behind starter Dallas Goedert. The 24-year-old Castles, who reeled in five touchdowns in his lone season in Knoxville, is a strong blocker and could fulfill a Jack Stoll-like role, though Castles is a far more natural pass-catcher and a better athlete.

His skill set lends itself favorably to being moved around formations. I envision Castles serving as a security blanket for quarterbacks Tanner McKee and Will Grier this summer.

Anim Dankwah, OT, Howard

A native of Ontario, Canada, Dankwah boasts a massive physique (6-8, 353) and intriguing, albeit raw, developmental traits. I actually had a seventh-round grade on Dankwah. The hulking left tackle sports a dense frame, powerful hands and an enormous wingspan (85 1/2) to complement his 35 1/8-inch arms.

Despite his stranding as an East-West Shrine Bowl and NFL Combine invite, Dankwah is probably even more of a project than Ayedze, but Stoutland will get the most out of him. There will be no shortage of opportunities to showcase his ability, as my understanding is the team expressed considerable interest in Dankwah in the weeks leading up to the draft.

Gabe Hall

GETTY IMAGES: Baylor product Gabe Hall was a hot commodity undrafted free agent DT who signed with the Eagles.

Gabe Hall, DT, Baylor

For perspective, I had a sixth-round grade on Hall. For the Eagles to land the multi-faceted defensive lineman qualifies as a move that could pay eventual dividends. At 6-foot-6, 291 pounds, Hall falls under the ‘tweener’ label, though it’s his explosiveness, twitchiness and versatility – Hall can play any position on the line – that made him highly coveted post-draft. The Eagles, for what it’s worth, had shown consistent interest in Hall throughout the pre-draft process, meeting with him at the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and via Zoom. If I were to pick one undrafted player with the best odds of sticking, my choice would be Hall.

Kendall Milton, RB, Georgia

Measuring in at 6-foot-1 1/2 and weighing 225 pounds, Milton offers a different dimension to the backfield. An old-school between-the-tackles grinder, Milton is the kind of back that thrives with volume, while also proving effective in short-yardage situations. Milton is largely a one-dimensional player, but one who could be highly effective in a situational role if the team prefers to limit any wear-and-tear on Barkley and Jalen Hurts on short yardage plays.

While Saquon Barkley, Kenny Gainwell and rookie Will Shipley are all assured roster spots, a case can potentially be made for keeping a fourth between Milton, Tyrion Davis-Price and Lew Nichols.

Andre’ Sam, S, LSU

Sam, who arrived at LSU in 2023 by way of Marshall, first started his college career at McNeese State. He’s on the older side at 25 years old. He’ll turn 26 during the season. At 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, Sam is undersized for his position, but atones for his build by playing fast, swarming to the football and being instinctual.

The Eagles gave Sam a $20,000 signing bonus and $150,000 salary guarantee. He joins a suddenly crowded group of defensive backs, where training camp reps will be at a premium.

Laekin Vakalahi, OT, International Player Exemption

The Eagles returned to the international pipeline in search of a developmental offensive lineman and hope lightning strikes twice, inking International Player Exemption Laekin Vakalahi to a contract. Vakalahi, fresh off a two-year church mission service in Wellington, New Zealand, worked out in front of Eagles international scout Chris Naeole on a soccer field, showcasing his athleticism. Vakalahi, 6-foot-5, 318 pounds, has 35-inch arms and an 83-inch wingspan.

*Some additional notes I’ve gathered over the weekend on the Brisbane native:

– Laekin and Eagles LT Jordan Mailata had dinner when Mailata visited Australia during the draft, but they’ve since met numerous times during rookie minicamp. They also chat regularly over the phone, source said.

– The phone call from the Eagles occurred Sunday morning, when Laekin was sitting in church. He excused himself and took the call.

– Trained out of Conquest Athletic Performance (Glen Waverly, Australia) with trainer Dave Tuinauvai.

– Laekin played in the junior rugby league for the Ormeau Shearers until the age of 12. He made the Gold Coast Junior rep team.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

About The Author

Comments are closed here.