Post originally appeared on Pro Sports Notes.
May 17, 2019
Image: Penn State Alumni Association via Flickr
Two undrafted rookies to keep an eye on for the Eagles
Posted on May 17, 2019
The Eagles undrafted rookies class headlined by an OL and LB
The Philadelphia Eagles only made five player selections on draft night. This left them with a large number of spots for undrafted rookies to join the team heading into the offseason programs. Two of those undrafted rookies to keep an eye on are offensive lineman, Ryan Bates, and linebacker, T.J. Edwards.
Bates could potentially add depth to the O-line as one of the undrafted rookies
Penn State offensive lineman Bates was projected to be a solid undrafted rookie. Scouts expected him to be available for any team to sign at the combine. As a hometown kid, after attending Archbishop Wood, Bates went on to play at Penn State. He redshirted in 2015 but started in all games in the 2016 season, as well as in 2018.
He’s a project, no doubt. But as you can tell based on their offseason, the Birds’ number one concern is protecting Carson Wentz. They signed Isaac Seumalo to an extension, extended Jason Kelce and Jason Peters, brought back Stefan Wisniewski, and still have guys like Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai under contract. This is in addition to trading up in order to draft Andre Dillard.
The Eagles prioritize versatile linemen as well which is exactly what Bates is. Based on his combine performance, he could be a decent center but also an emergency tackle.
Edwards might be a steal
Scouts projected Edwards to go in the 5th round of the draft but ended up falling and the Eagles were able to sign him as one of their undrafted rookies. The Eagles typically don’t value linebackers as much as they should. But it’s also a position where the team has lacked depth in the past. After bringing in LJ Fort and Zach Brown via free agency, they addressed depth by adding Edwards from the undrafted rookies class.
Edwards redshirted in 2014, then started the next four years. In 2015 earned All-American Honors as a freshman, leading Wisconsin with 84 tackles. 6.5 of those were for loss. In 2016, he earned honorable mention All-Big 10 honors while leading his team in tackles again. He was also the MVP of Wisconsin’s win over undefeated Western Michigan. In 2017, he was a first-team All-American and All-Big 10. In his senior year, he had 113 tackles, 11.5 for loss, three interceptions, three sacks, and two pass breakups. Not bad at all.
The starting linebackers will be Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown, I believe, utilizing a rotation of Fort and Kamu Grugier-Hill when they use three linebackers. The Eagles might have stolen this guy as one of many undrafted rookies to utilize as a rotational backer as well as a special teamer.
Other guys the Eagles brought in
The Eagles signed all of their draft picks to four-year deals ahead of the rookie mini-camp that took place last weekend. However, they signed 10 undrafted rookies to contracts as well. There were four offensive linemen included in that group. The biggest name to watch of the four, however, is Bates. They also brought in another linebacker, two defensive tackles, and a wide receiver. The starting roster is fairly locked in, but in a team that relies heavily on depth, this will be a fun offseason to see who makes the 53-man.