Eagles Sign 11 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents
Though the Eagles ranked among the top teams in the league in terms of which club grabbed the most total players in the recent 2010 NFL Draft, Philadelphia had some space to fill on their offseason roster and announced the addition of 11 undrafted rookie free agents today. The majority of the acquisitions play offensive positions, which makes sense, seeing that the team’s clear focus in the Draft was defense. Contract details have not been disclosed for any of the signed players, but all that truly matters (at least for now) is that these newly-added prospects have been brought in with expectations of battling for reserve spots on the final roster.
A complete list of the players the Eagles have announced as adding is below, with a brief description about each of the acquisitions also included:
- QB Joey Elliott (pictured): A lack of starting experience resulted in his not being drafted, but Elliott–who shined leading the Purdue offense in 2009–provides the Eagles with a potential backup quarterback and developmental player for the future. Of course, that’s primarily what the team selected Northwestern’s Mike Kafka for over the weekend, but if the Eagles’ other QB–Michael Vick–is indeed traded before the season, Elliott (who is known for being a solid passer on the run) could find himself with a spot on the roster.
- FB Chris Zardas: A powerful runner and respected blocker, Zardas has the physical skills and work ethic to make it in the NFL; it was mostly his position that scared teams away in the Draft, as the fullback is rarely utilized as a legitimate option in Massachusetts’ offensive system. A career collegiate starter of 17 games and recorder of seven touchdowns, he helped in the team’s success in the running game this past season and earned a variety of awards for his efforts. It’s clear that Leonard Weaver is not going to be dethroned from the starting FB spot after going to the Pro-Bowl and signing a contract extension, but there’s a chance Zardas could crack the practice squad or make the final roster in a special teams role.
- WR Blue Cooper: A high school star who played at a variety of positions, Cooper had a memorable career at Tennessee-Chattanooga as a wide receiver; unfortunately for him, he was only featured as one of the team’s primary targets during his senior campaign, and was therefore not drafted over the past few days. He is tall and has decent speed, and is expected to–like many others who have been added this offseason–compete for a spot in the WR corps as a backup.
- WR Pat Simonds: A physical pass catcher who was known for his game-changing receptions while at Colgate University, the 6-foot-6 Simonds brings a large amount of concentration and knowledge to the receiving corps after two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in college and a lot of academic respect. Though it was reported here on Sunday that the reliable wideout had been informed by the Eagles that the team was going to sign him, it was only today that the team officially confirmed the move. Like Cooper, Simonds–a native of a New York and holder of various records at Colgate–is likely to battle for a reserve role in the receiving corps.
- WR Kevin Jurovich: A former safety for San Jose State, Jurovich made the transition to wide receiver following his sophomore season, and seems to be on the rise in terms of potential for the future and what he has to offer as a target in the offense. In 2007, he hauled in an impressive 85 catches for nearly 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns, and has shown improvement in some aspects of his game since then. Because the group of receivers on the team is so crowded, it’s unlikely Jurovich will make the final roster merely because of the lesser amount of experience he has at the position, but he is expected to compete for a backup job nonetheless.
- OT Austin Howard: The Eagles did not address the offensive line with any of their Draft picks this year, and therefore it’s no surprise the team decided to add some blockers who became rookie free agents. A versatile player who originally began his college career at Northern Iowa as a tight end and also played basketball, the 6-foot-7, 333-pound Howard is arguably one of the top lineman from the 2010 rookie class that was not taken in the Draft. In his junior and senior seasons, he made a combined 25 starts at the left tackle spot, and has enough upside to potentially challenge King Dunlap for the number two position on the LT depth chart behind Pro-Bowl starter Jason Peters.
- OT Jeraill McCuller: Though he is a bit smaller than the team’s other OT addition (Howard) and hasn’t shown as many glimpses of dominance as higher-ranked rookie linemen, McCuller has proven to be a consistent leader and displayer of positive behavior. This past season, he was given the Governor’s Award, which is handed out annually to the member of the North Carolina State football team who most shows ability, contribution, leadership and intangibles. Considered by some to have the versatility to play at the guard spot as well, McCuller is sure to make a run at a reserve role with the offensive linemen and could potentially become a member of the practice squad as a developmental prospect.
- OG/OT Zipp Duncan: Widely regarded as not being taken in the Draft because of his light size for an interior lineman, Duncan had a respectable career in the NCAA with Kentucky while playing at several positions. He came out of high school as a tight end, but began his collegiate tenure as a guard. After inconsistent play and what many consider to be a disappointing sophomore season, he gradually worked his way into a starting role as a left tackle. Noted as having a 39-game starting streak, Duncan also garnered several awards for his decent senior season and is likely to battle with guys like Mike McGlynn for a backup role in 2010 as a utility blocker, so to speak (a player who can line up at various positions).
- DT Charles Alexander: Not many defensive tackles were taken in the Draft, and quality players such as Alexander were left without a team at the conclusion of the event. A product of LSU and former teammate of new Philadelphia running back Charles Scott (who was taken by the Eagles in the 6th-round over the weekend), he was not known for recording a lot of sacks or making big plays, but rather contributing more as a run defender. Alexander is what you’d call a solid DT; he is, by no means, a bad performer at his position, but is also not among the elite members of the spot. As a senior in 2009, he started in all 13 of his team’s games and finished the year with 29 tackles (two of which were for a loss of yards) and one sack. Because the Birds already have a pair of capable starters in Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, it’s likely Alexander will compete with late-round pick Jeff Owens and others for a reserve DT role.
- CB David Pender: He failed to appear as a flashy, big-play cornerback while at Purdue, but Pender emerged as a solid starter during his sophomore season and reportedly attracted the interest of some teams immediately after the Draft because of his adequate height and overall build, as well as his upside for the future. He is, without question, deserving of a lower rank than defensive backs who were actually drafted due to his lack of interceptions and consistent coverage, but certainly provides the Eagles with a possible reserve option for the future.
- CB Josh Morris: If Morris’ tenure as a starter at Weber State was longer and the competition he faced was a bit tougher, the cornerback would probably have been a clear-cut Draft choice of some team over the weekend. His seven career interceptions and numerous conference awards are promising signs that indicate a career in the NFL is possible; his emergence as a leading defensive player came a little late, however, and the division in which he played in lacks the type of competitiveness that many professional scouts look for. Nevertheless, Morris should make for an interesting offseason roster member who has a shot at cracking the roster as a backup.