2020 NFL draft: How social distancing is helping Eagles learn something important about prospects


One thing the Eagles always talk about around draft time is that they want to find players who truly love football and want to be great. They’ve learned from past mistakes in this area. 

Because sometimes when you draft a player who doesn’t love football, you end up with a 26-year-old fireman. 

Eagles VP of player personnel Andy Weidl did an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark this week and brought up a point that I hadn’t thought of before and one that I found pretty interesting. Current circumstances, with social distancing guidelines in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, have given the Eagles another way to learn how much potential draft picks care about football. 

And drafting self-motivated players is even more important this year without spring practices and with training camps still up in the air. 

“It’s real for this year,” Weidl said. “Guys that are motivated, first of all they love the game, they’re passionate about the game, they’re always trying to get better, trying to find a competitive edge. Those are Eagle-type players, we talk about that. They fit our culture and system. Self-starters, guys that are going to do it more so now than ever. 

“You’d be surprised talking to some of these guys, the creative ways they’re finding to work out, whether it’s a ball field by their house, in a garage or just anything they can do to get out and work out. Obviously, with the social distancing of the times, they’re doing it and talking to players, that’s what they’re finding out. These guys, they want to do it. A lot of these guys, they’re working hard, they’re finding ways to get out there and stay in shape and work out. That’s been an interesting aspect and something new given the set of circumstances the league is dealing with right now.”

This is Weidl’s first draft as the Eagles’ VP of player personnel. He took over that role from Joe Douglas, who left to become the Jets’ general manager. And his first draft in this role will be a very unusual one. 

But Weidl has had a pretty optimistic view on the unusual circumstances of this draft. He even said the 1-on-1 interviews with prospects have been more telling in a virtual setting. He’s done some 1-on-1s with prospects, each alone in a room with no distractions. Weidl said it allows prospects to “bare their souls.” 

The Eagles enter the draft tonight with a total of eight draft picks, including No. 21 in the first round. They are ready for the virtual draft and Howie Roseman has said there will be “no excuses” because of the unusual nature of this draft. 

Weidl said the Eagles’ tests and mock drafts have gone smoothly. 

“From our standpoint, in our office and our department, it’s been great,” he said. “We’ve had guys, we’ve talked, the channels are clear, the communication has been excellent. We’ve actually had draft meetings with over 30 people on the calls. We ran it like a draft meeting you would in our facility, in the NovaCare, except the draft room is virtual. Everybody had a chance to speak and voice their opinion. We’re finding ways.”

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