Roob's Observations

In Roob's Observations: Can Cooper DeJean be a full-time outside corner?

Figuring out where to put Cooper DeJean, Howie Roseman’s philosophy about future draft picks and a roster longshot to keep an eye on in training camp.

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Figuring out where to put Cooper DeJean, Howie Roseman’s philosophy about future draft picks and a roster longshot to keep an eye on in training camp.

With the draft in our rear-view mirror and the 2024 schedule release coming up soon, here’s this weekend’s fresh batch of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations just for you!

1. What exactly is Cooper DeJean? Is he a safety? Is he a slot? Is he an outside corner? He sure seems versatile enough to play anywhere in the secondary, but I don’t think the Eagles take him at No. 40 if they don’t believe he can play outside corner. You start with his size. He’s a solid 6-1, 205 pounds. Then you look at his athleticism – he ran 4.43 at his pro day with a 124-inch broad jump and 38-5 vertical, which are all excellent numbers. And then you watch him play and you see that he has an innate understanding of what routes receivers are running and where the ball is going. He just sees things and processes things at an elite level. You rarely see him out of position, and once the ball’s in his hands, he becomes a true weapon, which is obvious from his four TD returns in college (three interceptions, one punt). He’s also a tough, physical run defender and a sure tackler. I expect the Eagles to find some sort of role on defense for DeJean from Day 1, and when Darius Slay’s time here is up, whenever that is, I’d expect DeJean to take over across from Quinyon Mitchell (who I still expect to replace James Bradberry in the starting lineup by opening day).  

2. Here’s a list of players in NFL history with two seasons with 1,450 yards, 85 catches and seven touchdowns before their 27th birthday: Antonio Brown, A.J. Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Justin Jefferson. 

3. I feel like Jeremiah Trotter Jr. actually has a decent chance to get on the field on defense as a rookie. You look at the Eagles’ linebacker hierarchy, and there are no sure things. Devin White and Nakobe Dean will get the first crack at starting, and White pretty much has to play because he’s the Eagles’ only linebacker with good size. But Dean is now in Year 3 and has nothing to show for his first two seasons except a red-shirt year in 2022 and a season lost to injuries last year. Maybe he’ll realize the potential the Eagles saw on him at Georgia. He’s certainly a hard worker and has all the intangibles you want. And he’s still only 23. But even the five games when he was healthy last year, the production wasn’t there. If things don’t start to happen for Dean early in the season, I could see Trott Jr. getting a shot, even as a 5th-round pick. There aren’t many alternatives. Ben VanSumeren showed some promise last year. There’s guys like Oren Burks and Zack Baun, but I’m not sure the Eagles view them as potential starters at off-ball linebacker. Penn State’s Brandon Smith was a 4th-round pick a couple years ago and could get a look at camp. But Trotter was such a playmaker at Clemson and that’s what the Eagles need at that position. Eagles LBs last year combined for 4 ½ sacks (three by Nick Morrow in the first Washington game), no interceptions and one forced fumble. Yeah, Trott Jr. is small, but he can run, he’s instinctive and he has a knack for finding the football. If he plays, it’s because he’s one of the Eagles’ 11-best defensive players, not because of who his dad is.        

4. Twelve Eagles had at least half a sack last year, and five of them played at Georgia: Jalen Carter (6.0), Jordan Davis ( 2 ½), Nolan Smith (1), Kelee Ringo (1) and Nakobe Dean (½). The last Georgia alum to record a sack for the Eagles before that quintet was slot corner Brandon Boykin, who sacked Robert Griffin III in 2012.

6. How different will the Eagles’ defense look on opening day compared to opening day 2023? Gone from last year so far are 11 guys who played at least 100 defensive snaps: Fletcher Cox, Haason Reddick, Nicholas Morrow, Kevin Byard, Zach Cunningham, Bradley Roby, Terrell Edmunds, Justin Evans, Shaq Leonard, Christian Ellis and Derek Barnett. New additions are safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, linebacker Devin White and Jeremiah Trotter Jr., edge rusher Bryce Huff, linebacker-edge rushers Oren Burks and Zack Baun and cornerbacks Isaiah Rodgers, Quinton Mitchell and Cooper DeJean. That’s a lot of change. Most of which was mandatory.

5. The Eagles selected as many defensive backs in the first 40 picks this year as they had in the previous 33 years combined (Lito Sheppard No. 26 in 2002, Nate Allen No. 37 in 2010).

7. Only five running backs in history have had 11,000 rushing yards and 500 receptions: Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith and LeSean McCoy. Only McCoy is not in the Hall of Fame, but of those five, McCoy has (by far) the highest career rushing average at 4.5 yards per carry. So he’s the only player in NFL history with 11,000 rushing yards, 500 catches and a 4.5 average. He’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2026. The numbers are there.

8. One interesting thing about Howie Roseman’s draft philosophy is how much the Eagles value future picks compared to other teams. Conventional NFL wisdom says the farther into the future a pick is, the more value it loses. But when you are taking the longview like the Eagles, that’s not necessarily the case. That’s why Roseman crafted a draft-weekend plan to generate 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-round picks in 2025 out of thin air last weekend, just by trading with teams that wanted picks now. I don’t get how anybody would rather have a 4th-round pick this year than a 3rd-round pick next year, but when you have long-term roster health as your goal, you’ll take that future 3rd-rounder. Your odds of hitting on a player are significantly better in the third round than the fourth. And if that takes an extra year, why not? It’s like the Haason Reddick trade. The Eagles could very well get a 2026 2nd-round pick from the Jets in that deal, and the Jets haven’t had a winning season since 2015 and have averaged five wins a year over the last eight seasons. Their average 2nd -round pick has been No. 42 over the last seven seasons. The Eagles probably could have gotten a 4th-rounder in 2024 from the Jets or a 3rd-rounder in 2025. I’ll take No. 42 two years down the line every single time.

9. Here’s a guy to keep an eye on in training camp: Offensive tackle Darian Kinnard. He was the Chiefs’ 5th-round pick in 2022 and spent the last two years either inactive (other than one game) or on the practice squad. He finished last year on the Chiefs’ practice squad, and the Eagles signed him to a futures contract in January. Futures guys are generally the longest of longshots, but his name has come up a few times during the offseason talking to Howie Roseman, and when that happens there’s usually a reason for it. There’s something the Eagles like. Kinnard is 6-foot-5, 325 pounds and was considered a pretty good prospect after starting three years at Kentucky because of his size, athleticism and mobility. But he never had the technique to match his traits and has never gotten on the field in the NFL, other than six special teams snaps against the Raiders in 2022. But the Eagles have the best guy in the world at developing raw offensive linemen who have physical traits but need technique work. Kinnard just turned 24, and with a full offseason at Stoutland U., he could have a chance. The Eagles signed Mekhi Becton to a one-year deal, and he’ll back up both right and left tackle. But the Eagles are always looking for o-line depth, and Kinnard is a guy to watch this summer. If you have Jeff Stoutland in your corner, you always have a shot.

10. Boston Scott was always a class act. A wise man who truly understood the importance of balancing football and life. A total pro, a great teammate, never complained about his role and always produced when asked. Only eight running backs have spent more time with the Eagles than Scott: Tom Woodeshick, Brian Westbrook, Wilbert Montgomery, Steve Van Buren, Duce Staley, Keith Byars, Timmy Brown and Clarence Peaks. He may not have been a great player, but he was a great Eagle.

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