Welcome to the Journey to the Draft
podcast! I’m Fran Duffy and today we’re going to do something just like we did last
week where we looked at Andre Dillard’s path from unknown offensive tackle
prospect on the West Coast, all the way up to first-round pick. Ee’re gonna
do the same thing except this time with the Eagles pair of day-two selections
with Miles Sanders, the running back from Penn State and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the
wide receiver from Stanford. We’re gonna talk to head coaches, we’re
gonna talk to area scouts and everybody in between. How do these guys become
Eagles? And we’re gonna start things off with the path of Miles Sanders and we’re
going to start with northeast area scout Jim Ward and Mr. Relevant. It’s time for
Mr. Relevant. Really pleased to welcome in Jim Ward to
the Journey to the Draft podcast and Jim we’re going to talk to you about Miles
Sanders. Let’s talk about the the former Penn State running back.
Obviously, the Eagles second-round pick. When did Miles first jump on
your radar and what was your first impression of him? I’ve known about Miles I think ninth grade was the first time
I’ve actually seen him. Him being in Pittsburgh and it’s kind of where I live at, so you saw the natural talent, believe it or not, back
then. Granted, you don’t know that he’s going to rise and ascend to
the level that he did. Miles was a guy that I had followed just because I
was familiar with him, but this past year that he was kind of
next in line taking over for Saquon [Barkley] and getting a chance to see him last year in
training camp and you’re trying to focus on the
seniors and make sure that you got those guys right first, but you know Miles’
talent and his abilities were I think, for me, were on display most — I saw him
early in the season against Pitt — and he was exceptional in that game. You kind
of left there saying. “Man, I’d love to take this guy back with me to
Philadelphia.” So then what was the next set of evaluations for him? Did you
see him live in person throughout the course of the year? What stood out to you
watching him get his first set of starting action? I think what stood out
was the one thing, as you know this goes on, and again, you’re really focusing in on the senior class, but you’re
definitely aware of the juniors that are high level players
such as Miles. But I think for the Miles what stood out for me
the most was I can’t get over one term and everything that Miles does
is natural. You can’t say that about every player that you do. I think as you’re going through Miles I think
you’re looking at a guy that’s got unbelievable instincts for the position. You watch his vision, you watch is quick feet, his body control, his
ability to create on his own, he changes tasks, keeps defenders on edges. I
think for Miles, I think getting his initial read at the line of
scrimmage, being able to see linebacker flow once he gets through there.
It’s hard for guys to have to transfer their eyes and have the ability
within their body to complete the play. You see him being
able to see the secondary rotation to be able to make it a
big run or you know to extend and get to a third level and try to get a home run. I think for Miles, like said, for me what
just stood out was the ability to see with his eyes and his body be able to
react in a way that it needed to and to just create when there was nothing there. It’s kind of what I saw in the Pitt game and it kind of
followed through this past
season except for the fact you know iles got banged up a little bit
and you know I think that’s where maybe maybe some of the the
production that dipped a little bit may have came from. Talk
about from a from an off the field standpoint. He had mentioned that he met with the Eagles in Indianapolis. He met with them during the
pre-draft visit process. What is he like as a kid away from the field? He’s
outstanding. He was raised the right way. He went to Woodland Hills High School, which you know has had
numerous NFL players over the years, including Steve Breaston and Rob
Gronkowski played his senior year at Woodland Hills and Shawntae Spencer and Jason
Taylor’s another guy. Miles came from a high school that is, I don’t want to call it a football factory, but it’s just been an
outstanding football school. Miles was raised the right way. Mom, she’ll to you, when she him dropped him off at their
doorstep, she expected them to continue the path of his development as a person
and she was very supportive. You’re getting a guy that’s just a
hard worker, keeps his mouth closed, does everything that you ask him to do. He’s going to work. Qhat an outstanding person he is. He’s a little
on the quiet side, but you know just very, very enjoyable to be around a guy you’re excited to get into your locker room. And then my final question for you, Jim,
about Miles Sanders, day one ends. I know ou’ve got to have your eye on Myles
how nervous were you as the second round progressed and the Eagles selection
continued to get closer and closer that he would get scooped up? I know everybody
was excited when he fell to the Eagles. Me personally, you don’t sit
there in the in the draft room and express that, but me personally on
the inside, I’ll definitely disclose I was nervous the entire second day until we got to him. Knowing he was still on the board,
knowing there was a chance that somebody was going to grab him,
and knowing he was a guy that we had all coveted and that’s the one thing about
Miles was that there was just — and for all of our guys — but for me personally,
just because Miles was a guy that was in my area. Just be excitement
in the room when he was there and we knew we were getting him and he was
going to become an Eagle. To sit there and you got to sweat through
those picks and wait for them to pop up and each one when you don’t see his name’s
an actual relief. Let’s just say there was a lot of relief and excitement
once he got to us. Great stuff there from Jim Ward, who obviously has been very
intimate with Miles Sanders going back to ninth grade. Very familiar with his
background and what he can do from an athletic standpoint. So, draft
weekend, Saturday morning, day three of the draft, Amy Campbell and I caught up with Penn State head coach James Franklin to talk
about Miles Sanders, his skill set, what he’ll bring to the NFL, and everything in
between. I was really excited to talk with Coach Franklin. Here’s our full
interview from draft weekend. Coach I want to talk about Miles Sanders first
and a guy obviously that was so productive for you guys this year as a
junior, his first year as a starter, when did things really start building up for
him in terms of buzz about, you know scouts talking about him going to the NFL?
At what point did you say, you know what, this is probably going to be his final year
on campus here. Well, I never say that because I want him here as long as
possible, but it was pretty early on. Obviously, we’ve been fortunate. We had a guy like Saquon Barkley and we were
fortunate to go out and recruit number one running back in the country as a
recruit and that was Miles. Miles was able to come here. Him and Saquon had a great relationship. They work really well
together. Miles was always ready for his opportunity when it came and then
when Saquon went on the the NFL, it was Miles’ opportunity to step up. I
remember Saquon all the time kind of looking over his shoulder and saying to me,
“This guy’s got a chance to be special.” We’ve been blessed and fortunate to
work with him, but we knew very early on that that he had tremendous upside,
tremendous potential, and his work ethic and his demeanor and drive is really what set him a part. Patience seems to be the word when it comes to
Miles, at least we’ve been discussing over the last couple days, patiently
waiting his turn there. He said he learned patience during his time having
an injury and then, of course, a patient runner. How do you see him fitting into
the Eagles offense and how he can make an impact in the running game? Well, one
of the things I think is great about him is I do think he’s a three-down back. One of the plans that we had if he was going to come back is we wanted to get
him a lot more involved in the passing game and that was going to be an
emphasis all offseason. I thought from the time the season ended to the
combine and to the draft he did an unbelievable job at working on ball
skills, at working on route running, and getting really comfortable with that
part of his game, but it really became a strength. It’s amazing how many head
coaches and GMs called me about how well he caught the ball in our pro day,
how well he caught the ball at the combine, looked so natural running routes. I just think he’s a guy that can do so many things. He’s got the body
type that you look for and covet in that league that’s going to be an
every-down back and now he’s shown that you know he can not only hold up the
pass protection but also can hurt you in the passing game as well.
Coach Pederson, obviously, is a creative guy. There’s a lot of different ways he’ll be able to us him. Coach, take us into the X’s and O’s part of it a little bit. When you have a guy like
a Miles Sanders, who can be moved around a little bit in the formation and can do
some of those things in the passing game. The Eagles
have been a team in the past that have gone tempo a little bit and tried to
mess with defenses. What does that do for you as an offensive coach, to be able to
attack defenses if you’ve got a versatile chest piece like a Miles
Sanders? Well, I think that’s a great way to describe him, a versatile chess piece and
that was going to be a big plan of how we were going to use him this year. I just
think it causes headaches as a defense when you’re not sure if they’re going to
be in a traditional two-back set, if they’re gonna be in a one-back set? You
don’t know if they’re going to be in empty? Are they gonna line up in empty and get
you to check to your empty coverage and then are they gonna motion back into the
backfield and now they got you stuck in a vanilla look or vice versa, start you in the
backfield, get you in one defensive look and then motion out to
empty. There’s just a lot of different things that you can do with him and
he’s a smart guy. He picks up things really well. He’s got an awesome
family. His mom is … you guys are going to love to get to know her and his two brothers. Very supportive. There’s just so many aspects of Miles
that you guys are going to really enjoy. For the entire interview with coach Franklin
make sure you go check that out on PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Amy and I
talked with him about not just Miles Sanders but also Shareef Miller. You’ll
hear the rest of that interview next week on the Journey to the Draft podcast.
Alright, let’s get now to Miles’ journey. And really, we can go back as far as to last
August, August of 2018, where we first started talking about Miles Sanders on
the show. We had Ross Tucker on the program. Ross, obviously, the new Eagles
voice the color commentator for the preseason broadcast, replacing Mike Mayock. Really excited to have Ross in the fold and he and I caught up on the Journey to
the Draft podcast during training camp last year and I asked him the question
because he’s very close to that Penn State program. I said, “Who’s going to replace
Saquon Barkley?” His answer was Miles Sanders. Very involved with the Penn
State program and been following that program closely. They lose Saquon
Barkley in the draft this past year. How do they replace Saqon Barkley? Well, they got a guy that they’ve really been grooming. They chose to not
have him be redshirted as a true freshman. That’s Miles Sanders. He was the
number one ranked running back in the country. Played in the Under Armour
All-American game. He’s from Woodland Hills out in Pittsburgh. He’s a five-star recruit and it’s one of those things, Fran, that you watch him and you’re like, “Wow! He’s a good player.” But when he was
getting reps in between or after Saquon Barkley it’s just different. Miles Sanders I think he’s gonna have an excellent year. I wouldn’t
be surprised he has 1,500 all-purpose. I mean he’s going to have a great year, but
he’s just a different player now. I’m not sure that he doesn’t have better vision
than Saquon Barkley. I’m not sure he’s not as good out of the backfield. I think
he’s a little bit more of a slasher. He might be more effective in between the
tackles at times. He’s not as powerful and he doesn’t have just the raw jump
cuts, lateral agility and speed that Barkley did. We all
saw at the combine, there’s really nobody likes Saquon Barkley, but Miles Sanders — about midway through the year people are gonna say, “Wow! This guy,
where’d he come from?” Well, he’s been there the whole time. He’s just been
behind the number two pick in the NFL Draft. So Miles Sanders didn’t
quite reach that 1,500 plateau that Ross predicted, but he got pretty close. He got
two just shy of 1,300 yards. He was banged up midseason just like Jim
mentioned earlier in the show. Very productive for Penn State. Declared for
the draft after his final season there and now he’s preparing for the combine
and in my combine preview before we made the trip out to Indianapolis, I actually
listed him as my stopwatch shocker. What’s a stopwatch shocker? Well, a guy that I
expected to test a little bit better than most people thought and here’s what
I wrote about Miles Sanders, “If you’ve been following the combine in recent
years one thing is consistently true: Penn State players always test like
freak shows whether it’s been Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki or Troy Apke
last year in 2018, or Chris Godwin the year before that. Penn State has
consistently shown out at this event. This is a stab in the in the dark,
but I bet that Sanders, who ran relays at Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh,
tests better than expected.” Now, turns out Sanders had one of the best workouts of
any running back at the combine. I think it was billed a little bit too highly.
Everyone talking about how it was an elite workout. It was a really good
workout, but it was much better than most of the rest of this running back class.
So that really helped push him up the board a little bit and we’re going to
take a look at some of these numbers He ran 4.5 flat in the 40-yard dash. Perhaps more importantly, a 1.53 10-yard
split. That’s an impressive number. Then, he went across the board and he tested
well 6.89 in the three-cone, 4.19 in the short shuttle, 124 inches in the broad
jump, 36 inches in the vertical. Those raw numbers are all pretty good and our
running back class again that lacked that star power, that lacked that elite
athlete, this workout from Miles Sanders really helped his stock and really
helped put him in the national spotlight and really he was seen as one of the big
winners from the entire trip in Indianapolis. That was something that we
brought up with Tony Pauline after the combine. Tony first question here, Daniel
Jeremiah, good friend from NFL Network, he released his most recent top
50 big board, the prospects, as he explains it, these are as he ranks
the players with what he sees with his eyes. He says when he does his mock draft
it what he’s hearing around the league, so these are his top 50 players and
he has Miles Sanders, the running back from Penn State, jumping up to number 43
overall. Now Sanders had a pretty good combine. Did this combine workout help
him that much and what are you hearing from teams based on what he’s done since
Indianapolis? I think that his combine workout was expected. If you watch the
film Saners was an accomplished ball carrier at Penn State. He was very
good. He was solid last year when he backed up Saquon Berkeley. He took it to
another level, so the speed and the athleticism really shouldn’t surprise.
I’ve always had him graded as a third-round pick. He’s number 82 on
my board right now. He’s my fifth running back. It’s going to be a competition
between I believe him and Darrell Henderson of Memphis for that four spot
in the running back class. Just a matter of whether running backs come off the
board. His combine workout was not a surprise to me because he shows all that
quickness, the athleticism, the speed, the burst, the change of direction on film, which is a good thing. He’s a good athlete and he’s able to apply that
athleticism on to the football field. So after the combine Sanders started
getting a lot of that love to whether it was in the top 50s whether it was in the
second round mocks, he started getting a lot more buzz after
that trip to Indianapolis and with that came more questions in our draft mailbag
segments. Alright, so next question, also from Apple podcasts, comes from Wild Farm Wines, and we got to get some kind of sponsorship. No question. I need to get on top of
that one. Surprised not hear more about Miles Sanders after his lights-out
combine? Is he a solid second rounder or are his fumbling issues suppressing his value?
Also, did Damien Harris drop to the third day with his very average combine?
Could he be there in the fourth round? I would say that if Damien Harris drops to
the third day, someone’s getting a steal. So I would be shocked if that happened. I
don’t think that he’ll be there in the fourth round. I think he will be a
day-two pick. As far as Sanders, I want to continue to
watch more because there are a lot of intriguing things and he is a
well-rounded player. He can do a lot of different things for you. Remember,
five-star recruit coming out of high school. Wasn’t he the National
Player of the Year? I believe so and just got stuck behind Saquon Barkley,
so I think when you look at Miles Sanders you see a guy that’s got the
potential to be a three-down back. Just a small sample size. I know he was a little bit banged up starting around midseason as well. Yeah. So, let’s fast forward a
couple weeks and this was a fun segment on the on the Journey to the
Draft podcast. Chris McPherson came up with a great idea. Let’s do a pick-six
segment where we use the draft machine, the mock draft machine from the Draft
Network website and let’s model out a few mock drafts from the Eagles and in
two of those mock drafts Miles Sanders was actually the pick for the Eagles in
round two out of random selection, so we reacted to Miles Sanders being connected
to the Eagles in these randomly generated mock drafts. And then Miles Sanders is a guy that I think when you’re looking at all these running
backs he checks a lot of boxes. He does a lot of things really
well. Maybe nothing great. That’s probably why he’s a second-round
pick as opposed to being a first-round pick, but ultimately you look at Miles
Sanders you think the best football’s ahead of him.
It wasn’t just the random mock drafts though because Todd McShay from ESPN,
other analysts continued to mock Miles Sanders to the Eagles in their two and
three-round mock drafts and Todd McShay in early April actually connected the
Eagles to the Penn State running back in the second round. Here we are reacting to
that selection in April. Alright, now let’s look at a Todd McShay’s
version of the the two-round mock draft. Three picks again for the Eagles. Deandre Baker, first round, 25th overall. Second round, they go Miles
Sanders at number 53, the running back from Penn State and then Virginia safety
Juan Thornhill at 57 overall. Doesn’t seem like you think Thorhill will be there
Tony, but what do you think overall of the the trio of selections from Todd
McShay. I think Miles Sanders, if he’s there in round two, would be a good value pick for the Eagles. He would also fortify their running back
unit. He’s a guy who is a versatile ball carrier, can catch the ball out of the
backfield, which we know the Eagles want. I think that would be an outstanding
selection for them. One final national analyst who was a big fan of Miles
Sanders was Greg Cosell our good friend from NFL Films and we had Greg on the
show just before the draft. Aouple days before Thursday night, night one, to talk
about the entire offensive class and he broke down what he liked so much about
Miles Sanders’ game and why he was actually the number two running back for
him in this draft. Now, last year Saquon Berkeley was
drafted number two overall by the New York Giants. His backup at Penn State
became the starter in 2018. Miles Sanders, he’s in this year’s draft class, how do
you think he transitions to the next level? Oh, I think he transitions well and
I actually, about a month ago C-Mac, put out that I thought that Sanders was
running back two in this class and some people liked that and some people didn’t,
but I really like Sanders I think that he’s got the needed size, he’s got
running skills, he’s got receiving traits to be a three-down back. I also think
he’s just scratching the surface. Look, he played essentially one year. He was a
big-time recruit, but obviously Saquon was there. He’s carried the ball less
than 300 times in his college career. I think he’s a feel and rhythm runner and
I think he’s the kind of guy that you can give the ball to 14, 15, 16, 18 times a game. I really like Miles Sanders as a prospect. Alright, so fast
forward a couple of days to Friday night, the Eagles make the selection. Miles
Sanders, running back, Penn State. Our own Dave Spadaro was in the draft room and
this is one of my favorite parts of having Dave here in the building for
Eagles Draft Central. He was up in the room for all of those picks and we would
go to him for that analysis, for that insight after every selectio. He had a
great story from when the Eagles made Miles Sanders the pick. We’re gonna go now
to our Eagles Insider our Dave Spadaro, who was in the room when the pick was made.
Dave. I hear you have a really fun story for us about what went down in the room
when the Eagles selected Miles Sanders. Yes, so what happens Amy and Fran is that
when the Eagles make a pick they usually call in the position coach just before
calling the player. Well, in this instance they were looking for Duce Staley. Where
is Duce? Where is Duce? They finally got him. They brought him in and then they
told him a name that was not a running back. Howie Roseman gets on the phone
and says, “Hey Miles, it’s Howie Roseman from the Philadelphia Eagles.” Duce
went, “I got myself a running back!” and the whole room exploded. A little fun
with Duce Staley, who is obviously very happy. The complexion, as you guys talked
about, of the running back group has changed so much in the last month. Only a
month ago we were wondering who the Eagles running backs would be. Then all
of a sudden, you acquire Jordan Howard in a trade, you draft Miles Sanders, you
compete with Josh Adams and with Corey Clement and with Wendell Smallwood. Suddenly, as you say great competition at the running back position. Dave, what is
the essence in terms of the atmosphere up there? Obviously, everybody’s excited.
What are you hearing in terms of why they’re so excited about Miles Sanders?
Fran you talked about his versatility, how he fits.
It’s going to take some time with Miles Sanders. There’s going to be a learning
curve. He’s got to be better in pass protection, more polished. most college
running backs, that’s the last piece of the puzzle for them and Duce Staley knows
knows that very well, but they obviously spent a lot of time with Sanders, who
made a visit – actually two visits — to the NovaCare Complex as part of the pro day
local as well, so they like his versatility. He’s got a lot of tread left
on that tire having served as a backup to Saquon Barkley at Penn State for a
couple of seasons and he just really fits in to the offense, moving him around
the formation, a weapon in the pass game, explosive as a runner. He certainly needs to
get better in phases, including the pass pro game, but I think Miles Sanders has a
chance to fit in here at some point. We don’t know how
early, but certainly upgrades the level of competition at running back. All of a
sudden, the Eagles look formidable in the backfield. So a couple of things there. Number one: Love the story with Duce Staley and how they kind of hoodwinked
him into thinking they were going a different direction. Then, surprised him
late with the Miles Sanders pick, get him on the phone with the Penn State running
back. That was a lot of fun. Secondly, I love what Dave said about the
versatility. The way that they’re able to see him being used in the passing game.
It takes me to back to that interview we heard earlier with James Franklin and
how teams really liked the fact that he could be an impact player on third down,
used in space, moved around the formation. To me, that’s what makes him such an
intriguing player in round two of this draft. So when you look at Sanders,
that versatility really, really outstanding stuff. Dave Spadaro again, exclusive insight and you get a lot of that insight over on the
Eagles Live podcast with Dave. Exclusive interviews. He talks with people all over
the building, all around the NFL, so make sure you go subscribe to that podcast.
Give that a rating and make sure you listen that each and every week. A great
new outlook for that podcast and they’ve done a lot of great stuff this offseason. Alright, so let’s go one more final exclusive interview with Dave. He caught
up with the Eagles director of college scouting Ian Cunningham to talk about
the Miles Sanders selection. Hi Eagles everywhere, Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
here with Ian Cunningham, director of college scouting. We’re talking about
running back Miles Sanders, the second-round draft pick. Ian, I know you
spent a lot of time with him so give us all the information you can give us on
this very exciting player that, you know, a Penn State kid a lot of people know
about. Yeah, we’re really excited. Our area scout Jim Ward and Phil Bhaya went up
there and they knew about him throughout the whole process. I got up there
probably in October at some point and was able to put my eyes on him a little
bit and then once he declared, really started focusing on him and I saw talented back. Okay, what kind of talents did you see? How does that skill set translate
into the NFL and into this offense? Yeah, we saw a guy that could play on all
three downs. He can run out of the backfield. He’s got a really good vision. He’s got really good hands out of the backfield. He’s elusive in space. We’re
excited. We can’t wait for Duce to get his hands on him and help him become an
Eagle. A one-year starter played behind Saquon Barkley, so he’s got a lot of
tread life. I mean, that’s kind of the way people seem to look at running backs.
How important is that to you? I think it is very important. When you play behind
the talented runner like Saquon, he kind of had a wait his turn, but he was a
five-star kid coming out of Pittsburgh. He played a couple snaps here and there
his first two years and then once he got the ball he he took off and ran.
There are always questions for running backs making the transition from college
to the NFL in pass protection. Where is he in that part of his game? How
vital will it be to really get that technique shored up? I think he’s still
developing and we’re fired up to get him with Duce and Duce is a great coach.
He’s proven it and I think he’s going to be really good in all areas. What about
Miles as a teammate, as a leader, as somebody fitting into the culture of
what the Eagles are doing? He’s a red star candidate. We pride ourselves on
finding guys like that and a red star is a player that is competitive, passionate
in his play, good person on and off the field, and that’s why he’s an Eagle now.
Ian, how much time have you actually spent with him? Take us through the
process a little bit of just how much you’ve gotten to know Miles through
these months. Yeah, we brought Miles in on a 30 visit. Actually, a local pro day.
He was up here. We got to put him around Duce, Joe, everybody here in the building.
We were able to familiarize ourselves with the person and the kid and we’re
excited to get him in the building. High-level competition also very productive
running back. It sounds like there’s not many negatives here. I think he’s going to
be a really good back. We’re excited to have him. We can’t get wait to get Duce
with him working and he’s gonna be an Eagle. Howie said at his press
conference on Friday night that going into Friday it was very kind of crossing
your fingers hoping that he would be there at 53, so take us through your
mindset. You’re in the room. You’re seeing the names come off the board. What was it
like? Yeah, we knew who we wanted. We had a couple guys that were going be there
that we thought could be there and we had no idea that he was gonna be there. But when he fell to us we were excited We were sitting back waiting,
just seeing the names come off the board and then when he was there we knew we
were going to take him. We were excited. And he joins a pretty darn talented
group of running backs. All of a sudden, a lot of competition in that backfield. A
lot of competition in the backfield and that’s what we’re excited about. Just see
what he does and hit the ground running. The pick at 53, Penn State running back
Miles Sanders. Ian Cunningham thanks so much for joining us to discuss the
Eagles selection. Alright so that wraps up Miles Sanders’ Journey to the Draft, so we’ll move on from the Penn State running back. Now,
let’s transition to wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the talented wideout
from Stanford and to me, was one of the more intriguing big receivers in this
draft. His ability to go up and win at the catch point was second to pretty much
anybody in this class, but you don’t need to hear it from me.
Let’s talk with Ryan Myers, the West Coast scout for the Eagles. We talked to
him last week about Andre Dillard. We’re bringing him back now this week to talk
about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Alright, so we’re going to welcome back to the show
West Coast area scout Ryan Myers and Ryan, we talked last week about Andre
Dillard. This week, we’re going to talk about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, another
guy that you scouted personally out on the West Coast from Stanford. Take us
through your first impression. What was the first time you saw J.J. and what were
your first impressions of him upon seeing him? Yeah, so I watched J.J. practice
live twice. Really impressed us with his practice habits, the way that he
approached the field work. Just extremely focused. Then I also saw him play live
twice. I saw him versus Utah where he went eight for 103 then I also saw him
versus Cal, where he went five for 109. The live action with this guy
really stood out. Just it’s extremely big, physical player, physical blocker of the
run game. Knows how to leverage his body, get off press. He’s just an extremely
impressive guy. So it was good to see him live. Obviously, his
ability to just go up and win. I mean, when you look at some of the other big
receivers in this class — I’ve said this in weeks past on the show —
that’s where he kind of sets himself a part. We talked about guys like Hakeem Butler and D.K. Metcalf and some of these other big receivers
that were in this class, to me J.J. was just so natural at the catch point
and that showed up week in, week out with him. That’s right. You look at this
guy’s size, 6-2, 225. He runs really well. He ran a 4.48 at his pro day. His catch radius is really what stands out. Thirty-three and a
quarter inch arms. He’s got an 80-inch wingspan/ I don’t think he’s
ever covered because he can go up the ball just like you said. He wins in
the 50-50 situations. He understands how to leverage defenders
and shield guys, go up over the top of guys. He’s got really good hand strength
to come down with the ball when guys are trying to rip it out. He’s going to
translate really well to Philly, especially when you get into the some of
them cold weather games. A big, physical guy that can rip ball to the air.
Carson’s gonna love this guy. There’s no question about it. We heard earlier from
David Shaw, the head coach from Stanford, he and I talked about one play against
USC. I wasn’t sure if you if you saw this game. The USC game,
Bryce Love breaks off like a 50-yard run down the left side and here comes J.J.
screaming from the opposite side of the field out as a lead blocker. Is that that
competitiveness, that urgency. Is that something that you saw kind of from him,
both seeing him live, both in games, and then also in practice? I did.
Everybody that you talk to, especially coach Shaw, this guy was a team
captain, extremely well-respected, natural leadership skills. He was all about the
team and that play that you just referred to, that goes with his
personality. Team guy all the way. He’s really smart. He knows all the
assignments. He’s gonna come in. He’s going to learn the playbook.
He’ll be able to play every spot for us. I would imagine inside, outside. And like
I said, he’s tough. He loves to compete. He’s just wired like an Eagle. All the way.
Great stuff there from Ryan Myers. Moving on now, I had the pleasure of
talking with David Shaw, the head coach from Stanford a handful of times over the
last few years and he is always just outstanding. He’s a great interview. One
of my favorites in all of college football and he gives great insight not
just into what the guy is on the field and what he can do for you, but then also
what he provides off the field. He does a great job of developing those young men
out there at Stanford and ultimately we were able to catch up with David Shaw
Saturday morning of the draft, myself and Amy Campbell, to talk with David about J.J.
Arcega-Whiteside and what he will bring to the Eagles in this great
interview. We now welcome in Stanford head football coach David Shaw, now
former coach of new Eagles wide receiver draft pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and
coach, you’ve had the opportunity to coach and get to know this
young man. Tell us what are Eagles fans looking forward to with him. At the most
basic thing for J.J., the two things he does on an elite level, number one is he
changes field position. This guy makes big plays down the field, up the
seam, on the outside. Got great body control. He just changes field
position and secondly, he scoures touchdowns. When he gets
one-on-one the end zone, he’s got an unbelievable catch radius. He’s got an
unbelievable – and I’m using that word truly — unbelievable body control. This guy
fights through pass interference, people are grabbing him, pushing him. They a bunch of different ways to stop him and he just goes up and elevates and takes the ball
away and it’s fun to watch. Coach, I think by my count he drew 11 flags
in the secondary last year. Defenses had no way to be able to stop him.
What is it like as an offensive coach to have a guy that you know and everybody
else in the stadium knows the ball is going to this guy and you can’t do
anything to stop us from getting it to him. It’s a great feeling and
he is extremely quarterback friendly. He’s gotten really good at getting
releases and giving the quarterback a window to throw to and what a lot of
people forget is that he is 225 pounds, so he doesn’t get pushed off the spot very
easily. But when he gets a release, if he can hold a DB up the field, whether it’s
an inside release or an outside release, he gives the quarterback a good platform to throw the
ball to, especially a place like Philadelphia with the other weapons they
have, they’re getting their speedster back with DeSean and having the type
of tight ends that you have — Zach did a heck of a job — to find the guy that had when
he has one-on-one. Just put the ball down the field and give him an opportunity, he’s been elevate and take the ball away, that’s a great feeling for the quarterback. Well coach, I’m glad you brought up the the other weapons in the
Eagles offense because I wanted to ask you, obviously you guys at Stanford, you
love to use those 12 and 13 personnel sets with multiple tight ends on the
field. The Eagles employ a very similar kind of style with both Zach Ertz and
Dallas Goedert. What is it like when you’ve got multiple tight ends on the
field and then a big-body wideout like J.J.? What does that do for a defense?
Much like you all, over the last few years, we study what you guys have done and that ability to first and foremost be able to run the ball, which is like boxing because you have guys they have to double-team. They have to play
in and out on Zach. You have to put over the top of a big receiver and it helps
you be able to run the ball and then when you do get that single coverage, now it’s kind of
like pick your poison. Which way is the safety leaning. He’s leaning one way? Great. We’ve got a one-on-one on one side. If he’s leaning the other way, I got a corner on the
other side with the big-body guys that can get inside, so sometimes when you have a great downfield receive like J.J., they start to play outside leverage to try
not to give up the go ball and then break inside. If he can run away on
dagger routes. He can run slant routes. It can fit into your RPO game, which you guys have been
extremely good at. With his versatility combined with the versatility other guys,
it makes it really, really difficult to defend. So we’ve talked a lot about what
J.J. brings currently and in his game right now, but tell us a little bit more
about his journey from the time that you started recruiting him until now. How
have you seen him grow and develop into who he is today? You know, early on he was
just this young, wily, lanky, basketball player that likes football
also and then we watched him his senior you just dominate. He played so well. He
played big-time football down there in South Carolina. Got a lot of attention, but he’s also really, really smart. He’s a great student. He’s got a lot of interest.
He wants to be an international relations major. He interned with
Condoleezza Rice last year. Got great experience. He’s born in
Spain. He’s bilingual. He’s very worldly and just when they’re around him you just
feel positive energy, positive vibes, but he works his tail off so being in
Philadelphia years ago in 1997 with the Eagles, they’re
gonna love this guy because he will grind. He will work hard. He will make plays. We got to catch up with him a little bit last night and you could just
sense the excitement and the energy in his voice that you just mentioned. Do
you have any really good stories about him? Any funny or surprising or stories that
just exemplify the type of guy he is? What what would be like one of your
favorite memories with him? Two for me. One very specific that I’ll share is
there was couple years ago, we sputtered offensively and you guys know big-time
receivers, they’re gonna come in and talk to the head coach, come and talk to
the offensive coordinator and say, “Hey you know what, I’m not getting the ball.
I need the ball.” J.J. came in and said, “Coach, how can I help
this team? How can I help this team?” “You throw me the ball, that’s
great. You want me to be more of a leader? You want me to be more vocal? You want me to be a better blocker? You want me to help encourage other guys?” I said, “Yes, all of that.” And he said, “Great.” He said, “Coach, I can help influence people. I think I can make
people better. I think I can provide the juice.” And I said, “Great, because we need
it.” And from that point on, for last two years, that’s what he’s been for
our team. Just an Energizer Bunny, that positive human being, and a guy that
cares about his teammates and doesn’t just celebrate his plays, he celebrates
if his teammates plays even more than celebrates his own.
Well, coach I’m glad you mentioned that last point because honestly during my
film study there were two things that really stood out. Two specific moments: One
was the UC Davis game, down in the red zone, his first touchdown, where the
corner just turned to the ref and just said, “Sir, help me out
here a little bit. Like he’s boxing us out. I’ve got nothing to do. They throw
the jump in the low post and he comes down with it.” But the other
one was the USC game and it was Bryce Love long run down the left sideline, it was
50-plus yards, and here comes J.J. from the opposite side, from the back side and
he was a lead blocker out in front of Bryce Love and you mentioned how much he
looks forward to those big plays for his teammates. Can you just speak to that
competitive nature and what he brings to the field from that standpoint. I think
the phrase that gets overused so much is “love of the game.” Some guys play
hard because they’re good at it. I don’t think they love it. J.J. loves it. J.J. loves it. He loves practice. He loves the games. He loves his role. If
he has to run to clear out for somebody else to catch the ball,
he’s like, “I will do it at a 100 percent.” That’s just who he is, so when that long route breaks and you see him accelerate where you see a lot of
receiver start to slow down because that’s the opportunity to take a play off, J.J.’s
speeds up. He gets faster so he can try to get in front of that guy and
nydge that corner and hopefully get what we call get that touchdown block. The touchdown block is as important as a touchdown and J.J. takes that very, very seriously. He is a great teammate. So I’m gonna be honest, J.J. actually
kind of flew under the radar, especially on our podcast. We didn’t talk
about him too too much. He was a junior, so we typically tend to focus
on the seniors, the guys who are draft eligible throughout the course of the
season. He declares for the draft. He doesn’t participate in the combine. He
didn’t help that he already played in the West Coast, so fans that are here on
the East Coast may not have been too familiar with his game. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside flew under the radar. Again, didn’t work out in Indianapolis, so
didn’t have that buzz there, but he goes to his pro day, he breaks 4.5, he
ran better than I thought some people may have expected, and I thought that
really helped himself. That really helped his stock and that was something that I
asked Tony Pauline about here in this draft buzz segment from early April.
Well, Tony let’s talk about a guy that really has helped himself, especially
with what he did at his pro day, and that’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, the
wide receiver from Stanford. A lot of questions about his speed and overall
athletic profile. Broke 4.5 by most accounts at his pro day late last
week. How much does that help his stock going into this draft and where do you
kind of see him falling in this receiver class? Yeah, it really helps it a lot
because now you know that it’s not just a situation where our Arcega-Whiteside
was out-muscling opponents for the ball. He has that speed. He has the quickness
to physically separate and do more than just win out for the contested throws,
for the 50-50 throws. I think he’s definitely solidified himself as a
second-round pick. Where he goes in the second round remains to be seen. He’s got decent size. He’s 6-2, 220 pounds.
Ran well in the 40. We know he catches the ball well. We know he
competes to come away with the reception. I can see him literally somewhere in the
middle part of round two say between selections 42 to 52.
So despite that pro day workout, he still kind of slid under the radar a little bit and
I’m as guilty of it as anybody. We had Tony Pauline on the show the week
of the draft and I asked Tony, I said, “Stack these receivers for us in order
that you expect him to be selected.” We talked about Miles Boykin, the wide
receiver from Notre Dame, A.J. Brown from Ole Miss, Hakeem Butler from Iowa State,
and N’Keal Harry from Arizona State. We said, “How are these guys
all gonna get drafted?” Well, Tony Pauline, he wasn’t having it. He
was not gonna let us forget about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. I think the one guy
that we’re leaving out from that group would be J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who I
think is going to be selected before Hakeem Butler somewhere in the middle part of round two. So the second round come. The Eagles select Miles Sanders. A few picks
later, they’re on the clock again. They stay put and they select J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Once again, we go back to the Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro and talk
about what he saw from inside the draft room when the Eagles were on the clock. Let’s go back to the man who was in the room where it happened, Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. Dave, tell us more about the moment that they made
about the moment that they made this pick. What’s the vibe? What’s happening in
there? I’m guessing it’s another party. Well, it was interesting. It was a different kind of
vibe. It was hushed for a while. The sense is that at this time, you know you’re
getting a lot of draft opportunities to trade. You’re hearing a lot
of things from a lot of different teams and I’m sure the Eagles consider a lot
of different options to move out of 57, but instead they stayed and they get a
player — I spoke to Howie Roseman after he made the call to — and he told me
that he’s just a big target, as you said Fran. He catches everything. Great
catch radius. Outstanding in the red zone. Will play on the outside. Add some
competition and some depth at wide receiver. If you want to compare
him to somebody, compare him to Alshon Jeffery in the sense of
the big body, the big catch radius, goes up and catches the football and what I
heard more than anything from inside the draft room was that he catches
everything thrown his way, so the Eagles thrilled with this pick. That’s three for
three offensive picks in this 2019 NFL Draft. Yeah, Dave and what helps him
most other than going up to get the football, 80-inch wingspan. Like just
under 80 inches. Ridiculous. He’s like a pterodactyl out there on the
outside and really ultimately he also plays the ball very, very well. He’s also
a great kid. Comes from a great family, so you know what you’re getting from a
character standpoint and I think that’s obviously something that’s very
important to Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson, maintaining the culture in the
Eagles locker room. Let’s talk about the depth chart for just a
moment, Fran. There is no depth chart at this time, but let’s at least take a
look at some of the names: Alshon Jeffery is one starting receiver, right?
The Eagles believe DeSean Jackson as that element of speed that they really
didn’t have last year because of the injury to Mike Wallace. Inside, you’ve got
Nelson Agholor, you’ve got two tight ends who are going to be great weapons. You’ve
got Mack Hollins hopefully coming back from an injury that robbed him of his
second NFL season. You’ve got some younger receivers developing. Shelton
Gibson, who last training camp and in the preseason showed signs and then just
never really stepped on the field and was productive. So the Eagles adding another young talent here at the wide receiver
position to push, to add competition, and to add another interesting development,
another dimension to the passing game, another matchup difficulty for defenses.
You want to go big. This is like a basketball team all of a sudden. This is
a power forward lineup if the Eagles want to do that at times, particularly in
the red zone and they’ve talked about where do you want to get better as a
football team? You want to get better on third downs because the Eagles dropped
off quite a bit in 2018 on third downs and in 2017 remember, they were second in
the NFL in the red zone. They dropped in 2018 and that was an area that Doug
Pederson has talked about improving, getting better in the red zone. So
getting a big, gigantic catch-everything target really helps the Eagles there. Dave also caught up with one of the highest ranking people in the Eagles
personnel department and that’s Anthony Patch, the Senior Director of College
Scouting. He’s based out in the West Coast. Had gotten a chance to see J.J. Arcega-Whiteside a number of times. We talked with Patch back a few months ago
in the season talking about what the life was like of an NFL scout. By the way,
if you haven’t checked out that interview go back. Go see if you can find
one back from later in the fall, but Dave caught up with Patch to talk about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and what he will bring to this Eagles team. Hi Eagles everywhere,
I’m Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro and with the 57th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft the
Eagles selected wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and here to talk about it is
Eagles Senior Director of College scouting Anthony Patch. This kid’s
super productive at Stanford. Fourteen touchdowns last year. Big body.
We know that. Tell us more about him. Tell me what you saw and why the Eagles love
him so much/ Size, production, and hands, Dave. Boxes
guys out. Red zone target. Run after the catch. Big target down the field. The art of boxing somebody out, do you see it a lot with with kids? Is it
a natural skill? Is it something that they’re coached up to do? Well size, big
difference and then the box out with the the basketball skill set and going from
there. So this is a kid who’s 6-2, 225 how much time did you invest in him,
Anthony? How much time do you spend getting to know him on the field and off
the field? Ryan Myers did a great job pin-pointing him, our West Coast guy. T.J. McCreight went there as well. I got to watch him on film with. Several others did, too, and
his size, hands, strength all stood out. How does that translate from college where you’re going against kids to the NFL where you’re going against
men, who are used to being in those situations against big receivers. How
does that skill set translate? Well, we we seen it with Alshon. He kind
compared to Alshon for us. A younger version. What we’ve seen what he
can do and he’s a 4.49 guy. J.J. tested well, did everything at the
combine well, interviewed with us well, those translates well. So that 4.49 speed, any rap on him about his speed unfounded.
He plays faster than maybe some people think he looks? Yes. He
gets off the line of scrimmage. Gets down the field vertical well. What do you
know about him, Anthony, as a teammate, as a leader and how he fits into the
culture of the Philadelphia Eagles? He’s a captain there. David Shaw speaks highly
of him. He’s gonna mix in here with the fellow Cardinal Zach Ertz. He’s made a
big target for number 11 to throw. Yeah, Carson is gonna have some fun throwing to that. And what an 80-inch wingspan or something like that? An 81-inch wingspan? That’s remarkable. He should be playing hoops. Yeah. We all know that there’s some receivers who
look the part who don’t necessarily play the part.
He’s been productive in his time at Stanford, right? No question. Very few
drops. That’s the name of the game for a receiver. What was it like for you as the
draft went along — 57 picks — the idea that he would still be there? Howie talked
about it on Friday night that Eagles weren’t
sure that Miles would be there, that J.J. would be there. What was it like for you
watching the names come off the board and seeing J.J.’s name still there at 57?
We were excited. Even Miles, we thought he’d go earlier, so we got to impact players
there in the second round that we thought would go earlier. We got a big
back in Miles who’s a one-year guy, but should have been playing earlier. Got a good a
good excuse why he wasn’t playing, for sure. Saquon Barkley is a pretty good excuse. And then we had J.J. following up. Two big targets for our offense. Explosive guys.
Anthony, how does it work? Just the process. How much time? How far back did
you take a look at at J.J. and how much did you spend time with him and get to
know him as a person? Well, Ryan Myers, again, did a great job. He went in there,
got all the background character. He did the heavy weight on doing it with a
visit. Then we follow up with — he’s an underclassmen — so
combine. Get a visit with him and and following up with pro day and you check
all the boxes with him and Miles and Andre. It’s a slam dunk. Yeah,
everybody’s pretty happy after two days of the NFL Draft. Awesome. Congratulations.
Thank you. Good for you. This is Anthony Patch, my man, talking
about the 57th pick overall, the Eagles third pick, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, wide
receiver from Stanford now a Philadelphia Eagle. Alright, so that’ll
do it. This was a lot of fun. We saw the journey to the draft for both Miles
Sanders and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Again, if you haven’t listened
to last week’s episode with Andre Dillard, that was a full episode just on
the Eagles first-round pick. A lot of fun talking to a lot of the people that were
involved with that selection, hearing all of their input on what made Andre such a
special talent and obviously had a lot of fun talking to all the people we
discussed here today. Now next week, we’ll be back for one more version of this
kind of episode for the Journey to the Draft podcast. We’re going to talk about
Shareef Miller from Penn State and Clayton Thorson, the
quarterback from Northwestern. Until then, we’ll see you next time right here on
the Journey to the Draft podcast.