On the Eagles and Modern Team Building – Sports Illustrated

Daniel Jeremiah is a staple for NFL fans now, spending his days as the lead draft analyst for NFL Media and the NFL Network but before the former quarterback for Northeastern Louisiana and Appalachian State got into television he was a scout for three different organizations, toiling in two of the most well-regarded personnel outfits in the league with Baltimore and the Eagles.
Jeremiah started as a personnel assistant and then a west coast scout with the Ravens from 2003-2006 before he became a national scout with the Cleveland Browns in 2007-2008.
By 2010, Philadelphia hired Jeremiah and he spent the final three years of the Andy Reid era with the organization as a west coast scout before making his way to the NFL Network after the 2012 draft.
With the exception of parts of the three years Chip Kelly was in Philadelphia, the football philosophy of this organization can be traced back to Reid in 1999 so it's always interesting to hear someone with personnel expertise who was around Reid talk about team-building and Jeremiah did exactly that on Monday after the Los Angeles Rams edged the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, in Super Bowl LVI.
Reid's beliefs are always traced to building up front on both sides of the football. When he was originally hired Reid reportedly told Jeffrey Lurie, Joe Banner, and Co. "I want two offensive tackles, a quarterback, two pass rushers, two corners, and I'll figure the rest out."
Reid, though, was 40 when the Eagles plucked him out of Green Bay and he's now set to turn 64 next month, a near-senior citizen who is a certain future Hall of Fame coach and the fifth-winningest mentor in league history behind only Don Shula, George Halas, Bill Belichick, and Tom Landry.
What's defined Reid over that time is his evolution and ability to stay ahead of the curve in a sport that hardly resembles what it once was when Reid started his professional coaching career with the Packers as an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach.
Jeremiah tweeted that in the 2022 NFL you need the obvious, an "elite quarterback," followed by "pass rushers galore, multiple offensive playmakers and serviceable OL (no tomato cans)."
That's certainly plugged into the current league sentiment that subscribes to the theory that if you want to win consistently "you either get the quarterback or get to the quarterback."
The only thing that has changed from Reid's original ethos is the gathering of playmakers on the offensive side to make things happen something Reid and Kansas City have done very well in the coach's second act with superstars like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce bolstered even further by a number of other speedy options for Patrick Mahomes like Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle.
So where do the Eagles stand when compared to that?
Nick Sirianni's group is closer to 1999 Reid standard than the 2022 Jeremiah supposition, bolstered most notably by a strong offensive line with two really good tackles in Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata, one elite cornerback in Darius Slay, potentially two solid pass rushers when you add a healthy, albeit aging, Brandon Graham to the emerging Josh Sweat, not to mention Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave inside.
The final and most important piece is a young improving quarterback in Jalen Hurts.
There's more work to be done when it comes to the playmakers even though DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert offer the Eagles sort of a poor man's Hill-Kelce vibe. Perhaps the improvements can come in-house from speedy players like Miles Sanders in the backfield and Quez Watkins outside the numbers but if not the Eagles have to keep swinging.
As far as Hurts ever becoming "elite" that's an uphill battle and why the Eagles need to keep uncovering all rocks at the game's most important position until they can find that kind of option or Hurts flashes the development that demands you suspend that search.
Veterans like Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson have to be on the table as do incoming rookies like Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral, and Malik Willis if the Eagles' due diligence reaches a consensus that the upside with one of them is greater than Hurts.
Philadelphia begins the draft process with three first-round picks (Nos. 15, 16, and 19) so there is an opportunity to make a splash as early as 2022.
If you're starting a watch list for the scouting combine in March, edge rusher is a good place to start because it's shaping up as a year in which the Eagles will be in a position to get one of a number of solid options on April 28:
Jermaine Johnson, Florida State: A Senior Bowl-week star, Johnson may be the best plug-and-play option right now with plus-strength and power for a young prospect and a more advanced set of pass-rushing go-tos than most rookies.
USA Today
Size: 6-5, 260
2021 Stats: 17.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks
Travon Walker, Georgia: Walker is a more versatile type who can move inside and outside as well as showing some comfort and feel for dropping into coverage in zone-blitz looks. With Jonathan Gannon preaching pass-rushing discipline and wanting to play multiple fronts, Walker might be his first choice.
USA Today
Size: 6-5, 275
2021 stats: 32 tackles, 7.5 sacks
David Ojabo, Michigan: Ojabo might need a bit of a ramping-up period as a situational rusher early but his speed and explosion around the edge would provide a very high ceiling as a player if the Eagles believe they can tap into it.
USA Today
Size: 6-5, 250
2021 stats: 12 tackles for loss, 11 sacks
George Karlaftis, Purdue: Karlaftis missed the All-Star circuit as a junior which means a little out-of-sight, out-of-mind bias setting in with the draftniks. Karlaftis will have a chance to change that narrative at the combine and his pro day. He's what Nick Sirianni would call a first-guy-off-the-bus player in that he looks the part as a straight-out-of-central-casting edge defender who is explosive and powerful.
USA Today
Size: 6-4, 275
2021 stats: 10 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.


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