In Roob’s Eagles Observations: Figuring out what’s going on with Nakobe Dean

In Roob’s Eagles Observations: Figuring out what’s going on with Nakobe Dean originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Figuring out what’s going on with Nakobe Dean, a look back at Buddy Ryan’s playoff history and Jason Kelce’s thoughts on the difference between a deli and a diner.

That’s a taste of what’s coming in this week’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations.

1. When Zack Baun was taking almost all the 1st-team reps at off-ball linebacker next to Devin White three weeks ago at minicamp, I figured that was just because Nakobe Dean was still working his way back after foot surgery late last year. Then at mandatory minicamp, Dean was a full participant, and Baun was still getting most of the 1st-team reps. Dean mixed in here and there, but based on the practices we’ve seen so far, Baun – a guy I thought wasn’t even a roster lock a month ago – is clearly ahead of Dean on the depth chart. And I’m not sure I understand that. Don’t the Eagles have to find out of Dean can play? He’s the one who’s 23 years old, he’s the one who the Eagles drafted in the third round just two years ago, he’s the one under contract through 2025, he’s the one everybody was so high on. Then he doesn’t play as a rookie and gets hurt last year and now he’s buried behind a 27-year-old on a one-year contract playing a new position? I’m not saying Dean is the answer. I am saying I’d like to see him get at least half the 1st-team snaps just to learn more about him. Maybe once training camp comes around next month he’ll get more run with the 1’s. We’ve seen mostly White and Baun but also a little White and Dean and even some Baun and Dean. But mostly White and Baum. Maybe Dean just needs to do better picking up a fourth defensive scheme in three years. Maybe he’s still working through some things with his foot, although he’s healthy enough to get full reps with the 2’s. Maybe the coaches want him to understand nothing is going to be handed to him. Heck, maybe Baun is just better. He looked fine in the five practices open to the media, although obviously with no pads. I just want to see Nakobe get a fair chance. If he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough.

2. In their three playoff games under Buddy Ryan, the Eagles had 43 offensive possessions. Here’s how they went: 20 punts, nine turnovers, six field goals, two missed field goals, three unsuccessful fourth downs, two end of games and one touchdown.

3. We’ve spent so much time talking about rookie corners Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean as well as newcomer Isaiah Rodgers it’s easy to forget about Kelee Ringo, who got a generous helping of 1st-team reps in last week at mandatory camp. Ringo got a taste of playing time late last year and looked comfortable surrounded by chaos. From what we saw the past few weeks, he’s built on his rookie year and looks terrific. He can run, he’s got great size, and you can tell his confidence has grown exponentially from last year. I think Cooper is earmarked for 1st-team slot this year with Avonte Maddox backing him up, and Mitchell is still the favorite to win that CB2 spot this summer opposite Darius Slay, but Ringo is going to give him a good battle this summer and I don’t think it’s a given that Mitchell wins that job. Now, when Darius Slay moves on – and that could well be next year – it’s easy to imagine Ringo and Mitchell as the outside starters with DeJean inside and Rodgers as the outside backup if he’s still here. That’s a long way off, but the talent level at corner this year compared to last year is nuts.

4. Jason Kelce and I had this ongoing discussion during the 2022 season about the similarities and differences between diners and delis. What makes a deli? What makes a diner? It was stupid and funny and typical of Kelce because he loves an exhaustive analysis of incredibly mundane topics. So at the final media availability at the Super Bowl at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, Kelce did a full hour non-stop at the podium surrounded by what had to be 100 microphones and TV cameras. As he walked off the stage, Kelce spotted me, seemed lost in thought for a second or two, and then said, “If they’ve got porcelain mustard jars, it’s a deli.”

5. With the additions of former 1st-round pick Mekhi Becton and former 2nd-round pick Max Scharping, Howie Roseman has now acquired five 1st-round picks, two 2nd-round picks, seven 3rd-round picks, three 4th-round picks and three three 5th-round picks this offseason as free agents. Only a handful of those guys will make the 53-man roster (and DeVante Parker is already gone), but it’s sure an interesting way to add talent. Instead of stockpiling young, unknown players, stock up on reclamation projects. Almost every one of those guys was once a legit prospect but for whatever reason fell out of favor with the team that drafted them. These are mostly no-risk guys with zero guaranteed money, and if a few of them pan out? Then it was well worth it.,

6. The last two NFL quarterbacks to throw 15 interceptions in a season after throwing seven or fewer the previous season (minimum 400 attempts) are Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts. Wentz threw seven INTs in 607 attempts for the Eagles in 2017 and 15 in 437 attempts a year later. Hurts threw six INTs in 460 attempts in 2022 and 15 in 538 attempts last year.

7. Out of all the older one-year contract stop-gap defensive free agents the Eagles signed last year – Nicholas Morrow, Bradley Roby, Shaq Leonard, Zach Cunningham, Kevin Byard, Justin Evans – the one I thought who would be the first to get a job was Cunningham, who wasn’t great last year but wasn’t awful. Yet here we are in June and along with Roby, Leonard and Evans Cunningham is still out of work. I figured in a real defense with a real coaching staff and better personnel around him he could be a viable starting off-ball linebacker,. Out of 68 linebackers who played at least 500 snaps last year, Cunningham ranked 34th on Pro Football Focus. So exactly middle of the pack. And that was playing in a defense that was deteriorating in front of our eyes, especially after the coordinator change. If Cunningham is still unsigned in late July, I wouldn’t be surprised if Howie Roseman brings him back as either a depth piece or even as a possible starter if the Eagles aren’t happy with the way things are going.

8. Tanner McKee looked sharp these last couple weeks in the practices that were open to the media. I would have been fine if the Eagles rolled the dice with McKee as No. 2, especially after the way he played last preseason. And then if you need to bring in a veteran backup before the season, you can always find one. I’m OK with Kenny Pickett. To get a QB who was the 20th -pick in the draft just two years ago and has a career winning record (14-10) for what is essentially a two-year, $4.6 million contract just doesn’t happen. He’s an upgrade over Marcus Mariota and he just turned 26 on Thursday. But I like McKee and I think he’s got a little something.

9. Mark Duper had a pretty darn good NFL career. Made three Pro Bowls with the Dolphins in the 1980s and 1990s, had four 1,000-yard seasons, averaged over 17 yards per catch in his career, had three 100-yard games in the postseason. For the decade from 1983 through 1992, only Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Art Monk had more yards than Duper, only Rice, Mark Clayton and Mike Quick had more touchdowns and only Rice and Monk had more 100-yard games. To this date, Duper is among only eight WRs in history with 500 catches, 60 touchdowns and 17 yards per catch. But who remembers Duper’s Eagles career? The Eagles signed Duper on Aug. 19, 1993, about three weeks after the Dolphins released him. He was 34 at that point but talked a good game: “I can still run. I can run and catch. I can think. I’m not as slow as people think I am,” he told us after reporting to West Chester. He was released 11 days later. He never played again.

10. Corey Clement isn’t just the only rookie running back in NFL history with 100 receiving yards in a Super Bowl, he’s the only one with 90, 80 or 70 rushing yards in a Super Bowl. The only other RB in history with more than 40 receiving yards in a Super Bowl as a rookie was Joseph Addai, who had 66 yards in the Colts’ win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI in Miami after the 2006 season.

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