“I think we’ve reached our Penn State quota,’’ Philadelphia Eagles’ General Manager Howie Roseman said Saturday, in a press conference after the NFL Draft.
The Eagles had drafted two players, running back Miles Sanders in round two and defensive end Shareef Miller in round four, from the Eagles’ semi-local Power Five college program.
But they weren’t finished. The Eagles also signed offensive lineman Ryan Bates and wide receiver Deandre Thompkins as undrafted free agents.
No, Pennsylvania love is not a factor in choosing players. But the Eagles always bring a sizable contingent to Penn State’s Pro Day, which this year included offensive coordinator Mike Groh and defensive special assistant Matt Burke.
Here are testing numbers for the 15 Penn State players who participated in Pro Day Tuesday a…
“I would say this, that it gives us more information,’’ Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson said. “It gives us another resource that we can use when we do pull the trigger on a certain player.’’
Thompkins, for example, had an uneven college career, and was not expected to the drafted. But he ran a reported 4.33 40-yard dash at Pro Day, and made some brilliant catches during Trace McSorley’s throwing workout before the scouts.
The Eagles don’t necessarily need another wideout, but they might need a return specialist, especially if Darren Sproles retires or isn’t offered a contract. And Thompkins’ best Penn State moments came as punt returner, including two touchdowns.
Bates, who left Penn State with a year of eligibility left, was expected to be drafted. Some analysts saw him going as high as the fourth round. He is seen as a guy who could play all three OL positions. Like Miller, he is from the Philadelphia area.
Also signing free-agent deals this week were defensive tackle Kevin Givens with the San Francisco 49ers, linebacker Koa Farmer with the Oakland Raiders, running back Johnathan Thomas with the Cincinnati Bengals, and long snapper Kyle Vasey with the Atlanta Falcons.
They all face long odds, but it can happen. Penn State cornerback Trevor Williams joined the then-San Diego Chargers as an USFA in 2016 and has started at corner since the middle of the 2016 season.
Milton Hershey grad Garry Gilliam signed with Seattle after going undrafted in 2014. He started at left offensive tackle for the Seahawks in 2015 and ‘16, got a Super Bowl ring and even caught a touchdown pass, on a fake punt, in the NFC championship game.