Eagles’ Josh Sweat impressed by young teammates Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith
Just a few weeks into being teammates with Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, Eagles edge rusher Josh Sweat has noticed something about them.
Something really encouraging.
Theyre great, Sweat said last week. The work ethic is pretty crazy for both of them. Theyre already working. Shoot, theyre professionals, man. Its actually surprising coming out of college. But I mean, theyre working, theyre just here to learn and theyre making improvement quickly.
The Eagles used two first-round picks (Nos. 9 and 30) on Carter and Smith out of Georgia, adding two more Bulldogs to their roster and then added a third by taking cornerback Kelee Ringo in the fourth round.
At Georgia, the trio of players won back-to-back national championships and won their first title with a couple of current Eagles teammates Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.
Winning national titles in college doesnt necessarily mean those players are going to have success at the NFL level. But it might mean theyre more ready for the jump. At least thats the theory from Sweat about why Carter and Smith are already acting like pros.
I think its just theyve been on championship teams already, Sweat said. I think they just know how to go about their business.
Of course, Sweat isnt alone with that theory. Hes probably on to something. And its hard to ignore just how many players the Eagles have drafted from major championship-winning college programs in the last few seasons. If you havent noticed, the Eagles roster is now full of players from Georgia and Alabama.
Its not like the Eagles are taking these players against consensus but its definitely a part of the equation when theyre in the draft. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said this shift really began during the 2021 draft.
In 2020, they used their first-round pick on Jalen Reagor out of TCU. In 2021, they used their first-round pick on DeVonta Smith out of Alabama and then followed it up by drafting his teammate Landon Dickerson early in the second round.
In 2021 we knew that we had to make sure our process was really tight as Coach (Nick Sirianni) came on board, and we started with two Alabama guys, Roseman said just after the 2023 draft concluded. The way those guys worked, the kind of players they are, certainly the kind of people they are, it just reminded us that no different than when you’re trying to hire someone for a position — obviously you want guys to be really talented at what they do and whatever role they’re in, but the other stuff matters, as well. The competition level matters, too.
You see those guys play in the biggest games, on the biggest stage against the best competition, and so it’s an easier — it’s hard enough when you have all the factors going into a draft pick. We talked about it a lot. You’ve got guys coming from a college town to the NFL for the first time, don’t have classes, they’re on their own, all the things that we’ve talked about before. But it takes the part out of the big jump in competition because the guys that they’re playing against are the guys that are playing on Sundays.
Theres no perfect process and its worth mentioning again that just because a guy played at a powerhouse program it doesnt mean he will succeed in the NFL. There are plenty of busts from big-time SEC schools.
But theres something to the idea of drafting from winning programs at the highest level of competition.
The Eagles have drafted nine players from the SEC in the last three drafts after taking just 16 in all of the other 10 Roseman drafts combined. And eight of those nine picks from the SEC in the last three drafts have come in the fourth round or earlier: Carter, Smith, Tyler Steen, Ringo, Davis, Dean, Smith, Dickerson.
Theres also a certain amount of pride that comes with playing for a college powerhouse like Georgia or Alabama. It might be different to win a national championship vs. a Super Bowl but a lot of the elements are similar.
Id say one thing that we show at Georgia is we have a culture program, so we believe in a culture, and they believe in a culture here at the Eagles, Smith said after arriving in Philly. You felt that walking in the building. This was one of my favorite top-30 visits, just when I walked in the building, the culture, the people around here, they greet you with a smile, they say hello, and really just the whole city. It was really fun just going from a good culture to an even better culture.
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