The NFL Draft is always an exciting event, but the intrigue surrounding undrafted free agents never falters. The idea of snatching up high-potential players who slipped through the cracks of the seven-round extravaganza remains an enticing one. The Eagles place a heavy emphasis on finding these players, as has been evidenced by many of the names poached from practice squads and undrafted pools over the past few years.
From Super Bowl hero Corey Clement, to Cre’Von LeBlanc and Boston Scott, their intent to find absolute steals who can impact the team go all the way back to 2014 where a certain Trey Burton joined the franchise. Alex Singleton was formerly an undrafted free agent himself and posted a 120-tackle campaign last year, while Greg Ward Jr. remains the team’s starting slot receiver.
Naturally, fans have come to expect some real value from the undrafted hauls. The Eagles frequently rank among the top teams in terms of spending on these players and it’s safe to say that this year’s group contains some names worth circling for the Summer and beyond. It didn’t take long for them to catch the eyes of Nick Sirianni either.
There are two undrafted wide receivers who could absolutely make some noise this Summer. The first is Trevon Grimes.
At 6’4”, Trevon Grimes looks like the perfect Travis Fulgham/JJAW clone. His strong catch-radius is only aided by an ability to track the ball effortlessly and remain physical at the top of routes. He’s not the smoothest route-runner and may lack the agility to create separation early in routes, but that’s not why the Eagles want him. His receiving numbers in 2020 were modest, posting 589 yards and 9 scores for the Florida Gators, but not poor enough to go undrafted.
With a connection to new Eagles QB Coach Brian Johnson, Grimes has an opportunity to hit the ground running.
The second is Jhamon Aubson. Another contested catch machine, Aubson is a little shorter at 6’2, 217 lbs, and like Grimes, lacks the juice to really generate separatio off the line. However, his eyes for the ball, ability to adjust for his QB, and awareness to identify soft spots over the middle make him worth taking a shot on.
During the opening day of rookie minicamp, both players did well to catch the eyes of Head Coach Nick Sirianni.
“I really was impressed with the way they moved out there today with that size. They had good catch radius and strong hands, and I just thought they did a good job of moving around. And [Eagles wide receivers coach] Aaron Moorehead did a good job of allowing them to see what the skills were, and Coach Steichen as he scripted the plays, he also was able to put their talents on display, too, so it was good to go out and see them today. And yeah, we’re excited to work with them because they’ve got tools, so also a tribute to [Eagles executive vice president/general manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff of getting good free agents in here.”
After refusing to draft a quarterback (and rightly so) the team opted to rummage through the UDFA barrel to find their QB3. Jamie Newman out of Wake Forest was the selection in the end.
At 6’2, 234 lbs, Newman is a dual-threat quarterback who will bring some Jalen Hurts-like athleticism to the third-stringers over the Summer. He completed 260 out of 361 passes in 2019 (60.9%) for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also added 574 yards and 6 scores on the ground.
While he’s clearly got the arm and the intangibles, his ball placement is sporadic and he can struggle to get through his reads cleanly – a project in every sense.
After just one day, Sirianni sung his praised when asked about his progress.
“Jamie is an impressive — he’s got great stature. He’s a big man. As we watch tape on him, too, he’s hard to bring down. He’s a really good athlete, hard to bring down. He’s really sharp in the classroom. You can see why he was successful at Wake Forest when he was there. You know, he’s got qualities that you want to be able to develop, and so good first day for Jamie.”
It certainly seems as though some of the gems in this years’ UDFA haul have burst out of the gate. Let’s see if they can retain that momentum as a competition-filled Summer nears.
Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire