Eagles sign nine undrafted free agents, tryout 19 players at rookie minicamp
As the dust settles on the 2023 NFL Draft, organizations will now turn their focus toward undrafted free agents and upcoming offseason programs.
The Eagles are among the first teams to begin preparations for next season as their rookie minicamp got underway on Friday. Ahead of their first practice, Philadelphia announced the signings of nine undrafted free agents.
Here’s a closer look into each one with scouting reports:
CB Mekhi Garner — CB, LSU
Garner spent three seasons at Louisiana before transferring to LSU in 2022 and embraced a larger role upon arrival. Garner is a physical player who used his instincts to rack up 43 tackles and 8 passes defended last season.
“In pass coverage, Garner shows best when he can play zone defense and has the opportunity to have eyes on both the quarterback and the receiver. Garner does a good job of staying on top of the receiver but also staying close enough to where he can still break downhill on underneath routes.
As a run defender, Garner provides a physical presence at the cornerback position. On multiple occasions, Garner has been able to shed defenders in the screen game and make a tackle on the receiver. Garner also does a good job of triggering from depth in off-coverage and playing with urgency, attacking the line of scrimmage to make the tackle on the ball carrier.” — The Draft Network
Mekhi Garner is one of the most physical CBs in the ‘23 #NFLDraft class 💥— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 2, 2022
CFB Live Blog: https://t.co/LXPH5piOFM
Jadon Haselwood — WR, Arkansas
If you recognize the name Haselwood, it’s because he played with Jalen Hurts during their time at Oklahoma. Haselwood is a big-bodied receiver (6-3, 202 pounds) who caught 59 passes for 702 yards and three TDs last season at Arkansas.
“Big possession target requiring work from the slot to create catch opportunities. Haselwood has good size and the strength to make contested catches underneath, but he lacks the speed or separation burst to uncover and stay open against NFL man coverage. His testing could make a difference for him, but a lack of special teams experience could hurt his cause to make it as a WR5/6.” — NFL.com
Take a bow, Jadon Haselwood 😎 pic.twitter.com/pMACoTf5DO— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 3, 2022
Joseph Ngata — WR, Clemson
Joseph Ngata is another possession receiver (6-3, 220 pounds) who’s flashed big-play ability but has been hampered by injuries. The former four-star recruit tallied 41 receptions for 526 yards and 2 TDs for the Tigers in 2022. Ngata received a $30k signing bonus and $200k in total guarantees from the Eagles, making him one of the highest-paid UDFAs so far.
“Ngata is a big, physical receiver with solid speed. He has great hands and ball skills as well, as he finds the ball in space and can catch it in stride to produce good runs after the catch. He knows what to do when the ball is in his hands and has the ability to push it down the field, gaining chunks of yards for the offense.
The lack of availability due to injuries is concerning and creates risk for NFL teams. He is an effective run blocker and physical with corners on the perimeter. He’s a guy who knows how to win and is a solid competitor at the point of attack as a blocker and a pass catcher. I like Ngata enough to draft him, but I would wait until at least the fifth round.” — The Draft Network
🤯🤯🤯 HOW. DID. HE. CATCH. THAT. 🤯🤯🤯@josephngata with the big time TD in the corner for @ClemsonFB‼️— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) October 16, 2021
📺: @espn pic.twitter.com/UE86UXkHOE
Chim Okorafor — OT, Benedictine
Okorafor was originally reported as a minicamp tryout, but it appears he’s been inked to a UDFA deal. The 320-pounder was an NAIA All-American selection with Benedictine in 2022.
Trevor Reid — OT, Louisville
Reid fits the mold of a Jeff Stoutland project — a raw but uber-athletic tackle that could potentially develop into a starter. Reid primarily played left tackle for Louisville, allowing just three sacks and two QB hits in 314 pass-blocking snaps last season.
“If the long-armed, high-cut offensive tackle is to have a chance in the league, it will be because of his pass-protection potential. Reid does a nice job of utilizing his length to punch and stay connected to rushers, but his lack of upper-body and hand strength are major liabilities at the point of attack and against power rushers.
Reid is a decent athlete but needs to become much stronger in his core to improve his balance and body control. He appears to lack the polish to make an NFL roster early on but has some developmental traits that might warrant a stint on a practice squad.” — NFL.com
.@LouisvilleFB OL Trevor Reid (@trevorreid70) having pancakes for breakfast 🥞 #PFNShrine | @ShrineBowl pic.twitter.com/QUmflJvEBj— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) January 30, 2023
Eli Ricks — CB, Alabama
Ricks was once widely regarded as a potential first-round talent, but injury-riddled campaigns in ’21 and ’22 caused him to slide entirely out of the draft. His most productive season came during his freshman year at LSU, where he recorded four INTs and five pass breakups in eight games. At 6-3, 200 pounds, Ricks has the size and ball skills to succeed at the pro level.
“A long-limbed cornerback with an impressive physical profile, Ricks is in need of more experience to sharpen his skills and recognition. He is a press-man cornerback with a relatively smooth pedal and an ability to push and punch receivers with accuracy from long distance.
He’s often a step slow to find top gear when opening to run laterally or vertically, but he’s a human blanket against short and intermediate routes without much wiggle to them. Ricks needs to be more assertive against the run and could struggle on an island, but his traits and press talent should fit in the right scheme.” — NFL.com
Philadelphia is signing Alabama CB Eli Ricks as a UDFA— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 29, 2023
🦅 ZERO TDs allowed in coverage last season (233 coverage snaps) pic.twitter.com/Zv91cfvFDS
Brady Russell — TE, Colorado
Tight has become a crowded room, especially after the Dan Arnold signing, but maybe Russell can earn a spot on the practice squad. Russell totaled 78 catches for 799 yard and three TDs over his five years at Colorado.
Ben VanSumeren — LB, Michigan State
The Eagles lost both their starting linebackers from a season ago, so it made sense to add one. VanSumeren transitioned from full back to linebacker after his freshman year and got his first real experience in 2022. In his lone year as a starter, VanSumeren logged 81 tackles (3 for loss) and 2.0 sacks for Michigan State.
“VanSumeren’s production and game tape won’t draw draftable grades, but he possesses extremely rare athletic attributes for his position and that might create an opportunity with a team coveting elite traits. He’s not a thumper as a run defender and his football instincts leave much to be desired, but if he can prove himself as a special teams contributor in camp, he could force a team to give him a year on the practice squad for additional development.” — NFL.com
Michigan State LB Ben VanSumeren just recorded a 42.5-inch vertical at MSU’s pro day. Broke the scale pic.twitter.com/G0Ft9JPVs2— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) March 15, 2023
Ty Zentner — P, Kansas State
If you watched Arryn Siposs in the Super Bowl (or at any point really), you’d know the Eagles could benefit from competition at punter. Zentner averaged 44.5 yards per punt and was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award (nation’s top punter) in 2022. He also converted on every PAT and FG attempt last season; some insurance at placekicker if Jake Elliott goes down.
“The Eagles could opt to bring in Rutgers punter and 2022 Ray Guy Award winner Adam Korsak to compete with Aryn Siposs, but they’ve had enough time with pin-deep specialists who struggle to uncork long-balls to know that they’d like something different (plus they never punt from beyond their 40, so why even go for a pin-deep guy).
Instead, they go for wild-card, and official prospect of Puntalytics, Ty Zentner. Zentner combines a monster leg with some serious shank issues. Fans see both on display in the preseason, and though he doesn’t beat out Siposs in 2023, the Eagles finally give themself a respectable pipeline.” — Puntalytics
The legend of @tyxzentner grows. pic.twitter.com/iyoxhvgL7H— K-State Football (@KStateFB) December 3, 2022
Players invited to minicamp tryouts:
- Charleston Rambo — WR, Oklahoma
- Garett Maag — WR, N. Dakota
- Jaylen Hall — WR, Western Kentucky
- Austin Proehl — WR, UNC
- Gavin Holmes — WR, Baylor
- Sammis Reyes — TE
- Jordan Murray — TE, Hawaii
- TJ Cole — RB, Ouachita Baptist
- Toa Taua — RB, Nevada
- Dashaun White — LB, Oklahoma
- Johnny Buchanan — LB, Delaware
- Bentlee Sanders — CB, Nevada
- Chris Steele — CB, USC
- Jasir Cox –S, West Virginia
- Xavier Bell, S, Portland State
- Dominique Long — S, Duke
- Dalton Godfrey — LS, South Dakota
- Tyjuan Garbutt — DE, Virginia Tech
- Quinton Bell — DE, Prairie View
The most intriguing name here is Charleston Rambo, who is another former teammate of Jalen Hurts. Rambo dazzled once he transferred to Miami in 2021, recording 79 catches for 1,172 yards and 7 TDs. After going undrafted, Rambo joined the Orlando Guardians during the XFL’s resurgence, catching 35 passes for 430 yards and three scores in ten games.
“Slender wideout lacking explosiveness but making up for it with competitive physicality inside the route. Rambo runs routes with good tempo and crispness. His hands were better this year, but easy drops still plague him at times. Rambo has late-Day 3 potential and should give a good fight for a late roster spot or a place on a practice squad.” — NFL.com
Jalen Hurts ➡️ Charleston Rambo— ESPN (@espn) September 2, 2019
56 yards and a cloud of dust 💨 pic.twitter.com/oXEFIE9CnZ
Mandatory Credit: Tulsa World