The Eagles’ hiring of Brian Johnson may have some deeper meaning than simply being the quarterback coach.
Johnson comes from Florida and there are three offensive weapons he helped develop as the Gators’ quarterbacks coach the last three years and adding offensive coordinator duties last year to his QB role.
Those three prospects are quarterback Kyle Trask, tight end Kyle Pitts, and receivers Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes.
Perhaps the Eagles cast an eye on one or more of them in the draft this spring.
Trask was supposed to showcase his skills in the Senior Bowl on Saturday, but an ankle injury forced him out. Toney and Grimes, however, will play for the American team against the National team in the all-star game, which will be televised by The NFL Network at 2:30.
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In addition to some tantalizing prospects that Johnson knows well, there is also his relationship with Jalen Hurts.
In an interview last May, Johnson said he has known Hurts since Hurts was 4, a relationship that stems from Johnson quarterback playing at the same Texas high school where Hurts’ father, Averion, was an assistant coach.
Wonder how Carson Wentz feels about that?
Similarly, wonder how Wentz feels about Trask, who Ric Serritella of the NFL Draft Bible wrote in a scoring report was a “bargain bin Carson Wentz model?”
Trask certainly has a body type similar to Wentz, though a bit shorter at 6-3 but around the same weight of 239. Trask isn’t as mobile as Wentz but, per the NFL Draft Bible, is “has above average arm strength…some easy velocity, driving the football outside the numbers with relative ease (and) he’s a tough dude inside of the pocket, staying cool and calm under pressure.”
Taking Trask with the sixth pick is a stretch, whether Wentz returns or not, but he’s hanging around in the second and even third round, the Eagles could pounce.
Someone who could very much be in play for the Eagles at No. 6 is Pitts, who is 6-6, 239 pounds. He did not drop a pass this year and over the past two years, he has made 97 catches for 1,419 yards and 17 touchdowns. He needs work on his blocking, but he is a freak athlete who could be used in various situations to create mismatches.
He is, by most accounts, a top 20 pick, and is played his high school football in the Philadelphia suburbs at powerhouse Archbishop Wood.
The NFL Draft Bible wrote: “Pitts has a lot of parallels to current Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller. He is a glorified slot receiver that puts defenders in some very difficult situations… too big for defensive backs and too athletic for linebackers to handle. Pitts sports a huge catch radius, showing the ability to win above the rim.”
Imagine him in the red zone.
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Toney, in many draft projections, could go anywhere from the first to third round. At 5-11, 190, is “the type of athlete you manufacture space for and watch him work…get the football in his hands,” wrote the NFL Draft Bible.
He showed he can be more than a gadget player with 70 catches for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns this season along with 19 rushes for 161 yards and a TD.
No doubt that Johnson knows how to use him.
As for Grimes, he is projected to be a day three pick in the draft, anywhere from rounds four to six. He has good size at 6-3, 218, but the knock on him is he hasn’t shown any marked improvement since arriving at Florida as a five-star recruit.
Still, he has talent, making 38 catches for 589 yards and nine scores last year, and Johnson figures to know to play to his strengths.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.