PHILADELPHIA – It’s first impression time for not just the Eagles rookies, but the city of Philadelphia, too, and it sparkled under mostly blue skies when the draft picks flew in on Wednesday.
“I’m very impressed,” said sixth-round pick, LSU safety/linebacker JaCoby Stevens who was hustled to a videoconference shortly after landing and being whisked to the team’s NovaCare Complex not far from the airport in South Philly.
“Descending in the airplane, kind of looking over the city, I flew over the (Lincoln Financial Field) stadium and the (Wells Fargo) arena and where the Phillies play (Citizens Bank Park) and all I could think about is this is a sports city.
“I’m just excited to be here. One thing about being here is that there’s a lot of history, so one day if I have an off-day, I can get lost in the city. I’m just excited for this new adventure on and off the field.”
Before defensive tackle Milton Williams could get out of the airport, a fan recognized him and presented him not only an Eagles helmet to sign but also a helmet from Williams’ college, Louisiana Tech.
“I signed it for him,” said Williams, the team’s third-round pick. “I asked him how did you know I was here? He said I saw the Philadelphia Eagles (security) dude walking around, so I knew you guys were coming. I don’t know how long he was there, but I thought that was pretty cool. He knew who I was and got the signature.
“So far, a great city. I haven’t had really got to go around a lot. I came straight from the airport here and got around all these great people, but it’s been pretty good so far.”
The rookies will take the field on Friday and through the weekend. Reporters are allowed to watch only Friday afternoon’s session, but just for warmups and individual drills. Viewing of team drills will not be allowed.
Nick Sirianni is scheduled to talk after the practice.
The young coach and his youthful staff will also be making first impressions of their first draft class.
“This weekend’s big,” said sixth-round pick Tarron Jackson, a defensive end from Coastal Carolina. “It’s my chance to kind of show the coaches who I am for the first time on the field. I just want to put my best foot forward and really, really show the coaches who I am as a player.
“All the qualities I built up throughout my college career and high school career, I just want to showcase that. Go out there give them my best, show them I’m coachable and every day try to get better at something.”
The only rookie draft pick of the nine who likely won’t see the field this weekend is interior lineman Landon Dickerson.
The second-round pick from Alabama will continue to rehab the ACL he tore late in the Tide’s season. He will have to make his first impression in another way.
“We still have to go through a plan, evaluate where I’m at, meet with coaches, the athletic trainers, the strength coaches and I’m sure they kind of have a plan in place,” said Dickerson when asked by SI.com Eagle Maven what he plans to do these next few days.
“Basically, it won’t change where I’m at, but right now, I haven’t gone over the plan, so I’m not sure what they expect of me and what I’m going to be doing this weekend.”
Dickerson said he and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland have discussed the playbook, but he is expecting the mental part to increase in this camp.
“We’ve talked about the playbook and plays a little bit, (but) there will be a lot more installing now that I’m here in Philadelphia,” said Dickerson. “We can start meeting in person, face to face, in meeting rooms … Now that we’re at rookie minicamp, we can start to dive into the playbook.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.