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Future of Eagles secondary takes the field at rookie camp

Future of Eagles secondary takes the field at rookie camp originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It’s way too early to know whether or not Quinyon Mitchell or Cooper DeJean will become stars in the NFL. That book is yet to be written.

But at least Page 1 is out of the way.

Mitchell, DeJean and the rest of the Eagles’ 2024 class took the field on Friday afternoon for the start of rookie minicamp. In the case of Mitchell and DeJean, it was the first step in what the Eagles hope will be long careers and a glimpse into the future secondary of the franchise.

“It felt good just to be back in a team setting, putting the helmet and cleats on and just get moving with the guys,” Mitchell said. “I mean, I felt really good today and felt like overall it was a good day for everybody.”

The Eagles made nine draft picks last weekend but chances are that this class will be driven by the success or failure of the top two picks: Mitchell at No. 22 and DeJean at No. 40. If all goes well, those two will become mainstays of the Eagles’ secondary for years to come.

It’s pretty hard to know right now if it’s going to work out but the Eagles’ first-round pick did make a good first impression on Friday.

“We had limited reps today,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “I got to see him go through drills. You saw the burst and quickness that we saw on tape of why we drafted him in the first round. Made a couple of nice plays on the ball today out there with some 7-on-7 speed.

“And so just excited to see him out there on the field and competing. Again, limited reps today, but you did see the quickness and the burst and the acceleration.”

For DeJean, Friday was a day he had been waiting on for a while. His final season at Iowa was cut short because of a fibula fracture, which also prevented him from competing at the combine and the Iowa pro day.

Between the injury and the pre-draft process, DeJean couldn’t wait to get back to playing football with teammates.

What were the last several months like?

“Long,” DeJean said with a smile. “It seems like it’s been long. Especially after the injury and having to go through rehab and the whole pre-draft process where you’re not really working football, you’re not really out there playing with 10 other guys on the field. It’s good to get back out there, play some team football against an offense, get that look. Kind of just get the feel for things again.”

While Mitchell clearly projects as a starting outside cornerback in the NFL, DeJean’s position is a little more in question, partially because of his versatility and partially because the outside corner spots in Philly are seemingly filled.

But the Eagles plan on utilizing DeJean’s versatility and he said that in his very first practice with the team, he was already playing all three positions in the secondary.

“I was working everywhere today,” DeJean said. “Just moving around, getting a feel for things.”

Mitchell and DeJean got to know each other a little bit in the pre-draft process, so when Mitchell went 22nd overall to the Eagles, DeJean sent him a congratulatory text message. At that time, DeJean didn’t know he would join him the next night.

Now that they’re teammates, Mitchell and DeJean are working on strengthening that bond under a head coach that stresses connecting more than just about anyone.

“We’re just creating that bond,” Mitchell said. “He’s a great dude, great teammate and a great player.”

On Thursday night, the pair went to watch the 76ers host the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center in an Eastern Conference Playoff game. That trip served two purposes: One, they got to spend time together. Two, they got to see a playoff atmosphere in front of Philly fans.

Obviously, the Sixers didn’t do their part, but it was still an enjoyable outing.

Mitchell and DeJean were already on the same page about what they saw on Thursday night too:

“It was crazy. Those fans were wild. Obviously, didn’t get the win but it was a cool atmosphere to get to see that first-hand, the Philly fans,” DeJean said.

“It was crazy. Great atmosphere, great fans, it was great energy in that building last night,” Mitchell said.

Just wait until they see the Linc.

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