NFL Draft 2021: Eagles’ Andy Weidl talks about ‘Eagle DNA’

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Dave Zangaro
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An overlooked draft trait Eagles’ coaches and scouts agree on originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Later this week, the Eagles will go through their first draft since hiring Nick Sirianni and his new coaching staff.

One of the main themes of the Eagles’ pre-draft press conference was about the need for the scouting department and coaching staff to work together. As I wrote last week, it will be very important for those two sides of the building to start pulling in the same direction.

The good news is that they agree on at least one key required trait for draft prospects, Eagles VP of player personnel Andy Weidl said on the latest Takeoff with John Clark.

“Well the one thing that’s great is that we’re aligned with Coach Sirianni,” Weidl said. “The players we like, guys who love the game, passion for the game. First and foremost. They’re smart, they’re tough, they’re resilient, they can handle adversity, they have thick skin.

“This is Philadelphia. You’ve gotta come in here, you’ve gotta be thick-skinned, you gotta  be tough-minded and mentally strong and we know that. So we’re aligned with that kind of player, that Eagle DNA we like to talk about here.”

Weidl on the podcast brought up a lesson he learned from the late Bill Nunn, who was a legendary scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Weidl had the chance to learn from the six-time Super Bowl champion early in his career.

“He always talked about one thing: How does a player handle criticism? How do they handle criticism? Find that out,” Weidl said. “That mental toughness and their ability to handle that. That’s something we try to dive into and get to the bottom of with each player. John Harbaugh talked about it in Baltimore. Hey, these guys gotta have thick skin. Skin like an armadillo. They can handle criticism. They’re resilient; when things go down, they can handle a little adversity and they can dig themselves out. They can keep going and they can keep staying in the fight.”

It’s important to note that while the Eagles care about the character, competitiveness and thick skin of their prospects, Sirianni last week made sure to say all of that comes after talent. The Eagles want talented players, but the rest of these things matter too.

The Eagles’ coaches have also been working since they were hired to explain to scouts exactly how players fit in their schemes, Weidl said. That’s an important part of the process.

Interviewing prospects for the 2021 draft hasn’t been as easy as in previous years. Without a combine, the Eagles had to get more creative. They interviewed every player who went to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, hit the pro day circuit hard and conducted many virtual calls with prospects.

Another thing they really had to do this year was rely on their scouts’ relationships with college programs. With so many opt-outs in 2020 and without the combine, the process of gathering information on prospects became as important as it was difficult.