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Roob's Observations: Who was last Eagles rookie with as much buzz as Jalen Carter?

Roob's Observations: Who was last Eagles rookie to generate this much hype? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Jalen Carter hype, the secondary of the future and my favorite Brett Favre stat of all-time.

It’s a Memorial Day edition of Roob’s 10 Random Offseason Observations.

1. It’s not even June, and the excitement level surrounding Jalen Carter is off the charts. Understandable because the kid has all the tools to be a difference maker from Day 1 and when you hear his teammates raving about his strength, athleticism, power and technique, yeah, it’s easy to get fired up. It got me wondering the last time an Eagles rookie’s training camp was this highly anticipated. DeVonta Smith? Early on, people were just praying he wasn’t another JJAW or Reagor. Carson? Not really because he was a 3rd-stringer behind Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel until well after training camp ended. Lane? He was the fourth pick overall, but he’s also an offensive lineman and it's just not the same. Jalen? Nah, the real buzz around Jalen Hurts didn't start until Year 2. Fletch? DeSean? Corey Simon? Maybe. But honestly, I think you have to go back to Donovan’s rookie year – 24 summers ago at Lehigh – to find a rookie that brought this much buzz with him to training camp. Part of it is the two national championship teams he was a part of at Georgia. Part of it is how we all knew the Eagles wanted him all along. Part of it is the videos we’ve all seen from OTAs of the kid running around in shirts and shorts looking like a beast. The kid has all the tools, and he's going to be the story of training camp. I just wish camp was still at Lehigh so every Eagles fan could watch him every day.

2. The last Eagle with two interceptions, two sacks and two forced fumbles in a season was … Walter Thurmond? Yep. Thurmond had three INTs, 2.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2015. He also had an 83-yard fumble recovery against the Giants on the last day of the season – that was the game Pat Shurmur coached after Chip Kelly was fired. Thurmond never played another NFL game.

3. One of the most encouraging developments of the last two years in terms of roster construction is the addition of several promising young defensive backs. Kelee Ringo is 20, Sydney Brown 23 and Reed Blankenship is 24, and the Eagles have had some really good secondaries in recent years, but they’ve been older secondaries, which means Howie Roseman has been continually replacing guys, finding one-year stopgaps, signing veterans off the street. And he’s had success doing it. And if it works, that’s great. But the goal has always been to get some young guys in here and let them grow together, and the Eagles have that chance now. The last time the Eagles had a homegrown d-back under 30 start 10 games in consecutive years was Nate Allen in 2013 and 2014. We didn’t see enough of Blankenship to be totally sold, but what we did see was really impressive. And Ringo and Brown are certainly intriguing prospects. This group gives the Eagles a chance to not just put together a very good secondary but keep it together.

4. Four different Eagles had 11 sacks last year – Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat. In the previous 25 YEARS, four different Eagles had 11 sacks in a season – Hugh Douglas three times, Trent Cole three times, Jason Babin once and Connor Barwin once.

5. Who’s been the worst QB at the Linc since it opened 20 years ago? There are 44 quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 50 regular-season passes at the Linc, and Brett Favre has the lowest passer rating of the bunch (by far) at 41.7. In three starts at the Linc, he threw one TD and six interceptions and completed 48 percent of his passes. Including the 2003 playoff game, Favre was 0-6 in Philadelphia with a passer rating of 61 or lower in five of the six games. Philadelphia is the only NFL city Favre never won a game. I love this stat.

6. I feel like the Olamide Zaccheaus signing was one of Howie’s more under-rated moves this offseason. Zaccheaus had 61 targets last year and no drops. The only WRs with more targets and no drops were Greg Dortch of the Cards and Kalif Raymond of the Lions, who both had 64 targets. Quez Watkins, by the way, had four drops on 54 targets. Zaccheaus’ stats weren’t overwhelming last year – 40-for-533 with 3 TDs – but no drops means you can depend on the guy. That wasn’t the case last year with Watkins.

7. Years after he retired, I once asked Troy Aikman what it was like playing at the Vet. He paused for a bit and then said this: “It could be the nicest day in Philly. You’re on the bus headed to the stadium and it’s sunny, warm, blue sky, beautiful day. But as soon as you walked into the Vet, it was cold, dark, windy and cloudy.”

8. Alshon Jeffery averaged 48 yards per game in the regular season as an Eagle. He averaged 73 yards per game in the playoffs as an Eagle. Jeffery had 60 or more receiving yards in 15 of 46 regular-season games with the Eagles but in all five postseason games.

9. And how about Keith Jackson? He had four 100-yard games in the postseason – two for the Eagles and two for the Dolphins. Only Travis Kelce has more in NFL history among tight ends (seven). But Jackson had only two regular-season 100-yard games, one with the Eagles in 1989 and one with the Dolphins in 1994. Jackson and Fred Barnett are the only Eagles in history with two 100-yard games in the playoffs.

10. You may remember Ray Mansfield, who was the Steelers’ starting center from 1966 through 1976, played on two Super Bowl champions, earned 2nd-team all-pro twice and at one point played in 186 consecutive games. What you might not remember is that Mansfield started out as an Eagle. And as a defensive tackle. Interesting story. The Eagles drafted Mansfield as a defensive tackle out of Washington in the second round in 1963 – he was the 18th player taken overall. But after just one year with the Eagles, he was sold to the Steelers just before opening day 1964. Here’s what Jack McKinney wrote in the Sept. 9, 1964, Philadelphia Daily News: “Mansfield started and went the whole way at right tackle in place of ailing (offensive tackle) Bob Brown when the Eagles beat the Steelers in an exhibition at Allentown last month. It’s reasonable to assume that (Steelers coach) Buddy Parker re-ran the game with an eye to Mansfield’s contributions before he made his move.” Mansfield played defensive tackle his first two years in Pittsburgh, but in 1966 Mansfield switched to center and never left. Mansfield was the first of five Steelers centers – along with Mike Webster, Dermonti Dawson, Jeff Hartings and Maurkice Pouncey – who have started almost every game over the last 50 years. And that’s how the Eagles drafted one of the best centers in Steelers history … without even drafting a center.