Drafting Gifted Playmakers Forces Doug Pederson, Eagles to Get Creative | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Drafting Gifted Playmakers Forces Doug Pederson, Eagles to Get Creative

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    Drafting Gifted Playmakers Forces Doug Pederson, Eagles to Get Creative
    CSNPhilly.com
    Drafting gifted playmakers forces Doug Pederson, Eagles to get creative

    Doug Pederson ran down the stairs on Christmas morning, looked under the tree, and there was Derek Barnett, a present for his little brother Jim Schwartz. And then two more presents - Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas - for his youngest brother Cory Undlin. 

    Pederson had coal in his stocking.

    Actually, that's probably not fair. After all, Pederson is the head coach of the Eagles, so taking three defensive players during the first two days of the draft isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it would stand to reason if Pederson, the overseer of the team's offense, was longing for a playmaker. 

    He finally picked up three on Day 3 of the draft, when the team took Mack Hollins, Donnel Pumphrey and Shelton Gibson with consecutive picks in the fourth and fifth rounds.

    Now, it's up to Pederson to utilize his newly unwrapped toys and find ways to incorporate them into an offense that already has Darren Sproles, Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Matthews, Torrey Smith and Zach Ertz.

    There's only one football.

    "Well, it's hard. It's hard to do," Pederson said as rookie camp kicked off Friday. "You've got one football and there are five skill positions to get the ball to and there are a lot of combinations to do that. 

    "So as we go and we really understand our personnel in Year 2 as a coaching staff on offense, I think we'll come up with creative and unique ways to get guys the ball. It doesn't always have to be in the passing game. We're going to continue to explore that, obviously, now that we've got this new influx of young players who have that ability to touch the football. We're just going to continue to find ways to do that."

    Perhaps Pederson's biggest weapon from this draft class comes in the smallest package. Pumphrey was prolific at San Diego State and he did it as an extremely undersized running back. 

    On the Eagles' online roster, Pumphrey measures in at 5-foot-8, 169 pounds. At the combine, he was 5-8, 176. And on the roster handed out by the team at the start of rookie camp, he was 5-9, 180. By the time we get to training camp, Pumphrey might be listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds. But regardless of the (likely arbitrary) numbers the Eagles put next to his name, it was easy to see one thing on the practice field Friday: Pumphrey is tiny. 

    Despite his small stature, Pumphrey said the most serious injury he suffered in college was turf toe. 

    "I just try to get behind my linemen and once I get to the second level, it's usually going to be a 1-on-1 situation," he said, "and at that point in time I'm either going to try to make them miss or know when to go down."

    Pumphrey has been compared to Sproles plenty over the last couple weeks, and while they aren't exactly carbon copies, they both possess the ability to do more than a typical running back.  

    "I do want to expand, I think, and see some of the things that he can do as a receiver - as a guy that we can move in and out of the backfield," Pederson said. "We know what he can do in the backfield, much like Darren Sproles in a way, that we can utilize him as a receiver at times. So we're just going to see where it goes with him. But excited to work with him this weekend and just get him caught up and going with, not only this group but next week, as well."

    After Pumphrey, the Eagles also added Hollins and Gibson, two receivers known for their deep-ball ability. It seems very likely that's exactly the skill for which the Eagles were desperately looking. 

    Aside from being deep threats, both players also played special teams and the Eagles lacked receivers who played teams last year. Hollins and Gibson didn't just play teams in college, they have both said they love playing special teams.

    Hollins, though, wants to prove he's more than just a special teams guy. 

    "I never wanted to get slotted into one thing," he said. "Like college, I didn't want to get slotted as just a deep-ball guy. I can do more than that just like I can do more than play special teams." 

    For now, special teams might be their best bets at getting on the field. They join a suddenly crowded receiver room that includes Jeffery, Smith and Matthews, who will all likely start training camp in August as the team's starters. 

    "If I go out there and compete every day and don't give up, I feel like anything can happen," Gibson said. "That's how I feel."