Friday will offer the first look at the Eagles' 2017 NFL draft class, as the rookies kick off their three-day minicamp at the NovaCare Complex.
Dozens of players (45), including all eight draft picks, are in Philly for the camp. Even injured Sidney Jones is attending the camp, although he obviously won't compete.
The players reported to the facility Thursday afternoon/night, but Friday is the first time they'll be on the field together. Practice begins at noon. These three days will be the only time they'll be without veterans, who will join them at OTAs starting on May 23.
So what can actually be learned from this minicamp? Well, it's fair to mention that what the players do on the field this weekend won't really resemble football; there's no hitting, helmets or 1-on-1 competition. None of the good stuff.
But … there's still value. After all, this is the first look at some players the Eagles hope will be the future of the franchise. Isn't the future grand until it's wrecked by reality?
Last year, the minicamp was dominated by No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz, who showed his presence within the complex pretty early (see story).
Here are some storylines to follow this weekend:
1. The first-round pick
This storyline doesn't change from year-to-year. Everyone wants to get the first glimpse of the first-rounder in an Eagles uniform. This year's first-round pick, Derek Barnett, had a great college career and will try to translate his production at Tennessee into the NFL.
It's crazy to think that Barnett is just 20 years old. He won't be able to have a legal drink until June 25. How young is Barnett? Punter Donnie Jones (the oldest player on the roster) was 10 days shy of his 16th birthday when Barnett was born on June 25, 1996.
Barnett might have a lot of college experience, but he's extremely young and has plenty of time to learn, especially because he's part of a defensive end group that still has Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Chris Long.
2. Stepping in soon
While Barnett will have the benefit of time, Rasul Douglas might not. The Eagles' third-round pick (99), might very well need to play a significant role, and possibly even start, as a rookie. That's just the situation the Eagles have at cornerback this season. Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks and Patrick Robinson might be the only roadblocks in Douglas' way.
We might not learn a ton about Douglas this weekend, but we'll start to see glimpses. It was last year during rookie minicamp where Mills, a seventh-rounder, started to show something. It's just football in shorts, but we can get a sense of a player's confidence and bravado at a position that needs those characteristics. It seems unlikely, however, that Douglas will show up with green hair like Mills did at last year's training camp.
3. Jones in the building
Sidney Jones is still recovering from his Achilles tear so he obviously won't be on the field competing this weekend, but he will be in Philly. He'll get a chance to be in the complex and chat with reporters.
Thursday was the first time Eagles doctors got a chance to look at him in a while. According to de facto GM Howie Roseman, they were going to set an itinerary for him after checking him out.
4. Skill players
Receivers Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson and running back Donnel Pumphrey will be there as well. As the skill position draft picks, plenty of eyes will fall on them. Unfortunately, with little defense and with wild cards throwing them footballs, we probably won't learn a lot.
We will at least, though, get to see Gibson's speed, Pumphrey's shiftiness and Hollins' big frame in motion.