It’s no secret that with Chip Kelly gone, the Eagles have been a little less circumspect when it comes to the “culture over scheme” mantra.
Under Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson, the Eagles picked a few players on Day 3 of the draft that Kelly wouldn’t touch with a 50-foot pole. But the team is making it clear that talent reigns supreme under the new regime.
One of these formerly troubled players, West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, has a few legal — and twitter — issues but has convinced the Eagles’ brass that these mistakes are in the past and will not be repeated.
“There’s been a bunch of stuff going on about when I was arrested,” Smallwood told Eagles reporters late Saturday after becoming a fifth round pick.”I was just in a wrong situation. I was young, hanging out with the wrong people. I was never around whatever happened. I wasn’t involved. There was no evidence, no witness against me and it came out to be true and all the stuff was cleared. I learned from the situation and try to just move forward and be a better man from that.”
Smallwood hails from Delaware and grew up a huge Eagles fan. If there’s one team he can overcome adversity for, it’s his childhood team.
“I’ve been watching the Eagles all my life,” the 5-foot-10 runner, who led the Big 12 in rushing last season, said.”I was upset when we lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots. We could have gotten that one. But I’ve been watching. I was here for the Green Bay win in the playoffs [after the 2003 season]. So I’ve been watching since I was young and went through all the quarterbacks. I watched McNabb throw, so I’ve been watching for a while now.”
Notice Smallwood already using the word “we” to describe the Eagles. He’s been indoctrinated and is already pledging allegiance to his new employer. And even better than the Eagles’ green on his uniform is his running backs coach, a man who is quickly becoming a mentor in Duce Staley.
“When I met him at the combine, I was just excited,” Smallwood said of the Eagles’ former running back and current assistant Staley.”I sat down with him at just an interview and it was just exciting to be around him and get to talk to him. I’ve been watching him since I was young. I knew who Duce Staley was, so I asked for a picture, I asked for his number, and we’ve been chatting since. He’s just been guiding me, not even as far as on the field, but as a man and trying to help me get better. I’ve seen that in him, so even if they didn’t draft me I think Duce and I would still be close to this day.”