A closer look at the Eagles' rookies, including Tanner McKee's connection to Jalen Hurts (2023)

the eagles'two picks from the first roundgot a lot of attention during the draft weekend, but what about the other five players selected? Here are some nuggets from interviews with picks from the third roundTyler SteenInSidney Bruin; fourth round pickKelee Ringo; sixth round pickTanner McKee; and a seventh-round pickMoro Ojomo.


1.Steen grew up in a military family, an upbringing he said instilled discipline.

His father is a retired Marine. His grandfather served in the Vietnam War and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a live enemy grenade when his platoon was attacked, saving several Marines in the process.

"My grandfather is a big inspiration to me," Steen said. "He sacrificed his life. He was selfless. Knowing what I learned growing up obviously had a huge impact on my life and the fact that he died for his country...I feel a lot of credit for that.

"Growing up in a military family, of course, there's still a lot of discipline and things like that, and I think it honestly prepared me to go to college football and to go to Alabama, and I think it prepared me to go to University."NFL

The Alabama report was Steen's fifth year in college. He played four seasons at Vanderbilt before moving to SEC Alabama, where he took over at left tackle. Alabama's last three remaining tackles were first-round picks, showing how difficult it is to crack the starting lineup at this point. In his lone season with the Crimson Tide, Steen raised his draft stock — and also showed potential for more.

“I think I was a good player coming out of Vanderbilt. I don't think I was as good as I wanted to be,” Steen said. I think I'm a better player now, but I want to keep improving."

Steen's athleticism, combined with his ability to bend and maintain body control, are standout attributes on a six-foot-tall, 321-pound frame. His under-33-inch arms are part of the reason he was projected to watch atNFL, and that's where theeaglesused him during the first minicamp practice after watching him play in the Senior Bowl there. But Philadelphia likes versatile offensive linemen, so versatility at tackle/guard would be a plus.

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"I feel like I can play all over the offensive line, so it was really good to get a chance to play guard in the Senior Bowl," Steen said. "I took the same approach as playing tackle and felt very comfortable there."

2.Eagles coach Nick Sirianni sent a message to his coaching staff aNFL Network feature on what Brown overcame to make it to the NFL, including a period of homelessness in his native Canada with his mother and twin brother (Chase), and his mother's illness and sacrifices to keep the twins at boarding school in Florida.

"What an incredible story, the things he had to overcome to get to where he is today ... and I can't wait to talk to him about it," Sirianni said.

"The trip is just the beginning of something that pushed me and my brother," Brown said. “The relationship we shared with my brother brought us to where I am now. And certainly from the background I did, it gave us a reason to push harder.

The Eagles rejected Brown during the pre-draft process, from his play on the field to his personality and background. They made him a "red star" player, which general manager Howie Roseman described as a combination of "great character, leadership, test scores, intelligence, playing the way it's supposed to be played, practicing the way it's supposed to be played."

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Brown couldn't find a better situation than Philadelphia, where he can start as a rookie. The Eagles made him the highest-drafted safety since 2011, and the team must replace two players.

The opportunity sunk after the initial excitement of the plan. That's a reward for any player, but Brown's outlook is shaped by his tumultuous path toNFL.

"I kind of describe it as a drug that you take once and you can't take it anymore because it's the best feeling in the world," Brown said. “You think about the journey that me and my brother took and what we went through, and it marks the beginning of something new. It is the beginning of a new journey. "Getting to the NFL is one thing, but staying in it and being a productive player and helping the team win games is another."


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There was only one complication. By the end of Day 2, when Brown was called, Chase was still on the board. TheBengalhe picked the running back in the fifth round, capping off a memorable weekend for the family.

"That was probably one of the hardest things I've ever been through," Brown said. “I wanted him to be as eager to be called as I was. Sitting back and watching him count through the picks and the run counting down for him was tough.

Their mother was with them to see it all and see what would happen next.

"It's been exciting, we're on our way," Brown said. "But the expectation is that we're going to do what we have to do and that's what we're doing now."

Eagles Fourth Round Draft Pick Kelee Ringo. (Jose/Marinmedia.Org/Csm/CSM via ZUMA Press Wire/Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

3.Ringo went to high school in Arizona, but the 20-year-old considers Washington his home state (he grew up in Tacoma, just south of Seattle). A corner in that area looked at a certain player at that moment:Richard Sherman.

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In fact, he worked out with Sherman at home.

"He just showed me the ropes, just financial stuff and on the field, seeing concepts, stuff like that," Ringo said. “Basically, I'm just growing into a young man that's going to have a lot more expectations on him, and with a lot of things on my plate in general, how do I balance that. I feel like I have someone who has experienced this at the highest level with every kind of situation in front of him and he just gives me everything, I'm definitely grateful for someone like that, for sure. It definitely helped me a lot growing up.

Sherman offered Ringo a nice note in aUSA Today's story on the plan,which began with Sherman recounting his take on Ringo's National Championship interception two seasons ago. This interception follows Ringo wherever he goes. There are worse ways to be remembered. But Ringo doesn't want it to be thatonlyin the manner known.


"Definitely a big part of my career," Ringo said. "After that particular time, I definitely wanted to tell myself that I didn't want this to be one of the specific things that made me who I am."

4.McKee walks into quarterback Jalen Hurts' room - an opportunity he's had once before.

A four-star quarterback in 2017, McKee was recruited by Alabama while Hurts was still the starter. He visited Tuscaloosa in November 2017 on a weekend when the top-ranked Crimson Tide beat LSU and Hurts passed for a touchdown and ran for another.

"I got to learn a little bit from him for a few days," McKee said, "so I'm excited to actually be in the same room as the quarterback and learn a lot from a guy like that."

Hurts didn't remember McKee's visit, but the Eagles' franchise quarterback texted McKee the day after his call. McKee also joined the text of the group of quarterbacks. No one will compare McKee's style of play to Hurts, but Philadelphia's new quarterback will look closely at Hurts.

"Just his confidence and his presence when he walks into the room," McKee said. “I've heard that when a leader walks into a room, everyone is quiet, everyone is listening. He just has that confidence and he's proud of him. I felt that with 'Bama and he's developed it here too.

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5.On the face of Ojomo's profile in the seventh round, you'd see he was a five-year Texas player. This may lead one to believe that he is an older candidate, at least 23 years old.

That would be wrong. Ojomo is only 21 years old.

The reason? Enrolled in Texas at age 16.

“So I started kindergarten when I was 3,” Ojomo explained. “I moved from Nigeria, went to a British school. … I just continued when I went to America, I stayed the same age, I stayed in the same class.

His family moved from Lagos, Nigeria to California before settling in Houston, where Ojomo was a high school football player who played late. Discussing the pros and cons of going to college at such a young age, he noted that it allows him to reach the NFL on the younger side. He couldn't find any downsides other than how it affected him as a recruit, though he burst onto the recruiting scene as a senior, picking up offers from top programs like Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.


He said his body composition changed during his studies and he lost about 7 to 10 percent body fat, which was the natural maturation that took place. But he felt he could afford college at 16 because of the way he was raised.

Ojomo has played multiple spots on the Texas defensive line, including at nose tackle and as a gap B tackle. That versatility could be beneficial for Philadelphia. Ojomo was a standout on the Eagles' board in the seventh round, forcing them to take him even though they had previously drafted a defensive tackle. Ojomo is 6-foot-2, 292 pounds with 34 1/2-inch arms — height Philadelphia liked.

And for Ojomo, there was a storybook joining a team that provided some of his earliest football memories.

“When I was little I remember really loving Reggie White. I completely forgot about Jerome Brown and I saw it there (at the team facility), but I might have seen a documentary,” Ojomo said. "The Eagles, in retrospect, I've always thought were a really good organization, a really cool team."

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(Top photo by Tanner McKee: Chris Szagola/AP Photo)


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