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For the better part of a half-decade, the Philadelphia Eagles had the luxury of calling Nate Sudfeld their third-string quarterback.
The 187th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft – 185 picks after one Carson Wentz– Sudfeld was initially selected by the then-Washington Redskins before being waived just before the start of his rookie season. From there, he was claimed by the Eagles to serve as the team’s QB3 following the preseason trade of Sam “Sammy Sleeves” Bradford and remained until his swan song, a Week 17 end to the Doug Pederson-era in 2020.
Will Sudfeld ever live down Pederson’s deliberate tank job? Probably not. While he wasn’t deliberately asked to drop the game and secure Philly a better draft pick – at least I don’t think such a “The Harder They Fall”-esque fix was called – Sudfeld looked lost in those final minutes versus Washington and all but guaranteed the team that initially drafted him their first playoff berth since 2015.
But fear not, Philly fans. With Sudfeld officially off to the sunny shores and incredibly expensive rent prices of San Francisco, the Philadelphia Eagles went out and secured themselves one heck of an upgrade at their QB3 spot; a player who may not be stuck in that position indefinitely.
Nick Mullens might be more than a stopgap for the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Nick Mullens’ path to the NFL has been anything but conventional.
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A two-star recruit out of Hoover, Alabama, Mullens was lightly scouted out of high school and ultimately chose to continue his career at Southern Miss, a school that participates in Conference USA.
A four-year contributor for the Golden Eagles, Mullens closed out his college career with 11,994 passing yards and for 87 passing touchdowns versus 46 interceptions and 9 rushing touchdowns, an impressive feat no matter who you play week-in and week-out. Mullens took the team from a 1-11 record in 2013 to a 7-6 record in 2016, and some would speculate if he would even return for his senior season after surpassing 4,000 passing yards in his junior season.
And yet, when Mullens’ time with the Golden Eagles came to an end, he ultimately didn’t hear his name called on draft day. The young signal-caller instead signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent.
Fun fact: As things presently stand, there are only 10 players in the NFL who went to Southern Miss.
Over his 3-year tenure with the Niners, Mullens appeared in 19 games with 16 starts, recording 4,714 passing yards with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 25-22. Though Mullens ultimately failed to establish himself as a starting-caliber player behind Jimmy Garoppolo – ergo why SF traded up to draft Trey Lance – Mullens was able to beat out former third-round pick C.J. Beathard for the team’s second quarterback slot and showed promise in spot duty when his number was called.
Even if Mullens probably won’t be competing with Jalen Hurts for starting snaps this fall, his addition should make Joe Flacco’s life a bit more interesting and help to sharpen the iron of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback’s room.
Fun fact II: Huh, I guess the Eagles and Niners basically swapped backup quarterbacks this offseason. Funny how that worked out.
From his ability to make good decisions as an onfield floor general to his deceptive red zone prowess as a runner, and even his ability to rally the troops at halftime, Mullens’ experience as a UDFA turned QB3 turned QB1 turned QB2 should be invaluable to the Eagles’ efforts this fall, even if he doesn’t take a single snap on the field this fall.
See what I mean? Not a bad leader of men by any means.
Now, to be completely, totally, 100 percent fair, Mullens isn’t what you would call a perfect prospect, or a prospect at all, really. At 26-years-old, he’s already three and a half years older than Hurts and is probably near his NFL ceiling for better or worse. While we’ll occasionally see quarterbacks like Case Keenum or everyone’s least favorite comp for a seldom-used UDFA who strings together a few good games, Kurt Warner, that are able to turn in improbable second acts later in their career, Mullens’ NFL ceiling is probably closer to career backup than an under-the-radar superstar in the waiting, even if his agent surely suggested signing with Philly because of their uncertainty at the QB position.
Still, if the Eagles’ goal is more to secure a quality backup quarterback who is both effective in spot-up situations and will never generate a quarterback controversy outside of who should be active on game day than to find a young piece of clay to mold into the next Tony Romo – which almost never happens, but teams sure love to try – they can do a whole lot worse than Mr. and Mrs. Mullens’ middle child.
Fun fact III: Mullens is the grandson of Ernie Tabor, who pitched in the Philadelphia Phillies system in the 1950s.
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Does Nick Mullens see the field for the Philadelphia Eagles this fall? Honestly, beats me. All I can say is I certainly feel better with the pride of Southern Miss as the team’s QB3 over a player like Nate Sudfeld or even everyone’s pre-pre-preseason Jamie Newman certainly gives Nick Sirianni’s squad a better chance to pull out a win if they have to turn to their third-string quarterback at any point this fall. Then again, if you’re going three deep at the quarterback in an NFL game, does winning even really matter? Let’s hope the Birds are able to secure a quality young developmental body for their practice squad come September; then they’ll really have the best of both worlds.