There has been a lot of talk in regards to the age of the team overall as they went into the regular season as the second oldest team in the NFL and it has shown.

This is in part due to the injuries they have suffered from players like Malik Jackson (29), DeSean Jackson (32), Darren Sproles (36), and Jason Peters (37).

With many fans hoping for changes to the team to make them younger as a team, there are some players that we should be looking at to be the future of the franchise. Many of them are seeing significant time on the field now and stepping up in prominent roles. Here is the list of players that the Eagles need to build around.


Miles Sanders, RB (Age: 22)

This dynamic rookie running back from Penn State got off to a slow start as the lead back, but after they made the switch over to Jordan Howard, his game changed. He improved as running by only carrying the ball 5-10 times a game and surprisingly became one of Carson Wentz’s biggest playmakers in the passing game with 6 catches of 20 yards or more.

Sanders’ running has improved as the season went on as well as he’s done a good job with running outside the linemen and has shown to have some elusiveness. He showed off his speed after running for a 67-yard touchdown run in the win against the Buffalo Bills. He’s leading all NFL rookies in all-purpose yards as he’s ran for 336 yards and a score, has 305 yards receiving and a score to add there as well.

He needs to work on being more consistent and has had some fumbling issues as well, but this is a guy they can develop into the leading back as him and Jordan Howard will make for a great 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

Derek Barnett, DE (Age: 23)

He really looked good in his rookie season after recording five sacks and was apart of one of the biggest plays in the franchise after recovering a Tom Brady fumble forced by Brandon Graham. Last season wasn’t as memorable due to injuries keeping him out of ten games, but bouncing back nice this season. He’s recorded three and a half sacks and two forced fumbles so far in nine games.

Barnett has a great motor and is really good at pass rushing. He has the potential to be as disruptive as Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox has been for the franchise. His addition in the draft three seasons ago helped add depth to a very strong defensive line as he continues to be a starter for this team.

Sidney Jones, CB (Age: 23)

This is a tough one to digest since his whole Eagles career has been plagued with injury after injury that stemmed from his days at Washington in college. This season, I have seen a glimmer of hope as he showed signs of being good in coverage. Granted, while he recorded an interception in the Falcons, he had a tough time as many of the secondaries did against Julio Jones. Another injury though has kept him out since the Vikings game.

He could be a critical piece to the future of the Eagles for two reasons which either consists of him developing into a starter eventually or as trade bait. He’s young with potential so he could attract a second, third, or fourth-round pick and can also attract us to get a veteran in a future trade if we need to take the leap for playoffs. This all depends on if he can stay healthy for a full season which the answer so far has been no.

Avonte Maddox, CB (Age: 23)

Despite being a fourth-round pick two years ago, he’s made a bigger impact than expected. His versatility has been on display, especially last season with all the injuries we had in the secondary. He was asked to be some corner and safety and proved to be a valuable member of the secondary that held its own to get us to the playoffs. Great open-field tackler with some ball-hawking skills that does need some more work on his game, but looks good for the future.

He suffered a scary neck injury against the Packers earlier in the season and was able to bounce back to play against Chicago. Talk about a gutsy player Eagle fans can stand behind and love. Again, he may need some more development, but this is a corner I see them keeping over Sidney Jones because of the fact that he can play corner and safety.

Andre Dillard, T (Age: 24)

He was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with the intention of being the next in line to replace Jason Peters. With Peters’ injury his and older age, it was time to start thinking about the future for him. That came quicker than expected as Dillard made his first start against the Cowboys. While everyone can agree that the Cowboys games was a disaster, Dillard was actually one of the brighter spots as he wasn’t too bad at all and held his own. In the last two games, his pass protection has been good and run blocking has been stellar as well.

Eagle fans can get excited about Dillard being the future of the franchise on the line. While Peters has had a hall of fame career and has been one of the best offensive linemen in Eagles history, his injury history has always been a concern which resulted in the Eagles making a decision to look into the future. It’s time to let Dillard take over the most important position on the team, blocking their $100+ million quarterback’s blind side and that time has come now.

Nathan Gerry, LB (Age: 24)

Gerry’s career really started by being a special teamer for the team and was very good in kickoff coverage. This season has changed quite a bit for him due to Nigel Bradham’s injury, Jordan Hicks’ departure in the offseason, and Zach Brown being cut from the team after the Vikings game. He has started five of the teams’ nine games at linebacker and has shown some promise. He’s proven to be good in coverage with recording two interceptions this season. This has a lot to do with his college days being a safety at Nebraska so coverage is a strength but also is a good tackler and one of the best performing linebackers.

Gerry’s versatility should make him a reliable option on defense and special teams in the future. It would be a shame to let another linebacker walk since the linebacking crew is already not so strong. He’s a good tackler and can cover any running back and tight end in the league. He’s someone they should develop for the future.


Photo: David Maialetti, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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