As the second week of training camp comes to an end, we’re getting a better look at the makeup of the Eagles and getting a gauge on just how good they may be.
Through the first few rounds of training camp, we’ve heard about Jalen Hurts’ good days and bad, his growing chemistry with A.J. Brown, the offensive line being as good as advertised, James Bradberry’s solid play, and Jordan Davis’ raw strength and power. While we will learn a little more about the strengths and weaknesses of the team throughout the preseason, we are starting to get an idea of where the Eagles will thrive and where they might need to improve over the course of the season.
Let’s take a look at which position groups will be the strongest for the Eagles this season and which may be a bit underwhelming.
Expected Depth Chart: Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell, Kennedy Brooks, Boston Scott
By no means is the Eagles’ group of runningbacks bad, but we’ll have to see if they can make some big plays this year. Although the Eagles had the top rushing offense last season at 159.7 yards per game, a lot of that should be attributed to Jalen Hurts and the offensive line.
Miles Sanders was fine last season, rushing for 754 yards in 12 games, but he failed to reach the endzone at all and did not break off any runs of 40 or more yards. It’s a contract season for Sanders, he’ll need to stay healthy and prove he can be a consistent red zone threat if he wants a nice contract to keep him in Philadelphia.
Besides Sanders, Gainwell showed some promise last season while spelling Sanders and Jordan Howard and he’ll certainly be in line for a bigger role.
With the offensive line being one of the best in the league and Sirianni’s run-first approach, although they’ll likely throw more with A.J. Brown on the team, the runningbacks have a great opportunity to become a strength this season.
Expected Depth Chart: Kyzir White, T.J. Edwards, Nakobe Dean, Shaun Bradley
The position group that received the biggest (and most needed) makeover was the linebackers. With Nakobe Dean brought in during the draft along with Kyzir White in free agency, there is certainly much more talent in the group than there was last season. It will be hard for them to not be an upgrade from Nate Gerry and Alex Singleton, but there is still a lot to figure out about this group.
White and Dean both have much greater range than Gerry and Singleton and will likely both be upgrades in pass coverage, but we’ll need to see more to get a better idea of just how much of an upgrade this group got.
Expected Depth Chart: James Bradberry, Darius Slay, Anthony Harris, Marcus Epps, Avonte Maddox, Jaquiski Tartt
Another group that went through a big shakeup is the secondary. McLeod will be replaced by a bigger role from Marcus Epps and Steven Nelson is out in favor of James Bradberry. The move to let McLeod walk in favor of Epps is certainly one that can come back to bite the Eagles later, but they have reiterated that they like Marcus Epps who got plenty of snaps last season as a third safety.
Across from Epps is Anthony Harris who the Eagles re-signed this offseason who was okay last season, but certainly not a playmaker by any means. The Eagles also brought in former 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt who should be the third safety. Tartt, a former second-round draft pick, was a nice veteran pickup who should play a lot in Gannon’s defense.
What boosts the secondary up from being the worst group on the team is Darius Slay who played like the number one cornerback the Eagles traded for two years ago. With three interceptions and three touchdowns, Slay is a true playmaker who can shadow the opponent’s top receiver all game. He had a few bad games last season coverage-wise, but he is the heart of the Eagles’ defense.
Being paired with Slay is James Bradberry who is reportedly having a very good training camp and looks like an upgrade from Steven Nelson.
Expected Depth Chart: Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew III
Where to rank the quarterbacks on this list is tough. I really do have faith in Jalen Hurts and would love for him to grab the reigns as the Eagles’ franchise quarterback, but I need to see it first.
Bringing in A.J. Brown should be a big boost for Hurts. Having a big, strong number one receiver as a safety net for a young quarterback is huge and something he missed last season, although Smith was pretty good in his rookie season.
It will come down to if Hurts’ decision-making has improved. He has incredible running ability and a strong arm, but he needs to have trust in his arm and the ability to make quick decisions and see the whole field if he wants to become the franchise quarterback everyone wants him to be.
Behind Hurts, Gardner Minshew showed flashes that he could still start somewhere last season, but has reportedly struggled in camp. But all-in-all, I’d say he’s an above-average backup.
Expected Depth Chart: K Jake Elliott, LS Rick Lovato, P Arryn Siposs
Jake Elliott was one of the best kickers in the league last season, hitting 30/33 field goals and fixed his extra point issues, goung a perfect 44/44.
Arryn Sipposs, however, left much to be desired after the Eagles had been so used to great punters in Cameron Johnston and Donnie Jones. Yet he is still the only punter on the roster. We’ll see how long that lasts.
And, yes, Rick Lovato is still great as well.
When the Eagles were at their peak a few years ago, it was because they had a deep defensive line that kept coming after you all game. I think they may have gotten back to that point. Birnging in another edge rusher in Reddick and adding Jordan Davis along with the return of Brandon Graham puts the Eagles in a position to have one of the better pass rushes in the league after a miserable performance last season.
Last season, they finished second to last in sacks with 28 and struggled stopping the run. Reddick and Davis should be able to step in and help fix those problems immediately.
The Eagles have a great mix of veterans and young talent even with Fletcher Cox seemingly declining. I think they’re going to be a tough group to stop for any offensive line if they can stay healthy.
Expected Depth Chart: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Zach Pascal, Britain Covey
The additon of A.J. Brown brings an element to this offense that they haven’t had since T.O. in 2004. A true number one receiver with speed, size, and can run after the catch. Brown is the whole package at wide receiver and makes the Eagles’ wide receiver group so much better. Brown is going to be Hurts’ go-to guy who can run any route.
Along with Hurts, DeVonta Smith will feel the presence of Brown who will take the opposition’s best corner with him and leave Smith on the number two corner. If Hurts’ decision-making improves, we might see a lot of deep connections down the sideline to the second-year wide receiver.
In the slot, it looks like it’s going to be Quez Watkins who flashed potential last year and should be a nice third option behind Brown and Smith. After that, it’s still up in the air if Jalen Reagor will still be on the team despite his good training camp performance thus far.
Expected Depth Chart: LT Jordan Mailata, LG Landon Dickerson, C Jason Kelce, RG Isaac Seumalo, RT Lane Johnson
The strength of this offense for years has been the offensive line and 2022 should be no different. The Eagles have three players who are top five at their positions in Kelce, Johnson, and Mailata with two young, solid guards in Seumalo and Dickerson. Even without Seumalo and Lane Johnson missing three games with injury, the Eagles’ offensive line was still among the best and paved the way for the Eagles to have the best running game in the league.
As long as they can stay healthy, the offensive line will continue to be the strongest group on the team.
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