As we reach the halfway point of the NFL offseason, we are beginning to see a clearer image of the 53-man roster for next season. We saw many players leave in free agency, but the Eagles did a tremendous job replacing talent. With new players set to be starters next season, it’ll be interesting to see which players can excel in their new role.
On paper, the Eagles have done a great job drafting over the last two years, but we haven’t seen any of those guys become true difference-makers. I believe that will change next season.
With most of the roster turnover being done, it’s a good time to examine which players could have a breakout season for the Eagles.
Last year we saw Nakobe Dean playing almost entirely special teams snaps for the Eagles. This year that will surely not be the case. The Eagles lost both Kyzir White and T.J Edwards in free agency. This may be a bigger loss than some people realize. Kyzir White recorded 110 total tackles last year, and T.J. Edwards recorded 159 total tackles. Both players were among the top 40 in recorded tackles last season.
Replacing them is crucial, and the Eagles brought in Nicholas Morrow to fill one of those positions. That leaves Nakobe Dean with the responsibility of filling the other.
In minimal action on defense, Nakobe was constantly around the ball. He is a little undersized for the position, but he makes up for it with his high football IQ. If he plays the same way he did on the National Champion Georgia defense, he will surely be a difference-maker next season. I’m confident that if Nakobe Dean is in a starting role next season, he will finish within the top 20 for total tackles.
I was probably more excited than most when the Eagles signed Olamide Zaccheaus in free agency. The main reason is that he is a better receiver than Quez Watkins. We saw late last season how crucial having a reliable third option at the receiver can be. Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown are surely going to draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses, and that could create opportunities for Zaccheaus to shine.
Last season Zaccheaus was in Atlanta with Desmond Ridder and Marcus Mariota as his Quarterbacks. This offense will be a much better fit for him due to Jalen Hurts passing game being a significant upgrade.
Last season he was able to record 40 catches, with 25 of them being for a first down. This is the type of receiver the Eagles desperately need as their third option. A player that can be efficient with a limited amount of usage. I’m not saying by any means that Zaccheaus will suddenly turn into a Pro Bowl talent.
Honestly, I’m not even saying take him on your fantasy team. What I will tell you is that there will be multiple situations in which Zaccheaus picks up first downs for the Eagles and keeps drives alive.
Cam Jurgens spent last season cross-training between the center and guard with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. At the time, the Eagles were unsure if Jason Kelce would hang it up or not. With Kelce coming back and Isaac Seumalo leaving in free agency, the only position open for Cam Jurgens is right guard. We saw a similar situation with Landon Dickerson when he came out of college. Dickerson is now playing left guard and doing it at a Pro Bowl level.
The Eagles drafted offensive lineman Tyler Steen with the 65th overall pick on draft night. I could see Steen giving Jurgens some competition in training camp for the starting job, but I think Jurgens will ultimately be the starter.
Steen is coming out of college as a tackle and would also have to transition into a new position. Jurgens may look a little out of place at first, but he has linemen around him that are some of the best in the business. By the end of the year, expect Jurgens to contribute to the best offensive line in football.
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