...well, no one. Isn't that exciting?
I've come to the conclusion, especially after consulting with the rest of the BGN staff, that no one player is deserving of the Na Brown award this year.
Let's take a moment to redefine exactly what the Na Brown award is, for those unfamiliar.
As any longtime reader of the site knows, every year we hand out the coveted Na Brown award to the new player who came into camp as a relative unknown, but managed to ratchet his expectations up through the roof thanks to an impressive training camp. It is named after former Eagles WR Na Brown who had legendary camps, but never really did anything in the regular season.
Past winners of the award include: Lorenzo Booker, Hank Baskett, Riley Cooper, and Damaris Johnson.
This year, we're adapting the rule a little bit and including preseason since we're deciding the award this late. It's hard not to consider the preseason because Eagles training camp doesn't break until after the games are over anyway.
That said, there were some candidates who deserved honorable mention. Here's how BGN ranked some these candidates back in early August. While some played well they just didn't do enough to guarantee the award.
• WR Greg Salas - Salas had a great training camp and caught the eye of fans in the preseason opener against the Patriots. I can count the number of Salas drops I've seen both in practice and in the games on one hand. He really started to slow down in the remainder of the games and preseason though. So much so that the Eagles didn't opt to keep him on the Eagles final roster. He did land on the practice squad, however.
• OLB Chris McCoy - I thought McCoy had a great training camp and preseason through and through. He looked great in coverage. But again.. he didn't make the team! The Jaguars claimed him off waivers after the Eagles cut him.
• WR Russell Shepard - He didn't show much as a wide receiver but he flashed on special teams. Shepard was among the hardest working players at training camp. He always stayed after practice to get extra work on the JUGS machine in order to improve his hands. But the Eagles cut him! And the Buccaneers claimed him.
• DE Vinny Curry - Curry has had a monster preseason, but he's not an unknown. He's a former 2nd round pick.
• RB Chris Polk - If we absolutely had to award one of these players, it would probably be Polk. Actually making the roster helps! Polk looked very improved in training camp. He intentionally lost significant weight (~15 lbs) in order to be faster. There was a time before the first preseason game where it looked like Polk jumped ahead of Bryce Brown on the depth chart. But then Polk had some fumbling issues and just didn't look as impressive as he did in training camp. He still looks improved overall but not enough to claim the award.
• OT Allen Barbe - Barbe proved himself to be a capable backup offensive lineman, but I'm not sure he's really raised expectations through the roof. A pleasant surprise nonetheless.
• DL Damion Square - A rookie undrafted free agent who earned a roster spot with a good camp and preseason. But how high are the expectations for a 3rd string NT?
• ILB Emmanuel Acho - Acho was solid in camp but I didn't see anything spectacular out of him. That changed when the lights went on in preseason. But yet again, he was cut by the Eagles just yesterday.
• ILB Jake Knott - Knott deserved to make the final roster but wasn't overly impressive.
• WR Jeff Maehl - He didn't arrive to training camp until late (August 12th).
• S Earl Wolff - Intriguing athleticism but still clearly a rookie.
• WR Ifeanyi Momah - He simply wasn't good. Great size but didn't prove he could play. Didn't show much ability. Forever dead last in the Na Brown power rankings.
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So what do you guys think? Did someone deserve the award after all or is this the right call?