Welcome to the latest edition of the Bleeding Green Nation mailbag. Each weekend I'll be taking some of your Eagles questions and answering them in this post As always, thanks to everyone who sent in a question. We already answered some of your inquiries on the latest episode of BGN Radio (click HERE to listen). Now it's time for some of the ones we didn't already address. Let's get started.
@joshuadeckop asks: Who has a bigger impact this season: Rueben Randle or Chris Givens?
Before I answer the question, allow me to start by saying I like the idea behind these signings. The wide receiver free agent market wasn't great. Overpaying for players at the top of the market like Marvin Jones (five years, $40 million) or Mohamed Sanu (five years, $32.5 million) wouldn't have been great value for the Eagles. Randle and Givens might be less reliable than the more pricey options, but they're low-risk gambles with the potential to be one-year bargains. Randle received $500,000 guaranteed and Givens got $180,000. That's very cheap in the NFL world.
Back to the question. Let's start with Randle. The LSU product entered the NFL at a young age. He only turned 25 in May. It's no secret that Randle was a frustrating player for the Giants. His raw talent wasn't questioned, though, as much as his effort and football IQ. Despite his faults, Randle was productive for the G-Men. He finished his career in New York with 188 receptions for 2,644 yards (14.1 average) and 20 touchdowns. Eight of those scores came last season. Durability was never an issue, either, as he's never missed a game since being drafted.
The fact that Randle has proven he can produce leads me believe he's the safer bet to have the bigger impact. I wouldn't completely sleep on Givens, though. The 26-year-old looked good in spring practices, for what it's worth. He showed the ability to get open deep, which is what he had success doing with Sam Bradford in St. Louis. The Eagles' offense sorely lacks reliable play-makers. Givens is hardly a star but at least he has some kind of big play ability.
Right now, I don't see a big difference in impact between the two players. Randle might have the better chance to start, but I think they'll both get playing time. Randle offers the Eagles more of a possession target while Givens is the boom-or-bust threat.
If only we could see this thought experiment turn into reality. Yes, I do think the Eagles would instantly be legitimate championship contenders with Brady or Rodgers. The quarterback position is everything in the NFL. We've seen those guys carry less than stellar teams to big wins. Now, I don't think the Eagles would necessarily be championship favorites, but they'd be in the mix to compete for a title.
@D_Tomei asks: Thoughts on rookies other than Carson Wentz? Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills, Isaac Seumalo, and others?
The Eagles are apparently high on Smallwood, but I have a hard time seeing him as a feature back at this point. Seems like a rotational guy for now.
Mills looked really impressive this spring. Had a great knack for anticipating throws and making plays on the ball. Waiting to see how he looks when the pads come on. Don't think he'll be starting quite yet, but should be in line for some playing time.
Seumalo is behind the eight ball after missing spring practices due to NCAA rule. Has a chance to start at left guard if he can quickly make up ground.
I could see where Halapoulivaati Vaitai makes the team but doesn't dress all year, a la Taylor Hart in 2014.
Blake Countess has a chance to make the roster since the Eagles are so thin at safety. I didn't notice him a ton in the spring outside of a few plays. He looks small. He's listed at 5-10, 184.
Alex McCalister is going to need to put on some weight, per defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Might be practice squad material.
Joe Walker could make the roster since the Eagles are thin on linebacker depth. His value as a special teams contributor will help his chances.
@ImNotLit asks: Will Kenjon Barner make the 53-man squad?
I currently have Barner making the team on my latest 53-man projection. This is what I wrote.
I'm tentatively leaving Barner on here for now because he's proven to be able to contribute on special teams. The Birds could look to add a player from the waiver wire if someone interesting becomes available after final cuts.
He's right on the bubble for me. He'll need a good showing in training camp and preseason to make the squad. His main competition could be undrafted rookie free agent and fellow Oregon Ducks player Byron Marshall. Marshall's versatility to contribute at both receiver and running back could give him the edge over the veteran.
@PhllyDraft asks: How many and who are the OL and DBs that will make the final 53? Should be some good battles.
Good question. It'll be interesting to see who steps up this summer. Let's revisit my latest 53-man projection again.
Offensive Line - Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly, Haalapoulivaati Vaitai (10)
Cornerbacks - Leodis McKelvin, Eric Rowe, Ron Brooks, Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills, Denzel Rice (6)
To me, the locks along the offensive line include: Peters, Barbre, Kelce, Brooks, Johnson, Wisniewski, and Seumalo. Then there are guys like Tobin, Kelly, Vaitai, Andrew Gardner, Malcolm Bunche, and Darrell Greene competing for the final two or three spots. I feel pretty good about my projection here.
McKelvin seems like a lock to start at cornerback. The other starting spot isn't so clear. With that said, Rowe, Brooks, Carroll, and Mills are likely locks to make the team. If the Eagles keep a sixth cornerback, which I think they will, it comes down to JaCorey Shepherd versus Denzel Rice. Shepherd looked good in spring practices last offseason but he's working his way back from injury and Rice has looked good this offseason.
@killakow asks: Do you listen to Lou Bega?
Mambo No. 5 will always love you.