This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.
Mychal Kendricks, released. Paul Worrilow, injured. What do the Eagles do now that they’ve got their first legitimate starting-position concern on the roster? Let’s explore that first, along with some other thoughts as the Eagles get ready for a big week of action (White House visit, end of OTAs, looking ahead to next week’s mandatory minicamp) on and off the field …
- There is no clear-cut favorite to become the starter at weakside linebacker. The Eagles are going to give a ton of reps to the likes of Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry and a rookie named Asantay Brown, but until the pads go on it’s unfair to make any concrete decisions. I think the Eagles feel like they can mix and match here, and if they are in need midway through the preseason, they’ll find somebody from outside the team. But, no doubt, the defense needs somebody to step up. Grugier-Hill is the leader of the pack, at this instant. But that can change at any time. Kendricks had his challenges, mostly his sometimes—freelancing ways, but he was explosive and athletic and physical in this defense.
- Want a candidate to be “the next Nelson Agholor?” How about second-year wide receiver Shelton Gibson, who has been much more consistent catching the football this spring. He’s a flyer who has had to basically start at ground zero in the NFL. At West Virginia, it was explained to me, Gibson’s routes were built on his speed so he caught passes as he ran away from the line of scrimmage. Here, he’s had to learn how to come back to the ball and change his route tree and catch the ball differently. He’s come a long way. Is it enough to stave off the challenge from a veteran like Markus Wheaton?
- Jordan Hicks looks great in his recovery and his spirits are high and the Eagles surely do need to keep him healthy this season. Linebacker is, in many ways, undervalued in today’s NFL where offenses use at least three wide receivers 60 percent of the time (and more), but the Eagles need Hicks in a big, big way in 2018. It’s a huge year for him.
- Nobody talks about Isaac Seumalo anymore, a sign of just how much he’s fallen after being, at this point a year ago, the starting left guard on the depth chart. Stefen Wisniewski has a stranglehold on that position, and the Eagles have moved Seumalo to the center position to back up Jason Kelce. This is intriguing. Seumalo is still a really good prospect. He’s big and strong and powerful. It’s going to be interesting to see how he fares at center this summer. Maybe he will blossom there.
- Dallas Goedert, from everything I’ve seen, is all that was advertised and maybe a little bit more. He was hampered by an ankle injury last season at South Dakota State, so he didn’t really jump off the screen watching his games. Now he’s healthy and running much better. Goedert catches everything. He’s got a chance to be an upgrade over Trey Burton. The real question here for the tight end position is how the position responds in blocking situations. Brent Celek was here to block. Now he’s not here. The Eagles need to fill that physical void. Maybe it’s Richard Rodgers, who never has been known as a blocker in the past.
- He’s wearing a red jersey (which means, DO NOT TOUCH) so it’s hard to read too much into this, but Nate Sudfeld looks like he’s in command on the field at the quarterback position. He threw some bullets last week in the red zone and he’s got a strong understanding of the offense and where to go with the football. We will see a lot of him in the preseason. Like, three quarters a game worth of playing time, perhaps. Nick Foles won’t play much, Carson Wentz won’t play at all (I’m sticking by that, even with Wentz increasing his practice action in the spring) and Joe Callahan will see limited time. It’s going to be a lot of Sudfeld. The Eagles want to know for sure what they have with him.
- Here is my defensive end roster projection: Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Steven Means on the 53-man roster. Joe Ostman on the practice squad. Josh Sweat on Injured Reserve. Watching Sweat on the field, it just doesn’t seem like his knee injury, suffered in high school, is all the way back. A year of rehabilitation would be fantastic for him. As exciting as it is for the Eagles at defensive end in 2018, it’s also important that they look to the future for players to build around Barnett.
- And, finally, some thoughts on the cornerback position, now that the rest of the world is talking about De’Vante Bausby: The Eagles are moving the pieces all around just to see what they have with some of the younger players like Bausby and Sidney Jones and D.J. Killings and rookie Avonte Maddox. This is as promising a group as the Eagles have had in many seasons. They should be set for a long time at one of the game’s most critical positions. I’m not sure I see Jones in the slot, but he’s getting work there. I still think Maddox is going to be a factor in the slot when all is said and done. Could the Eagles move a cornerback in a trade? Absolutely. Defensive end and cornerback are two in-need positions in the NFL and the Eagles are stocked at both positions. There will be some late-summer chatter going on at those spots around the league.