A young core of talented players is key for any team. Having a rack of those will become even more important for the Philadelphia Eagles when Carson Wentz’s eventual contract extension breaks the bank.
So how to the Eagles youngest portion of the squad look? If you exclude rookies, there’s a pretty clear cream of the crop. Identifying them was easy, ranking them was the hard part. That’s what we attempt to do on The Kist & Solak Show #96.
Excluding rookies, setting the cut off at under 25 by the start of the 2019 NFL season, and operating under an entirely arbitrary set of rules not discussed beforehand, the list looks fairly different between myself and Benjamin Solak.
DALLAS GOEDERT (Kist: 1st, Solak: 2nd)
Even as a “backup”, Goedert contributed on nearly half of the offensive snaps as a rookie. He accumulated a modest 334 yards receiving, adding 4 touchdowns and an unexpected penchant for run blocking. Moving forward, Goedert projects as a versatile move piece that should see the field on over half the snaps. It’s worth noting that he was Pro Football Focus’ 10th graded tight end when filtering out low usage players. Not bad for a second round selection.
Kyle Shanahan calls this concept "Leak", pretty obvious why.. PHI tried it out in '18 w/success.— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) May 24, 2019
Play 1: TE leak to Hooper ('16)
Play 2: FB leak to Juszczyk ('17)
Play 3: TE leak to Kittle ('18)
Play 4: TE leak to Goedert ('18) pic.twitter.com/w8YfLxkMTw
The future is bright for Goedert, who by all accounts started out 2019 looking dominant.
“Dallas Goedert is also too good to not be getting regular playing time. On that note, I was encouraged to see the Eagles use a decent amount of two tight ends. Goedert really impressed during practices last year and he looks even better this spring. He’s just so big and strong. Defenders can try to contest all they want but he’s getting the ball when it’s thrown in his area. He just looks impossible to guard at times.” - Brandon Lee Gowton
AVONTE MADDOX (Kist: 2nd, Solak: 3rd)
Just get him on the field. We don’t care if it’s at safety, outside cornerback, or at the nickel. He’s too talented to keep on the sideline. Maddox’s versatility was on full display as a rookie as he racked up 295 snaps at outside corner, 225 at free safety, 109 at nickel, 40 in the box and even had 2 snaps designated as “defensive line”, most likely as a blitzer.
Looks like Cover 3 Cloud; Avonte Maddox does a wonderful job leveraging his zone. In a position to come down but also gets great depth to tip this ball (oh Michael Bennett is really good) - pic.twitter.com/o1IPO3mR4F— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 17, 2018
We thought Maddox’s struggles as a free safety were largely glossed over and completely understandable, projecting him as a nickel corner moving forward. That’s where the Eagles slotted him for organized team activities. Again, it doesn’t really matter where you put him, just get him on the field. Maddox’s 59.9 QB Rating when targeted led the Eagles and ranked 4th in the league among cornerbacks.
Can't wait to see the all-22 on this..— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 17, 2018
Before the snap Goff says to Reynolds, multiple times, "Blaze Out", which is a vertical route that threatens the post before snapping off to the out. Avonte Maddox looks to play it perfectly - pic.twitter.com/MFyt9e91vi
DEREK BARNETT (Kist: 3rd, Solak: 1st)
In a shocking twist, Solak spent most of his energy defending Barnett, a player he’s been known to be tepid on. I wouldn’t call it a full-blown change of heart though. Projecting Barnett as a high single-digit sack contributor, fulfilling and exceeding that expectation would make a big difference in how well the pass rush performs overall.
The Barnett Hive mating call of “he’s only 21” and “he’s only 22” doesn’t need to continue on as he turns 23 years old next month. He’s not magically getting more athletic and he’s entering his sixth year of either college or professional play. This needs to be the year that he lives up to his first round billing.
One thing I’ll note on Barnett is that he’s definitely shown the clutch gene both as a college player and as a pro. In the NFL he notably strip sacked Case Keenum in the NFC Championship Game, recovered Tom Brady’s fumble in the Super Bowl, and closed out the Indianapolis Colts in the Week 3 win last year.
Shot 1 - Derek Barnett gets home for the sack to help seal this #Eagles victory, but we have to give some love to Kamu Grugier-Hill as well. Great job of staying disciplined on the backside and taking the throw away from Andrew Luck #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/IDmObQgAGG— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 25, 2018
For both of us, Rasul Douglas and Jordan Howard rounded out our top five. You can hear our analysis on all of the players above and the rest of our top ten on The Kist & Solak Show #96! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load! New to podcasts? Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!
CLICC DOWNLOAD— BGN Radio (@BGN_Radio) May 25, 2019
The Kist & Solak Show #96!@MichaelKistNFL & @BenjaminSolak rank their top Eagles under 25! Solak is a Derek Barnett stan?! And other weird developments...https://t.co/kKlvN4Z5cw