Every successful Eagles season always has a few surprises.
In 2017, Corey Clement burst onto the scene and made some huge plays down the stretch and in the postseason and, of course, Nick Foles caught fire and won Super Bowl MVP. Last year, with the secondary in flames, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Rasul Douglas stepped up and provided enough stability to help the Eagles go on a playoff run.
This year, if the Birds are going to go on another Super Bowl run, they’re going to need some unheralded players to step up. Below are three who have their flaws and question marks, but also a tremendous upside that could help the team soar in 2019.
Boston Scott - RB
Two weeks ago, Corey Clement seemed to be the obvious choice to be the Eagles’ No. 3 back, were he healthy enough. But Clement hasn’t been able to get on the field, and that has given players like Boston Scott a chance to shine and potentially take Clement’s job.
Doug Pederson brings up Boston Scott when asked about a player who can fill the Darren Sproles role.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) June 3, 2019
“He would be the kind of guy who’s taken that role over right now.”#Eagles
Scott has shown a solid ability to catch the ball so far this off-season, and getting a comp to the great Darren Sproles is certainly a feather in his cap. Scott, who played for Louisiana Tech and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 6th round of last year’s draft, was signed by the team in Week 15 of last year from New Orleans’ practice squad. He rushed for 1,840 yards and 14 TDs during his college career and was a return specialist as well.
Scott appears to be the front-runner to get the first reps as the Eagles’ punt returner (kick returning in the NFL generally doesn’t exist anymore) and if Pederson’s accolades are any indication, he could enter the season as the team’s No. 3 running back.
Corey Clement - RB
Corey Clement was never quite right last season. The undrafted free agent surprised everyone in ‘17 when he rushed for 321 yards and 4 TDs and caught four balls for 100 yards and a TD in Super Bowl 52. Last year, he was expected to be a major part of the running game, but as injuries sidelined Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi, Clement was dealing with nagging injuries of his own and rushed for only 259 yards last season, just 3.8 yards per attempt. He also caught just 22 balls out of the backfield, and saw his yards per reception drop from 12.3 his rookie season to 8.7.
Clement has now become an afterthought, battling Wendell Smallwood for the No. 4 running back job. Jordan Howard, added via trade, will get most of the carries on the ground, Miles Sanders, one of the team’s second-round picks this year, is expected to get a lot of action on the ground and in the passing game, too, and now Scott is essentially being groomed as Sproles’ replacement.
Clement never seemed to be totally healthy last season and, so far this off-season, Clement’s injuries are still a concern. He hasn’t practiced with the team yet, and that’s a worry. But if he can get healthy, he’s shown an ability to make plays, especially out of the backfield as a receiver. He also has more experience in this offense, so a return to his late-season 2017 self could be a huge key for an offense that clearly needs production from the backfield in order to succeed.
When Sidney Jones was preparing for the 2017 NFL Draft, he was a consensus first round pick. But then he tore his Achilles in pre-draft workouts and the Eagles spent a second round pick on Jones, red-shirting him for his rookie season in the NFL.
After a long road back to the field, Jones missed large portions of last year, playing in just nine games and, when he did play, he wasn’t terribly effective. He certainly didn’t play up to the level of a potential first round draft pick. But so far this off-season, Eagles coaches are high on his performance.
Doug Pederson mentioned the following players who have “stood out” in these OTAs: WR Nelson Agholor, TE Dallas Goedert, QB Carson Wentz, CB Avonte Maddox, CB Sidney Jones and CB Rasul Douglas.— Dave Spadaro (@EaglesInsider) June 3, 2019
The Eagles have a loaded group of cornerbacks already. Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Avonte Maddox can all play. But the talent is there for Jones to be better than all of these players and, if he reaches his ceiling, could be an impact player in Jim Schwartz’ secondary.
It was two seasons ago Sendejo was rated as the 11th best safety in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, but all we remember is him getting steamrolled by LeGarrette Blount during the Eagles’ 38-7 dismantling of Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game.
Last year, Sendejo started the first five games before a groin injury ended his season. He was signed by the Eagles this off-season and the assumption has been that he could be cut so the Birds could get back the compensatory draft pick they would lose if they were to keep him. However, Schwartz has already given the veteran hard-hitter a nickname “Dejo,” and you generally don’t do that if you’re going to cut the guy in a couple months. Schwartz has also specifically singled out Sendejo’s performance this spring.
His role on the team remains unclear, but Sendejo has the ability to be an impact stopper against the run, if he can stay healthy.