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Eagles Rookie Report Card: 2019 season review and what’s to come

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Evaluating the young guys.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

With the Eagles’ 2019 campaign officially over, we can now look back on how the team’s rookie class fared over the course of the entire season. Today we’ll look not only at the rookies that the team rostered, but go through the rest of the 2019 draft class as well to assess the short-term impact of the players, while projecting what they will do next in Philly.

Andre Dillard, Offensive Tackle

Draft Pick: Round One, Pick 22

Rookie Season Grade: B+

Andre Dillard was drafted as the left tackle of the future, but it turned out the future came much quicker than expected for the Washington State alumnus. Dillard was thrust into starting duty midseason after a Jason Peters injury and, despite a rough start, found his footing and performed well when called upon. His season highlight was a shutdown performance against Khalil Mack and the Bears’ defensive line.

In a bit of a head scratching move, Dillard was sent back to the bench when Peters got healthy despite showing a lot of promise. Peters was solid in his return, but every week it was hard to feel they were wasting snaps on the banged up and penalty prone vet when they could be getting valuable experience for a future cornerstone.

Long Term Outlook: While Peters said that he wants to keep playing, the Eagles need to think hard about making Dillard the guy at left tackle. He showed tremendous potential in year one and the team should be very excited about what they have in him.

Poll

Grade Andre Dillard’s rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    A
    (578 votes)
  • 63%
    B
    (1581 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (316 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (20 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (10 votes)
2505 votes total Vote Now

Miles Sanders, Running Back

Draft Pick: Round Two, Pick 53

Rookie Season Grade: A-

Miles Sanders was brought onto the team to add juice and big plays to the running game and that is exactly what he brought in year one. Sanders started the year with four games with at least 10 carries where he flashed explosiveness and an ability to contribute in the passing game. Sanders experienced a midseason lull in usage, but when Jordan Howard went down with injury, Sanders became arguably the most important non-Carson Wentz player on the offense. Sanders had a few signature performances, including a huge game against Washington late in the season to help the Eagles playoff push. Sanders fought through an ankle injury to perform strongly in the playoffs too. He finished the year with over 800 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving, setting new marks for Eagles rookies in rushing and total yardage.

Long Term Outlook: It’s hard not to be excited about Sanders’ future in Philadelphia. He is an every down playmaker and a threat to house the ball on any carry. He gained a lot of confidence in the second half of the season and looked great taking the ball downhill. After years of searching, Sanders looks like the answer at the running back position.

Poll

Grade Miles Sanders’ rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    A
    (2334 votes)
  • 9%
    B
    (234 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (7 votes)
2593 votes total Vote Now

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Wide Receiver

Draft Pick: Round Two. Pick 57

Rookie Season Grade: F

It’s difficult to see JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s season as anything but a huge disappointment. The most frustrating part about it is that many aspects of the let-down were out of his control. Arcega-Whiteside was drafted to be the fourth or fifth receiver for a year and develop while Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor made plays for the Eagles. Injuries immediately struck the offense and Arcega-Whiteside was forced into the starting lineup early in the season where he looked pretty terrible. Instead of riding out the bumps and hoping Arcega-Whiteside could grow (similar to Sanders and Dillard’s in-season development), the Eagles pulled the plug and buried him deep on the bench. In his place, Mack Hollins and Agholor did absolutely nothing to validate their playing time. I understand not wanting to play a rookie if he’s hurting the team, but the Eagles were incapable of fielding anyone better for most of the season, so why not let him play? Arcega-Whiteside eventually got back on the field where he would show glimpses of why he was drafted so high, but never made a consistent impact on any game he played in. By the end of the season, Greg Ward Jr. had emerged and the team was more interested in playing Robert Davis and Deontay Burnett than they were JJ. Not great.

Long Term Outlook: There is no way the Eagles can go into the offseason feeling good about JJ Arcega-Whiteside as a future playmaker on the team. This is by no means a condemnation of his future, but the reality is the team will need to bring in more playmakers at wide receiver this spring and JJ Arcega-Whiteside has a HUGE uphill battle to make it into the starting line up next year.

Poll

Grade JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (14 votes)
  • 8%
    C
    (219 votes)
  • 36%
    D
    (954 votes)
  • 53%
    F
    (1397 votes)
2598 votes total Vote Now

Shareef Miller, EDGE Defender

Draft Pick: Round 4, Pick 138

Rookie Season Grade: N/A

Shareef Miller was a developmental pick and there was little expectation he would be an impact player in his rookie year. Miller was buried on the depth chart behind Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, an emerging Josh Sweat and Daeshon Hall who had a fantastic pre-season. Miller only played two special teams snaps in 2019. Hard to knock his rookie season when it was basically expected he wouldn’t contribute. Miller showed some promise in preseason, however.

Long Term Outlook: The Eagles have some young players on their defensive line who figure as future contributors. Barnett finished the season strong and Josh Sweat looks poised for a breakout season. With Brandon Graham still a fixture on the defense, Miller’s ceiling next year is beating Daeshon Hall (coming off an ACL tear) for the fourth pass rusher spot. Not great, but in Jim Schwartz defense, we should hope to see a bit more of Miller next season.

Poll

Grade Shareef Miller’s rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (40 votes)
  • 2%
    B
    (40 votes)
  • 35%
    C
    (570 votes)
  • 27%
    D
    (440 votes)
  • 31%
    F
    (494 votes)
1584 votes total Vote Now

Clayton Thorson, Quarterback

Draft Pick: Round 5, 167

Rookie Season Grade: LOL

Remember this guy? After an uninspiring and horrible preseason, Thorson was cut in August and was signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad where he will remain until eternity. The Eagles drafted Thorson four picks ahead of Giants rookie standout wide receiver Darius Slayton. Yikes.

Long Term Outlook: Also LOL


Undrafted Rookies

TJ Edwards, Linebacker

Rookie Season Grade: B

I made the prediction in midseason that TJ Edwards would be a starter by midseason. While it was partially due to injuries, I ended up being right. TJ Edwards saw the field throughout the year as the third linebacker in the base defense. He looked good, if not a bit boring, all year. Edwards was immediately a dependable run defender and a physical contributor on defense.

Long Term Outlook: Edwards should be in the running to start again next year. In fact, he should compete over the summer for an even bigger role on defense. He is a smart, tough player and could potentially grow into a leader next year. He just needs to show he can play consistently on passing downs.

Poll

Grade TJ Edwards’ rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    A
    (212 votes)
  • 55%
    B
    (1016 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (549 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (36 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (23 votes)
1836 votes total Vote Now

Anthony Rush, Nose Tackle

Rookie Season Grade: B-

Anthony Rush’s midseason addition to the team provided a surprising boost. When Malik Jackson went down, the Eagles needed more bodies up front on defense. Rush brought a lot of size to the defensive line and was a solid run defender. He even flashed a bit of pocket pushing skills on passing downs.

Long Term Outlook: Anthony Rush is going to have stiff competition along the defensive line next year. However, his unique impact and upside as a big bodied run defender gives him a shot to be the fourth defensive tackle on the roster.

Poll

Grade Anthony Rush’s rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A
    (132 votes)
  • 52%
    B
    (846 votes)
  • 35%
    C
    (567 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (49 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (9 votes)
1603 votes total Vote Now

Marcus Epps, Safety

Rookie Season Grade: C

Marcus Epps was drafted by Minnesota last spring and was cut halfway into his rookie season by the Vikings only to get picked up by Philly soon after. Epps immediately stepped into the lineup as a third safety, a position Jim Schwartz uses quite a bit. Epps did not make much of a dynamic impact, but he was far from horrible, which is notable for a rookie brought in on such short notice.

Long Term Outlook: Epps will likely get a shot at a similar role next season. The safety position is a bit up in the air next year with Malcolm Jenkins saying he wants a new deal, but assuming Jenkins gets paid, Epps’ ceiling is the third safety next year if he returns.

Poll

Grade Marcus Epps’ rookie season

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (21 votes)
  • 13%
    B
    (202 votes)
  • 57%
    C
    (851 votes)
  • 22%
    D
    (324 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (73 votes)
1471 votes total Vote Now