The Philadelphia Eagles would’ve played a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts last night it weren’t for the coronavirus. I would’ve posted an article prior to the game about the most interesting players to watch.
Now I’m left writing about players I would’ve been most interested to watch if the preseason schedule hadn’t been cancelled. Sigh. At least the regular season is (potentially) less than a month away? And this list kind of doubles as “players I’m most excited to see during training camp practices” that start this coming Monday, August 17.
1 - Jalen Reagor
Impossible to start this list with anyone else than the Eagles’ 2020 first-round pick. The team seems to be counting on getting immediate impact out of him. In that vein, Reagor might not have gotten a lot of preseason playing time. The Eagles mostly kept Miles Sanders out of harm’s way last summer once they saw he was clearly good. Reagor might’ve ended up in the same boat had there been a real offseason. Still, it would’ve been nice to see Reagor make a big play or two. Something to inspire confidence early on.
2 - Andre Dillard
Dillard’s playing time would’ve been limited as a projected full-time starter but he would’ve gotten some snaps out there. Dillard graded out well in last year’s preseason and it would’ve been encouraging to see him do it again. By contrast, a shaky preseason showing would do nothing to quell concerns about the guy protecting Carson Wentz’s blindside.
3 - Jason Peters
The Eagles typically don’t need to play Peters in the preseason but they would’ve had to give him some right guard snaps, right? It would’ve been a good opportunity for him to work on his timing and communication with Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson.
4 - Jalen Hurts
In reality, Hurts is bound to begin the season as the third string quarterback behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. If not for a shortened offseason, however, he could’ve had a real chance to immediately push for the No. 2 quarterback job. He sure would’ve been much more entertaining to watch than previous Eagles preseason quarterbacks like Cody Kessler, Clayton Thorson, Mike McGloin, Dane Evans, etc. I can’t imagine the Eagles would’ve burned any Hurts non-QB plays in the preseason.
5 - Jalen Mills
The Eagles are counting on Mills to transition from cornerback to safety as he tries to fill the void left by Malcolm Jenkins. It would’ve been interesting to see exactly where all Mills is lining up in the defense and if there were any communication issues. Mills admitted that area has been the most challenging aspect of his new position.
6 - J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
Remember when JJAW caught eight of his nine targets for 104 yards and one touchdown in just three quarters against the Baltimore Ravens last August? He looked pretty good!
Of course, that performance didn’t translate into regular season success. That similarly could’ve been the case this year. But you’d rather see him playing well than not. JJAW taking a big step in Year 2 would go a long way towards assuaging short-term and long-term concerns about the Eagles’ receiving corps. The ideal setup would involve JJAW succeeding Alshon Jeffery at X, Reagor taking over for DeSean Jackson at Z, and Greg Ward being the slot guy.
7 - Davion Taylor
The Eagles are really thin at linebacker but Taylor offers a lot of upside. His inexperience could very well prevent him from being a defensive contributor as a rookie. But what if that concern proves to be overblown and Taylor can make plays from the jump? Would’ve been good to gauge where he’s at.
8 - K’Von Wallace
Wallace is the most likely Eagles rookie to see playing time behind Reagor. I can’t envision him supplanting Mills as a starter but he could get on the field in nickel and/or dime packages. Preseason would’ve given Wallace the opportunity to prove he’s ready to contribute right away. He could still do well for himself in camp but game action could’ve really helped him.
9 - Genard Avery
Avery only played 33 defensive snaps (3% of the team’s total) after the Eagles traded a 2021 fourth-round pick to acquire him last year. We barely got to see the dude. How do the Eagles plan to use him, exactly? Is he often going to line up in the joker role or just as a regular defensive end? And can he actually produce? Avery’s looking like the fifth guy in the edge rotation at best right now.
10 - Joe Ostman
Ostman looked pretty great in camp last year before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in early August. It would’ve been interesting to see if his practice performances translated to game action. It also would’ve been important to see him looking healthy and recovered. He could’ve made his case to make the roster.
11 - Jordan Mailata
Mailata’s only NFL action has ever come in preseason games. This an important summer for the third-year offensive tackle as he appears to be on the roster bubble. It could be tough for the Eagles to keep Mailata around without him giving them game film to evaluate his progress. Would’ve been interested to gauge how far he’s come since playing his first ever organized football game back in the summer of 2018.
12 - Grayland Arnold
Had to show some love to the undrafted rookie free agent long-shot guys. Arnold might not even be truly considered one of those as he’s received unprompted praise from both Howie Roseman (on multiple occasions) and Rodney McLeod. Arnold could end up being a developmental safety the Eagles stash on the bottom of their roster. He would’ve had a chance to boost his stock in the preseason.
13 - Mike Warren
You could also lump undrafted rookie free agent speedster Adrian Killins in this section. I went with Warren since he received the higher guarantee from the Eagles and his physical style would’ve been fun to watch in the preseason as opposed to practices. Killins is primed to thrive more in the latter. Warren, Killins, and Elijah Holyfield are competing for that fourth running back spot behind Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Corey Clement.
Which Eagles players were you most looking forward to seeing in the first preseason game?