Now that the Philadelphia Eagles are through their first block of training camp practices, let’s assess the biggest winners and losers so far.
The clear leader in the starting left tackle battle thus far. Mailata is having the best camp of his career. Just not seeing many bad reps or big mistakes from him.
Sweat has been splitting first team defensive end reps with Derek Barnett. Whereas Sweat was clearly behind the Eagles’ 2017 first-round pick on Jim Schwartz’s depth chart, Philly’s 2018 fourth-round pick is getting a chance to start under a new coaching staff. Sweat’s been making the most out of his opportunities, too, by regularly being disruptive. Barnett is also having a good camp, to be clear, but I’d put Sweat slightly ahead for now.
Many expected Taylor to be the fifth or sixth linebacker on the depth chart heading into camp. Instead, he’s been LB1 (though Alex Singleton hasn’t practiced due to being on the COVID list). I can’t say I’ve seen Taylor stand out on a daily basis but he did have a good practice on Friday. Hopefully the quadriceps injury he recently suffered doesn’t keep him out long.
Smith is responsible for the most exciting play in camp to this point. He burned Steve Nelson for a deep touchdown reception from Jalen Hurts. Moreover, Smith has seen a lot of targets while working with the first team offense. It’s clear he’s good and he’s going to be heavily involved in the offense. As he should be.
He’s arguably been the best passer early on in Eagles training camp. Mullens has made good decisions and gotten the ball out quick. He’s making the case to be the No. 2 quarterback, though Joe Flacco might already have the job on lock.
I don’t know if the Eagles can reasonably rely on Jackson to play in a game this year. The former college quarterback is only in his first offseason as a tight end. But the 6’7”, 249 pound target sure is intriguing. He’s made a number of good catches and has shown more physicality than you might expect for a newbie to the position. At the very least, seems worth keeping around on the practice squad. Might find a way to push for the TE3 spot.
Good summer to be a T. Jackson. The Eagles’ 2021 sixth-round pick has stood out in 1-on-1s in addition to having some team drill success. Barring injury, he’s not poised to play much this year since he’s behind Brandon Graham, Sweat, Barnett, and Ryan Kerrigan on the depth chart. But he’s earning a DE5 spot on the roster. Jackson could be an important long-term piece since only Graham from the group above is signed beyond this season.
Hard to get too excited about McGill since we’re talking about a player who turns 29 this season and has had 11 different NFL stints. But he’s popped as an interior rusher. The Eagles might want to keep him around instead of Hassan Ridgeway, who has been much more prone to injury. Could be anything from DT3 to DT5.
The Eagles’ defense has been ahead of the Eagles’ offense in camp. They’ve been practicing with a lot of energy. JG, a fiery guy in his own right, deserves some credit for that. There’s also a level of intrigue with the defense given how Philly’s new defensive coordinator has been showing different looks, such as occasional 3-4 fronts.
I thought about putting Hurts in an “I don’t know” category. It’s hardly like he’s had a terrible camp. Up and down is probably the best way to describe it. I just don’t think that’s nearly good enough to convince the Eagles that he’s their guy. There hasn’t been any kind of “night and day” difference with Hurts and I think that’s what the team wanted to see. In fairness to Hurts, he’s not going to shine in practice settings as he can in the games due to his mobile ability. But it still would be nice to see him doing more with his arm in terms of improved accuracy and throwing with anticipation. There’s plenty of summer left for Hurts to turn things around. For now, we’re putting him in this section.
It’s only fair to point out that Reagor might not be in the best mental space right now after a childhood friend of his was murdered. We all feel for him as a human being. Evaluating him as a player, though, he’s just not off to an ideal start in camp. He suffered an injury (“lower body tightness”) while failing his physical and hasn’t yet been a full participant in practice. Ask yourselves: is this really how Reagor’s breakout season begins?
I just don’t think Dillard is a good football player. He struggled as a rookie, he didn’t look good in camp last year, and now he’s having more issues this summer. He might be overcompensating with his issues against the bull rush because he’s been beaten by quickness as well. Dillard’s been badly beaten too often — physically and mentally — in both 1-on-1s and team drills. He’s not always a total turnstile out there but he’s clearly not as good as Mailata.
I’ll never understand why the Eagles gave him $3.5 million guaranteed. He’s been outperformed by both Hurts and Mullens. Flacco’s struggled with accuracy issues.
Small sample size but not great to see Elliott go only 4/6 on field goal attempts after having the worst season of his career in 2020. We’ll see if he can turn it around.
The hamstring injury Brooks suffered early on the second day of training camp isn’t believed to be serious. That being said, he’s already missed at least two full practices since then. Brooks missing time isn’t doing anything to silence questions about the soon-to-be 32-year-old’s durability.
Gainwell’s flashed a little as a pass-catcher, which is important. He hasn’t popped at all as a runner, though. Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, Kerryon Johnson, and Jason Huntley have all been better than him in that regard. Gainwell will likely make the roster but I wonder how much he’ll actually play. He sure won’t be returning punts considering how much he’s struggled to field them.
Ertz is reportedly “not happy” about still being in Philly.
Really on-brand for me, right? I just don’t think it’s a great decision to have Ertz practicing. He’s one injury away from the Eagles being on the hook for $8.5 million that they could otherwise clear and roll over to next year. Beyond the Ertz thing, I have Roseman down as a loser due to the Carson Wentz injury situation. That’s obviously not Howie’s fault but it’s bad for the Eagles that it seems like they won’t end up getting a 2022 first-round pick for Wentz.
We’ll have a new edition of winners and losers for you when the Eagles have their second camp break on Friday, August 6.