The Philadelphia Eagles officially filled 15 of their 17 practice squad spots with returning players on Wednesday. Now they’re reportedly adding two new players to hit max capacity: wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (per Adam Caplan) and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (per John Clark).
Johnson, who turns 25 in October, was a sixth-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft. He struggled to make much of an impact in his first two seasons, seeing 65 targets but only logging 36 receptions for 360 yards (10.0 average) and one touchdown in 18 games played (five starts).
Despite this, some Cardinals fans still seemed to have hope for Johnson. Our friends over at Revenge Of The Birds had him making the team on their 53-man roster projections. They said they were “really surprised” to see him get cut. It’s been said that Johnson’s lack of special teams contributions did him in.
Another factor working against Johnson was his lack of athleticism. There’s more to being a good receiver than simply posting good testing numbers but this isn’t ideal:
Nick Sirianni, who has an affinity for receivers, and the Eagles’ coaching staff will try to aide Johnson’s development. Maybe he can be a contributor down the road. For now, he gives the Eagles some extra depth. Along with Travis Fulgham and John Hightower, he’s one of three wide receivers on the practice squad. The Eagles are also carrying five receivers on their 53-man roster.
Johnson pre-draft scouting report from NFL.com:
Decorated four-year starter whose production surpassed that of former Bulldog and current Green Bay Packer Davante Adams. Scouts worry about Johnson’s speed and “inflated” production based upon the way he was used, but his ability to win jump balls with athletic ability and contested catches underneath with positioning and hand strength is what helps him stand out. He might lack timed speed, but he’s smooth and natural in the way he operates and could surprise if he tightens up his routes.
(KeeSean Johnson is not related to Keyshawn Johnson, in case you were wondering.)
Wilson, who turns 23 in a few days, signed with the Cleveland Browns after going unpicked in the 2021 NFL Draft. There seemed to be a competitive market for his services considering the Browns reportedly gave him $193,000 guaranteed. To put that figure in perspective, Jack Stoll received the highest guarantee of any Eagles UDFA signing at $122,500.
The demand for Wilson stemmed from him being a five-star recruit coming out of high school. He had success in Florida State with five sacks in 2019 but took a step back in 2020. Despite his disappointing senior season, there was thought Wilson could be a Day 3 pick. NFL.com had him projected as a fifth-round selection:
Former five-star recruit who flashed good power, talent and motor in 2019 to back that rating up. However, Wilson wore excess weight in 2020, which slowed him and made him much less effective. His 2019 tape shows a classic stack-and-shed interior lineman with the strength and anchor to help control the line of scrimmage for 4-3 or 3-4 defenses. He lacks reaction time off the snap so playing at a quicker weight might be pivotal for his success. He rushes with sheer force and leverage to push the pocket but might be capable of more with additional schooling. Wilson has potential but could be pegged as nothing more than a rotational two-gapper.
Wilson must’ve not looked good with the Browns for them to bail after giving him a significant guarantee. Pro Football Focus’s grading indicates that was the case considering they have Big Marv ranked 170th out of 173 defensive tackles graded in the preseason. (Just one spot behind Marlon Tuipulotu, who made the Eagles’ roster.)
Perhaps Wilson could benefit from being around high profile defensive tackles like Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. The Eagles will try to see if they can develop Big Marv into a future contributor.
EAGLES PRACTICE SQUAD
DT Marvin WIlson
WR KeeSean Johnson
S Grayland Arnold
G/T Kayode Awosika
OT Le’Raven Clark
WR Travis Fulgham
WR John Hightower
RB Jordan Howard
RB Jason Huntley
CB Michael Jacquet III
CB Craig James
OG Sua Opeta
C/G Ross Pierschbacher
S Elijah Riley
LB JaCoby Stevens
DT Raequan Williams
DE Matt Leo - International exemption, doesn’t count towards 16-player limit