What to expect from the Eagles rookies against Atlanta

The Eagles head into Monday Night as a completely different team compared to how they entered the season opener last year. There are new faces across the board, some old and some new to the NFL entirely. Just what can we expect from the Eagles rookies against the Falcons?

Nelson Agholor:
Arguably the most explosive receiver in the draft, Agholor was definitely fun to watch during training camp. Byron Maxwell spoke very highly of the USC product and he has a huge upside. Against this Atlanta secondary that doesn’t have a lot of depth past the first three corners on the depth chart, Agholor could just have the perfect platform to show the league what he can do.

We saw in pre-season what it is that makes him so electrifying. He doesn’t make time stopping catches like Odell Beckham JR or have the leaping ability of Megatron, but where Agholor perhaps performs better than most is in his route running. His precision and ability to read a corner’s mind is second to none. 

Not only that but what looks like his top speed is only the beginning. Once the ball falls into his hands, Agholor takes off down the sidelines leaving his opponents for dust. We saw it against the Packers and we are almost certain to see it against Atlanta.

In a normal Offense, Agholor is dangerous. But when Defenses have to cover someone as versatile as Matthews as well as someone like Huff or the physical Riley Cooper, where do you focus your attention?! Because he is an unknown quantity, the Falcons are more likely to focus on Jordan Matthews as they know how lethal he can be. Freeing up one of the fastest receivers in the draft to run rampant down the sidelines and potentially have a breakout game week one. The Falcons have improved their Defense this Off-season, but it’s not enough to remove the pressure that Agholor can bring.

Eric Rowe:
Perhaps the most interesting “scout report” so to speak, Rowe spent the majority of his College days playing at Safety before moving to Corner after being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. The transition has been anything but smooth, being filled with some huge positives and worrying negatives. But come Monday night, Rowe may be thrust onto the main stage should Nolan Carroll get the inside nickel spot.

Rowe would be the next man up ahead of undrafted rookie Denzel Rice and seven year veteran E.J. Biggers. The learning curve from college to the NFL is massive. The learning curve from safety to corner is just as big without taking into account the level of receiver he is now coming up against. It was evident in pre-season that he struggled. Rowe continued to allow receivers to sneak in behind and tripped on one notable play against Green Bay to allow a big yard gain. However he has also made some great plays. Against Atlanta, I can’t see Rowe getting that much playing time and we may well see a rotation of himself, Rice and Biggers.

His one real advantage however is that he attacks the corner spot in the same way he attacks the safety which is both a blessing and a curse. Rowe was prominent in training camp but not so much in the four pre-season games, it remains to be seen if he can use that experience to patch the holes for Monday Night. A big gain allowed in pre-season is one thing, a big gain allowed in a regular season game will have an entirely different set of consequences. Rowe will need to attack this game with a composed mentality. He can’t afford to be too hasty or attack the receiver head on and lose sight of him. It will be a coming of age game for Rowe should he see sufficient playing time. He isn’t projected a big performance but one big play could help raise his confidence to new heights.

Jordan Hicks:
The final Eagles draftee to make the final 53 will look to gain as much experience as he can on special teams on Monday night. Why? Because as an inside linebacker he happens to be stuck behind Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans. The aim this season for the Eagles third round pick is for Hicks to be somewhat tutored by the three intimidating pass rushers and to pick up some valuable experience watching some of the best in the business. Hicks should feature on special teams frequently and if he can make an impact there then who knows..

Denzel Rice:
Rice wasn’t drafted by the Eagles, infact he wasn’t drafted by anybody. But not only did the Eagles give him a shot, but they also rewarded his efforts with a spot on the 53 man roster. The reason we are including Rice is because he’s still a rookie and he’s technically part of the same draft class as the names mentioned above. Rice has been reported as saying that the scheme Bill Davis runs is identical to the one Rice familiarised himself with in College and that may well have factored into his exceptional Training Camp. It could be argued that if Shepherd had not torn his ACL then Rice would not be in this position but he is and will likely lineup as the birds fifth cornerback. We may not see Rice feature against the Falcons and if we do it will be on special teams and maybe a drive or two if the team gain a comfortable enough lead. Rice has pushed his way into the final 53 and will look to assert himself in the starting lineup, keep an eye out for Rice. One big play against Atlanta could really boost his chances of regular playing time at the Linc.