Grading the first five games of Eagles rookies

The Eagles head into their Monday Night Football clash with the Giants on a 2-3 record in what has been a rollercoaster of a season so far. But five games have passed which is a sufficient base to begin evaluating the performance of this years Eagles rookies. There have been some extreme highlights and a couple of lowlights..but it’s time to determine how each rookie is performing the best after the opening five weeks of their professional Football careers.

Nelson Agholor:
The Eagles first round pick this year has had a shaky start to his career, but not all of it falls on his shoulders. Agholor heads into week 6 with 8 receptions on 17 targets for 105 yards and is yet to score his first NFL touchdown. If you say the name “Nelson Agholor” To a Philadelphia Eagles fan now, they will either mention one of two plays…the 45 yard catch, or the fumble that followed. The USC product made a stunning one handed grab against the Redskins before fumbling the ball on a trick play just moments later..a perfect synopsis of his season so far..unlucky.

The problem isn’t entirely on his shoulders. Agholor until week 4 took more snaps than any other Eagles receiver and even now is just 20 behind Jordan Matthews..but has only been targeted 17 times in those five games. The issue is that it took four games for Sam Bradford to utilise Agholor’s greatest asset..his route running.

Against the Jets, he was lined up against Revis the entire game and for the most part, was able to beat him off the line of scrimmage and find open space..but Bradford very rarely threw a ball his way intentionally. Then a week later, he aimed to find Agholor four times as he picked up that huge 45 yard play.

The 22 year old hasn’t helped himself with a few dropped passes issue that all receivers have had a hard time ironing out. But the stats don’t lie. For the amount of time that Nellie (as Chip now calls him) is on the field, he should be seeing a lot more of the ball. But for that to happen, he needs to be making plays when the balls thrown to him. Granted, a few overthrows haven’t helped matters but Agholor has been inconsistent so far despite showing signs of promise.

Grade: C

Eric Rowe:
The teams second round pick started off worryingly and has ended up becoming a crucial part of this new look Eagles secondary. With an interception against the Jets and 11 tackles on the season, Rowe has certainly stepped up to the mark..especially when needed. With Byron Maxwell exiting the game early against Washington, Rowe went on to play over 70 snaps in his place and despite being flagged for pass interference on a call that should never have surfaced, filled the role very well.

It’s even more impressive when you consider he’s been starting on the inside, outside and even playing safety at times. Rowe has become incredibly versatile and his athleticism has certainly helped keep this Eagles Secondary rigid.

The only issue has been his adjustment speed. It was evident against the Saints..especially in this scoring play. Rowe has shown great speed and spacial awareness, rarely putting a foot wrong and often giving eccentric shutdown corner coverage. Which is impressive, especially when you consider the level of receiver he’s having to cover. But he has to be more aware when looking for the ball. Here he was simply too slow turning his head and was unable to get anything on the pass intended for Cooks..but that’s something you learn with experience.

The ceiling is very high for Eric Rowe, some big pass breakups where the Quarterback has evidently gone after the rookie corner as a “mismatch” but “misread” it sum up the young mans Eagles career so far. Kirk Cousins went after Rowe once Maxwell was out of the picture and whilst he did give up the touchdown on the 15th play in Washington’s last drive, his coverage was fantastic and to his credit, he did try to jar the ball loose, Pierre Garcon is a very touch receiver to knock off his perch. A lot of people are still sleeping on Eric Rowe but he is developing quickly in a Secondary that’s growing in presence and potential by the week. Expect big things.

Grade: B-

Jordan Hicks:
It’s ironic isn’t it? That the rookies are ranked in reverse order of which they were drafted. Jordan Hicks may not just be a contender for Eagles rookie of the year..but for NFL Defensive rookie of the year. Hicks was pushed into a scenario daunting enough to throw off any rookie, but turned it into an explosive welcome party. With Kiko Alonso and Kendricks sidelined, Hicks took it in his stride to make the most of his time on the field and simply dominate the opposing Offense.

Leading the league in fumble recoveries is one thing, almost intercepting a Drew Brees pass like a safety, sitting only behind Malcolm Jenkins when it comes to total tackles and intercepting a pass is something else entirely. The former Texas Longhorn has burst onto the scene with such authority it’s hard to ignore him..but it isn’t just his physicality that makes him so impressive. It’s his vision. I published a piece just a few hours ago going into detail (with video) about just how high the IQ of this young man really is which you can check out here, but the bottom line is this.

With the Eagles pass rush being so minimal last week, the team took it up a notch against the Saints, but Jordan Hicks has taken it up a notch every time he has stepped onto the field. He may have been the biggest sleeper pick in the entire draft and is rapidly changing a lot of peoples perceptions. We were perhaps the only site to predict a big season for the linebacker, but even we couldn’t have predicted he would have been this dominant.

The best part is, he’s only getting started. I would honestly advise you if you haven’t already to read the previous article and watch the clips as Hicks scans the eyes of a Quarterback and is able to move from zone coverage to stopping a screen pass in just seconds.

Hicks is easily the best performing rookie on the Eagles roster…and perhaps in the NFL.

Grade: A