Winners and losers from the Eagles rollercoaster offseason

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The week after the NFL Draft is always an interesting one. A time to reflect on the off-season and to look forward and speculate what the future might hold. It isn’t just the rookies who’s futures have changed course however. For some players already on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, their road either just became much easier..or much tougher. Here are three winners and three losers of the Philadelphia Eagles off-season.

Winners:

 

Ryan Mathews
Sure the Eagles drafted Wendell Smallwood and signed two undrafted rookie running backs, but if it’s a committee backfield that Doug Pederson plans on implementing, Ryan Mathews still remains the most reliable option to lead the charge. Injuries may have stunted his progress in 2015 and that cloud doesn’t seem to have moved on, but Mathews was still able to rush for 531 yards and average 5.1 yards per carry in 2015. The birds could have selected a running back in the third round due to the abundance of talent still on the board but instead, it’s Ryan Mathews benefits most from the decision to draft an Offensive Lineman as his starting role is all but solidified.

 

Jordan Hicks
With Mufasa passing the torch to Simba, Hicks finds himself in a position of leadership as he heads into his second season. Just months after Hicks was putting in performances worthy of contention for Defensive Rookie Of The Year, the linebacker corps has changed massively. Going into the Draft, one of the key positions in Schwartz’s attacking 4-3 was left vulnerable in terms of depth..and it seemed unlikely that the Eagles would prioritize bringing in reinforcements.

The Eagles have signed a total of 3 linebackers in the last few days, drafting one and signing a further two as undrafted rookies. Couple that with the addition of Nigel Bradham and one of the Eagles most exciting talents now has a cushion behind him as depth at the linebacker position looks healthy once again. This not only takes some of the pressure off of a player who assumed a leadership role half way into his rookie season, but also gives him a lot of support.

Bennie Logan
Logan suffered a calf injury in 2015 that hampered his performances and proved to be a major factor in the Eagles inability to stop the run. The Eagles bolstered the DT position in the week following the Draft by signing undrafted rookie free agents Aziz Shittu, Destiny Vaeao and Connor Wujciak.

This means if Logan’s injury persists or a similar situation occurs, there is at least some talent behind him ready to step in when needed. As opposed to Logan having to play with a hampering injury that not only hurts the team, but most importantly himself.

 

Losers:

 

Josh Huff
Huff has been a player to display flurries of talent amongst extended periods of mediocrity having caught just 62% of his passes in his two year career. Huff has to step up if he’s to retain such a regular slot in the lineup after playing in 46% of the teams Offensive snaps last year and failing to live up to his potential.

That’s now going to become increasingly difficult after the Eagles signed a total of eight receivers at some point during the off-season. Training camp is going to be a wide receiver free-for-all when it comes to competing for a starting job and whilst his future as an Eagle may not be on the line, his snap count most certainly will be.

 

JaCorey Shepherd
Regarded as one of the steals in last year’s Draft until he tore his ACL in August, fans have been waiting to see the former Jayhawk on the field for quite some time..but they may have to wait a little longer. A change in system saw the Eagles focus heavily on upgrading their secondary and that focus continued deep into the Draft and signing of undrafted rookies.

Competition between the ten defensive backs is going to be extremely intense and with the physical needs changing due to the arrival of Jim Schwartz, Shepherd may have fallen down the pecking order. It’s up to the 191st overall pick to prove his worth in training camp and prove to the new Defensive Coordinator that he’s worthy of a spot on the roster.

 

Marcus Smith
Smith’s future has been cloudy for a long time..but with a transition to a 4-3 and the move to DE, many are wondering if this is the move that he needed to finally live up to the expectation that up until now he has failed to come anywhere close to meeting.

With the addition of Mike Martin before the draft and the seventh round pick being spent on Alex McCalister, there’s currently a healthy amount of depth at Defensive End. The problem is that with Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry and even Bryan Braman all likely ahead of Smith on the depth chart as it is..training camp is going to be another uphill battle for the former first round pick.

The only difference is that after two underwhelming seasons, there’s now more competition ahead of him..a lack of excuses behind him..and a group of players looking to claim his spot on the depth chart if he continues to struggle.

 

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