Rookie minicamp is officially underway for the Philadelphia Eagles, meaning that the first stages of battles to make the final 53-man roster are just getting started. While rookie minicamp will only tell us so much about the players participating, it should still answer some pressing questions..or at least give an insight into how they will be answered when OTA’s and Training camp roll around.
The running back rotation:
Heading into minicamp, the Eagles still have plenty of questions to answer at the running back position..and two of those are aimed at rookies Donnel Pumphrey, and Corey Clement. The two could not be any more different in terms of styles, with Pumphrey’s size and elusiveness only adding to his explosive versatility, while Clement is a dominant downhill runner.
Many have pondered whether or not Pumphrey will be used in the slot, and just how much the Eagles will use him. Doug Pederson wanted a three-down back heading into day three of the draft, and rookie minicamp will be our first look at how Pumphrey fits in the Eagles Offense, if he can handle three-down duties..and whether UDFA Corey Clement has the potential to force his way into the current backfield rotation.
This one may sound a little obscure, but beyond Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, it’s well and truly open season for the QB3 spot. Matt McGloin currently inherits that role, but as we head into rookie minicamp, UDFA Jerod Evans is one of the big names turning heads, as he hopes to use a heavy chip on his shoulder as ammunition to fire his way onto the Eagles roster.
Beyond Evans however, Dane Evans out of Tulsa, and Oregon’s Dakota Prukop are trying out for the team..which means before the pride of Virginia Tech even has a shot at proving himself at OTA’s or Training Camp..he has one more battle to win.
From Safety to linebacker:
One of the most intriguing prospects coming into this weekend, is linebacker Nate Gerry. After being named third-team All-Big Ten in 2016, with 68 tackles, four picks and eight pass breakups, Gerry looked set to compete at the next level. His 6’2, 218 lbs, frame certainly fits a DB prototype..but the Eagles seem intent to move him to linebacker and play him inside the box.
The Eagles were notably thin at linebacker coming into the draft, and it’s interesting that they didn’t actually draft one, instead deciding to kill two birds with one stone. It will be exciting to see where Gerry lines up this weekend. Will he be an every-down linebacker, a situational in-the-box force, or simply start at Safety until he drops down in transition? Gerry looks to be an exciting toy for Jim Schwartz to play with, but it will fun to see how he’s utilized during his first camp as an Eagle.
Wide receiver roles:
From Shelton Gibson and Mack Hollins, to eight more wide receivers who are listed on the team’s minicamp roster, there will be no shortage of competition at the wide receiver position during this three-day camp. With special teams being an apparent focus, keep an eye out to see which of those trying out for the team are willing to go the extra mile on kick returns. It will also be worth paying attention to which role the receivers play..especially Gibson and Hollins, two perennial deep-threats with large frames, who have only ran relatively simple route trees until now. Could we see the next Paul Turner or recently released Rasheed Bailey? If we’re going to..the foundations will be laid this weekend.
Cornerback competition begins:
It was only last year where seventh round pick Jalen Mills moved to cornerback and began to turn heads. This season, we could see much of the same. Every CB position, from starters, to backups, is currently up for grabs..making rookie minicamp even more important for the likes of Rasul Douglas. Randall Goforth, Mitch White, and Jomal Wiltz will join the Eagles day-two draft picks this weekend, looking to set a good first impression.
Last year, the cornerback competition was in my opinion, one of the most exciting offseason narratives to follow. This year, we could be set for an even bigger battle. It’s all on the line..and it all begins this weekend.
Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports