Way too early prediction: How much will each Eagles rookie contribute this year?

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From first round pick DE Derek Barnett, to 6th round pick DT Elijah Qualls, the Philadelphia Eagles definitely seem to have a type. High quality, productive, hard working, intelligent, leaders on both sides of the ball. Since the 2016 draft, the birds seem to be adding players that not only fit them, but also seem to have a chip on their shoulder and play with a sort of nastiness. This NFL draft being no different.

Needless to say, the Birds could be looking at a whole new culture in the City of Brotherly Love, one that started to show early last year and has seemed to have taken the right progression so far. With that said, we decided to take a look at the 8 players selected this year and try and predict what kind of contribution we can look forward to this coming season.

 

1st Rd.- DE Derek Barnett: Probably the most underrated player, let alone pass-rusher in this years draft, in his four years playing for the Volunteers of Tennessee, Barnett was nothing short of dominant every single week. He posses the pass rush ability that coaches drool over while evaluating players. With a great mix of speed, a scary first step, and outstanding strength, Barnett has been compared to current Eagles DE Brandon Graham. I personally agree when looking at the cover of the book, but when you study the story, and tape of Barnett, you see a player who could be outright unstoppable. This year with the Eagles adding veteran Chris Long, to Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, one could expect Barnett to be coming off the bench early on until he finds his feet. Whatever your expectations are on him, the truth is that a transition to the NFL isn’t as easy as some think. With that said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Barnett flash early and often this year.

Prediction: Heavy rotational player. We could see him start sooner than later, over/under 6 sacks. I take the under.

 

2nd Rd- CB Sidney Jones:
Everyone knows what is going on with CB Sidney Jones. Arguably the best corner in this years exceptional CB class, Jones was injured during his teams pre-draft work out, which was devastating in itself. Before the injury, Jones was considered a top ten prospect, and had he been healthy, we could’ve seen the birds select him in the first round. Needless to say when it is all said and done, and he is finally healthy, the birds have their number 1 CB.

Blessed with smooth transition while in coverage, the 6-footer can play both man and zone, and has a nose for the ball. He is not shy when stopping the run despite his smallish frame, and has a swag that coach Schwartz covets in his corners. This year could be a scratch, as reports on his return date are up in the air. If he does come back this season, it wouldn’t be until maybe the mid-point. We should not expect much out of the talented young man this year. The smart thing might be to let him redshirt, regardless of if he’s whether to go or not.

Prediction: If he gets to play, expect him to get limited snaps. When healthy, he is the birds best CB.

 

3rd Rd- CB Rasul Douglas:
A very talented young prospect from West Virginia University, Douglas seemed to have been a victim of circumstance. He is blessed with the talent of a first round pick, but due to the abundance of talent at the position, Douglas fell into the third. With that said, he has already started showing the raw ability he possesses early at minicamp. He has great size at 6’2, 210 lbs, and plays with a physical style that, helps him stand out. Despite struggling a bit with his speed, he is a smart CB and plays with angles well while covering and tackling. He already has the look of a future starter and when you think of his combination with 2nd year CB Jalen Mills, and Rookie Sidney Jones, the future looks bright.

Prediction: He will get his snaps on the outside, coming in when the team gets into Nickel. Eventually he will take over on the outside, cementing his spot for the future alongside Sidney Jones.

 

4th Rd-WR Mack Hollins:
Considered a special teams standout at the University of North Carolina, the casual fan scratched their head at the selection of Hollins. But when you really study the tape on him, you find a young man, that could be a legitimate star. With great size, 6’4, and strong hands, Hollins possesses the skillset to be a contributor from day one…both on special teams and in the Eagles offense. With the addition of WR’s Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Hollins will be fighting for playing time. But with a lack of stand out talent on the Eagles WR Depth Chart, there will be plenty of chances to show he can be a star.

Prediction: Special teams stand out who will add a real redzone threat to the offense. Don’t be surprised to see him in the endzone a few times this year.

 

4th Rd- RB Donnel Pumphrey:
The 5’9, 185 lbs, standout, is a guy who has the talent to score form anywhere on the field. Despite his lack of size, the young back has been a workhorse up until this point and is a threat anytime he has the ball in his hands. Line him up in the backfield, out wide on a corner, and inside at the slot, and watch him go. The birds are set at the RB spot, with newly added LeGarrette Blount, but expect to see Pumhrey get his chances.

Prediction: He will be the Eagles new version of Brian Westbrook. Line him up everywhere and he will make something happen. Run game, pass game, he will be a name we hear a lot of.

 

5th Rd- WR Shelton Gibson:
Forget the early reports of Gibson having a bit of a drop issue. It’s early and Gibson can flat out play. Blessed with speed, speed, and speed, oh and did I mention he is fast? In and out of breaks, Gibson is an issue for defensive backs across the field. He is thought of as a one trick pony, the one trick being pretty darn good. But he is a lot more than just a deep threat. He is thicker than his size would hint, and has the strength to create yards after the catch as he bounces off tacklers.

Prediction: It will be an uphill battle to get tons of offensive time, but he will make his mark on special teams. As a WR, he will be the deep threat the team has been looking for, and by the time the season is ending, teams will be accounting for the young playmaker.

 

5th Rd- LB/S Nate Gerry:
Some guys just know how to play football. Enter former safety Nate Gerry, from the University of Nebraska. Immediately after being drafted, the team announced they would be switching his position to OLB, to use his speed and coverage ability. Considered a tone setter, Gerry has never been one to hide from the run game, and has put fear into the hearts of a few wideouts, in his college time. It will be a bit of a transition for Gerry, as this is a complete new spot on the defense, so it should take a little bit of time. We should expect to see him contribute right away via special teams, and rest assured he will make his plays when he gets on the field.

Prediction: Special teams standout while the defense continues to find different packages to deploy his skillset in as the year wears on.


6th Rd- DT Elijah Qualls:
Drafted out of the University of Washington, Qualls was a standout on a defense filled with talent. A true space eater, Qualls possesses the skillset to take on blocks and destroy the run game. He is a better athlete than he gets credit for, but for a man his size (6’1 320 LB’s) he can just outright move. Tough as nails against the run, and a strong pass rusher, Qualls could find himself in the mix, as a rotational DT.

Prediction: Rotational player who will get his shot early and often if last year’s layout is anything to go by. Can play special teams, and could see a little bit of short yardage fullback.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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