Eagles rookie report: A closer look at this year’s draft class through opening four games

USATSI_10322427_168382939_lowres
The Eagles are one quarter of the way through their NFL regular season campaign, and the injection of some fiery talent into the positions that needed it most has not gone unnoticed. But who of this year’s Eagles rookies are soaring and who are struggling to take flight? Here’s a closer look.
Derek Barnett
Snap count: 40.1%
Tackles: 5
TFL: 2
The Eagles first-round pick has had a solid start to his NFL career. Although his hustle has always been evident, the last two weeks have seen a huge improvement from a production standpoint. From motoring back to recover a fumble after forcing a Rivers scramble, to making a big tackle for a loss and finding his feet around some relatively strong tackles in the process.
Barnett hasn’t exploded onto the scene with a highlight play, but his consistent high-motor and ability to almost bend the pocket around him to allow the full force of the Eagles DT rotation into the face of the quarterback is beyond impressive. Barnett has been everything the Eagles want and more after the opening four weeks, and his role may only increase from here.
Sidney Jones
The team’s second round pick is still sidelined with the leg injury suffered in the offseason, but some subtle tweets have led many to believe his return may not be too far away. The Eagles cornerback picture is anything but stable, and the potential return of Ronald Darby along with the debut of Sidney Jones should excite fans.
Rasul Douglas
Snap count: 68.2%
Tackles: 9
Passes Defensed: 2
Interceptions: 1
Douglas was originally listed inactive in the opening game of the season, but found himself called straight up to a starting role in the absence of Ronald Darby. During his time on the outside, Douglas has experienced the highs of his first career interception, and the lows of allowing some big plays and blown coverages.
Overall, you can only be impressed with Douglas and his progress. The WVU product has been dropped in the deep end and learned to swim on the spot. His ability to track the ball and hit so confidently is something that is visible on a weekly basis. When Darby returns, pressure should be taken off the shoulders of Douglas, allowing him to develop at a more comfortable and natural rate.
Donnel Pumphrey
After a disappointing preseason and being listed as inactive during the opening game, Pumphrey was sent to IR with an injury that set the SDSU star back during the Summer. His arrival in Philadelphia has been disappointing, but the backfield has survived without the versatile back thus far.
Mack Hollins
Snap count: 13.2% / Special teams 43.2%
Receptions: 3
Yards: 32

A perennial special teamer coming out of College, Hollins also showed tremendous ability as a big target downfield. While he has flashed on a couple of occasions already on Fipp’s prestigious unit, Hollins has made several impressive receptions in Pederson’s Offense, His ability to create separation raises eyebrows, but to body up against linebackers over the middle is a very underrated aspect of his game. Hollins has already forced his way into the offensive picture, and if Torrey Smith does continue to struggle, one has to wonder how long it will be before he takes on a bigger offensive role.
Shelton Gibson
After a tricky offseason, Shelton Gibson is yet to even be listed as active on gameday. The Eagles thought enough of their rookie wideout to keep him on the final roster, but Gibson is yet to play an offensive snap for the Eagles. A sense of confidence in their wide receivers has likely meant that they can allow Gibson to develop with the scout team until he’s forced into action.
Elijah Qualls
Snap count: 14.9%
The former Washington teammate of Sidney Jones has been called into the fold due to a DT corps that’s running light on depth. The thick-base of Qualls has been a key cog in stopping the run without Cox, but don’t underestimate his athleticism. Qualls flash plenty of burst in his first step against the Chargers, while it was Beau Allen who tied it all together and hammered home the production. It may be a little while before we see Qualls earn a consistent spot in rotation, but he’s performed well considering the circumstances.
Corey Clement
Snap count: 29.8%
Attempts: 16
Yards: 52
Touchdowns: 1
The UDFA out of Wisconsin has ran angrily and hard since the moment he arrived in the Spring. After fighting his way onto the final roster, Clement has not only gone on to score his first NFL touchdown, but help run the clock down in that memorable 6:44 drive against the Chargers to close the game. Whenever he’s been called upon, Clement has come up big and ticked every box that the Eagles ask. The potential is staggering and if not for injury setbacks and off-the-field issues, the former Badger was destined to be a mid-round pick. Clement’s progression and sheer explosiveness may be one of the brightest spots in this year’s rookie class so far.
Jake Elliott
FG%: 80%

This fairytale needs little explanation. Despite some early teething problems, the UDFA who was signed off the Bengals practice squad as an emergency plug-in option to fill in for the injured Caleb Sturgis, Elliott has been money. A 61-yard field goal that won the game against New York will go down in history, while his perfect run against the Chargers from around midfield simply didn’t receive enough praise. The Eagles may have a long-term solution at kicker if Elliott can continue to shine and dethrone Sturgis.
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

More from our Sister Sites