One Eagles sleeper at every position who could be poised for a Training Camp breakout

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Training Camp is just around the corner and the sense of excitement around the city of Philadelphia is rising. In just under a week, 90 players will leave it all out on the turf as the clashing of pads and the smell of blood, sweat and tears fills the air once again. The preparations for a title defense have already begun, but the underdog mentality hasn’t completely left the team.

Paul Turner, Corey Clement, Rasheed Bailey. These are just three of the more recent names who have stolen the hearts of the Philadelphia faithful during the Summer months in recent years. The good news is that there is an abundance of players who could do the same in 2018.

Here’s a look at one sleeper at every position on the roster who could be poised for a very strong summer.

 

QB Nate Sudfeld
It’s a big offseason for Nate Sudfeld. With Carson Wentz still rehabbing his torn ACL, the former Indiana quarterback will likely be taking reps as QB2 when Training Camp kicks off next week. This is huge for Sudfeld, who will be looking to build on his debut against the Cowboys in week 17 and secure his long-term future.

Nick Foles could be seeking to become a starter once again and if he does depart after next season, it leaves a wide open door for the young signal-caller to push through and become the backup to Carson Wentz. Breathing down his neck every step of the way however will be Joe Callahan. The two have already set a ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ mentality during OTA’s, dueling away through the Spring and establishing the base for a furious training camp battle. Expect nothing but laser-focus and a likely breakout from a quarterback looking to fight for what’s his and what ultimately could be.

 

RB Josh Adams
A player many are calling the steal of this ‘undrafted’ class will have his back to the wall next week. After missing OTA’s, Adams is already behind which does not leave him in good stead, especially considering how stacked the running back room is in terms of competition. If Adams has any hope of snatching reps away from the likes of Smallwood and Matt Jones, who in their own right are needing to have the best camp of their career so far, then his future in Philadelphia could be ripped away. Adams has a dominant running style and one that could benefit this offense, but he will need a dominant camp to show that and earn those vital preseason reps.

 

OL Matt Pryor
Versatile and vicious would be two words used to describe this Eagles rookie. Pryor has the versatility to play at both guard and tackle and did so alongside his former TCU teammate, Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The two are now reunited and Pryor could be positioned to make a shattering impact given the amount of competition along the depth spots on the offensive front. What really stands out with Pryor aside from his 6’7, 338 lbs frame, is his work ethic.

Eagles reunite TCU tandem in drafting Matt Pryor and he’s wasting no time in getting to work

“It’s back to the grind, gotta make sure I’m in shape.” Pryor told me just seconds after a workout in Texas. “Make sure I’m able to physically do the work and mentally not make any mistakes learning a new playbook and everything.”

 

TE Billy Brown
Losing Trey Burton and Brent Celek in the same offseason definitely stung the Eagles, but the drafting of Dallas Goedert and signing of Richard Rodgers seemed to rebuild the position around Zach Ertz. One man left out in the cold was former Shepherd star, Billy Brown, who after spending a full season with the team will be looking to build on the strong and flashy summer we saw from him last year. If there’s a tight end on the roster who needs to prove his worth, it’s this dynamically athletic pass-catcher. A breakout beckoned one year ago and he will need much of the same next week.

WR Shelton Gibson
There were high hopes for the West Virginia standout when he was drafted by the Eagles in the heart of last year’s event, but a disappointing Spring that was plagued with drops and inconsistencies left his rookie season in the dust as the rest of the positioned seemed to pick up pace. After spending one season under the guidance of Mike Groh, Gibson will now look to rekindle an explosive fire that saw him decimate defenses at the collegiate level with Gunter Brewer as his teacher. The Eagles still lack that designated deep threat and any kind of WR2 stability, so this is a huge opportunity for a player who like Agholor before him, has all of the potential and just needs to tie it all together.

 

DT Winston Craig
After trying out for the Eagles one year ago, Craig was offered a contract by the team. This 6’4, 290 lbs, pass rusher simply exploded in his final collegiate season with Richmond. With 8 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in 2016 alone, leading the team in those categories as well as QB hurries, Craig even added a pick and 3 passes defensed to his tally. A team captain for the Spiders, Craig ended his four-year career at Richmond with a total of 166 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks and 2 picks.

In preseason for the Eagles, Craig amassed four tackles before being among the final cuts the team made. He was later signed to a contract, bringing him back for a second shot at breaking into the roster.

Now, Craig finds himself in a unique spot. The Eagles will be without Timmy Jernigan for quite some time due to an injury, which means the defensive tackle depth chart and heavy rotation could see plenty of tweaking. If there’s ever a time to prove to Jim Schwartz that you have the skillset needed to be just as disruptive at the NFL level, it’s now.

 

DE Joe Ostman
The Eagles already added Josh Sweat, but they’ve been known to become besotted with undrafted pass rushers. At 6’3, 255 lbs, this Central Michigan standout is among the best from this year’s pool. With 21 sacks in his last two years and 69 tackles in his senior season to go with 20.5 for a loss in just 11 games, Ostman did more than just attract attention. In fact, he ranked in the top 5 in the nation in tackles for a loss and sacks per game.

Ostman has the potential to become one of this year’s Training Camp darlings. Depth along the trenches has long been a priority for Jim Schwartz and that won’t change anytime soon. Ostman has the initial burst and domineering nature to develop into a real weapon in this 4-3 scheme, but he will need an explosive training camp in order to be granted those opportunities to shine in the preseason.

 

LB Nate Gerry
The former Nebraska Safety took a while to start thumping in Philadelphia. A move to linebacker left him fighting for scraps in a position inundated with depth. Instead, Gerry carved his niche on special teams before eventually earning some key snaps late in the season. As the Eagles look to move forward having lost two starting caliber linebackers this offseason, the door could be wide open for Gerry to blast through.

The second-year linebacker has enjoyed a strong offseason and is one of the favorites to replace Mychal Kendricks or see plenty of an action as a Safety who plays inside the box, much like Malcolm Jenkins. Gerry could be primed to be one of the surprise breakout candidates, depending on how successful and impressive the remaining of the offseason really is. If Gerry can continue to push his way up the depth chart, he’s built to become a force to be reckoned with in this defense.

 

CB De’Vante Bausby
There’s a wide open competition at nickel cornerback and this Pittsburgh product knows it. OTA’s saw plenty of rotation as usual, but Bausby flashed both inside and outside, making big play after big play and continuing to force his way into a competition that already has a roulette wheel of candidates. Bausby won’t just be competing for a depth role, he will be licking his lips at the prospect of snatching the starting nickel spot and Training Camp will be the perfect place to stake his claim.

 

S Jeremy Reaves
It didn’t take long for the former South Alabama Jaguar to turn heads. The Senior Bowl standout approached OTA’s with a huge chip on his shoulder and a grand sense of maturity. After talking with him earlier this offseason, it’s safe to say his feet are firmly on the ground and he’s ready to hit the ground running.

How years of adversity helped Eagles Safety Jeremy Reaves fall in love with ‘trusting the process’

Reaves hits like a freight train and has the leadership skills that would leave Schwartz and the Eagles defense purring. The Eagles have a huge hole at the depth safety spots and Reaves is perfectly poised to claim one for his own, especially considering that this was the message he sent to Philadelphia fans during the interview.

“You’re getting a blue-collar player, a workaholic. I believe in trusting the process and that’s what got me here. I fell in love with it. I’m excited to put on a show for you guys.”

 

Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

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