The ultimate Eagles OTA preview: Offense edition

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Running back

This will be the first time the majority of people get to see Jordan Howard in midnight green. The former Chicago Bear has been a bowling ball since entering the league and the Eagles were able to snipe him up in his contract year for little in return. Howard should theoretically take over the RB1 spot…but it’s the rest of the backfield that brings intrigue.

Miles Sanders was drafted with the 53rd overall pick and is coming off of a Nittany Lion breakout. Reminiscent of Shady McCoy in many ways, Sanders bounces out of his cuts with eye-popping athleticism and is as elusive as they come. His main weakness is pass-protection, so whether or not we see any focuses in OTA’s will depend on what’s on the agenda. It’s widely assumed that Sanders, who averaged 5.8 yards per carry last year, will take over the RB2 role…but there will be stiff competition.

Yeah, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, and Boston Scott all still exist and will be battling it out for the remaining backfield positions. Adams led the team in rushing yards last year as a UDFA but his running style has largely been replaced by Howard, while Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement are battling their way back from injury and question marks.

Smallwood showed a lot of improvement last year, especially as a receiving back, but it just wasn’t enough for him to really step up and reliably run the ball, with his decision making still a little slower than ideal.

Corey Clement appeared to lose a step, but as Morgan Burkett documented here, we could be in-line for a breakout. That of course all starts with a clean bill of health. Will Clement be able to hit the ground running this offseason and separate himself from the crowd? Here’s why the cards are oddly in his favor:

Then, there’s my favorite wildcard, Boston Scott. The former UDFA out of Louisiana Tech was poached from the Saints practice squad last year and provided an instant injection of returner depth for the Eagles.

His vision is truly what sets him apart. Scott has a low center of gravity which makes changing direction and cutting on a dime that much more effective, but it’s his vision that makes it all possible. While he can get lost in the pile sometimes, Scott is patient behind his blockers and runs with great anticipation.

Nobody is saying that Scott is going to burst onto the scene and somehow carve out a role adjacent to Miles Sanders, but with the Eagles still really needing to find some reliability at the return spots, Scott has experience at both, alongside a skill set that blends what can only summarized as that of a ‘Baby Darren Sproles’ and would arguably bring more to the table than a couple of the other backs on the roster.

The Eagles wanted to see what Scott could do in their system and will now have a full offseason to work with the Louisiana Tech Product. In a backfield loaded with talent and excitement, it could be this dark horse that does more than turn heads in the months to come, potentially displacing someone like Wendell Smallwood and fighting his way to becoming the Eagles secondary return option, as well as a very handy change-of-pace back who has value as a receiver and is just a nightmare in open space.

Is ‘Smallwood vs Scott’ the undercard fight to remember? We’ll find out in OTA’s as the first blows land.

Offensive line

The Eagles selected Andre Dillard with the 22nd overall pick, trading up for his services and although he won’t be expected to start right away, there’s a chance he’ll get plenty of experience with the 1’s. Jason Peters is often a late arrival to offseason activities, as someone that has played at an elite level for so long and doesn’t really need the extra work, it paves open a brilliant opportunity for Dillard. Don’t be surprised to see the Washington State product get some experience against Brandon Graham early on.

Outside of that, the Eagles brought back Stefen Wisniewski last week in a move that should add an insurance policy in the event that Brandon Brooks is unable to go for week 1. Wis will take the starting reps during OTA’s, with Seumalo at left guard, but keep an eye on TCU’s Matt Pryor, a fifth-round selection from last year. The big dancing bear started at every spot along TCU’s offensive front in college and now has a year’s worth experience under Jeff Stoutland.

Talking of experience, how could we not mention Jordan Mailata? The seventh-round selection from one year ago almost instantly became a fan favorite, with the world begging to see progress. He looked stunningly strong during preseason considering he was still learning the SPORT, let alone the position. But with a year of training under him, just how close is he to playing at an NFL level? We’ll get our first glimpse this week.

Continued on the next page.

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