Five underdogs whose stock rose during Eagles spring workouts

Sidney Jones
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones (22) during an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Sam Hodde via AP)

OTA’s and Mandatory Minicamp have come to a close in Philadelphia and the calm before the Training Camp is upon us. Who are the players that made the most of the opportunities presented throughout the Spring?

Marken Michel

The brother of Pats running back Sony Michel stormed onto the scene this Spring, showcasing plenty of speed in the process. With the Eagles wide receiver position often light on depth throughout OTA’s, Michel received plenty of opportunity on offense and special teams, catching the eye of Doug Pederson in the process,

“…another young, explosive player that [we] didn’t really know a whole lot about. Started getting him in the mix and working him. Those two guys kind of in that slot, Nelly’s [WR Nelson Agholor] spot right now. They both have flashed and done a really good job. It’s part of that competition and the depth that we talk about a lot aro

The 5’11” 190-pound receiver racked up 435 yards on 31 receptions, 36 yards on two carries and added six total touchdowns in 11 games for the Calgary Stampeders in 2018, following on from an impressive rookie campaign. 394 of his 1215 receiving yards (or 32.4%) in the CFL came after the catch. He also managed 11.8 yards per carry in his young career. 

His road to Philadelphia has been unconventional after going undrafted out of UMass. Despite eye-popping numbers like averaging 6+ yards per carry and close to 12 yards per reception in both of his final two seasons with the Minutemen, Michel’s winding path through Calgary has landed him a huge opportunity with the Eagles.

Boston Scott

The Louisiana Tech product has been one of the Spring’s big standouts. Scott’s first full offseason with the Eagles is looking set to be an exciting one.

Mentioned in the same breath as Darren Sproles due to his size and skill set, the 5’6, 203 lbs running back averaged 4.8 yards per carry last preseason for the Saints, scoring a touchdown and amassing 121 yards on 25 carries, seeing time at both return spots as well.

“We have a player [RB] Boston Scott, who’s been on our roster since the end of last season or halfway through [last season].” Pederson said during OTA’s. “He’s a guy that can kind of fill a Darren Sproles [role]. He’s in that same body type and same quickness. We’re working him in a couple of different situations as a runner, as a punt returner, and just kind of getting a feel for him because he wasn’t a guy we initially brought onto our team early.”

Scott has see a significant amount of time as a punt returner throughout the spring and with a wide open running back competition, who is to say he won’t be the wildcard that sneaks onto the roster?

Joe Ostman

It’s an important offseason for the former UDFA, and he knows it. Ostman, who was one of the Eagles most valuable scout-team assets last year, emulating Khalil Mack along with many of the elite pass-rushers faced that season. After losing Chris Long and Michael Bennett, the Eagles could do with a boost from their DE depth, and Ostman has flashed in the early stages.

The former Central Michigan pass-rusher had a great preseason for the Eagles last year after going undrafted, rallying to amass 9 tackles. At 6’3, 259 lbs, Ostman tallied 45.5 tackles for loss and 26 sacks during his collegiate career and his development on the practice squad has left the coaching staff purring. It’s going to take a big step up if Ostman makes the roster as the third defensive end on either side of the trench.

Sidney Jones

It’s an all-or-nothing year for Sidney Jones. After a topsy-turvy 2018 that ultimately ended with another injury, the former second-round pick simply has to shine if he is to prove himself worthy of a full-time starting role. That all starts in the offseason and Jones has been making more than the occasional play.

The Eagles have a cornerback corps that is loaded with young talent and in many ways it’s headlined by Jones, but in others, it’s asking for so much more from him after a write-off rookie year and a sophomore campaign that saw plenty of highs and a few worrying lows. Jones has to earn that trust from the coaching staff and as we come to the end of the Spring, he’s been among the secondary’s top standouts.

Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills have been rehabbing injuries, leaving Jones with plenty of exposure to CB1/2 reps along with nickel snaps. He’s left the coaching staff purring, but it’s the beginning of a very long road to redemption.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

The drafting of Andre Dillard somewhat capped the career of the former fifth-round pick, or so we thought. Vaitai’s move to guard has been successful so far. So much so, that he’s actually been getting the first-team reps over the returning Stefen Wisniewski.

It’s the first time ‘Big V’ has been working with Lane Johnson on the right-hand side of the line, and it’s going a lot better than many maybe expected.

“We have been cross-training him at guard some this year.” Mike Groh told reporters during the Spring. “I think being able to cross-train and have versatile offensive linemen gives you a lot of flexibility through the course of a 16-week season, being that there are usually only about seven guys active on game day.

He’s done a nice job. He has fit in there nicely and played well there at right guard at times.”

Vaitai’s best chance at saving his career may well be becoming an insurance policy behind Brandon Brooks and that may even result in a start or two at the beginning of the year. But to displace Wisniewski, that will take a huge leap…and as things stand, he’s at least moving in the right direction.

The first-team exposure may only be to expedite his transition inside, but surely that would only highlight how important the team view the move. Either way, this has been a positive spring for the TCU product.

Mandatory Photo Credit: Sam Hodde via AP