Are the Eagles making a mistake by cross-training rookies so early?

A little under 12 months ago, the Eagles entered Training Camp with plenty of optimism and some exciting rookies. The team’s 57th overall pick that year, J.J Arcega-Whiteside, had all the makings of an Alshon 2.0 and a future starting X receiver. That was at least until the Eagles guaranteed Jeffery’s 2020 salary and essentially redshirted their rookie under the guise of getting him to learn the playbook from every WR position. This, partnered with injuries we later learned about in an interview he agreed to with 100yardas, resulted in a year deemed disappointing by many, where he tallied 169 yards and just one touchdown in a year where the opportunity was limitless. But is history repeating itself?

The backstory

Let’s not forget that buried in the depths of last season’s heartbreak was a disappointing campaign from Nelson Agholor. A year that former offensive coordinator Mike Groh attributed to ‘wearing different hats’.

 ” I would say that over the last two years, he’s had to wear a lot of different hats in our offense due to the attrition at the position, and one of his strengths is his mental flexibility and his ability to learn. He knows the entire system as well as anybody. So, he’s able to handle a lot from that standpoint.

History repeating itself

Fast forward a few months and it looked as though the Eagles had learned their lesson. A strong, athletic class of rookies and a revamped coaching staff set the tone. It was hard not to after all. Pederson cited that he wants to keep things simple for first-round pick Jalen Reagor and it was a breath of fresh air…until it wasn’t. The TCU product started Training Camp last week and when talking with reporters recently, had this to say.

They’ve just been emphasizing to me to learn X and Z and just to learn,” Reagor said. “Like I said, I pride myself on being adaptable to every situation. I feel like if I know the whole playbook rather than just X or Z, then it’ll make it easier to move me around. They’re emphasizing just to learn and take in everything.

Jalen Reagor talking to the media on a zoom call

It didn’t end with Reagor either.

Third-round pick Davion Taylor is receiving the same treatment. Taylor’s story is different than most. He grew up in a religious family. In high school, religious practices kept him off the field for Friday and Saturday games. It wasn’t until he walked on at junior college that Taylor began playing regularly. Leveraging his athletic potential, that shone among JuCo players, he was able to get an offer from Colorado.

We’re talking about a linebacker with minimal experience who happens to have a tremendous athletic skillset that is incredibly raw, now learning all three spots as a rookie. If that wasn’t tricky enough, the situation is crying out for simplicity.

The bottom line

Both rookies could prove me wrong and break out in unprecedented ways as versatile rookies this year and I hope that’s the case. But you’d like to think that after such a tumultuous few years where overloading players has stung them. Maybe it’s just two unrelated cases and the Birds have full faith in their coaching staff to not make those same mistakes…but the facts are black and white.

The Eagles didn’t have OTA’s this year. There was no rookie minicamp. Training Camp is a different beast to the one we know and Preseason has evaporated. In a scenario where the Eagles to make up as much ground as possible, their desperation may only see them slip further behind if they’re not careful.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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