The Eagles may be walking into week 17 with their tails between their legs, but while the game may not count for much, it will provide invaluable experience to young players who missed preseason this year due to the pandemic. With 9 players also listed as ‘out’ depth is at a minimum across the board, leaving the Birds no choice but to field young talent.
Here are five names to keep an eye on!
LB Joe Bachie
With Shaun Bradley and Duke Riley down, Bachie joins Alex Singleton and T.J Edwards as the only other healthy linebacker available. It’s not like the Eagles are blessed with versatile DB depth anymore, so a base 4-3 package could be a likely norm come Sunday. This means we could be in line to see plenty from the UDFA out of Michigan State.
Bachie was called up by the Eagles shortly after the loss to Green Bay and recorded a pair of tackles in the loss to Dallas, having appeared in 3 games thus far.
He played in 40 games for the Spartans, recording 285 tackles, 27.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 5 picks, 11 passes defensed, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.
Our scout report ahead of the NFL draft looked like this:
For: Decent mobility in hips, allows him to open up and drop in zones fairly. OK tackler, nothing spectacular although he doesn’t straight up miss a tackle often. Usually takes good angles in pursuit and tracks inside hip.
Against: Would never trust him in man coverage, often loses. Too often gets caught at alignment. Doesn’t react to what he sees against run. Hesitant against blockers and gets caught, lacks active hands and a counter move.
DT Raequan Williams
Signed as a UDFA this past offseason, Williams regarded as one of the prized players in the post-draft haul and with good reason. At 6’4, 308 lbs, Williams terrorized collegiate offensive fronts, recording 48 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 5 sacks, and two pass breakups in 2019 for the Michigan State Spartans.
He has 4 tackles on the season after being elevated from the practice squad a few weeks back and could see some more exposure at the NFL level given the absence of Fletcher Cox and a substance-less game.
Teams tried to double Williams a lot in College and if he plays tomorrow, it will be exciting to see if he can open up some openings for a very limited DE group and help Brandon Graham break the double-digit sack ceiling.
S K’Von Wallace
Wallace was regarded by many as an absolute steal when he was selected in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. From his comments on our ‘Flippin’ the birds’ podcast about hating the Cowboys, to his versatility and aggression on the field, he seemed like a perfect fit for Philly.
His rookie season has been a little quiet up to this point. With just 15 tackles across 14 games and a pair of starts and has allowed 4 completions on 5 targets for 48 yards, while playing 13% of snaps and 52% on special teams.
That role could be set to increase massively on Sunday. Rodney McLeod is out for the season, Jalen Mills was placed on the COVID-19 list, and Grayland Arnold was questionable. With depth so limited, K’Von Wallace will likely be called upon early and often in what could well be his biggest opportunity to shine against NFL talent yet. Keep your eyes peeled on number 42.
TE Caleb Wilson
The 2019 seventh-round draft selection was called up from the practice squad on boxing day and with good reason. With no Dallas Goedert or Richard Rodgers, the Eagles will be turning to Jason Croom and his 100% TD record (1 catch, 1 TD), and Wilson to shoulder the load.
Wilson has played in 18 special teams snaps this season and 5 on defense, but is yet to register a snap. If he is fielded as a TE deep into the game, that may change.
The former Arizona Cardinal played his College ball at UCLA after joining as a walk-on tight end. In his junior season, he smashed single-season franchise records, amassing 965 receiving yards, leading all TE’s in catches and yards per game. Maybe the Eagles can harness some of that YAC potential tomorrow?
WR John Hightower
My Draft crush has done nothing but break my heart and break records this season. There is quite literally no in-between. While the fifth-round pick has struggled to track the deep ball and has a few drops to his name, he also became the first Eagles rookie with back-to-back 50+ yard reception games since 1994.
His two 50+ yard snags were the longest of the season until DeSean Jackson snatched that away with a huge 81-yard touchdown this past Sunday. But with Jackson now absent and the season technically over, the Eagles may want to unleash their need for speed one more time before the season comes to an end to see what they have in the Boise State product.
Who will you be keeping an eye on? Let me know in the comments!
Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire