The Eagles will be holding their rookie minicamp this weekend down at the NovaCare Complex and for all teams, this is their first opportunity to get a closer look at their rookies. For Philadelphia, the weekend will have much more significance than breaking the new guys in.
Howie Roseman orchestrated a successful NFL Draft where he focused on taking the best talent available with an emphasis on Uber-athletic prospects. With that said, he also left a lot of holes for those players to grow into over the long-term. The salary-cap stricken Eagles were unable to make a real splash in free agency, lending opportunities to younger players across the roster and allowing their new-look coaching staff to do its job and develop that talent over an extended period. With that said, there are still some significant question marks.
The Eagles only drafted one cornerback despite it being arguably their most prominent roster need. Zech McPhearson is everything Jonathan Gannon could want in a prospect, but he has perennially been a nickel cornerback through his collegiate career. He does play much bigger than his 5’11, 191 lbs frame suggests, and the team may have no choice but to trial him outside.
Avonte Maddox would be the only other logical outside option as of right now and he’s had a turbulent time wen playing on the boundary. If McPhearson can shine in rookie minicamp and hold up against let’s say, I don’t know, a Heisman-winning wide receiver in DeVonta Smith, then it may give Howie Roseman enough confidence to let him earn that position over the Summer as opposed to turning to a now somewhat depleted free agency pool of cornerback talent.
Bolstering the trenches
Roseman decided to reload the trenches during the NFL Draft, investing a second-round pick in versatile offensive lineman Landon Dickerson and bringing in four players on the other side of the ball, 2 tackles and 2 edges. With Vinny Curry no longer around and Derek Barnett in an option year, there are plenty of snaps up for grabs on the outside and a plethora of highly-athletic rookies licking their lips at the chance to snag them.
There’s a long way between now and Training Camp but getting a leg-up ahead of OTA’s certainly won’t hurt any rookie, giving the coaches something to think about before team workouts begin and potentially earning reps with the second team and beyond.
X marks the spot
Among the most intriguing players the Eagles will be working with this weekend is one that wasn’t even drafted. Trevon Grimes somehow slipped through the cracks and arrives in Philadelphia As a 6’4 receiving option who could well mirror the same skillset as both Travis Fulgham and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. One of those three will be the team’s designated big-bodied wideout this season, and if Grimes can really turn heads early, he can force his way into the conversation.
As things stand, there are only two real noteworthy tight ends on the roster and both are entering their contract year under very different circumstances. Beyond them, the Eagles didn’t opt to add anyone during the NFL Draft and seemed pretty comfortable letting Richard Rodgers (still unsigned) enter free agency.
With only five tryout players permitted due to COVID precautions, this means that some of the underdogs on the Eagles roster really have a chance to carve out a role. Among them will be Tyree Jackson, who like several players on this Eagles roster before him, is making the transition from quarterback.
Jackson was an undrafted QB in 2019 who caught on with the Bills after spending his collegiate career in Buffalo. He was waived after Training Camp and like Greg Ward, ventured to a different league to strut his stuff. Joining the DC Defenders of the XFL, Jackson completed 11 of 18 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
At 6’7, 249 lbs, it’s not hard to see why the Eagles are interested in bumping him along the line of scrimmage. The team was relatively high on Donald Parham, who at 6’8 caught 4 touchdowns in the XFL before signing with the LA Chargers in the NFL, accounting for 3 scores and 159 yards this season.
Hakeem Butler didn’t exactly pan out how they hoped and it’s not as if Caleb Wilson have inspired a lot of hope. Jackson will have his chance to hit the ground running this weekend!
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