The NFL season still feels like it’s a whole year away, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops. As teams begin working through their offseason workout plans, it’s fair for Eagles fans to start thinking about the teams’ most exciting players. To quench that thirst, here are five Philadelphia Eagles players on offense who could well be on the cusp of a breakout year.
This one’s a no-brainier. The new face of the franchise is going into his first full year as a starter on the back of a flurry of flashes otherwise masked by coaching and execution that were equally as atrocious everywhere else.
With a new Head Coach in town who promises to build his offense around the strengths of his quarterback, and a shiny new wide receiver with whom he already has quite the rapport, Jalen Hurts could be primed for a very impressive sophomore season.
He may not enjoy an MVP-level breakout just yet, but, providing he can clean up some ball-security issues, there is every chance we see Hurts lift the offense to some impressive feats, just as he did at the end of 2020.
Miles Sanders stunned a lot of people as a rookie and it looked as though the sky was the limit. Somewhere along the line, a glass ceiling was implemented and Sanders crashed into it. The Eagles refused to run the ball at times in 2020 and outside of a few breakaway runs, Sanders struggled to trust his instincts behind an injury-ravaged offensive line and was left empty-handed in the passing-game despite such an impressive rookie year.
There are some concerns to note. Sanders really did struggle breaking tackles last year (with 9 broken in 12 appearances) and ball security continues to burden him.
Nick Sirianni has coached up a monstrous backfield in Indianapolis. Jonathan Taylor led the way in rushing last year, ranking third overall in the NFL. Behind him, the combination of Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins very much negated the loss of Marlon Mack.
The Eagles have a similar setup this year, with Kenny Gainwell and Kerryon Johnson adding some different skill-sets to the table. This should open up some flexibility in the backfield and allow Sanders to do what he does best – make plays in the open field and in one-on-one situations with the ball in his hands.
It would be criminal not to include the 10th overall selection from this years’ NFL Draft in an article like this. DeVonta Smith has received plenty of doubt and criticism over the past few months for no other reason than his slender frame and the lack of success from others who possessed similar ones, However, he’s a Heisman-winning wideout and may well be among the crispest route-runners we’ve seen over the past two years. As we know, this is something that Nick Sirianni covets.
Smith is likely going to be the X-receiver and give Jalen Hurts a weapon who can adjust to the ball and completely change-up the tempo of his route to ensure he can help out his quarterback. This is huge for a young signal-caller who struggled with accuracy at times last year.
The duo already have a strong bond thanks to their time at Alabama and they should pick up where they left off in their first year under Nick Sirianni.
In that same breath, it’s also fair to expect a step-up from Jalen Reagor. The TCU product struggled as a rookie. Despite his inconsistencies, he did suffer from an injury setback and poor QB play which only pushed the holes in his game to the forefront.
With DeVonta Smith in town, that pressure will be lifted from his shoulders. Reagor will no longer be facing opposing CB1’s and jammed at the line with confidence, because DeVonta Smith will be drawing that attention and Safeties also have to worry about a rogue rushing quarterback. As a result, we could see him muster a much better campaign in 2021.
The Colts typically valued wide receivers over tight ends when it comes to targets…at least after the departure of Eric Ebron. T.Y Hilton led the Colts in receiving yards last year with 762, but Michael Pittman Jr. Was still able to muster 503 yards himself. Is there a chance that Reagor can double his rookie-season production of 396 yards and a touchdown? I’d say so.
Whoever the starting left tackle is
As much as Jordan Mailata deserves the starting left tackle spot with the Eagles, there is just as much chance that Andre Dillard wins it coming out of camp. Mailata won’t be handed anything and the team did invest a first-round pick into the Washington State product for a reason.
We can all assume that if Mailata is given the opportunity, he will continue to build on an already-impressive start to his young NFL career, but there’s much less certainty about the man breathing down his neck.
If Dillard does indeed win the starting role then expecting a step forward is very logical. In his lone season, he enjoyed a string of strong performances, including some big outings against the tenacious pass-rushes of Chicago and Buffalo. A bizarre decision to throw him to the RT wolves against Seattle completely changed the perception on Dillard and an offseason of struggle that ended in a biceps injury would later extinguish all of the progress made.
If he can win a starting role this Summer, I think we can expect to be surprised by Andre Dillard, who will be working in a new scheme and allowed to really show his prowess in the run-game with quick footwork.
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