Five Eagles underdogs to watch in 2022

NFL: SEP 19 49ers at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The 2022 NFL season is rapidly approaching and the Philadelphia Eagles have done a fantastic job in priming their roster for a playoff run. With a youth infusion headlining the show, Howie Roseman has constructed a roster filled with young talent. But while there are plenty of stars to sell jerseys, who are some of the more under-the-radar players to keep an eye on this season?

Marcus Epps

Epps isn’t really an underdog in terms of playing time. He’s going to be a full-time starter this year. That doesn’t mean he isn’t being massively overlooked by the majority of fans and analysts.

PFF had Epps as the second-best safety in run defense last year at 88.9. He’s a great downhill safety that can play in the box while Harris hangs over the top. He only missed 6.8% of tackles last year. A lot of people wanted Tyrann Mathieu, but for a fraction of the price, Epps will fill a niche role in this defense and tick every box that Gannon needs him to.

His snap count has increased every year over the past three, and we’ll now likely see him take a full-time leap into a defensive role, while his special teams duties can be filled by someone else. Epps has shown some great ball-skills in the past and is clearly a snug fit in this defense as a strong tackler who can make a beeline for the ball.

With his contract expiring at the end of the year, do not be surprised to see a breakout from Marcus Epps.

Quez Watkins

It’s really hard to be anything other than optimistic about a former sixth-round pick who in only his second season, had 647 receiving yards and a touchdown while averaging 15 yards per catch.

While Jalen Reagor continued to struggle as the Eagles WR2, Watkins quietly evolved into a very dangerous deep-threat who could break off a huge play at any point. He had 12 receptions of 20+ yards last year, and of course owns the fifth-longest touchdown in Eagles history, a 91-yard rocket against the Niners.

Zach Pascal may be the de-facto slot wideout, but it’s easy to see Pascal playing certain packages as a more physical wideout, while Watkins will be unleashed against more favorable matchups. His name isn’t as intimidating when you consider the likes of DeVonta Smith and A.J Brown working in the same group, but that only adds to the threat Quez will bring in 2022, catching unsuspecting defenses off guard as a lightning-quick wideout who can burn down the seam in a heartbeat.

Tyree Jackson

Tyree Jackson stole the show during Training Camp of 2021. Behind Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz, this 6’7 QB convert was making breathtaking plays in the endzone and showcasing his impressive size and athelticism. Then he suffered a back injury in camp that landed him on IR, forcing him to miss the opening chunk of the season.

When he eventually did make his TE debut for the Eagles, it was underwhelming. Jackson was unable to stand out from the crowd and then heartbreakingly tore his ACL against the Cowboys in January.

It will be interesting to see if Jackson can pick up some steam this offseason, provided that he’s fully healthy. ACL’s are never easy injuries to come back from, but if he can get back to his best, be it now or later in the year, the Eagles really do have an intriguing weapon that will be more overlooked than ever due to the receiving corps arsenal.

Milton Williams

Williams is much less of an underdog than the others on this list, but he is still on a depth chart behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, and that’s only going to prevent that breakout that based off his rookie season, seems inevitable.

However, Jonathan Gannon now has the personnel to make this Eagles defense a lot less…vanilla.

This means that with Haason Reddick in the fray, Jordan Davis anchoring the middle, and a whole lot of athleticism surrounding them, it positions Milton Williams in a favorable spot to take advantage of isolated matchups and really dominate, be it from the 3 or 5 tech position.

He may not be a starter just yet, but Williams may have the highest upside of anyone on that defensive line not named Jordan Davis.

Sua Opeta

I know, it’s not the obvious choice. But without Nate Herbig waiting in the wings and no Brandon Brooks in the background, the Eagles have a ton of talent at guard, but are really lacking experienced depth.

Opeta has been around this team for a while now and if we know anything about the offensive line, it’s that depth will be tested early and often. There’s a good chance he sees some significant game time this year and I would never bet against a pupil of Jeff Stoutland. Would you?

Given that Isaac Seumalo is also in a contract year and the depth chart will be pushed one rung higher up the ladder, Opeta may get his shot sooner rather than later.

You may not know his name yet, but you may do in the coming months.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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