Eagles OTA’s: 5 breakout candidates fans should keep an eye on this offseason

Eagles Nakobe dean
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 02: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) enters the field during training camp on August 2, 2022 at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

We’re still a few months away from the start of training camp but just under a couple of weeks before the start of OTAs for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Unlike most organizations, head coach Nick Sirianni has done away with the belief that a team needs to have mandatory workouts throughout an offseason. His approach of making all workouts voluntary has worked out well for Philadelphia so far in his tenure as they’ve been one of the healthiest in the league over the last two years.

It’s also helped that the team has been able to develop young talent in droves recently without breakout stars like Jalen Hurts, Josh Sweat, and Jordan Mailata setting the tone for a championship-caliber roster. Like any offseason, teams will be surprised by specific players at different positions who want to earn their spot on the 53-man roster.

This season, the Eagles will need a breakout star or two in order to get back to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year.

Here are five names to keep an eye on that should certainly be turning heads in a couple of weeks.

Milton Williams

Of all the young talents the Eagles possess, Milton Williams has been one of the bigger surprises for the team. The third-round pick that caused a slight issue within the organization, Williams has since shown exactly why the team took a flier on him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s recorded six sacks in two seasons as an interior rusher and has been one of the best players against the run in the NFL. He’ll get more snaps this season but could be a breakout star this year for Sirianni and the defense.

Nakobe Dean

There isn’t a young player under more pressure this year than Nakobe Dean. Due to the team’s dominance throughout the year in 2022, Dean didn’t really see the field as a rookie but showed flashes in blowout time throughout the year. With TJ Edwards and Kyzir White now gone, it’ll be up to Dean to hold the fort at linebacker and put the team in a position to have an even better year on the defensive side.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Joshua Dobbs (15) is stopped by Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Chachere (21), linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) and cornerback Josh Jobe (38) short of a touchdown on a run during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Cleveland, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Reed Blankenship

Reed Blankenship was an undrafted free agent who stood out in a major way last season when Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was lost for part of the season to an injury. His instincts and run defense were superb and he showed enough in pass coverage to warrant a full look for another year as a potential starter. The Eagles could very well make a trade for another safety, but Blankenship has more than earned the right to be on this team this year as well as compete for starting reps.

Jack Driscoll

A lot of people expect the right guard position to be filled by either Cam Jurgens or Tyler Steen but many people are forgetting a dark horse in the position battle. Jack Driscoll lost his position battle to Isaac Seumalo last season but played well as a swing tackle for the team throughout the year. His intangibles and athleticism actually show he could be a very good right guard to start the year if the team wants their younger offensive linemen to see the field more from the sideline to start.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 18: Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Jack Driscoll (63) sets up to block during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles on October 18, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Kenneth Gainwell

The acquisitions of D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny have left many questioning if Kenneth Gainwell will get an opportunity to be a breakout star going into his third season with the franchise. But as a change-of-pace back that showed out on the biggest of stages, Gainwell could very well be one of the brightest breakout stars for the Eagles in 2023. If he does end up breaking out, this could be the most dangerous and complete running back room the Eagles have had in a very long time.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire