5 bold Eagles Training Camp Predictions: A new STAR is Born

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)

Training Camp is officially here for the Philadelphia Eagles. The thudding of pads will return to the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday as the team begins its Summer of preparation for what promises to be another explosive season of Football.

Training Camp always throws up surprises and 2023 will likely be no different. Here are my 5 boldest predictions for the Philadelphia Eagles this Summer.

A STAR is born

A lot of people were excited about the Jalen Carter Draft pick. Many were stunned that Nolan Smith somehow fell into the laps of Howie Roseman at the bottom of the first round. But for me, the most exciting part of the entire draft was knowing that Kelee Ringo and Sydney Brown would be joining a defense that almost feels built for their skill sets.

Howie Roseman eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

I wrote earlier in the offseason about how I see one of Ringo or Brown taking on a STAR role in this defense. Brown is the more likely candidate to be pulled into his natural position due to depth and starting quality being a little sparse in comparison to what the team has at corner, but both players have enough speed, versatility, and physicality to play a hybrid role in this defense.

A STAR is a hybrid defender, usually a safety, that plays inside the box but can line up on tight ends, on the outside, and play over the top. Brown handled a lot of TE responsibilities at college, and Ringo’s sheer speed and size is a combination so rare that this role almost feels built for him.

My first bold prediction is that we start seeing these young guns line up across the secondary in camp, with reporters a little miffed as to what’s going on. But you’ll know. Because you read this article. You’ll be watching a STAR being born into this Eagles defense, and before you know it, end up diving down a rabbit hole of Bears All-22 to see just how likely this path really is.

It’s going to be a fun Summer if either of these players start to get looks at hybrid roles, and an even more enticing regular season.

Kenny Gainwell becomes the Eagles’ RB1

The Eagles added Rashaad Penny to replace Miles Sanders this offseason and then stunningly traded for D’Andre Swift during the NFL Draft. Both are cheap and cheerful, both have long-term injury doubts, but both, when healthy, are also land in the upper echelon of most efficient backs in the league.

However, this backfield should be built around one man and one man only – Kenny Gainwell.

The Memphis product saw his usage surge in the postseason while Miles Sanders rode the pine and watched on as the younger back darted and dashed his way past defenders. It felt like a given that we’d see Gainwell become the lead back in 2023…until the offseason.

I don’t think Gainwell will take those additions lightly. He did a brilliant job of handling lead responsibilities in the absence of Sanders and he’s not going to let that opportunity to claim what’s rightfully his simply fizzle away. I’m predicting a summer breakout from the third-year running back.

Jalen Hurts wins the QB1 job

Big if true. Anyway, now we have your attention, don’t forget to tune in to our DAILY breakfast show over on our YouTube channel.

For the first time in our history, Philly Sports Network will have Training Camp Access, meaning that we can not only give you better written content, but that every day, we’ll have one of our reporters joining the show to give you ALL the latest on what’s going down at the NovaCare Complex.

We grew tired of the over-dramatic styles we hear on Sports Talk Radio, so decided to make a show built around YOU, your takes, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.

Join the fun, you won’t regret it.

Quez is on the bubble

I was very excited when I saw that the Eagles had signed Olamide Zaccheaus. The former Falcon broke out in 2022, putting up 533 yards and 3 touchdowns while showcasing the same ability to take the top off a defense as he had in each of his previous seasons. In fact, he’s recorded a 45-yard reception in every NFL season he’s played in so far.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball against Washington Commanders safety Bobby McCain (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The fact of the matter is that Quez Watkins just didn’t take the step forward many hoped last year. Concentration drops were an issue in an offense stacked with star-power, those middling inconsistencies just aren’t enough to retain a starting role anymore.

Olamide’s best season in the NFL came with Marcus Mariota as his QB. Mariota is now in Philadelphia and will of course be working with the second-string guys, which funnily enough is where Zaccheaus will start things off. With a Zach Pascal-sized hole left to fill, there’s no reason why Zaccheaus can’t come in and immediately challenge Quez Watkins for a WR3 role, going one step beyond just filling Pascal’s shoes…and that’s exactly what I predict will happen.

Taking a punt

I am not a big fan of Arryn Siposs. Okay, that’s unfair. I was a HUGE Cameron Johnston guy and Arryn Siposs is the ‘We have Coca Cola at home’ equivalent. Punting was a real weakness for the Eagles last year and I’m pinning my hopes of a turnaround on UDFA Ty Zentner. Our writer Chris Infante has already nicknamed him ‘Legatron’ and for good reason. He averaged 44.5 yards per punt and made all 11 field goal attempts in 2022, when he was also Ray Guy Award semifinalist.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 08: Philadelphia Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (8) looks on during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 8, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

I don’t think Siposs makes the roster, and am predicting a Legatron masterclass.

Nakobe Dean steals the show

There’s always one player during Training Camp who just shines brighter than the rest, for whatever reason. Nakobe Dean has all the potential to become that player this Summer. He’s been given the reins as the MIKE and is still relatively unexposed at the NFL level. We didn’t see too much of him as a rookie, but now, surrounded by former Bulldog teammates, he’ll become the heart and soul of the unit if he can step up to the plate.

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)

I think there’s a great chance that Nakobe Dean hits the ground running in Camp and demonstrates why draft analysts had him graded so highly not too long ago.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire