Eagles QB Factory is alive after Tanner McKee stuns in preseason debut

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Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, left, and quarterback Jalen Hurts watch from the sideline during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The Philadelphia Eagles might not have been able to put an end to Baltimore’s now 24-game preseason winning streak, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t positives to take. Perhaps the biggest winner from Saturday night’s preseason opener was 6th-round rookie QB Tanner McKee.

Tanner McKee steals the spotlight in Eagles vs Ravens

The Stanford product entered the game following a fairly dismal opening set of drives from Marcus Mariota. The former Falcons QB was electric when running the ball, converting an early 3rd & 13 by extending the play with his legs, but was disappointing as a passer.

Eagles nfl preseason
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 06: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) watches the game clock run out from the sidelines during the 2nd half of Sunday afternoon NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Chargers on November 6, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

McKee stepped up and made an instant impact. His opening throw of the game was a 27-yard dart to Tyrie Cleveland which very much acted as a sign of things to come. There was a touchdown that was called back and another deep pass during a preseason debut that saw McKee rally to 148 passing yards while completing 10/20 passes.

Ian Book then took the field and brought things straight back down to Earth. Doing his finest Carson Wentz impression, Book took a 21-yard sack while running in circles, before later throwing an interception on a two-point conversion. Eli Ricks picked off a pass to bring the Eagles right back into the game, only for Book to gift the Ravens all that momentum straight back.

Sandwiched between two underwhelming quarterback performances was a very strong outing for Tanner McKee. This won’t come as a surprise to some, but it will to many. Many draft analysts had McKee going as high as the second round thanks to throwing for over 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. At 6’6″ McKee has the right size to be a big pocket passer. His velocity is impressive and his coveted leadership qualities were always visible at Stanford.

The rise of an underdog

His time in Philadelphia had flown under the radar up until about a week ago. Our writer Mike Greger headed to an Eagles practice down at the NovaCare Complex and highlighted McKee as a real standout. He noted his size and eyebrow-raising arm strength on a day where, once again, all other quarterbacks not named Jalen Hurts were unable to move the needle.

Fast forward a few short days and now everyone knows his name.

It might be a bit too soon to start gifting promotions and guaranteeing success, but the early signs of ability from Tanner McKee should inspire confidence in the Eagles locker room. Their intent to continue working on the quarterback factory might finally have been rewarded with the arrival of a developmental arm whose ceiling could well mirror the likes of Jacoby Brissett or Jimmy Garoppolo.

Eagles fans won’t have to wait long to next see McKee in action, but the real question now is that if he’s already unseated Ian Book, how long will it be until Marcus Mariota begins looking over his shoulder.

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AP Photo/Julio Cortez