Eagles rookies shined in what was otherwise a disappointing defeat against the Seahawks

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Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith
Newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles’ Nolan Smith, right, and Jalen Carter speak during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Eagles endured a third consecutive defeat on Monday night. The Seahawks rallied down the field on a 92-yard drive that ended in a touchdown to put the icing on what was already a cake that looked tough to stomach. But as frustrating as the loss was, there were a few bright points…and they just so happened to have one thing in common.

On a night where the Eagles were beaten by a short-handed Seahawks team and the teams’ biggest stars were made to look completely average, it was a youth infusion that stopped the loss from being completely devoid of things to be positive about.

Eagles rookies shine in otherwise dismal defeat

Eli Ricks

Eli Ricks has had a season of scintillating highs and disappointing lows. On a night where he split duties with Kelee Ringo, he punched in one of his better performances. He was targeted 3 times and didn’t allow a single reception, and although he left a lot to be desired on that Kenneth Walker TD, it’s easy to draw comparisons to Cre’Von LeBlanc, as an underdog corner that can come up big when the team needs a pinch hitter.

Kelee Ringo

Kelee Ringo was selected in the heart of this years’ class but his immediate ceiling was always going to be capped when playing behind James Bradberry and Darius Slay. An injury to the latter provided Ringo with an inside track to some snaps against the Seahawks and a chance to avenge a confusing double-penalty against the Cowboys.

He was able to do just that. It’s been a tough debut season for Ringo, but he played with a sense of tenacity that was otherwise missing from the team on Monday night. He was targeted twice in the loss but broke up one of those passes and didn’t allow a completion.

His confidence in pass-coverage has to be noted, especially after what happened last week.

Would there really be that much of a drop-off in talent if the Eagles were to switch out Bradberry in favor of their rookie to give him some more snaps to develop as the season winds to a close? I don’t think so.

Sydney Brown

Matt Patricia appears to have a soft spot for Eagles rookie Sydney Brown. The Safety was on the field for 48 snaps on Monday night (Byard and Blankenship played in 61 each) and was being played in the box where his homing-missile tendencies were both maximized and nullified.

Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles safety Sydney Brown (21) reacts after tackling San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Brown had an explosive first half, but perhaps overconfidence got the better of the Illinois product. The rookie continued to fly around the defense, but his tackling form became sporadic. This was always a concern coming out of college, with Brown being an all-or-nothing DB who will fly into a tackle and either make the biggest hit of the game or end up missing completely and yielding a big reception.

With that said, this is the most we’ve seen from Brown this season and the positive flashes were more than enough to inspire hope that the Eagles have a great long-term player to hang their hat on.

It will take some time for Brown to refine his tackling tendencies, but if he can, he’ll be a problem for years to come.

Nolan Smith

AN ACTUAL NOLAN SMITH SIGHTING! LIKE, A REAL ONE!

The Georgia product really stood out against the run and even received a grade of 80.5 from PFF. His lateral explosiveness is leading to some big stops and it’s clear that the game is slowing down for him.

It might be a slower burn in comparison to the eccentric rise of Jalen Carter, but the splash plays made by Nolan Smith are becoming far more regular.

Jalen Carter

The biggest home-run hit of this Draft class continues to shine. Jalen Carter notched another sack, mauling his way through a block to bring down Drew Lock. He received a PFF grade of 82.7

Eagles
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles as Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter (98) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

One week after taking a strip-sack to the house for a touchdown, Carter hounded a backup quarterback all night long and forced some errant throws in the process.

His 5 sacks on the season are the most by an Eagles rookie since Derek Barnett.

At this point, we don’t need to explain how good he is. It’s clear that Jalen Carter is a cornerstone to build this defense around for years to come.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum