5 Eagles underdogs who could breakout during Traning Camp

Eagles
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Wilson, left, catches a touchdown pass in front of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Kelee Ringo (22) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Philadelphia Eagles‘ training camp is creeping up. After wrapping up a no-contact minicamp two weeks ago, everyone gets to sit and wait for a closer look when training camp opens in late July.

The Eagles attacked the draft to address deficiencies in the secondary and wowed in free agency, mainly through the addition of Saquon Barkley, while trading for a new backup quarterback in Kenny Pickett.

There are a lot of new faces in the nest. Here are five under-the-radar guys to keep an eye on as the heat turns up this summer:

5 Eagles to watch this Summer

1. John Ross

It’s unclear how much the Combine burner has left in the tank. Ross hasn’t seen a meaningful snap since 2021 after getting the dreaded bust label during five lackluster seasons that saw him rack up only 62 catches for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns in 37 games.

Speed is his calling card, something the 28-year-old receiver flashed in abundance at minicamp. Running mostly with the second-team offense, Ross showed he still possessed elite speed — remember he ran the 40-yard dash in a then-record 4.22 seconds at the 2017 NFL Combine — and got open on intermediate routes over the middle.

He’s very much in the mix for the slot receiver spot. “I think I’m faster,” Ross told reporters, via NFL Media. “And when I say that, don’t get me wrong, I ran 4.22. I’m not saying I’m 4.15 or anything. I just feel better, so I think I can consistently be faster, and I think that was my biggest thing.”

2. Jalyx Hunt

There wasn’t a murmur made about the Eagles’ third-round pick at their mandatory minicamp, not one drop of ink or a hanging chad. He was drafted as an edge rusher, albeit a light one at only 252 pounds, and there should be an opportunity to eat at edge rusher despite the presence of sackmasters Josh Sweat, Bryce Huff, Brandon Graham, and (hopefully) Nolan Smith. Hunt is a player who was hand-picked by new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

3. Avonte Maddox

The old, crafty veteran returns to South Philly following a one-month flirtation on the free-agent market. His lengthy injury history surely had other teams on high alert, but the Eagles are keenly aware of what he brings to the table: consistency and familiarity — a reliable nickel corner when he’s healthy. It’s a huge need for a franchise in the process of rebuilding their defensive backs, giving them an old head to teach the youngsters how to do it the right way.

Avonte maddox Isaiah rodgers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 20:Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (29) warms up during the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

There’s no guarantee Maddox makes the final 53-man roster, although listening to the rookies talk about him as a mentor and friend, it seems like a mere formality. He did run with the first-team defense at their mandatory minicamp while seeing snaps at nickel corner and safety.

4. Dylan McMahon

It’s unfair to compare anyone to future Hall of Famer Jason Kelce, let alone a sixth-round pick out of North Carolina State, but the hype train has already left the station. Why? Well, the rookie center just looks the part: identical physical traits, listed at 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, plus he had a come-to-Jesus moment with the Eagles legend in the weight room.

There wasn’t much buzz about how McMahon handled the mandatory minicamp and he clearly has long odds at making the 53 — especially with the savvy addition of veteran center Matt Hennessy and transitioning tackle Mekhi Becton. However, McMahon could push for a spot if he heeds Kelce’s advice: “He said to make sure you’re in the weight room. With the frame of your body, there’s places to put good weight on. He wished me good luck.”

5. Johnny Wilson

Conveying wisdom assumed the Eagles might try and move Wilson to tight end since the rookie receiver stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 231 pounds. They still could. But, if they stay true to their word and keep him at receiver, watch out. He made a couple of highlight-reel plays at their mandatory minicamp including a finger-tip catch over Isaiah Rodgers in traffic. He’s not in the mix for the slot job, but the former Florida State standout certainly could be valuable in the red zone, perhaps he morphs into the player J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was supposed to be. The upside is there.

AP Photo/Derik Hamilton