Eagles rookie projections: Which players will make the biggest impact in 2024?

FILE – Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) returns an interception for a touchdown against Rutgers quarterback Evan Simon (3) during the first half of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Piscataway, N.J. Coopr DeJean was named to The Associated Press preseason All-America team, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray, File)

While Training Camp is still a few weeks away, Eagles fans got their first look at this years’ rookie class during OTA’s and mandatory minicamp. With some players already featuring in the first team on 11-on-11’s, it’s a great time to start looking at the impact each rookie could have in 2024.

Eagles 2024 rookie projections

CB Quinyon Mitchell

There’s every chance that Quinyon Mitchell is a starter in week 1. The Toledo product featured prominently with the starters throughout Mandatory Minicamp and as a prized first-round selection who might well be the most NFL ready corner of anyone in his class, it would behoove the Eagles to find a role for him as soon as possible.

It’s still a likely possibility that James Bradberry is facing an early exit in Philadelphia after a torrid 2023 campaign, and a strong training camp from Mitchell might well be the final nail in the coffin.

Even if Bradberry does stay in Philadelphia for 2024, Mitchell is going to play a rotational role at a minimum. I’d expect him to play at least 40% of snaps in his rookie season in what could be a gradual passing of the torch year, but it could also be a breakout in the making, with the rookie becoming the entrenched CB2 alongside Darius Slay and CB1 of the future.

Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell poses on the red carpet ahead of the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DB Cooper DeJean

DeJean’s upside might be the most exciting to predict as a rookie. The Eagles were originally intent on keeping things simple for the versatile defensive back, but he’s already been trialled in the slot and outside on occasion throughout the offseason.

DeJean is probably better suited to a role at Safety or in the nickel but both spots are going to be tricky to break into as a starter off the jump. However, a rotational role for CDJ as someone that can move around Fangio’s defense feels like the best fit.

While he might not be on the field every snap, the Iowa product should be a regular feature on the Eagles’ defense in 2024, and it may not take long for him to become a real Swiss-army knife that can be incredibly efficient thanks to how many masked coverages Fangio likes to deploy.

EDGE Jalyx Hunt

Of all the rookies the Eagles have on their roster, I’m most excited to see how they use Jalyx Hunt. The small-school sleeper out of Houston Christian was drafted as an EDGE, but a lot of his most effective plays on tape are off the ball and sprinting sideline-to-sideline in coverage to make an impact.

Hunt posted a RAS score of 9.37 out of 10 and tore up agility drills prior to being drafted. The Eagles already have a flurry of strong EDGE rushers and in a 3-4, they might not be as vital to the teams’ success. Instead, I’d expect Hunt to play a more hybrid rotational role as someone that can line up with a hand in the dirt but burst back into coverage and make his paydirt as a rotational OLB who has just as much upside rushing the passer as he does dropping back into coverage and making instinctive plays.

RB Will Shipley

Will Shipley had a few head-turning moments at minicamp, but his upside with Saquon Barkley in the fold is obviously going to be fairly limited. However, Kenny Gainwell is the only other running back in the fold, which means we could see Shipley as a change-of-pace back who offers a dual-threat skillset.

Shipley could well muster 200 yards or so in his first year with the Eagles. If the offense is up by 14-20 points late in the game and they fancy running down the clock, there’s no need to keep running Saquon into the ground. The former Clemson running back is likely going to see a fairly healthy share of carries as a result and will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself.

WR Ainias Smith

Outside of Jalyx Hunt, Smith is the other player that really stands out to me. A zippy slot wideout who has all the moves in the world, Smith has a soft pair of hands and should have a fairly straight-forward path to becoming either the starting or backup slot wideout in his rookie season.

The only concern I have is that he sometimes does too much on tape. There’s too much emphasis on making the sexy move to juke a defender rather than darting into open space and missing out on huge gains as a result. If the Eagles can dial that back and have guys like DeVonta Smith really help him key in on his vision and discipline, the Eagles might have a home-run hit here in a player that could easily register 300+ yards as a rookie, or at the very least, be more effective than Jalen Reagor was in his first year…

LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr

The son of the legendary Eagles linebacker plays with a lot of aggression, but his vision and overall game-speed seem to lack at times. The Birds do seem to like what they’re seeing out of former Saints LB Zack Baun, but with depth so thin, it’s still highly likely that we see Trotter get some action in 2024.

His development will be something that draws attention from plenty of Eagles fans, but patience is the name of the game here. He has all the tools to become a key cog in this defense, but throwing him into the deep end isn’t the ideal solution. Allowing him to learn from proven vets like Devin White while he grinds on special teams and slowly works up to defensive snaps should be the aim here.

FILE – Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (54) reacts during an NCAA college football game against North Carolina Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. wears his dad’s No. 54, plays the same position and celebrates sacks and big tackles with the same signature axe swing. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman, File)

IOL Trevor Keegan/C Dylan McMahon

I’m grouping these two together because their rookie trajectories should be similar – attend the Stoutland University and continue to improve on fundamentals until such a time as their name is called. Both have huge athletic upside and should add valuable depth to the offensive front over the coming years. I’m excited to watch how both fare during the preseason, which should give fans a nice look as to how they grade against NFL-level talents.

WR Johnny Wilson

It’s still unclear whether the Eagles are going to try and convert the dominant 6’7, 237 lbs, wideout at tight end, or simply try and use him as a rotational wideout to relieve A.J Brown at the X spot, or even see usage as a big-slot wideout.

Whatever the case, Wilson might get a few offensive looks during his rookie year but is likely going to be a player who flies under the radar with a lot of the core work being done on the practice field.

AP Photo/Noah K. Murray, File