This year’s training camp won’t have the same drama at the quarterback position.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles‘ off-season had real drama at the quarterback position. The team went from their decision to keep free agent Sam Bradford to drafting Carson Wentz and signing Chase Daniel. Then, the Eagles traded Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings and handed the starting job to Wentz.
This year, the Eagles are set with Wentz as their starter, and they’ve added Nick Foles. The third stringer is veteran quarterback Matt McGloin. He’s likely to be using the off-season to audition for any team that needs an experienced backup. Rookie free agent Jerod Evans will be stashed away on the practice squad. Head coach Doug Pederson‘s second training camp is off to a much calmer start than his first.
The focus now shifts to the guys who protect the franchise quarterback.
The Eagles have more depth along the offensive line than they’ve had in years. Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, and Brandon Brooks are entrenched as the starters. Isaac Seumalo could start as well, but the question is does he play guard or center? Expect competition and some fascinating position battles.
Can Chance Warmack claim a guard spot? If he does, will Seumalo to move to center? Can Seumalo or rookie free agent center Tyler Orlosky gel with Wentz? Would that allow the Eagles to save some cap space by releasing current starting center Jason Kelce? Will the Eagles keep nine or ten linemen on the 53 man squad? Backup guard/center Stefen Wisniewski has the ability to play multiple positions, so the Eagles may only keep nine players on the active roster. Then again, they could try to sneak a couple young linemen onto the practice squad.
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Is there any real receiver competition?
At tight end, this is the make or break year for Zach Ertz. He needs to become a reliable weapon for Wentz and prove he’s worthy of the Eagles’ investment in him. Brent Celek should continue to contribute from a reserve role. The Eagles need more production from Trey Burton.
If last year is any indication, the Eagles may only keep five players at the wide receiver position. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Jordan Matthews (supposing he isn’t traded) are locks at wide receiver. Draft picks Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson are probably locks to make the active roster, barring disaster. That makes one ask if the Eagles keep five or six wideouts. Nelson Agholor is difficult to cut due to the heftiness of his contract. Dorial Green-Beckham is a likely to become a salary cap casualty. Rookie free agent Greg Ward could make the practice squad with a strong camp.
Everyone will be watching what happens at the running back position.
The biggest surprise in the draft is the fact that the Eagles didn’t come away with an every-down running back. Ryan Mathews is coming back from injury, but he’s likely to be waived. Darren Sproles is the only returning back with a clearly defined role. That leads to a bevy of questions.
Do Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich view Wendell Smallwood as a starter? Can Corey Clement can handle a significant amount of carries? Can Donnel Pumphrey show enough on special teams to claim a spot on the 53 man squad? Will executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman sign another back? DeAngelo Williams is available. Or would trading for someone like Jeremy Hill from the Cincinnati Bengals be an idea?
The “running back by committee system” doesn’t work too often. It also, normally, prevents every back involved from establishing a rhythm. Regardless of what happens, it’s the offensive backfield where we can all expect to see the most competition once this team begins constructing a roster. It’s the spot where there are the least amount of definite answers.
We’ll all be watching once training camp begins.