6 Sub-radar Philadelphia Eagles who could have breakout seasons in 2021

Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
Jason Huntley Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Who could emerge on offense for the Philadelphia Eagles?

Jason Huntley, running back

The staff here at ITI has spent plenty of time talking about the potential of Jason Huntley. We could be completely wrong. Maybe he never pans out. Until we get a bigger sample size, it’s hard to tell. Like the rest of the running backs, he wasn’t utilized much in 2020, but coming out of college, he was a swiss-army knife who could outrun defenders as a runner, receiver, and returner.

Sirianni could unleash his potential and utilize him similarly to the way the Indianapolis Colts used Nyheim Hines. The Birds will likely bring in another running back or two. In doing so, they could use a secondary back to play behind Miles Sanders. Could that be someone like Marlon Mack in free agency?

Maybe they’d prefer a bruiser like Rhamondre Stevenson in the middle rounds of the draft. Huntley could be the Eagles ‘RB3’ if he impresses the coaching staff in camp. He might be a better change of pace back and better return man than Boston Scott.

Hakeem Butler, tight end

Early in the 2020 season, the Birds picked up wide receiver Hakeem Butler off of the Arizona Cardinals practice squad and converted him to tight end. Zach Ertz is likely on his way out and the Birds could use another tight end behind Goedert. They could re-sign Richard Rodgers to a short-term deal or bring back Trey Burton for a cheaper price, but either way, they still need to develop a younger tight end.

Butler might be the guy. For those who remember his college career, he flat out bullied corners at times (as he should have). He’s six-foot-five and tips the scales at 227 pounds, but doing that in the Big 12 and doing it in the NFL are two completely different things.

In his one offensive snap during the 2020 campaign (yes, one), he had the opportunity to make a contested catch on a fourth and goal situation in Week 8. He matched up with five-foot-eleven, 195-pound defensive back Logan Ryan, and didn’t win.

Part of that was on Carson Wentz. Ryan was late getting over, but Wentz didn’t notice it immediately and made a bad throw. Even still, it was Butler, not Ryan, that got bullied. It was a prime example of why the NFL isn’t just about size and athleticism. At the professional level, technique and fundamentals are just as important.

It was clear in 2020 that Butler wasn’t ready for the bright lights. He did contribute on special teams in a few games, and for that reason, Philly could keep him around, but he’ll also have a full offseason to work at his new position. Let’s hope that new tight ends coach Jason Michael can be the guy to develop him.