The Eagles have a decent mixture of veteran leadership and young future leaders.
We're calling it a safe bet that guys like Josh Sweat, Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, and Darius Slay will be on next year's roster. That being said, let's spend a little more time on the guys whose names don't roll off our tongues as often. That includes a guy that Carter and Davis have known since they've been hanging out 'between the hedges'.
2. Nakobe Dean, linebacker
Nothing places a man in the back of people's minds faster than injuries. Nakobe Dean was supposed to take the next step and fill the void left by T.J. Edwards. Instead, he has battled injuries, so we have spent much of our time discussing castoffs.
This organization's negligence in building a satisfactory linebacker room is well-documented, but all hops is not lost. Philly hasn't given up on Nakobe. They shouldn't give up on Nakobe. He was a 2022 third-round draftee for heaven's sake.
3. Kevin Byard, safety
Kevin Byard has gone from being a prized in-season acquisition to lesser-mentioned chess piece. He'll be around though. He doesn't hit free agency until 2025.
4. Zech McPhearson, Philadelphia Eagle
Hey, it's Zech McPhearson! Remember him?
Couple the fact that Philly still can't find a suitable replacement for Maddox with the knowledge that McPhearson's rookie deal also ends in 2025, and we arrive at an easy conclusion.
Zech will be back! Philly needs some better insurance at slot cornerback.
5. Reed Blankenship, safety
Reed Blankenship may not be a member of the under-the-radar discussion anymore. He still deserves a mention for becoming what he has become despite being a former undrafted rookie free agent.
Now, imagine if the Eagles had better players to surround him with.
6. Nolan Smith, EDGE
This one should be obvious because Nolan Smith was a 2023 Eagles first-round draft choice. He makes our list because of that 'lesser-mentioned' angle though.
Sheesh! Who would have thought? It's much too early to give up on him, but we were expecting a lot more sizzle than we have gotten so far.
Will Fletcher Cox retire? Will Brandon Graham be back? Two members of the core four will be a part of next offseason's decision-making process. B.G. has already said he wants to play 15 seasons.
Will he get his wish? Time will tell. Let's continue our discussion with some of the defense's young guns.