5 Eagles players who could be nice surprises in 2024

Here are a handful of Eagles underdogs we're placing our trust in to show and prove in 2024 (and two who are honorable mentions).

James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Underdogs... Dark horses... Undrafted free agents... There's nothing like seeing extra effort and a tad more grit from the guys who aren't really supposed to win. The Philadelphia Eagles are familiar. They played the 'we all we got, we all we need' card en route to their first ever Vince Lombardi Trophy, and their fans purchased Amazon's entire supply of dog masks while they did it. Yeah, Philly is different.

The City of Brotherly Love is so in love with underdogs and the disrespect card that they built a statue to honor a fictional prize fighter (Rocky Balboa), and that was before they built another to honor a real one (Joe Frazier).

So, it's in that spirit that we offer a tale about guys who represent comeback stories, perseverance, and dreams of NFL stardom. Let's hope these guys can channel their inner-Corey Clement and T.J. Edwards.

Here are five Eagles that could shock us all by turning in great showings during the 2024 NFL season.

Okay, here we go again. It's Super Bowl or bust, take two... Lights, camera, action! Last year, things didn't go as planned.

It's okay! We've reloaded. But, to hoist another Vince Lombardi Trophy, the Birds are going to need some guys who have been given up on to deliver the goods. Might there be some nice surprises in this bunch?

James Bradberry, cornerback

Don't call it a comeback. James Bradberry has been here for years. He's rocking his peers and putting suckers in fear. Shout out to L.L. Cool J. Good times... Now, let's talk about football. Let's hope James wakes us all up because, if we're being honest, many of us are sleeping.

But seriously, there's regression and then, there's falling off of a cliff. Bradberry has done the latter. The good news is we've seen him follow off-years with better efforts.

Let's hope Vic Fangio plays to his strengths because, despite what we saw a season ago, Number 24 has many. That 2022 Second-Team All-Pro is still in there somewhere.

Julian Okwara, linebacker

A former third-round selection of the 2020 NFL Draft, this London-born linebacker started four of his 38 in-game appearances with the Detroit Lions, and now, he brings his talents to Philly.

Julian Okwara's current resume consists of 54 tackles, nine sacks, 16 additional QB hits, an interception, a forced fumble, and three pass breakups. If he has some spark left, now would be a nice time to show it.

Parris Campbell, wide receiver

And just like that, five seasons of Parris Campbell's career are gone. A failed one-year stint with the New York Giants brings him to Philly.

He's a speedster like Quez Watkins was, but Parris tracks the ball in the air better and is 15 pounds heavier. He's the fourth wideout on Philly's depth chart currently, but if he crafts a few big chunk plays this season, he will have officially earned the trust the Birds have given him.

Zech McPhearson, cornerback

Remember this guy? Zech McPhearson was supposed to be the backup slot corner last season, and a preseason injury ended that discussion. Suddenly, he's now in a contract season.

We can make equally compelling arguments for Zech sneaking into the starting lineup and being left off the roster come final cuts, but we're approaching April, and at the time of this story's release, Isaiah Rodgers is still suspended.

Oh, we're going to have a blast discussing this cornerback room this offseason.

Kenneth Gainwell, running back

Okay, here's your hot Kenneth Gainwell/Boston Scott take. The Eagles coaches like Kenny G more than the fans did. The fans like Bosco more than the Eagles coaches did. Here we are however. Kenny is under contract, and Boston isn't.

Let's hope we see more of the Kenny G we saw during the Super Bowl run almost two years ago, and less of the guy we saw for most of last season.

Then again, who are we kidding? We aren't going to see this guy at all. It's Saquon Barkley's show, but if Kenny eclipses 500 total yards or so and three or four TDs, we'll be happy.

Honorable mention: Mekhi Garner, wide receiver

We feel more dark-horse candidates are needed to make this thing interesting. Nothing screams 'underdog' like Mekhi Garner. Let's just keep those feet off the back line of the end zone on those TD receptions.

As is the case with Zech McPhearson, we can enunciate arguments for keeping Garner and cutting him. He will have opportunities to make impressions this spring and summer despite a crowded receiver room.

In 2023, Garner shined in training camp but fizzled during the preseason. Still, we rank him ahead of guys like Shaquan Davis, Jacob Harris, Austin Watkins Jr., and Griffin Hebert. So, let's say the Birds keep six wide receivers. Are we talking about A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, DeVante Parker, Parris Campbell, Britain Covey, and Mekhi Garner as the sixth guy? Yeah... We can certainly see that.

Honorable mention: Tristin McCollum, defensive back

We've been talking about Tristin McCollum a lot around the office. You should probably do the same. Reed Blankenship and C.J. Gardner-Johnson aren't indestructible, and Sydney Brown figures to miss some of the early games as he recovers from last season's injury.

Last season, McCollum appeared in three games, primarily on special teams where he played 59 snaps. He played another 29 snaps on defense. For his trouble, he stacked six tackles. Four of which were of the solo variety.

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