Ranking intriguing Eagles position battles for 2024

Things are really going to get intense. As always, these roster battles are going to heat up.
DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

OTAs are in full swing. The Philadelphia Eagles aren't enjoying full 100-percent attendance, but there's no need to worry or stress out about anything. This portion of the offseason workout is voluntary.

Jake Elliott, James Bradberry, Kelee Ringo, Lane Johnson, DeVonta Smith, and Josh Sweat were among the noticeable absences from the May 22nd practice session. We hate to point the spotlight at Ringo, but his absence caught our attention.

First things first. We hope everything is okay and this is an excused absence. If he is okay and there are no major issues, a second-year player who will be involved in competition at one of the more talked about position battles would want to get in all the work he can.

Oh well... Let's move on. Let's discuss position battles. No live contact is permitted during OTAs, and the highlight of the viewing experience is 7-on-7 work, so most of the competition won't heat up until later.

That won't stop us from taking about the battles we can't wait to see. Does our list look like yours? Here are some of the most intense that we'll see during the spring and summer.

1. Wide Receiver

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have jobs. That we're certain of. We would also assume the rookie draftees are safe (Ainias Smith and Johnny Wilson), but one of the NFL's recent legends at the wide receiver position has already expressed concern about Wilson's readiness.

Oh well... We'll see what happens.

Here's what we can say. The expectation, for the most part, is that Philly will keep six wide receivers. There are 11 on the offseason roster.

Again, we're certain that the top two guys are locks. We believe three or four might be locks. That means seven guys are competing for two or three spots.

2. Linebacker

Two statements that seemingly contradict one another can both be accurate. While we feel more confident about the linebacker core than we were last season, we can ask questions about all of these guys.

How good is Jeremiah Trotter Jr. really? Will the change of scenery do Devin White some good, or will he disappoint? Can Nakobe Dean finally show and prove after two trips to the injured reserve last season? Then, there are some of the new guys.

Oren Burks, Zack Baun, Brandon Smith, and Ben VanSumeren aren't assured of anything. Depending on how many LBs the Birds decide to keep, two or three of those guys might be left behind.

We have discussed Philly's negligence in stocking this position for years. We can't say that this time around, but this unit will still be a topic of conversation.

3. Cornerback

James Bradberry didn't come to the May 22nd OTA practice session. Neither did Kelee Ringo. One might be a post-June 1st cut candidate, and we honestly can't figure out why the other guy isn't here.

Did they look at the roster? Darius Slay will make this team. So will rookies Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean. Shon Stephens, Isaiah Rodgers, Eli Ricks, Zech McPhearson, Avonte Maddox, Josh Jobe, Tyler Hall, Mario Goodrich, and Mekhi Garner are all competing for what might be three spots on the initial 53-man roster.

Are you interested? We sure are. As always, we'll be watching the DBs.

4. Punt Returner

Britain Covey has held this spot down for two seasons. That's actually the only reason he has been kept on the roster because, even though he is a talented returner, NO ONE looks at him as a wide receiver.

Now, Philly has another wideout who is also a skilled returner in Ainias Smith. Cooper DeJean is also an option, but if the latter could wind up being the starting slot corner, That's a very real possibility, so would Philly also want to use him on special teams?

It feels like the only way for Covey to hang around would be for him to win this job, but is it worth it to dedicate an entire roster spot to a full-time returner or might Philly want to use that spot to hang onto another guy?

5. Staring Right Guard and the O-line Reserves

Four of the starting offensive lineman are known: Jordan Mailata (left tackle), Landon Dickerson (left guard), Cam Jurgens (center), and Lane Johnson (right tackle). We think Tyler Steen will earn the starting right guard position, but you never know. He'll be pushed by veteran Matt Hennessy and rookie Trevor Keegan.

The two guys that don't win the job will be a part of the second string. Maybe... We'll see about Hennessy. We'll see who joins them in Jeff Stoutland's meeting room.

Brett Toth, Anim Dankwah, Darian Kinnard, Jason Poe, and Gottlieb Ayedze, are all in the conversation. Mekhi Becton and Fred Johnson are among the favorites.

It's also worth mentioning that Le'Raven Clark is injured and Laekin Vakalahi is an international prospect that receives a special roster exemption. He'll be around and will be given time to develop as he doesn't count against the roster.

Worth mentioning: Running Back and Safety

It's possible that the Eagles will run with three tailbacks. They have a nice trio in Saquon Barkley, Kenneth Gainwell, and rookie draftee Will Shipley, but the trio they have behind those guys is also talented.

Keep an eye on Tyrion Davis-Price, Kendall Milton, and Kendall Milton. They're looking to catapult themselves onto the roster.

With that, we wrap things up with thoughts on the safety position. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Reed Blankenship, and Sydney Brown will all be in the mix, and Avonte Maddox saw some safety snaps at OTAs.

That last nugget may not mean anything, but keep eyes on Tristin McCollum and undrafted rookie Andre Sam. The former saw significant snaps late last season. The latter is talented and has also been taken under C.J.G.J.'s wing. That could be something to watch.

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