Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Status Report

Zach ErtzToday, we check in on the rookies. Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of what we’ve seen from each guy, along with projections going forward.

Lane Johnson – The whole “raw” label hasn’t shown up much in the first two preseason games. Based on early returns, Johnson has a chance to be a beast in the run game right away. There have been some issues in pass protection, but Johnson has held up fine in that aspect too. He’s athletic, hustles and will start at right tackle from Day One. An encouraging camp and preseason for the No. 4 overall pick.

Zach Ertz – Four catches for 46 yards on five targets through two preseason games. Ertz has played 42 snaps per PFF; he’s gone out into pass routes on 62 percent of those. The second-round pick will have to prove himself as a blocker, but he’s a polished route-runner who will have a role in the passing game right away. Look for Ertz to be a nice option in the red zone. He’ll play big snaps from the get-go.

Bennie Logan – He’s been a pleasant surprise. Logan always figured to have a place in the defensive line rotation, but so far he looks like one of the Eagles’ best players up front. Opposing offensive linemen have had a tough time controlling Logan in the run game, and he’s been effective as a pass-rusher too. The third-round pick will be coached to make use of those 34-inch arms and get in the passing lanes. Chip Kelly has said he’ll probably play six defensive linemen in the regular season. If Logan keeps showing up on tape, he’ll play plenty of snaps right away.

Matt Barkley – Expectations varied when the Eagles drafted him, but Barkley’s pretty much performed at the level of a fourth-round pick. In other words, he’s been up and down. Kelly likes how Barkley gets rid of the ball quickly, but the rookie QB has set his receivers up for dangerous hits on too many occasions. He’s never really been a part of the QB competition this summer and will likely spend Year 1 on the sidelines.

Earl Wolff – A bit of a mystery. The safety from N.C. State has gotten some reps with the first team in practice, but he didn’t get into Thursday night’s game until the second half. Patrick Chung has one of the safety spots locked down, but the other one is up for grabs. Nate Allen has started both preseason games. Wolff has a chance to make his move, but the guess here is he’ll start the season as a backup.

Joe Kruger – He’s only 21-years-old and unlikely to contribute in his first season. The question with Kruger is: Will he make the 53-man roster? If the Eagles really like his potential and think he might get snatched up by another team, they could keep him and make him a regular inactive. But stashing him on the practice squad is a real possibility.

David King – If the practice and preseason rotations are any indication, he’s going to have a tough time making the roster. The seventh-round pick hasn’t flashed much and has been passed by undrafted free agent Damion Square on the depth chart.

Jordan Poyer – Some thought the Eagles got a steal with Poyer in the seventh round, but the Oregon State product has had a quiet summer. The Eagles are thin at cornerback, so Poyer’s got a chance to sneak on the roster. But he hasn’t done much to stand out so far.

***

Among the undrafted guys, Square and linebacker Jake Knott seem like good bets to make the roster. Square figures to add depth on the defensive line, and Knott should be one of the backups behind DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks.

Other names to watch are Michael Bamiro, Russell Shepard and Matthew Tucker. Bamiro is a developmental tackle prospect. He seemed to draw some interest from other teams back in July, so the Eagles might not want to risk losing him by going the practice squad route.

Shepard started off great, but has been quiet in the preseason games and could be headed for the practice squad. Tucker could claim a spot just because Felix Jones has been unimpressive. But the Eagles could choose to add a running back from another team instead.

WHAT YOU MISSED

A detailed “tape” review of how the Eagles used the zone read/bubble screen packaged play on multiple occasions vs. Carolina.

O-Line wisdom has been passed down from Tra Thomas to Todd Herremans and now to Lane Johnson, writes T-Mac.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News talked to wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell about the team’s option routes:

“You always have some West Coast plays in your concepts, and we have all those,” wide-receivers coach Bob Bicknell said. “But there’s also more chances for guys to kind of read coverage, read how they’re getting covered and make plays off of the leverage of the defender or whether they’re playing man or zone. “I think that’s what’s a little bit different in this offense. We have option routes where guys have an ability to understand what we’re trying to get, where other people are, and where they have a chance to win and get open.”

Derek Sarley of IgglesBlog suggests preseason defenses haven’t shown much yet against Kelly:

Right now, Chip’s offense is being greatly helped by the passivity of the defenses he’s facing. For months, we read stories about how every defensive staff in the league was studying ways to beat spread option looks, and yet so far we haven’t seen anything all that innovative beyond some rotations by the Patriots to mess up the reads with different edge defenders.It’s going to take some time before the league fully understands everything Kelly’s trying to do, but I’ll be shocked if our week one opponent — a team that has more than a passing familiarity with these same offensive concepts — isn’t ready with a big bag of tricks we aren’t seeing yet.

COMING UP

We’ll be back at NovaCare, talking to Kelly and several players today.

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  • Media Mike

    Kruger becomes the hardest guy to project on or off of the roster based on production vs. potential. I think Kruger has the correct body-type to be your starting 3-4 DE for 2014 if they can get 20-30lbs on muscle on him so he’s playing @ 6’6″ 290-300 at this time next year instead of 6’6″ 270.

    • Dominik

      I haven’t seen Kruger, but some reports after the draft talked about his big potential, being a possible 3rd rounder next year if he would have stayed at college. But Kelly has to evaluate him. But IF the scouts were right you should keep him.

      • Media Mike

        If it comes down to keeping Kruger, Cheney, or Coleman……………I’m going with Kruger.

        • Chris

          i like him more than Cheney or Coleman but you also have to consider depth at LB or S.. I think we have more depth on DL than other 2 positions. In terms of pure ability/potential and ignoring depth needs, I agree with you 100%

  • FestusPapyrus

    On Poyer I’m guessing you meant “thin at cornerback”.

    • sdk152

      That too! Thanks for the heads-up. Fixed it. -SK

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    Lane Johnson. Liking that pick more and more.

    • Tyler Phillips

      I’m guessing we shouldn’t trust you. Lol

      • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

        Ahhh…if your read my blog then you’d know not to worry…you can trust me :-)

  • THROW UP IN THE HUDDLE

    I would give Wolff all the first team reps in practice and let him start against the jags… You already kno what u getting with Nate Allen… a two hand touch safety that can play the ball in the air… What we need is a safety that can play the ball in the air… Play down in the box and TERMINATE anything or anybody that comes across the middle… Lets c if he fit the bill.

  • JofreyRice

    Way more impressed with Logan as a pro than I thought I’d be. Johnson has played up to high expectations. Ertz is a nice weapon for Kelly. Knott was a savvy UDFA pickup.

    I still hate the way they handled the DBs–particularly picking a “name” backup QB before a safety, but overall, I may have to revisit my critique of Mr. Roseman. I think he hit on his first 3 rounds with AT LEAST quality contributors, who all have a chance to be a little more than that.

    • B-West

      This draft may not even end up as good as last year’s crop. Cox, Kendricks, Curry, Boykin and Brown all still have their arrows trending up. Plus competent players like Kelly and Foles. Add in Damaris as an undrafted player who contributes.

      Eh? Ehhhh?? Come on, don’t be hesitant, jump aboard the Howie Bandwagon.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Contrary to what ppl say, I think last year was the best draft Eagles have had in like 4 or 5 years (I don’t remember specifics from before then, could be the best draft in 8-10 years if the players you mentioned all pan out). With the Watkins year and BG year, they missed on most of their later round picks, just bad bad draft years as we all know. Of course, JL came out and said Howie was not exactly making decisions with those drafts, rather assisting the decision makers…)
        Last year they nailed in in 1st round with Cox. Kendricks, another great pickup in 2nd. Boykin, Brown, and Demaris all look like contributors.

        • B-West

          To find a draft that goes deeper than 2 quality players, you’d probably have to go back to 2002 when they got Westbrook, Sheldon and Lito. Plus some decent years at safety out of Michael Lewis, although I think I probably liked him more than I should have. Its certainly up for debate, and of course its still early on last year’s group.

          http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/phi/draft.htm

          • G_WallyHunter

            Thankyou for that, confirms my suspicions, I knew it went back to at least 2006 but not 2002 lol, sucks to see all of those busts as you scroll down the page.
            Comparing those years to last year, huge difference. I know we should wait 3 years to make any significant judgements, but 1 year later some of them look great. Couple that with this year, if 3 or 4 of these rookies turn into big contributors, then we’ll be talking about 2 solid drafting years….
            I know I’m speaking too soon, just my optimism, as you said still early to be judging last year or this years groups..

  • Johnny Domino

    Saw Barkley on CSN this morning, looks like he is channeling the neckbeard.

    • BQNinja

      Well he IS a redditor…

    • knighn

      Koy Detmer gave him pointers on how to be a successful backup QB.
      Tip #1: Neckbeard
      Tip #2: When all else fails, go back to tip #1

  • Tyler Phillips

    Kelly might be new to the NFL, but he’s not new to defenses selling out trying to stop his offense. I’m not overly concerned about a big bag of tricks vs the Skins. Obviously everything isn’t going to work all the time. Washington may run the RO, but the rest is a blend of Shanny’s O. So they have experience defending one part of a very multifaceted offense. Playing ultra-disciplined would be more of a problem than a bag of tricks, see Stanford vs Oregon 2012.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Ya agreed with you there. If CK can predict and pick apart different tricks that DCs will do, while playing very disciplined O and adding some complexities where needed, don’t see it being that much of a problem. Like u said he’s had lots of experience with Ds trying to stop his O, albeit 0 experience in the big leagues with much more thorough preparations for opponents and much faster and stronger players..

  • Richard Colton

    If Lane Johnson becomes a star at RT or LT, Ertz becomes a quality pass receiving TE, and Bennie Logan becomes a quality starting DE or NT, this will have been a GREAT draft. Based on what we’ve seen so far, all of those things could happen. Way too early still to judge, but it looks even better now than April.

    • aub32

      Don’t forget to pencil in Barkley as a future HOF QB in waiting.

      • Richard Colton

        why not? its August.

    • hokieduck

      Keep in mind that Lane Johnson, rook, is going to start at RT for a left handed QB. That is amazing. Can’t put it any other way. Especially when that QB is oft injured MV.

      Great, simply great draft pick.

  • Tom W

    Bamiro has greatest risk of getting picked off our PS followed by Krueger and Sheppard and Tucker and Long. I think Bamiro makes the 53 … bye bye Danny Boy.

  • Scott J610

    Eagles keep proving how bad they are at evaluating talent in the secondary.

  • Costa Rica

    Bennie Logan and Derek Carrier both looked solid last week.