Rookie Review: How the 2013 Class Fared

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

When asked how happy he was with the Eagles’ rookies this year, Chip Kelly offered a typical Chip Kelly response.

“It’s my favorite draft class for the Philadelphia Eagles,” said the head coach, sarcastically.


"I mean, I was really happy. I'm really, really happy with our young guys. I think they've all got really bright futures here. But is that going to happen every year? It's a catch-22 because if it's happened every year, then the top of your roster is not what it's supposed to be. So if each year we're bringing in 10 or 12 brand new guys and there's only 46 guys active, they're taking 10 or 12 guys that were on the team last year. So at some point in time, you hope you're at a point in time when we're not having anybody make the team as a young player because the older players we've got in place are doing a great job and we're winning a ton of football games and we're competing for championships. There's that catch-22.

"But I think there was a lot of turnover early. I think that's understandable. It's a new coaching staff and new systems in every aspect of the game, so that part is a little bit different. But if we're bringing in 10, 12 new faces every year, then that means we're not where we need to be right now."

Keeping that in mind, below is a player-by-player look at how the Eagles' rookies performed in 2013 and what their outlooks are going forward.

Lane Johnson - The No. 4 overall pick performed pretty much how you'd expect a rookie with only two years of O-Line experience to perform. He showed off his athleticism, played well in stretches, but was inconsistent - specifically in pass protection. Most of the Eagles' pass-blocking issues came on the right side with Johnson and Todd Herremans.

"A bunch of times whenever I got beat, I got beat on the inside," Johnson said. "Just as far as mental mistakes, over-setting guys, stuff like that. So we’ll come back next season, I’ll probably watch some of my tape in the offseason, just seeing the errors that I made and knowing what to correct heading into next season. This year’s obviously just a big year to gain experience and just see how you play against some of these guys. So it was a great year for me."

Johnson said his main goal is to get stronger. He'll do some training in Arizona where he prepped for the Combine last year and then is headed to Houston to work out with some of his Eagles teammates like Connor Barwin, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters.

Johnson started all 16 games and only missed one offensive snap. There were bumps in the road in his first season, but he still figures to have a bright future.

Zach Ertz - The second-round pick finished the season with 36 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 13.03 yards per catch and had eight grabs of 20+ yards. Since 2000, no rookie tight end who caught at least 30 balls had a higher yards per catch average than Ertz. Rob Gronkowski is second at 13.00.

Ertz is one of 13 tight ends since 2000 to have at least 450 yards receiving in his first season. In other words, the numbers might not blow you away at first, but compare Ertz to his peers, and it's clear he was productive as a rookie.

"I’d like to get stronger obviously," Ertz said. "That’s kind of the big thing is the size of the guys. I think from a physical and mental standpoint I had a very good year. I think there’s a lot of room to improve, and I think that’ll come with more coaching this offseason since I didn’t get to do the OTAs last year. And I think I’m gonna come in humming next year."

Ertz played 41 percent of the Eagles' snaps. He is still not in Brent Celek's class as a blocker, but his opportunities as a receiver should increase in 2014.

Bennie Logan - The third-round pick out of LSU started eight games after Isaac Sopoaga was traded to the New England Patriots. He finished with 43 tackles, two sacks, seven hurries and a batted pass, playing nose tackle in the Eagles' 3-4. Overall, Logan played 40 percent of the Eagles' snaps.

Like the other rookies, he said he wants to get stronger in the offseason. It'll be interesting to see what Kelly, Billy Davis and company want from this position. The guess is they'll add a couple new bodies on the defensive line in the offseason to compete. But Logan has a decent chance of going into next season as the starter.

Matt Barkley - Tough to read too much into him coming in cold in three games, going 30-for-49 for 300 yards, 0 TDs and four interceptions.

"Matt was awesome," Kelly said. "And that's the other guy, I'm excited to get a full offseason with Matt in here to really get a chance to work with him because I think he's got a skill set that's exciting when you see him. How the ball comes out of his hands, the decisions that he makes, and that's part of this whole deal.

"I think you can never have enough quarterbacks. I've said that no matter where I was. In this league, we were fortunate that we had two this year, and that was a huge benefit to us that we had two, and we'll continue to always look at quarterbacks, and I think anybody that's any good in this league always does that."

The Eagles will add a quarterback at some point - either through free agency or the draft. And whoever it is will get a chance to compete with Barkley for the backup job in 2014.

Earl Wolff - The fifth-round pick battled a knee issue and only played four snaps in the final six regular season games. Overall, he started six games and was active for 11. Wolff made plenty of rookie mistakes, but showed he's clearly the most athletic safety on the roster.

He's going home to North Carolina and then will travel to Boca Raton, Fla. where he trained for last year's Combine. Wolff said other NFL players, like Chiefs Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, will also be training down there.

Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson are all free agents. Patrick Chung seems like a longshot to be back, and there will be plenty of turnover at this position. Wolff should be in position to compete for a starting job going into next year.

Damion Square - The undrafted free agent out of Alabama was active for 10 games, but played just 12 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps at nose tackle. The coaching staff seems to really like him, but Square will have to get stronger and will be competing for a roster spot next summer.

Jake Knott - The rookie linebacker out of Iowa State only played 26 defensive snaps. He was active for 12 games (missed four due to injury) and had five special-teams tackles. Knott will be competing for a backup linebacker spot next summer.

***

The following rookies are on the roster, but did not play any snaps: OT Michael Bamiro, S Keelan Johnson, OLB Travis Long, WR Will Murphy, OT Matt Tobin, RB Matthew Tucker and DL Joe Kruger.

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  • Explorer51

    Sheil, do you think that there is another team that got as much value on a pick by pick basis? Throw in the potential of 7th rounder Joe Kruger and this is pretty impressive. Kind of like the other side of the universe from 2011.

    • sdk152

      Not sure. Would have to look more in-depth at the other teams. And thanks for the reminder about Kruger. Forgot him originally. -SK

      • theycallmerob

        ha, we bring up Kruger on a daily basis ’round these parts! Heck, we’d pry love an “Inside Voices” profile just on him and his year

        • JofreyRice

          with how much Kruger is mentioned around here, I think it should be a multi-part report!

          • Clamdigger

            If he ends up being a stud, I’m nicknaming him Freddy.

          • NickS1

            Showing up in QB’s nightmares, killing them off 1 by 1.

          • Richard Colton

            how cool would it be if we got the better brother? for once

          • Johnny Domino

            They coulda had Marcus.

            Probably still available.

  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    Here I was thinking I’d get a few sound bites from Iowa State alum Jake Knott! Your blurb is a little misleading in saying he was active 12 games if your readers infer that the 4 other games were for performance reasons rather than the hamstring injury that came out an inopportune time (since he may have gotten the start over Goode when Kendricks was down).

    I believe he played kickoff return and coverage as well as punt coverage. He sparkled in the pre-season, and I think he has a chance in this league.

    • sdk152

      Good point. I will add the note about the hamstring. Thanks. -SK

  • Joe Thomas

    Don’t think we could really ask for more from the rookies. Turned into one of the best draft classes we have had in a long time. Another solid draft, and some quality free agent signings, and we will be a legitimate contender next year.
    You know Chip will add to his offense, hopefully we can finally get a big, go to receiver, and bring back Maclin, and Coop. Should be a very exciting off season.

  • theycallmerob

    Johnson said his main goal is to get stronger. He’ll do some training in
    Arizona where he prepped for the Combine last year and then is headed
    to Houston to work out with some of his Eagles teammates like Connor Barwin, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters.

    I like the last sentence. a lot.

    Also, a must-read on Ertz: very, very impressive year. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/red_zone/Zach-Ertz-I-want-to-be-one-of-the-best-tight-ends-ever-to-play.html

    • Eagle in VT

      I was thinking the same thing, exactly.

      …and nice Ertz article. Thanks.

    • NickS1

      Have them train at COR as a publicity stunt. You’re welcome.

      • theycallmerob

        ha. if only……we’d whip them into the best shape of their lives! Evan Mathis, ninja warrior

        (p.s., thanks for the email; my gmail is screwy for some reason, migrating all my stuff now, but did mean to say thanks!)

        • NickS1

          Happy to help. I just hope something comes of it. About the article, did you notice the incorrections in the stat chart chart showing his production in each half? Gives him 39 catches, 5tds n 491yds…

    • Richard Colton

      And you know, he was so much better after the bye week. Imagine what his rookie season could have been if those silly NCAA rules weren’t in place not letting him attend OTAs.

    • Bdawkbdawk

      Kempsi’s analysis on that one is a little half baked. He shows how Ertz’s rookie season compares to top 15 TEs’ rookie seasons (favorably). But he doesn’t compare Ertz’s rookie season to average or poor TEs’ rookie season. After further research this might not matter, but it is very possible that Ertz’s rookie numbers are typical of average TEs in this day and age, and that the elite TEs start to differentiate themselves from the pack in later seasons.

      It seems as if Ertz showed alot this season. I have high hopes. But I’m not sure if Kempsi’s look at the numbers really tells us anything more impressive.

      • cliff henny

        think we expected too much out of ertz, including myself here. 35 for 450 is a banner year. TE is a really tough position. not many come out of college and do much. dallas took a TE, he was awful, dispite td catch against eagles.

        • anon

          Did he play TE or big WR? I don’t think i ever saw him do any blocking.

          • cliff henny

            oh com’on, he blocked, not well, but he blocked. it’s very typical for recieving tight ends coming out of college to need some time for blocking. they didnt draft him at 32 to be pancaking guys. actually thought he’d play alot more big WR than they had him play.

          • anon

            My point was in relation to his stats in connection with other rookie TEs. Frankly i think we just needed a big body WR and i think that’s him. Hopefully Celek will coach him up on toughness / blocking i think he could be great. Got rid of the drops pretty quickly.

      • theycallmerob

        I get your point. But I think his main point is that TE, unlike some other positions, is not looked at in terms of immediate production. Some might say Ertz’s stats reflect a mediocre showing, but his point is that TEs show growth as they gain experience and comfort in the system.
        Considering he missed OTAs and didn’t see many meaningful snaps until halfway through the season, I think it’s fair to say Ertz has shown at least the potential to be a great weapon.

        • Bdawkbdawk

          I get your point too. I think Ertz has a bright future, and I think that TE rookie stats are not all that demonstrative. If that’s predominantly Kempski’s point, than I think it is well made- although slightly unambitious. Consider these rookie slashes that I found fooling around for 5 minutes on PFF.
          ..
          John Carlson 2nd 55/627/11.4/5
          Dwayne Allen 3rd 45/521/11.6/3
          Dustin Keller 1st 48/535/11.1/3
          Jermaine Gresham 1st 52/471/9.1/4
          Tyler Eifert 1st 39/445/11.4/2

          Undoubtably some good TEs here. But I think if they were included in Kempski’s visual, it would have muted the wow factor of Ertzy’s stats up there with Gronk’s.

          • anon

            Additionally, he played in one of the most explosive offenses in league history (or at least the league this year), gotta think that a guy like Dustin Keller (who i really liked before injuries) was a bigger part of the offense and a better all around TE.

            I think it’s telling that JC comes in for the sift blocks and ZE comes in for passing plays, i think he needs to be in Texas too learning how to block.

          • Richard Colton

            certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Based on his numbers and what I saw in the second half, I’d say he more than out played his 2nd round status. Better than Eifert so far.

        • GEAGLE

          All you have to do is go to an Eagles game and watch Ertz run around in war ups to know what a talent he is…seeing him run in person is sooooo impressive…..
          …..
          Rob, UFC in Baltimore April 26, Jon Jones vs. Glover Texiera.”..you going?

  • #7

    One of the better draft classes that we’ve had in a long time. Johnson had some rookie struggles in the beginning and improved as the season went along. Ertz has a chance to be a star. Definitely more Ertz next year. We need to keep hitting on the picks. Keep it up Howie

  • Eagledelphia

    The best part of the article “Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson are all free agents. Patrick Chung seems like a longshot to be back, and there will be plenty of turnover at this position”

    • GEAGLE

      At this moment, Novacare doesn’t have a locker with names Coleman,Anderson or Allen on it…Just let that lovely thought simmer in your brain for a minute….real NFL safeties are coming!!

    • Mr. Magee

      Was Keelan Johnson injured? If not, he must be pretty bad to have gotten any playing time…

  • Richard Colton

    Do we really need to go all the way to the 7th round to find a bust in this draft? unreal. Guess it depends on how you feel about Barkley.

    • cliff henny

      let’s be honest, barkley was pretty much crapped upon on PM24/7 because of Dutch’s irrational hatred of Foles countered with loving Barkley. for a 4th rounder rookie qb coming off shoulder injury and having no timing down, i thought he looked about as good as he could.

      • anon

        For a 4 year starter in a national program i thought he was terrible. When he wasn’t throwing picks b/c of bad decision making (you think he’d be better given the experience) or fumbling, he was tossing balls high and over the middle getting guys crushed. Made me realize how hard it is to be an NFL QB. Hopefully we can school him up enough to trade him. He needs to live at Billy Lazor’s house for a minute instead of complaining about not getting reps.

        • Richard Colton

          Had he gone in the first – a ’12 lock, and a ’13 possibility, he’d already be dodging the bust label. As a 4th rounder, we can be patient.

          • anon

            I have no issue with the pick when made. Not sure if any other quality players were taken in the 4th anyway.

          • Richard Colton

            Me neither. It was a “value” pick. Sometimes they don’t work out. Anyone ripping this draft just because of Barkley has unreasonable expectations.

          • anon

            Nope just ripping MB. We def need a backup QB. If Foles goes down next year with no vick i don’t know if i can watch.

          • Richard Colton

            that’s football. one injury can make a 13-3 team into a 9-7 team.

          • theycallmerob

            sheesh, how many games did the colts win with curtis painter?

          • theycallmerob

            eh, not really. A few guys jump out at me, at least as having seen time- Bakhtiari in GB, Khaseem Greene played in CHI (badly), and Johnathan Franklin saw some snaps.
            http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2013/4/27/4274686/2013-nfl-draft-results-picks-round-4-matt-barkley-marcus-lattimore

        • Mr. Magee

          Amen anon (ha – always wanted to say that)

      • GEAGLE

        I’m not ready to write off barkley

        • cliff henny

          johnny, i am on a roll fantasy GM’g this afternoon. 6 miller lites and phone isnt ringing, plus rain saturday so be working. what if Kelly actually believes Barkley over Foles. trade foles to rams for 2. 13, 54 plus next yrs 1st and 2nd and other crap, who cares. eagles draft clowney, Evans and Joyner, plus Your boy Hageman and Seastrunk with ours!

          • GEAGLE

            Lol…I wanna do business with jerry or Snyder,,gullible simpletons..we could own their next 7 drafts

    • NickS1

      Even if Barkley never amounts to more than a backup, is he still a bust at that point? 4th rd QB we’re talking about. Developing into a good backup, a guy who can run the offense when the starter goes down (you know, what #7 said Foles would amount to) is good enough for a 4th rd QB for me.

  • Will

    Thank Sheil for all the hard work that goes into this site….

  • jon h

    since you mentinoed square – did the league ever fine the dallas running back for leading with the head on square?

  • Token

    Looking over free agents….

    What ever became of Dexter McCluster? Seemed like a legitamate multi use weapon coming out. Wondering if Chip could find a use for him? He is a returner also. Looking at stats, he really only rushed in one season. Since then hes been only a receiver really.

    • cliff henny

      seeing how he makes d-jax look like bigfoot, best to keep him on perimeter. rather spend money on byrd/ward and another fletcher type cb (undervalued by current team 3-4 yr vet).
      .
      now, Dexter younger clone, DAT, in 5th, now we’re talking. get a 4th/5th wr take can also take kicks to the house, maybe run some reverses or wr screnes, i’m all for that.

      • NickS1

        Dexter is what Andy always hoped Damaris Johnson could be.

        • cliff henny

          boy, DJ2 was a zero this year, ah?

          • Token

            Im a bit surprised. I actually thought DJ2 could contribute. Seems like a guy who will go to New England and become a decent WR.

          • NickS1

            Maybe in a different offense he could do something. Being quick is nice (most are quick at the NFL level), but if you aren’t fast in this offense, you better bring something else to the table. His 4.6 ain’t cutting it and he can’t block, get a jump ball, or really create separation for himself. At least he has yet to show that ability.

          • cliff henny

            after watching him for 2 yrs, my thought is he’s probably nfl talent but any touches he gets should be going to someone else with more talent. if he’s focal point WR, you need to upgrade wrs asap, probably a bad team. except denv NE and NO, GB, just b/c of qbs.

          • NickS1

            So basically, he’s a 5th WR at best on any NFL team

          • cliff henny

            and 3rd or 4th on crappy, yeah.

          • GEAGLE

            I could see Chip wanting stocky lil Huff

          • GEAGLE

            When you have an accurate pocket passer and a brilliant offensive mind coaching you, it’s almost a crime to waste two of 53 roster spots on Damaris and Maehl….both need to be replaced with Blazing speed…either two young bucks, or a youngbuck and take a flier on a high risk, high reward type like Danario Alexander

          • cliff henny

            true. have plenty of picks, there guys in 6th 7th off top of my head, dorrell walker, huff campenollo, better suited for eagles than those 2 guys

          • NickS1

            Yup. Want that dude off the roster yesterday.

      • Token

        I think once DAT runs the 40, he will go much higher than the 5th round. But I like the idea for a 5th WR guy. Can be a return weapon. Line up outside or come out of the backfield. We need more value at that spot than Jeff Maehl or Brad Smith.

        • cliff henny

          nawh, everyone knows he’s fast, what more is he going to show, he’s really fast? there’s no question upon his speed. not every team has a position for him, either. he’s hybrid 2/3rd rb 4-5thwr, wont ever be every down player, that alone pushes him back to 4th-should be drafting potential starters in 1-3. guess best arguement is austin going top10, but he was a much more polished wr.

          • Token

            Yea, everyone knows about how fast everyone is. Do you really think the combine doesnt get these teams all hot and bothered?

            The problem for DAT is hes extremely immature. I dont think id touch him.

          • anon

            I don’t care much for oregon players generally. They’re soft, conference is cake, and scheme makes them look better than they are. But i’d trust CK on whatever he does considering he knows DAT pretty well.

          • EagleDuck

            I sort of want to tell you to die in a fire. But that would be rude. So I won’t.

          • cliff henny

            he’s shows it on the field though. think that 40 times that shoot guys up are ones where gms go ‘didnt know he was that fast’…which isnt always a good thing.
            .
            yeah, dont know much about his maturity, i assume all 20-22 yr olds arent. unless they are in your face obnoxious or crazy stupid like honeybadger, figure time will help.

    • JofreyRice

      NT and S would be my targets. Have a first line of Thornton, Vet NT, Cox, from L to R, and a second line of Logan, drafted NT, Curry. Rotate more. Cox played almost 80% of the defenses snaps, and his lethargy late in the season might be a result of that.

      Cam Thomas, and Paul Soliai are both older guys that could start at NT. If Linval Joseph frees up from the Giants, he’s a player that has the anchor to handle NT.

      Supposedly Dri Archer is in that same McCluster waterbug WR/RB type player. Runs a 4.3 or something. I haven’t seen him play, but the guys I read say he possesses a lot of the same attributes D’AT has.

      • GEAGLE

        If our front office is down to spend some money on NT, then I would hope it’s Soliai…dudes Nasty. His agent was taunting Dolphins management lol saying “Miami has all these nice expensive LB’s..who is going to protect them?”
        ..
        If we are just bringing in a NT version of Gaethers, cheap and hope he makes the roster, then I hope it’s Mount Cody from the ravens who won’t be re-signed. Plus Cary knows if he has heart or not..
        ..
        But a guy like Joseph or Soliai won’t come cheap..you figure BJ Raji turned down a 8mil per year extension..he is only 26years old, so he compares more to Joseph then the Samoan who is 30yr..but Soliai will still probably get 5-7m per year

        Like most people.I prefer Logan at LDE, but I think our coaches view it different. Think we really intend on keeping Benny as the NT, but it will be interesting because this offseason we should get another major piece of the puzzle to finding out what our new coaches want..

  • Andy

    Looking forward to seeing a lot of these guys make a big jump in production in their second season. They were pretty good this year!

  • Ascher Levy

    Sheil, what’s the physical upside on guys like Logan and Square. Since they are young, could they each add 10-15 pounds of muscle to become strong, immovable nose tackles? After the Dallas and NO games, it is clear we need someone who can at least hold the line if not push other o-lineman back.

    • Token

      Square will struggle to make the squad most likely. Logan is more interesting as an end. Not sure I want him fattening up.

      • anon

        Tough to tell. We couldn’t land a FA NT last season, Logan played nicely in rotation. I think they’d have him bulk up in case that happens again + need some depth at that position but i don’t think he puts on more than 20 lbs. Maybe he can get together with a good retired NT during the offseason to gain more position knowledge.

        • Token

          If it were me id rather him focus on the end position. Im not convinced hes ever gonna be a worthwhile NT. And if you have him put on a bunch of weight it may limit his best attributes.

          I dont need Haloti Ngata at NT, I just need a big strong kid who can occupy blockers and cover a couple gaps. Pushing the pocket is a plus.

      • GEAGLE

        While I don’t disagree about Logan, I think our coaching staff views him different…I expect the coaches to keep him at NT

  • B-West

    The Eagles personnel department going for the 3-peat in the upcoming draft. Stay hot gentlemen. I’m looking forward to the NFL Live graphic that shows all the young talent that they brought in via these drafts during Super Bowl week in 2016.

    • cliff henny

      typo…2015

  • dave H

    Tobin played 1 down and I yelled at my TV “WTF is THAT GUY!!??” when he racked a penalty.

    • anon

      worse than square getting trucked on primetime?

      • dave H

        the penalty is way worse for me. the dude gets on the field ONE time and racks a FAIL. painful. nice job dude (sarcasm)
        .. Square got jacked and bounced right up! hey at the worst he slowed the dude down/ he is doing exactly what he’s supposed to – thats why WE watch; and felt it was illegal & figured/hoped he’d get fined (which doesn’t do anything for us) but the posts below show he’s paying 21K for doing that.

        • anon

          Was that fine for lowing the helmet? Wasn’t Nate Allen the posterboy for that last year (got trucked by trent richardson)?

          • GEAGLE

            Yeah Murry got fined for the hit on square

          • Philip Soloninka

            That was Coleman