Eagles Wake-Up Call: Projecting Rookie Roles


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Over at the Philly Voice, Jimmy Kempski had a good post up on snap counts from rookies (draft picks) in 2014.

He found that only six teams got fewer snaps from their draft class than the Eagles. Jordan Matthews was the only pick who played more than 210 snaps for the Eagles last season. Marcus Smith played the second-fewest snaps among first-round picks.

What will these numbers look like next year? Below is a player-by-player look at the Eagles draft picks, what we saw in the spring and where things stand with each guy going into training camp.

Nelson Agholor, WR – Agholor was as advertised during OTAs and minicamp. He’s athletic, has good hands and can make plays after the catch. What impressed during practices was Agholor’s ability to go up and make contested catches. There were multiple occasions where he high-pointed the ball and came down with it even though a defender was nearby. Look for Agholor to start practicing with the first team once training camp begins. He’s clearly one of the Eagles’ three best receivers from a talent perspective, and the coaches seem to be blown away with him from a mental standpoint. Agholor should see snaps both outside and in the slot as a rookie. He’ll have to show in August that he can beat press coverage, but Agholor has a chance to match Jordan Matthews’ production from a year ago, and he could get a shot as a returner also.

Eric Rowe, CB – From a physical perspective, Rowe is impressive. He’s 6-1, 205, can move and has already shown the ability to make plays on the ball. The coaches spent all spring talking up Nolan Carroll as a starting corner, but Rowe will get a chance in August to unseat him. Rowe’s upside is higher than Carroll’s, but the coaches know they can depend on the veteran. The most likely scenario is probably that Carroll begins the season as a starter, and Rowe serves as the fourth corner/first backup. But if the rookie impresses once the pads come on, he could steal the job.

Jordan Hicks, LB – He’s a tough one to project because there’s still some uncertainty here on the roster. Will Mychal Kendricks be around Week 1? Right now, that seems like the most probable scenario, but what if a team loses a starting-caliber inside linebacker during training camp and needs some help? At this point, it seems unlikely that Hicks will play a lot of snaps as a rookie. In addition to Kendricks, he has DeMeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso ahead of him on the depth chart. He could force his way onto the field in a limited role, but it’s more likely that Hicks mostly sits and watches as a rookie, perhaps contributing on special teams.

JaCorey Shepherd, CB – Among the late-round choices, he was easily the most impressive. Shepherd flashed quite a bit, making plays on the ball on a consistent basis. With Maxwell, Rowe, Carroll and Brandon Boykin ahead of him on the depth chart, Shepherd will have a tough time earning playing time as a rookie. But the sixth-round pick has a good shot of earning a roster spot.

Randall Evans, CB – He may have a tougher time than Shepherd cracking the 53-man roster out of training camp. Evans was sidelined with an injury for part of the spring, including the final minicamp. He still has time to prove himself, but there are a lot of bodies ahead of him on the depth chart. I left Evans off my initial 53-man roster projection. If he doesn’t make the squad, he could be a practice squad candidate.

Brian Mihalik, DE – Defensive line is impossible to evaluate in the spring, but Mihalik is probably destined for the practice squad. The Eagles return all seven defensive linemen from last year’s rotation. Mihalik is a developmental option, and because he projects as a two-gapping end, it’s unlikely he’d get signed by another team.

WHAT YOU MISSED

“Is interviewing punters a thing?” Jason Kelce and Malcolm Jenkins respond to Steve Weatherford’s comments.

Answering a Russell Wilson hypothetical. Is there a chance he moves on from Seattle after 2016?

The Eagles officially signed John Moffitt. A look at how he might fit in.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Ed Barkowitz of the Daily News looks into DeMarco Murray’s background:

Murray had a couple of missteps on his way to becoming one of the greatest players in the history of Nevada prep football. First, the fight.

The Gaels had just lost in the playoffs to rival Cheyenne when a postgame melee broke out and Murray was dead-smack in the middle of it. According to White, a Cheyenne player who had been thrown out of the game earlier snuck into the postgame handshake line specifically to go after Murray.

Murray responded by thumping up the guy, which led to a two-game suspension to start the following season.

Joe Banner chimes in on the Moffitt signing:

COMING UP

We’ve got a feature on Fletcher Cox coming your way.