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June 20, 2018

Where the Eagles are deep, and not so deep, heading into 2018: Offense edition

Eagles NFL
020618CoreyClement Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement

During the 2017 season, the Philadelphia Eagles proved that depth is kind of big deal, as they were able to withstand the losses of their (almost) MVP starting quarterback, their Hall of Fame left tackle, their young, playmaking middle linebacker, and, well, I don't have to finish this sentence by now, right?

When we conducted this exercise a year ago, the only area on offense that we determined not to have solid depth was at running back, as the team had not yet signed LeGarrette Blount or traded for Jay Ajayi. This year, it was hard to find any areas of the offense that lack good (often great) depth.

Quarterback: Super Deep

The Eagles have arguably (it's probably not even an argument) the best quarterback situation in the NFL.

Carson Wentz was likely going to be the league's MVP had he not gotten hurt, Nick Foles stepped in and won a Super Bowl, and in my view, No. 3 quarterback Nate Sudfeld's floor is as a legitimate No. 2 in the NFL, with potential starter upside.

Even if the Eagles traded Foles, the belief here is that Sudfeld is already ready to be the backup, and if the Eagles chose to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, current No. 4 quarterback Joe Callahan has shown more in practice this offseason than Chase Daniel ever did. 

The Eagles have an embarrassment of riches at quarterback.

Running back: Deep

Assuming he stays healthy, Jay Ajayi will lead the team in carries, likely by a decent margin, and he'll be complemented by a pair of versatile backs in the aging Darren Sproles and the emerging Corey Clement. The Eagles' 1-2-3 combo at running back fits the Eagles' offense nicely, and costs virtually nothing. Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, Matt Jones, and Josh Adams will battle it out for the fourth spot in training camp.

Wide receiver: Deep

The Eagles' wide receiver corps went from possibly the worst in the NFL in 2016 to a good group in 2017, and one that is likely to improve even more in 2018. 

• Alshon Jeffery will return, and he'll presumably be healthy this season, as opposed to playing with a torn rotator cuff like he did all season long in 2017.

• Mike Wallace should be an upgrade to some degree over Torrey Smith. 

• Nelson Agholor seems to be over his nightmarish first two seasons after a breakout season last year.

• Second year players Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Greg Ward, and Rashard Davis won't all make the team, but they will all have another year of experience in the NFL, and one or more of those players could take their game to the next level.

• And then there's Markus Wheaton, whose career was ascending with the Steelers, before he had a pair of down years while battling assorted injuries. Wheaton had a nice spring and could also challenge for a roster spot.

This group isn't Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Jake Reed, but it's an inexpensive, above average group with some youth on the back end that can continue to be developed.

Tight end: Deep

The Eagles lost Trey Burton to free agency and released Brent Celek this offseason, and yet, their tight end depth may not have even taken much of a hit.

Rookie Dallas Goedert had a very encouraging spring camp, catching everything that came his way. He looks nothing like a rookie from a Division 1-AA school. To be determined how physical he is when they put the pads on in training camp, but the guy can catch a football. I have him penciled in as the No. 2 TE Week 1.

The No. 3 TE, meanwhile, is Richard Rodgers, an unspectacular free agency pickup, but one with 63 games of experience (plus seven playoff games) at the still-young age of 26.

And then of course there's the starter, Zach Ertz, who has become a Top 5 tight end in the NFL.

Offensive tackle: Deep

Jason Peters is the LT, Lane Johnson the RT, and Halapoulivaati is the swing tackle, capable of playing either side. There isn't a better trio of tackles in the NFL.

Interior offensive line: Comparatively deep

Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Stefen Wisniewski form one of the best interior OL trios in the NFL, but there are question marks behind them.

Late in the season a year ago, when Wisniewski was sidelined with an ankle injury, it was Chance Warmack who filled in. The guess here is that Warmack will continue to be the first guy off the bench ahead of Isaac Seumalo if one of the Eagles' guards went down.

At center, if Kelce were to go down, the Eagles would have an interesting decision to make. Would they slide Wisniewski over from LG to C, and fill in Warmack at LG, or would they simply insert Seumalo in at center?

Most NFL teams have a significant hole at one of their three starting spots along their interior offensive lines, which is why we'll call the Eagles' depth "comparatively" deep, relative to the rest of the NFL, but it is not nearly as deep as their other positions on offense.

Conclusion

This offense is loaded.


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