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August 03, 2019

What they're saying: Where are the Eagles strongest, weakest heading into 2019 season?

Eagles NFL
Goedert-Kelce-Eagles_080319_usat James Lang/USA TODAY Sports

ESPN thinks the Eagles have the best tight end unit and offensive line in the NFL this season.

It may be hard to believe, but the Eagles will play their first preseason game in just a few short days. And with training camp in full swing, there's a lot of news to follow for Eagles fans. As we do from time to time, let's take a look around the local and national media landscape to see what they're saying about the Birds. 

But first, here's a recap of some of our recent Eagles coverage:

•  Eagles 53-man roster projection after the first week of training camp
•  Eagles training camp practice notes, Day 8
•  Grugier-Hill injures left leg during training camp practice
•  Mailbag: Checking in on Jordan Matthews (for comp pick purposes)
•  Report: Eagles could be without CB Cre'Von LeBlanc until November 
•  Recap: Eagles chat with Jimmy Kempski
•  Former Eagles WR Torrey Smith shuts down Skip Bayless

And now, here's what everyone else is saying about the Eagles... 

Strengths and weaknesses

Mike Clay | ESPN+

Over at ESPN+, Mike Clay went throw each position group and ranked the entire league from 1-32, and the Eagles did pretty well for themselves. They ranked in the Top 10 in five of the 10 categories and were ranked first overall at both tight end and offensive line.

POSRANK
QB12
RB25
WR8
TE1
OL1
IDL7
EDGE8
LB17
CB26
S5


After breaking it down by each position, Clay then gave an overall ranking. Those above numbers were enough to earn the Birds the second spot on his list, behind only the New Orleans Saints. The rest of the Top 5 was the Rams (3rd), Bears (4th) and Patriots (5th).

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Cornerback and running back show up as the Eagles' only obvious weak spots, although they have a lot of young depth at the former and revamped the latter with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. The key to their 2019 chances will be the health and production of Carson Wentz.  [espn.com]

In case you're wondering, here's a look at where the rest of the NFC ranked overall: Dallas (13th), New York (29th) and Washington (31st). 

Eagles roster is 'way up there'

Jason La Canfora | CBS Sports

As we just saw above, one area where the Eagles can make a big jump forward in the rankings this season is at quarterback. Because of the back-to-back season-ending injuries, there's been some doubt surrounding Carson Wentz this season. Most people know the potential is there, but they want to see it over a full 16-game season, something we haven't seen since his rookie year. 

But, if Wentz can get back to that 2017 MVP-caliber form —and the expectation here is that he can — there's no reason the Birds' QB ranking won't climb substantially higher. 

On the CBS Sports Pick Six Podcast this week, La Canfora also talked up the Eagles roster as being one of the best in the league, something we've heard a lot of this offseason. He also expects big things from Wentz this season. 

"It's up there," La Canfora said of the Eagles' roster on Thursday's Pick Six Podcast. "For me, it's way, way up there. Because I think it's deep and talented, and there's a nice mix of young and old."...

"I like their quarterback way better than Dallas," he said. "I like their culture and their ability to handle expectations. I believe in their coaching. I think they're, on paper, the best team in that division." ...

"I think he's an MVP candidate," he said. "To see him that first day of camp, how lean he was, it was noticeable ... I think he's sort of unshackled mentally and physically."  [cbssports.com]

The running back battle

Brandon Gowton | Bleeding Green Nation

One of the areas in which the Eagles ranked the lowest was at running back. That, like quarterback, could also change this season depending on how Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders look in their first season in the Birds offense. There's a lot more unknown about Sanders and by this time next year, he should be the Eagles feature back. If that's the case, it'll likely mean that he had an impressive showing in his rookie campaign. For now, however, that role seems to belong to Howard, who will be a free agent after this season, but that could change as the season progresses.

But what about the other running backs on this team? Who will make the 53-man roster and who will be left on the outside looking in? It looked like one of Wendell Smallwood or Josh Adams was going to make the team coming into camp, but after the team signed Darren Sproles for another year, both could be on their way out. Here's how Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation sees the running back battle playing out, according to his latest 53-man roster projection.

Running back: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement (4) [6]

Howard gets a lot of work with the first team. He’s the favorite to be the 1A in the Eagles’ running back rotation early on in the season. The Eagles won’t be able to resist putting Sanders on the field, though, if he proves himself reliable to the coaching staff. After watching him practice, it’s clear that Sanders is much more dynamic and explosive than any other Eagles running back. Sproles is going to be an offensive role player in addition to the team’s primary punt returner. The 36-year-old still looks spry and fast. Clement started participating in 7-on-7 this week and he said he hopes to be full go by the first preseason game. Some have questioned if Clement’s a roster lock and I tend to think he is given that the team was so high on him heading into 2018. Besides, I don’t see another running back that’s really threatening to take his job. One of Josh Adams or Boston Scott is worth keeping around on the practice squad.  [bleedinggreennation.com]


MORE: Eagles stock up/stock down after first week of training camp


One bold prediction

Tim McManus | ESPN

Over at ESPN.com, their NFL Nation writers each took a look at making a bold prediction for the team they cover. Here's what Eagles writer Tim McManus predicted for the Birds...

The Eagles will trade for a defensive end.

One of the few questions about this roster is whether there is enough defensive end depth after Chris Long and Michael Bennett departed this season. Will GM Howie Roseman just cross his fingers at one of the most critical positions in football, or make a move before the start of the season? Knowing his aggressive mentality, the latter seems more likely.  [espn.com]

Scouting the new guy

Mike Kaye | NJ.com

With the first preseason game on the horizon, Mike Kay of NJ.com decide to take a look at some of the biggest questions facing the Eagles following the first week of training camp. We're going to go with his first question, since his background covering the Jaguars give him a specific insight into the Eagles' newest addition, Jonathan Cyprien, that no one else on the Eagles beat has. 

Here's what Mike had to say about how the Birds might use Cyprien, who can play more than just safety, this season. 

1. How will the Eagles use Johnathan Cyprien?

The Eagles signed Cyprien on Friday. It was an interesting move because Cyprien, in theory, can play strong safety and linebacker. Cyprien has marginal versatility that could allow the Eagles to challenge safety Andrew Sendejo and linebacker L.J. Fort in hopes of regaining a compensatory pick for next offseason.

I covered Cyprien in Jacksonville for two seasons. While he isn’t very proficient in coverage, he can move in space and has the ability to make plays on the ball. The Eagles are clearly bringing Cyprien in as a depth complement and not a starter. This is all part of the “foot on the gas” aggressiveness that general manager Howie Roseman subscribes to when it comes to roster building.

Cyprien is coming off an ACL injury and missed all of last season due to the ailment. He only played 10 games in 2017 due to injury as well. This is a situation where the Eagles are buying low on an experienced former starter, who plays a position that has questionable depth. If Cyprien becomes a solid fourth safety and dime linebacker -- which would probably allow the Eagles to keep just four safeties and five linebackers -- then it’s a strong reward for a minimal gamble. If Cyprien fails to return to form, the Eagles can wash their hands of him without issue.  [nj.com]

Did you know that... 

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Finally, we check in on Reuben Frank's always-great random Eagles observations — for example, did you know that Riley Cooper played more games in an Eagles uniform than Steve Van Buren? That's crazy considering I haven't thought about Riley Cooper once since he left the Birds, and I see giant Steve Van Buren banners down at NovaCare every time I'm down there for practice. 

OK, time to go back to not thinking about Riley Cooper. But, speaking of Eagles wide receivers, one of Roob's observations was about a massive pass catcher who has been turning some heads at Eagles camp this week. 

• The most surprising wide receiver in camp has been Carlton Agudosi, an unheralded 6-foot-6 25-year-old who caught 35 passes his entire college career at Rutgers. Agudosi wasn’t even on the radar when camp began, but he’s got real good hands and a good feel for getting open, and he seems to understand how to use his big frame to get open.

Agudosi had a terrific week and has definitely caught the coaches’ eyes. He’s not going to make the roster, but if he can continue showing this sort of consistency and he can do it in the games, I could see the Central Jersey native finding his way onto the practice squad.  [nbcsports.com]


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