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August 23, 2023

Eagles stock up, stock down after the close of training camp

Which Eagles, for better or for worse, stood out in training camp?

Eagles NFL
8.6.23_EaglesPractice_Jalen-Carter-0699.jpg Colleen Claggett/for PhillyVoice

I promised myself I would tap the breaks on hyping up a rookie defensive tackle, but Jalen Carter might be really good.

Philadelphia Eagles 2023 training camp is over. The team will play its final preseason game on Thursday, and then cut down to 53 players by Tuesday. Looking back at the entirety of camp, let's take a look at whose stock is up, and whose stock is down.

Stock up ūüďą

ūüďą: A.J. Brown / DeVonta Smith / Dallas Goedert: All of the Eagles' top three options in the passing game have been outstanding throughout camp. Brown has out-muscled Eagles, Browns, and Colts defensive backs consistently throughout, Smith has taken his body control acrobatics to another level, while linebackers and safeties have simply not been able to cover Goedert. That trio combined for 238 catches for 3,394 yards and 21 TDs in 2022, and it's not hard to envision that they can be even better in 2023.

ūüďą: RG Cam Jurgens: Heading into training camp, Jurgens had a lot to prove. He converted from tight end to center early in his college career at Nebraska, and only played center in games. He had never played guard, and doesn't exactly have a prototypical body type for the position. At OTAs during the spring, he said that he weighed around 305 pounds, but wanted to be somewhere in between 310 and 315 for the start of camp. Whether, he's 305, 310, or 315, he is undersized for RG in today's NFL.

Jurgens played well from the outset of camp and it became clear very quickly that he would win his camp battle for the starting RG job. To be clear, that's not because Steen looked bad, like, saaaayyy, Andre Dillard when he was competing against Jordan Mailata for the starting LT job a couple years ago. Jurgens proved that he could anchor against bigger bodies, despite his smaller size, which was the concern heading into camp. 

ūüďą: DT Jalen Carter: We have cautioned here that defensive tackles don't often have a big impact early in their careers.¬†In the last 10 drafts (not including 2023), there have been 23 interior defensive tackles selected in the first round. Here were their tackle and sack numbers in their rookie seasons:

Player Tackles Sacks 
 Jordan Davis18 0 
Devonte Wyatt 15 1.5 
Derrick Brown 34 2 
Javon Kinlaw 33 1.5 
Quinnen Williams 28 2.5 
Ed Oliver 43 5 
Christian Wilkins 56 2 
Dexter Lawrence 38 2.5 
Jeffery Simmons 32 2 
Jerry Tillery 17 2 
Taven Bryan 20 1 
Sheldon Rankins 20 4 
Kenny Clark 21 0 
Robert Nkemdiche 1 0 
Vernon Butler 13 1.5 
Danny Shelton 36 0 
Malcom Brown 48 3 
Aaron Donald 48 9 
Dominique Easley 10 1 
Sheldon Richardson 78 3.5 
Star Lotulelei 42 3 
Sharrif Floyd 19 2.5 
Sylvester Williams192 

A small handful of examples aside, there's not a lot of impressive production there. As such, I've avoided falling into the trap of raising expectations for Carter in his rookie season. Well, until now. We already knew that Carter is extremely talented, but over the last month it has become clear that his play demeanor is a positive as well. He practices hard, he stands up for his teammates, and any stamina concerns that arose during the draft process have not been evident so far. He has a good chance of breaking the trend of poorly performing rookie defensive tackles.

I can understand the teams that selected quarterbacks in the top 10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but there could be some teams that drafted positional players who could regret passing on Carter.

ūüďą: S Reed Blankenship: He's just always in the right spot, and he has taken the ball away from the offense more than any other defender on the team this summer.¬†

ūüďą: QB Tanner McKee: After playing conservatively through the first couple weeks of camp, McKee was a surprise standout in each of the Eagles' first two preseason games when he started letting it rip down the field. While it is unlikely that McKee will leapfrog Marcus Mariota for the backup quarterback job, he very clearly outplayed Mariota this summer.

Looking ahead, McKee can perhaps be an extraordinarily cheap No. 2 in 2024, 2025, and 2026. If he needs to play at some point down the road and performs, the Eagles could potentially flip him for a high draft pick, as they have done with quarterbacks in the past. For now, at a minimum, McKee is looking like a steal in the sixth round.

Stock down ūüďČ

ūüďČ: QB Marcus Mariota:¬†You all saw the first two preseason games, right? Mariota can make plays with his legs and the Eagles can still run their RPO game should he need to fill in for Jalen Hurts, but if you're looking for him to make accurate throws down the field, forget it.

ūüďČ: LB Nicholas Morrow: Morrow entered camp as the favorite to land the starting job at linebacker opposite Nakobe Dean. He is now no better than fourth on the linebacker totem pole, as he was jumped by Christian Elliss and Zach Cunningham, who wasn't even on the team to start camp.

ūüďČ: The punters: We've covered the punters at length, so I won't beat a dead horse here, but, uhhh, the Eagles need to find a new punter.

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