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July 08, 2019

Eagles training camp preview: Quarterback

Eagles NFL
Nate-Sudfeld-Carson-Wentz_041519_usat Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

This is an image Eagles fans do not want to see during the 2019 season.

Over the next three weeks or so (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp. As always, we'll start with the quarterbacks.

 1
 Carson WentzNate Sudfeld Clayton Thorson Cody Kessler 

Carson Wentz

Before spring practices began, there were questions about whether Wentz would participate at all, and if so, how much. Well, not only was he was a full participant, but he looked a whole lot like the 2017 version of himself, and he even signed a long contract extension.

We won't go into too much detail on Wentz, because (a) it's already been beaten to death, and (b) his situation is pretty straightforward. When healthy, he's one of the best football players in the world capable of leading his team on a deep playoff run, but, you know, he has racked up his share of significant injuries dating back to his senior year in college.

Nate Sudfeld

Of course, if Wentz does indeed go down, the Eagles will no longer be able to turn to Nick Foles. The next man up with Foles off to Jacksonville is Sudfeld, who the team has been grooming behind the scenes since September 2017.

Sudfeld's experience can be looked at from either "glass half empty" or a "glass half full" perspective.

• On the "glass half empty" front, he has 25 career pass attempts. So, there's that.

• On the "glass half full" front, if you take a look around the rest of the NFL, Sudfeld has more tenure with his current team than all but four No. 2 quarterbacks around the NFL, according to Ourlads' depths charts. 

Wait, that can't be, can it? Yep, it's true. Before looking at the chart below, take a moment to go around the league and think of the No. 2 quarterback for each team. If you get more than half of them right, consider me impressed.

Done? OK, here's a list of them, sorted by when they joined their respective teams, from most tenured to least tenured:

Team No. 2 QB (via Ourlads) Acquired by team
 FalconsMatt Schaub Mar-16 
49ers Nick Mullens May-17
Cowboys Cooper Rush May-17
Colts Jacoby Brissett Sep-17
Eagles Nate Sudfeld Sep-17
Patriots Brian Hoyer Nov-17
Bears Chase Daniel Mar-18
Browns Drew Stanton Mar-18
Chiefs Chad Henne Mar-18
Packers DeShone Kizer Mar-18
Jaguars Tanner Lee Apr-18
Panthers Taylor Heinicke Apr-18
Ravens Robert Griffin III Apr-18
Steelers Mason Rudolph Apr-18
Saints Teddy Bridgewater Aug-18
Bills Matt Barkley Oct-18
Seahawks Paxton Lynch Jan-19
Buccaneers Blaine Gabbert Mar-19
Cardinals Brett Hundley Mar-19
Chargers Tyrod Taylor Mar-19
Dolphins Ryan Fitzpatrick Mar-19
Jets Trevor Siemian Mar-19
Raiders Mike Glennon Mar-19
Rams Blake Bortles Mar-19
Texans A.J. McCarron Mar-19
Titans Ryan Tannehill Mar-19
Washington Case Keenum Mar-19
Bengals Ryan Finley Apr-19
Broncos Drew Lock Apr-19
Giants Daniel Jones Apr-19
Lions Tom Savage Apr-19
Vikings Sean Mannion Apr-19

That's right -- Only Matt Schaub, Nick Mullens, Cooper Rush, and Jacoby Brissett have been with their teams longer than Sudfeld has been with the Eagles. Schaub has Sudfeld beat by a year and a half, Mullens and Rush have him by four months, and Brissett has more tenure with his team by one day.

So what is Sudfeld as a player? 

• His best attribute, in my view, is his deep ball, which he displayed frequently and very accurately during the preseason last year.

• He throws with good touch to every area of the field.

• He's not Wentz in terms of ability to make plays with his legs, but he isn't a statue either. He can get out of the pocket and throw on the run, and if yards are there to be had, he can tuck and run.

• Arm strength isn't great, but it isn't bad either. When he has to make window throws into traffic in the middle of the field, particularly in the red zone, he can be effective there, especially with a quick release that doesn't allow defenders to get a jump on him when they're sitting in zone. However, when he has to make muscle throws. such as to the sideline from the opposite hash, there's a notable difference between his arm strength and Wentz's. He won't wow anyone on those throws.

• Have a five minute conversation with him, and it's pretty clear he's a smart kid. Having been on the roster for almost two years now (which again, is more than most backups, as shown above), he knows the playbook well and should be able to execute it.

Sudfeld entered two games last year. In his first appearance of the season, he was forced into action after Foles took a vicious shot from Jadeveon Clowney. It was a high-pressure situation, as the Eagles were down by one point with 1:38 left in the fourth quarter at their own 45-yard line. Foles looked ready to go back into the game, and yet, with plenty of time left on the clock to get into field goal range and two time outs remaining, Doug Pederson called a pass play with Sudfeld when he could have easily just run it. I think that showed his level of confidence in Sudfeld, with the season on the line.

To be determined if the Eagles will even need Sudfeld to play an important role in 2019, and if he'll be good when it's his time to step up. There is obviously reason for concern if he does, but in my view, there is also some room for optimism.

Clayton Thorson

The Eagles drafted Thorson with their fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and while there's still an excellent chance he'll make the team as a developmental quarterback who doesn't dress on game day, the Eagles will undoubtedly want to see more from him in training camp than what he showed in spring practices, where he struggled.

Cody Kessler

The Eagles aren't going to keep four quarterbacks on the roster, and it's curious why he's even on the roster right now at all, taking reps away from Sudfeld and Thorson. Perhaps the plan is to have Kessler on speed dial so he can come in and be the No. 2 behind Sudfeld if a situation arises in which Wentz is going to miss a game? That's all I got.

2019 outlook

Even with Foles gone, most of the NFL would trade their quarterback situation for the Eagles' in half a heartbeat.


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