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June 14, 2023

Five Eagles players whose stock is up after OTAs

Which Eagles players should you be investing in?

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Zech_McPhearson_Eagles_Giants_091922_KateFrese175.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles CB Zech McPhearson

The Philadelphia Eagles wrapped up their spring practices last week, and while they conducted five practices — only two of which were open to the media — we can still probably name five players whose stocks are up heading into the summer.

1) EDGE Nolan Smith 📈: Smith measured in at the NFL Combine at 6'2, 238, which is quite small for an edge rusher. Some guys look smaller in person than their listed heights/weights, and some look bigger. Smith was the latter. If I had no idea what Smith weighed in at in Indianapolis in February, I would not look at him and think, "That dude is small." He is jacked up.

On the field, it was fun watching Smith hustle all over the place. In 7-on-7's, he was rushing the quarterback, and then when he got close he would slam on the breaks and trail the play from behind. There were a few occasions in which he chased plays like 30 yards down the field in a full sprint. In the other OTA practice, he was treating every special teams rep (in this case a punt block drill) like he was competing for a roster spot.

His enthusiasm was obvious, and that kind of energy can rub off on other players. If Smith turns out to be a good player, it's pretty clear to see that he'll be a leader on and off the field.

2) LB Nakobe Dean 📈: Dean didn't do anything particularly noteworthy in the two short practices attended by media, but it was revealed that he will wear the "green dot" helmet this season, which means that he will relay the play calls from Sean Desai to the rest of the defense. The responsibilities associated with wearing the "green dot" helmet can be a little overstated at times, but being the "green dot" player means that the Eagles view Dean as the top guy on the Eagles linebacker totem pole, so to speak, likely to be on the field for all three downs.

3) LB Christian Elliss 📈: Elliss was the official PhillyVoice "MVP of Media-Attended OTA Practices," making an impressive leaping INT of Marcus Mariota in the first media-attended practice, and victimizing Jalen Hurts for a pick-six in the second practice. Elliss looked good in very limited action in the regular defense last season, and he is off to a fast start in 2023. We'll see if the Eagles add another starting-caliber linebacker to the mix, but if not Elliss could push Nicholas Morrow for a starting job.

4) CB Zech McPhearson 📈: Over his first two NFL seasons, McPhearson has quietly waited for his opportunity to play in the regular defense as the first guy off the bench at outside corner, but because Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Steven Nelson were all able to stay healthy, that playing time has not yet come. In the meantime, McPhearson has worked hard at becoming a quality special teams player. 

More opportunities may be on the way soon for McPhearson, who worked with the first-team defense in OTAs in the slot, where he is filling in for the oft-injured Avonte Maddox. McPhearson played some in the slot in college, but the Eagles have so far had him concentrate on outside corner, until now. By cross-training in the slot, there could be more opportunities for McPhearson to see action in the regular defense in 2023.

5) P Arryn Siposs 📈: And finally, there's Siposs, who very cleared out-punted undrafted rookie challenger Ty Zentner in the media-attended OTA practice a couple weeks ago. Most fans would probably prefer another punter to beat out Siposs for the open punting competition, but so far Siposs appears to be the favorite to keep his job.

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