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January 20, 2020

Mailbag: How many new starters will the Eagles have in 2020?

Eagles NFL
1450922_Eagles_Lions_Nelson Agholor_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/Kate Frese

Nelson Agholor during the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, on September 22, 2019. (Kate Frese/Philly Voice)

In our Eagles chat on Friday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Bebin: How many new starters will the Eagles have to start the season in 2020?

First, let's take a look back at the Week 1 starters in 2019:


Only two projected defensive starters, Jalen Mills and Kamu Grugier-Hill, didn't start. Offensively, Jordan Howard was the "real" starter, but I guess Darren Sproles was on the field to start the season for some reason.

Let's substitute those guys in, and project the Week 1 starters in 2020. Offense first, with new projected starters bolded:

 Offense2019 2020 
 QBCarson Wentz Carson Wentz 
 RB Jordan HowardMiles Sanders 
 WR1Alshon Jeffery FA WR 
 WR2DeSean Jackson DeSean Jackson 
 Slot WRNelson Agholor Dallas Goedert (TE2) 
 TEZach Ertz  Zach Ertz
 LTJason Peters Andre Dillard 
 LGIsaac Seumalo Isaac Seumalo 
 CJason Kelce Jason Kelce 
 RGBrandon Brooks Brandon Brooks 
 RTLane Johnson Lane Johnson 

That was easy. The defense is much more difficult to project. Here's how I see it:

 Defense2019 2020 
 LDEBrandon Graham Brandon Graham 
 DTFletcher Cox Fletcher Cox 
 DTMalik Jackson Malik Jackson 
 RDEDerek Barnett Derek Barnett 
 LBNigel Bradham Nigel Bradham 
 LBZach Brown Nate Gerry, or a FA LB 
 CBJalen Mills Jalen Mills 
 CBRonald Darby FA CB 
 SMalcolm Jenkins Malcolm Jenkins 
 SRodney McLeod FA S 
 Slot CBAvonte Maddox Avonte Maddox 

Conservatively, I would say that they'll have at least seven new starters to begin the season in 2020, but probably more.

Question from greenwithenvy: The situation with Malcolm Jenkins kind of reminds me of how the end of Brian Dawkins' career played out in Philly. Dawkins, who also was "old and declining," signed with the Broncos and went on to make another couple of Pro Bowls if I remember correctly. Do you see a parallel?

I see parallels in that both guys played the same position, and meant a lot to the team both in terms of ability and intangibles. However their situations are different.

In Dawkins' case, he was a free agent. The Eagles wanted to keep him, but he got away.

In Jenkins' case, he is under contract in 2020. He can't get away. If he is unhappy, all he can really do is just, you know, not play. Of course, the Eagles could trade him, release him, etc., but Jenkins can't just go sign with another team like Dawkins did.

I do think that there is a lesson to remember about Dawkins, however. From the time Dawkins left in 2009 until the year the Eagles signed Jenkins in 2014, the following players started at least one game for the Eagles at safety:

  1. Quintin Mikell
  2. Sean Jones
  3. Macho Harris
  4. Nate Allen
  5. Kurt Coleman
  6. Colt Anderson
  7. Jarrad Page
  8. Jaiquawn Jarrett
  9. David Sims
  10. Patrick Chung
  11. Earl Wolff

Some of those names will bring back painful memories for Eagles fans. Good safeties aren't easy to find, and if you move on from Jenkins, there's a chance that it will be a while until you find another one.

Question from Pragmatic: WR, CB, DT, DE. Would every other position as the first pick be a shock?

Yes, unless Jason Kelce retires, and it doesn't seem like that's happening this offseason.

Question from Hinkie: I do see a few mocks giving the Eagles Leviska Shenault. Your thoughts?

I love him as a player, but don’t trust his injury history, and I think he’s going to fall. There’s a good chance of Shenault making people looking dumb, either because some team drafted him too early and he couldn't stay healthy, or because a lot of teams passed on him and he ended up being great.

Question from Buck: You've mentioned taking a QB in the draft to groom but had none listed on your Eagles-only mock. Which of the mid/late round guys interest you?

The following quarterbacks aren’t necessarily an endorsement from me, but rather who I think would interest the Eagles, mainly because they have the prerequisite size and arm strength that the Eagles seem to prioritize.

  1. Nate Stanley, Iowa
  2. Steven Montez, Colorado
  3. Cole McDonald, Hawaii
  4. James Morgan, FIU

Question from Andrew: Do you think the Eagles might just get rid of Bradham, do nothing significant at linebacker, and supplement at safety instead, going with Gerry and a 3-safety look as their primary "base" defense. (Mixing in Edwards and/or Riley and/or this year's LJ Fort as well.)

I don’t see them going the route you describe, but it doesn’t sound crazy to me. In that scenario, I think that you would have already come to an agreement with Malcolm Jenkins, who would sort of serve as a linebacker. 

Question from Carson Wentz: Why haven't the Eagles banned Josina Anderson from all team facilities?

You can’t just go banning people for reporting things you don’t like. That would be a retaliatory measure, and a suppression of an open and free press. They’ve done it before though.

Question from CS: Please tell me the press box food spread series continues to the Senior Bowl, Owners Meetings, and the Combine. I don't know what it says about me that I would look forward to reading that article, but I would.

Ha, OK, I can do that. They do serve food at each of those events. I can tell you already how they will rank:

  1. Owners Meetings
  2. Senior Bowl
  3. NFL Combine

The Owner’s Meetings spread is sight to behold. I'm surprised nobody else has ever documented it, actually. The world really should know.

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