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August 24, 2020

Stock up, stock down after the first week of Eagles training camp

Eagles NFL

With the first full week of Philadelphia Eagles training camp complete, perhaps it's a good time to take a look at five players who have impressed, and five who have not.

Stock up

📈 Jalen Hurts: He's fast, he has a strong arm, he seems to be confident with the ball in his hands, and he has gotten good reviews for his demeanor off the field. There are things to work on, most notably his accuracy and his willingness to go through his progressions before bailing from the pocket, which is to be expected of a rookie quarterback who can make plays with his legs. 

The wisdom of selecting a quarterback in the second round can still certainly be questioned, but Hurts has intriguing physical tools, and has a chance to be a good player.

📈 The rookie receivers: We'll lump Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins together:

  1. Reagor is an athletic freak who can take the top off a defense, or catch shorter passes and get yards after the catch. His speed and jumping ability have been on full display early on. If you were an alien and you landed on the Eagles' practice field, having no idea who anybody was, you could pretty easily identify Reagor as having superior physical ability above the other players on the field.
  2. Hightower has been a slippery route-runner who has done a really nice job catching the football.
  3. Watkins' hands haven't been as good as Hightower's, but he has been targeted a lot, and has shown off his impressive speed.

Reagor is going to start from Day 1. To be determined if the other two guys can get on the field, but they're off to encouraging starts.

📈 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: First and foremost, what I respect about Arcega-Whiteside is that he is completely aware that his rookie season was a disappointment, and he took accountability for it. At the same time, he seems ready to put it in the past, and not let it affect his confidence going forward. 

"I wasn’t good enough," he said. "You turn on the TV and you could see it. But 2019 is in the past. I look back at it now and I’m thinking, 'Man, I’m a totally different player than I was then.' I kind of laugh about it because I don’t even know who that was. 

"That’s what happens to some people. Some people get in the NFL and things are moving fast and it’s hard to keep up. Others ball out their first year. I look back at it and I’m not even the same guy. So I don’t even worry about what happened last year. I wasn’t good enough. But it’s definitely going to be different this year."

His head is in the right place.

On the field, his route-running has improved, and he has made a number of difficult catches, without any bad drops (that I can recall). There is still certainly reason to view Arcega-Whiteside with some skepticism, but he has said all the right things, and he has played well in practice. That had to happen for him, and it has, which is a good start.

On a side note, it appears that maybe new wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead knows what he's doing?

📈 Malik Jackson: When the Eagles signed Jackson last offseason, they thought that he and Fletcher Cox would form one of the best interior line duos in the league. As you know, that didn't last long, after Jackson sustained a Lisfranc injury Week 1, ending his season. 

Now rested and healthy, Jackson looks like the player the team hoped they were getting last year, as he has had a standout camp. If Cox, Jackson, and Javon Hargrave can play to their potential, the interior of the defensive line could be the strength of the team.

📈 Nickell Robey-Coleman and Will Parks: Robey-Coleman (as the nickel) and Parks (as the big nickel) figure to be important pieces in the Eagles defense this year, and both have shown well so far in camp.

Robey-Coleman has had sticky coverage on everyone he has faced, while Parks has brought infectious energy to the defense when he has been on the field. 

Stock down

📉 Andre Dillard: Dillard has not been 100 percent healthy throughout camp, and while he hasn't played poorly overall, there are still some fairly obvious glimpses of his struggles to anchor against power rushes. On Sunday, Dillard had to leave practice early, heading to the medical tent, and then eventually inside the team's facilities. 

The Eagles have to decide whether Dillard will benefit more from maximizing his training camp reps, even if not 100 percent, or whether they'd be better served to allow him to get fully healthy before allowing him to get his work in.

Either way, this has not been an ideal camp for a player like Dillard, who is rebounding from a rough rookie season and is being counted on to protect Carson Wentz's blindside.

📉 Jordan Mailata: Mailata is in his third NFL training camp, and he's he's still getting beaten regularly by third-string pass rushers. His combination size and athleticism is tantalizing, but at some point there have to be better results.

📉 Sidney Jones: Jones has missed the last three practices, with a day off in-between. While it's often not fair for media or fans to question a player's tolerance for injuries, Jones has perhaps exhausted any benefit of the doubt in that area. 

Back in March, Howie Roseman acknowledged that the Eagles had to make a big move for Darius Slay because they spent a pair of Day 2 picks in the 2017 draft on corners who haven't panned out. Of course, Jones was one of those corners.

Roseman did sort of throw an excuse Jones' way, however.

"I think when we were looking at those guys coming out, just talking about Sidney, we knew the talent level Sidney had shown in college, and we also knew that he was dealing with an injury, and that we were taking a chance on a guy that had to recover," Roseman said. "And we felt like if we redshirted him we could get him back to where that was. And we’ve seen flashes of it. But we got to get more consistent with it and I think that Sidney knows that this is a pivotal year for him, pivotal offseason because even last year he was rehabbing from something. That’s big for him."

Maybe Jones doesn't realize how pivotal this year is, as Roseman assumed.

📉 Derek Barnett: Like Jones, Barnett has had trouble staying healthy, though unlike Jones, he is widely regarded in the Eagles' organization as a tough player with great work ethic.

Still, Barnett is an extremely important player to the Eagles in 2020 and beyond, and the fact that he hasn't yet practiced in pads yet as a result of an ankle injury is a significant concern. The time for Barnett to produce a quality season from start to finish is now, and his absence from training camp could hinder the possibility of that.

📉 Rasul Douglas: Douglas can make plays on the football and he's a good tackler, but in this scheme, his lack of long speed is a killer. I believe that Douglas can find more success in another defense, and think that Roseman should be looking to swap him for depth at running back, linebacker, or tight end.


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