March 30, 2018
What a difference one season can make in the NFL. This time last year, most Philadelphia Eagles fans would have been willing to fire wide receiver Nelson Agholor into the sun after his first two very disappointing seasons in the NFL. Less than a year later, everyone was freaking out when he was ill a few days before the Super Bowl, fearing his absence would hurt the Eagles' chances of winning.
During the regular season, Agholor had 62 catches for 768 yards and 8 TDs. In the playoffs, he was targeted 18 times, catching 15 passes for 167 yards, including 9 catches for 84 yards in the Super Bowl.
So, who can be the player this year that steps up the way that Agholor did in 2017? At the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando, we asked Doug Pederson.
"I think Sidney Jones has a chance," Pederson said. "We’ll see how his development goes this spring. I think Mack Hollins has a chance to see where he goes this spring. We know what Derek (Barnett) is going to be. I look at some of the young receivers, like Greg Ward, Rashard Davis, Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson. That whole group right there, one of those guys, I know they’ll emerge and do something special."
Pederson obviously named players he thought might step up in 2018, but may not necessarily have been disappointments in their careers so far. Here are some others who could maybe be "this year's Agholor."
• C/G Isaac Seumalo: Seumalo was one of the extremely rare disappointments on the Eagles' roster in 2017. He started the first two games, but was benched after a dreadful performance Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. As the season wore on, Seumalo did get playing time once again, as the sixth offensive lineman in the Eagles' jumbo sets. The Eagles aren't going to give up on Seumalo. They like his versatility, and at a minimum, he's a player who can fill in at multiple spots as a backup.
Seumalo had an encouraging rookie season in 2016, so his falloff in 2017 is something of a mystery. If he can regain his confidence like Agholor did last offseason, he can perhaps get his career going in the right direction again.
• DT Elijah Qualls: Qualls was a regular on the inactive list in 2017, but he did appear in six games as a rookie. The team likely views Qualls as having more upside than Destiny Vaeao, which should give him a leg up in training camp competition this summer.
Qualls was on the receiving end of some really tough coaching during training camp a year ago. After Beau Allen bolted for the Buccaneers in free agency, the Eagles bought a year of solid DT depth when they signed Haloti Ngata. If Qualls can step up, that's perhaps a position they won't have to worry about in 2019.
• RB Donnel Pumphrey: The Eagles seemed to really want Pumphrey to take on an immediate role his rookie season as a versatile player within their offense as a running back / slot receiver hybrid, with special teams value. None of that materialized. With a full season to work on his game on injured reserve, Pumphrey will have a second chance to show that he can be a contributor.
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