Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Eagles No One Is Talking About
With OTA’s in full swing and training camp in the not-so-distant future, fans and analysts alike are talking about the hot players on each team.
Personally, I’d rather talk about the players currently flying under the radar. The ones who aren’t getting much hype, but have the chance to play a significant role this year.
Let us take a look at some of those players who have been surprisingly efficient at keeping their names out of the headlines.
Brian Rolle, Linebacker
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It seems the only thing Eagles fans want to discuss of late is how vastly improved the linebackers are compared to a year ago. Sure, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks were welcomed additions and will make an immediate impact, but it takes more than two linebackers to get the job done.
Brian Rolle has largely been overshadowed by his two new teammates, but considering that he will likely be manning the final starting linebacker spot, I’d say he is worth talking about.
Of all the linebackers the Eagles used last season, Rolle was the most productive per snap and looks to have a more promising future than the others. Yes, he is a little on the short side, but he plays with a high motor and a toughness that more than makes up for his physical limitations.
Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver
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For a large part of the offseason, the biggest news coming out of Philadelphia was whether or not wide receiver DeSean Jackson would receive a new contract or be traded away. Now that he has his new contract, perhaps it is time to start talking about another Eagles receiver.
Jeremy Maclin has been keeping relatively quiet, but word around Eagles headquarters is that Maclin is poised for a Pro Bowl season. That is pretty high praise for someone who only a year ago was battling a mysterious illness.
However, it shouldn’t be surprising that people have Maclin pegged as a pro bowl-caliber receiver. He had an impressive stretch of games to start the season before being hampered by numerous injuries. If he can stay healthy for 16 games, there is no telling how productive he can become.
I said it this time last year and I’ll say the same thing this year: Jeremy Maclin is going to pass DeSean Jackson as the Eagles’ No. 1 wide receiver.
Brandon Graham, Defensive Lineman
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Much like with Brian Rolle, Brandon Graham has been overshadowed by new teammates Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. It is almost as if fans have already given up on the former first-round draft pick.
I say there is still reason to be optimistic about Graham. He started his rookie season with lots of promise, but we all know what happened next. Given the extent of his injury, it should have been expected that his sophomore campaign would be somewhat lackluster.
But now that he is finally fully healthy, I expect Graham to be a solid contributor on a line that already has an abundance of talent. In a rotation with the likes of Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Vinny Curry and Philip Hunt, I think Graham can prove all the naysayers wrong and become a valuable asset to this team.
Mike Kafka, Quarterback
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Third-round rookie quarterback Nick Foles may be the new kid on the block, but it will likely be Mike Kafka who backs up starter Michael Vick this season. As such, I think he is worthy of at least some discussion.
While I will admit that Kafka has been largely unimpressive thus far in his career, I still think the best is yet to come.
Granted, I don’t ever see him becoming any team’s No. 1 quarterback, but with another offseason to learn and grow as a player, I think Kafka can become a dependable backup. And being a dependable No. 2 is crucial when you are playing behind the most injury-prone quarterback in the game.
I see Foles as an eventual trade chip or perhaps even a capable No. 1 a few years down the road, but Kafka is the one to keep an eye on this season.
Curtis Marsh, Cornerback
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With Asante Samuel sent packing for a seventh-round pick, it seems that Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be the starting two cornerbacks this season, with perhaps Brandon Boykin manning the slot if all goes as planned.
But in this era of football, teams need to have plenty of cornerbacks capable of providing an impact if they want to play solid defense. I think Curtis Marsh can offer that.
Marsh hasn’t seen much playing time, but that is more due to the fact that he had three pro-bowl caliber cornerbacks blocking him from significant action. With Samuel gone, I think Marsh has a much better chance of seeing the field.
Coming out of college, Marsh was extremely raw (he had only been playing cornerback for two seasons) but had all of the physical traits needed to excel. He had all the time in the world to watch, learn, and develop last season, and now I think he may be ready for an increased role on defense.
Be sure to keep an eye on Marsh come training camp.