The Philadelphia Eagles had one of the most transformative drafts of any team in the NFL. They restocked at every level of the defense, which was the Achilles heel of the team last year. How many of those rookies will create that transformation this season when they are in the starting lineup for the opener against the Cleveland Browns?
First-round defensive tackle Fletcher Cox
The Eagles' dream first-round pick will become a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen right away. He has worked his way into the starting rotation and will be a very important player for the Eagles whether he is officially a starter or not.
Cox can line up as a defensive end on run downs in addition to playing inside on the line on passing downs, so he'll get plenty of snaps even if the Eagles defer to incumbent starters Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson at defensive tackle.
Second-round linebacker Mychal Kendricks
The Eagles like Kendricks on the strong side so much that they have moved Jamal Chaney, who sometimes started there in 2011, to the weak side into a competition with Brian Rolle. Kendricks should enter training camp as the starter there, according to Andy Schwartz of CSNPhilly.com. Schwartz also reports that head coach Andy Reid said Kendricks "improved every day" and that the rookie has a "great foundation" going into training camp after mini camp and OTAs.
Fourth-round cornerback Brandon Boykin
No, Boykin isn't going to supplant Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Nnamdi Asomugha in the starting lineup. Boykin is embroiled in a battle with Joselio Hanson for the first-team slot corner job. With the number of three and four-wide sets the Eagles will see in a division with Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Robert Griffin III, the slot corner might as well be a starting position. The eventual winner will certainly be as important (if not more) than other starters for the Eagles.