The Philadelphia Eagles have enough talent to make a serious run at a Super Bowl title this upcoming season, but it will depend on the performances of several key young players. The Eagles completed an extremely successful draft, although to really contend for the division in 2012, they will need their young players to break out this season.
The following five players have a very good chance of contributing strongly for the Eagles in ’12.
In three seasons, Jeremy Maclin has been a solid complement to DeSean Jackson as the No. 2 wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he hasn’t had a breakout year yet. Maclin has averaged 63 receptions for 862 yards and six touchdowns since he was drafted in the first round back in 2009.
Those are good numbers, but Maclin can do better. Now that he’s fully recovered from the cancer scare he suffered during last training camp, he should be primed for a big season in 2012. Maclin has Michael Vick as his quarterback, and there’s all the potential for Maclin to break out big with a 1,300-yard season and at least 10 touchdown catches.
Jason Kelce had a strong training camp as a rookie in 2011, beating out veteran Jamaal Jackson for the starting center job. Kelce, who was just a sixth-round pick, started all 16 games for one of the NFL’s most potent offenses.
Kelce is undersized, but he’s extremely tough and athletic, and the coaches are trusting him to make the line calls in 2012. Kelce has a tremendous position coach in Howard Mudd, who really helped to develop Jeff Saturday in Indianapolis. Kelce has all the potential to make a handful of Pro Bowls, and he could start as soon as ’12.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select Fletcher Cox with their first-round pick in 2012, and Cox should be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate immediately.
Cox is a pass-rushing threat who will fight with both Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins for significant playing time. He has the ability to rack up as many as 10 sacks as a rookie, especially with Trent Cole and Jason Babin on the end of the line freeing up blockers.
Brandon Graham has vastly disappointed since the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select him with the 13th overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft, racking up three sacks in two years and dealing with a severe ACL injury.
Graham has all the motivation in the world to be a key player in 2012. He has been compared to Jason Pierre-Paul, which shows the Eagles clearly picked the wrong player (so far), and the team spent their first two selections in this year’s draft on defensive linemen, picking both Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry.
If Graham doesn’t break out in ’12 with all that talent surrounding him, I don’t think it can happen.
I really expect Brandon Boykin to make a strong impact for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. He’ll be competing with Joselio Hanson for the nickel cornerback spot, and I fully expect Boykin to be the starting kick returner as well.
He was an electrifying playmaker in college as a return man, taking back four for touchdowns and averaging 24.3 yards per kick return during his SEC career. I think he will be the same type of returner for the Eagles in 2012.