Philadelphia Eagles: Which Undrafted Rookie Is Impressing Most in Camp?
The Philadelphia Eagles enjoyed a highly successful offseason. They spent some draft picks on a slew of talented and much-needed players, traded for Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans and re-signed several key members of their own squad in DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Todd Herremans, Evan Mathis and Trent Cole.
Perhaps the top mark of a good team, though, is its ability to spot talent that other teams can’t; hence, the players that go undrafted in April, yet still find their way onto NFL rosters and leave an impact.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is probably the most notable example, as last year’s Pro Bowler was an undrafted free agent when he first joined the Giants, and then played a key impact on the 2011 Super Bowl champion team.
Other undrafted superstars include Tony Romo and Arian Foster, each of whom is vital to the success of his respective team.
The Eagles have 90 players on their current roster, and many are undrafted. They see training camp as the best opportunity to find their way onto the official 53-man roster.
The following players have the best chance of sticking around once roster cuts are done.
5. Tiger Jones, WR
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Tiger Jones is a tremendous story, although that probably won’t be enough to put him on the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles. He’s buried on the depth chart behind the big three wide receivers, plus Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, Chad Hall, Damaris Johnson and guys like Elvis Akpla and Mardy Gilyard who are fighting with Jones for a spot.
Jones is a 30-year-old former Philadelphia Soul wide receiver who could be a modern day Vince Papale should he make the team, but he needs some serious help to have a shot.
4. Phillip Thomas, S
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The Philadelphia Eagles upgraded their safety corps this past offseason when they signed former St. Louis Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. The unit has young players Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett, and special teams standout Tom Nelson fighting for a chance on the team.
Thomas was a three-year letterman at Syracuse University, finishing his career with 203 tackles and nine interceptions. He really needs to show something in the preseason games, because right now he’s on the outside looking in. Still, he has made a name for himself so far at training camp.
3. Cliff Harris, CB/PR
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I profiled Cliff Harris a few months ago, projecting the Philadelphia Eagles’ cornerback as a good chance to make the 53-man roster. The NFL is more of a passing game than ever, and teams frequently utilize nickel-and-dime corners.
Harris is buried behind Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson, Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes on the depth chart, but I think there’s a decent chance he will make the team.
An injury to one of the other players would really help his chances, but Harris has been impressive so far this training camp.
Blogging the Beast detailed some of the top plays Harris has had so far at camp, calling him the unofficial leader of the defense in interceptions by a rookie. He’s also a fine punt returner, and that skill could sneak him onto the roster.
2. Chris Polk, RB
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The Philadelphia Eagles spent a low draft pick on Bryce Brown and signed undrafted free agent Chris Polk, each of whom has a good chance to make the team as the third running back.
The Eagles have an All-Pro player in LeSean McCoy, and Dion Lewis is slated to be the No. 2 runner even though he hasn’t done much in his one season with the team.
Polk was considered a top running back prospect for the 2012 NFL draft before a shoulder condition really hurt his stock.
Polk has the size, stamina and strength to handle the workload as a starting back, and he’s a tremendous receiver out of the backfield, so expect for his strong camp to put him on the team.
1. Damaris Johnson, WR/PR
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The Philadelphia Eagles don’t have quite as much depth at wide receiver as one might think. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin make up a terrific 1-2 punch, and Jason Avant is a good slot receiver, but the spots after that are up for grabs.
Expected fourth receiver Riley Cooper broke his collarbone, and sixth-round pick Marvin McNutt hasn’t had the best of camps. Chad Hall is an undersized player who always seems to have a strong camp, but he may be too small to make an impact in the NFL.
Damaris Johnson has a real chance to make the team, and the fact that he’s now listed as the No. 1 punt returner on the Eagles’ depth chart means he’s probably going to make the official 53-man roster.