5 Projected Philadelphia Eagles Sleepers in 2013
Unlike the "Dream Team" era from 2011 through 2012, the Philadelphia Eagles under Chip Kelly have so far made strategic, calculated moves. They shied away from every big name, with the exception of Matt Barkley mostly because he was a steal in the fourth round, and seemingly selected players who fit their strategic approach in 2013.
Of course, the stars of the team will be required to step up, and this team will only go as far as DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick/Nick Foles will take it. But don't be surprised if the Eagles get some help from some lesser-known players who may be able to step up under Kelly's new scheme.
Here are five players who have the potential to be impact-heavy pieces in 2013.
1. Jordan Poyer (CB)
The Eagles were very fortunate to nab Jordan Poyer in the seventh round of the draft. Poyer was projected by many analysts to go as early as the third round, but he slid incredibly far. The Eagles may have gotten a steal.
Poyer is a strong competitor and has great football IQ. He fights for 50/50 balls well, aggressively hits opponents and has great hip movement that allows him to move well with opposing receivers.
Expect Poyer to see playing time in certain situations, possibly as a nickel corner, and he may even challenge Brandon Boykin for the starting spot at nickel. Coaches will certainly make sure to use him, as he has experience in both man and zone coverage.
But Poyer also has very high upside as a kickoff returner. With good blocking, Poyer can take a kickoff all the way to the house with his speed.
2. Bradley Fletcher (CB)
The Eagles secondary seems to be in shambles due to the failed Nnamdi Asomugha experiment. However, its fortunes could be instantly improved due to the moves Kelly and Howie Roseman have made over the offseason.
The signing of Bradley Fletcher in particular should do much to improve the pass defense.
In 2012, Fletcher allowed just a 55.8 passer rating from opposing quarterbacks. He has had a successful career in St. Louis. His problem has mostly been whether or not he can remain healthy.
If Fletcher can be kept upright, however, he is perhaps the most underrated cornerback in the NFL. The Eagles could have a player similar to Sheldon Brown back on the roster.
3. Kenny Phillips (FS)
Similar to Fletcher, the biggest concern surrounding Phillips is whether or not he is able to stay healthy. But the Eagles took a similar risk on DeMeco Ryans last season, and it completely paid off. If Philips can stay healthy, the Eagles have one of the most complete safeties in the NFL.
Philips is a great tackler, and he is also excellent in pass coverage. He is a ball hawk and once had five takeaways in 15 games in 2011. If healthy, Philips can potentially play at a Pro Bowl level and, at only 26 years of age, could then possibly be retained in Philadelphia for years to come.
4. Damaris Johnson (WR)
In many ways, Damaris Johnson looks like a clone of DeSean Jackson. Both players are small, fast and elusive.
When Jackson was lost for the season after an injury, Johnson filled in for him. And while Johnson did not replicate Jackson's production, he showed flashes of his potential in the increased playing time.
Behind a new offensive line, however, and with a new coach, the possibilities for Johnson are endless. Kelly loves speed more than any other trait and seems determined to use all the pieces he has to maximum potential.
Don't be surprised if Johnson makes a significant impact in 2013, as he may be able to get open more easily with new schemes and attention being given to Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
5. Arrelious Benn (WR)
Arrelious Benn may not have been very productive in Tampa Bay, but he is a high-talent player nonetheless, being a former second-round pick. Benn has many attributes that can help a team and may just need an improved coaching staff to maximize his potential.
Benn is a big-bodied receiver standing at 6'2" and 215 pounds. He may potentially be the red-zone threat the Eagles have been looking for all these years.
But Benn is not just big, he's also fast. If Kelly can work some X's and O's, it's possible that Benn could be made into an excellent situational player and help end the Eagles' red-zone woes. Just as Michael Crabtree's career was turned around with Jim Harbaugh, there is still hope for Benn if he is properly coached.