Former Trojan Matt Barkley is competing with two other Eagles for the starting spot at quarterback this year.
The Philadelphia Eagles aren't expected to be dominant this year by any means, but with new head coach Chip Kelly and a large crop of promising rookies, this team is quite an intriguing one. Training camp has just begun, so we're getting our first looks at these young talents in action. Here's a few to be on the lookout for:
The Eagles signed the first-round draft pick to a four-year deal on July 20, and they are projecting him to start at right tackle come September.
Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News likens Johnson's affinity to Kelly's style of "playing big, playing fast or playing smart" to the chemistry between Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid, which will bode well for Johnson.
Because Kelly is one of those coaches who believe every player should play every position and go 1000 percent all the time, it wouldn't be shocking if Johnson saw time at other positions. In fact, he was a quarterback and tight end before settling into offensive tackle. Essentially, he can do a lot:
While Johnson has been tripped up a fair amount thus far at training camp, there's a natural learning curve, and he has the raw talent to progress quickly, according to Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Eagles center Jason Kelce said in an interview with McLane that Johnson's flaws are fixable:
"You're so new and you don't know things very well, and you're trying to learn everything mentally that you're doing too much thinking," Kelce said. "When the reality is, you should just go out and play. We'd rather have [Johnson] . . . go full out and blow somebody up, and if he's got the wrong guy we can correct that."
Tight end Ertz is another guy who will fit well into Kelly's offense.
The Eagles do have a couple of veteran tight ends in Brent Celek and James Casey, but according to Kevin McGuire of Yahoo! Sports, Kelly likes to play with three-tight-end sets. In an interview with Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, Ertz noted that "there are a lot of great tight ends on the field, and I know Coach Kelly wants to have a lot of tight ends, so it’s going to be really neat.”
Ertz is behind in his training regimen due to a late graduation from Stanford. But like Johnson, he can do a lot on the field, so expect to see him try on some other positions for size as well. "They used him in a multiple variety," Kelly said of Stanford's strategy with Ertz in an interview with Chris McPherson of philadelphiaeagles.com.
At 6'5", Ertz is by the far the tallest tight end on the Eagles, and he's also got some speed. For the Cardinal last year, he caught 69 passes for 898 yards. His natural capabilities and confidence, along with the guidance of seasoned vets at his position, make for a good outlook on the 22-year-old.
Yes, the Eagles have Mike Vick and Nick Foles, but don't count this kid out of the QB race just yet.
The universal opinion is that it was quite surprising that the USC alum went in the fourth round:
At this point, it would be laughable to think that Vick will stay healthy this entire season, so Barkley will surely see some time even if he doesn't get the starting role.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com argued that Barkley is the future of the franchise due the speed at which Kelly runs his offense, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's "familiarity with West Coast principles," Philly's great options in its receivers and Vick's injury history.
In an interview with CSN's Frank, general manager Howie Roseman mentioned his high hopes for Barkley after what he's seen from the quarterback so far.
“Gets the ball out very quickly, he’s a distributor,” Roseman said. “He’s like a really good point guard in basketball. He knows where to go with the football and makes good decisions, and he’s going to continue to grow and get better.”
Expect to see Barkley vie for the job. There's a good chance he won't get it, but his football smarts and seamless integration into Philly's new look can't be ignored.