Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Players Climbing the Depth Chart in 2014
Chip Kelly's Eagles are filled with young talent. With a second year in his system, many of them can be expected to have huge seasons.
These five players can be expected to contest for the top spot on the depth chart in 2014.
1. Jordan Matthews, WR
It may only be OTAs so far, but reports are already indicating that wide receiver Jordan Matthews is living up to all the hype. He is proving to be exactly what the Eagles have been hoping for.
He is big, physical, strong, has phenomenal hands and flawless route running.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com and Jimmy Kempski of CSNPhilly.com have both noted his dominance so far in practice. Kempski called Matthews by far the best receiver on the team to this point, and Shorr-Parks has already compared him to Terrell Owens.
Both assessments seem a bit premature, since he has yet to play in a game or even in pads. Still, Matthews' talent is already evident and he has all the tools to make an immediate impact as a rookie.
Expect him to challenge Riley Cooper for the WR2 position.
If he can keep up his dominance in training camp, he may even get a shot at WR1. Jeremy Maclin has experience in the slot and may be placed there if that's the case.
2. Zach Ertz, TE
When he was drafted, fans instantly proclaimed Ertz as a breakout candidate in 2013. Unfortunately, poor blocking and uncharacteristic drops gave Brent Celek the advantage as the first tight end on the depth chart.
But with another full offseason to develop, Ertz have a fine season in 2014 and even take the starting tight end position from Celek. Celek is the superior blocker but Ertz is much more talented as a receiver.
Ertz finished the 2013 season strong. In his final eight regular-season games, he became a red-zone threat, nabbing four touchdowns. He also grabbed a touchdown in the postseason game against the Saints.
If he can improve his blocking, he will likely start in Philly and be a pretty good fantasy option too.
3. Brandon Boykin, CB
Despite being just a slot cornerback, Brandon Boykin made a name for himself in 2013. He nabbed six interceptions, many of them in clutch situations—such as against the Cardinals and the Cowboys. Only Richard Sherman recorded more picks.
In 2014, Boykin could be poised to be even better. He is one of the most athletic players on the roster and consistently makes big plays.
He showed some inconsistency playing outside corner in the 2013 preseason, but with another year to develop, he could earn minutes on the outside.
If Boykin were moved to outside corner, Bradley Fletcher would most likely be moved to nickel corner, since he has experience playing there.
4. Carey Spear, K
Alex Henery has consistently failed to make kicks in clutch situations. Most recently, his critical missed 48-yard field goal in the playoffs was the difference as the Eagles lost to the Saints 26-24.
Fans have taken notice, and Chip Kelly has certainly taken notice. According to Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, Kelly did not commit to Henery when questioned about him.
"We'll address that moving forward," he said.
Kelly did address it, bringing in Carey Spear as an undrafted free agent. This may be just to push Henery to play better, but Spear will likely get every opportunity to take Henery's job.
Spear comes with a good resume. During his junior year, he led the SEC in field-goal percentage (83.3). His 20 field goals that year were also the most in a season in Vanderbilt history.
If Spear plays well in training camp, he will likely be the new kicker. After all, Henery was drafted by Andy Reid—not Kelly.
5. G.J. Kinne, QB
Don't be surprised to see Kinne's name on this list.
It's hard to imagine him beating out the veteran Mark Sanchez or the hyped-up Matt Barkley, but Kinne has played well for the most part in both offseasons with the Eagles.
Last year, the Eagles practiced a variety of designed quarterback runs with him before sending him to the practice squad. So far in OTAs, Phillymag.com's Sheil Kapadia reports that Kinne has played well.
Barkley was an utter disappointment when he was given playing time in 2013. He threw zero touchdowns and four interceptions last year for a passer rating of 44.6.
Sanchez is still the Sanchez of old this offseason, showing inconsistent accuracy and poor decision-making. According to Kapadia, he has played poorly so far in practice.
Kinne could very realistically win the third-string QB position and send either Barkley or Sanchez packing. In 2012, Trent Edwards beat out the apparent favorite, Mike Kafka, for a roster spot.
The same thing could happen this season with Kinne.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo_BR