Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports

Cody Swartz@cbswartz5Senior Writer IAugust 5, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Training camp can only offer so much in terms of analyzing a player. After all, Nick Foles didn't even win the starting job last offseason, and he ended up running Chip Kelly's offense to near-perfection during the regular season.

    So that doesn’t mean a player’s performance in training camp defines how he will do in 2014. But it does offer an input as to how fast he is picking up the playbook and whether his skills project as well to the next level as the coaching staff initially anticipated.

    Progress reports for the Philadelphia Eagles players are based only on training camp practices so far, and how the player does during this Friday’s preseason contest will tell much more than how he does against his teammates during the week.

Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville (Round 1, Pick 26)

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Marcus Smith won’t start for the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles, but what he can do is provide the ability to rush the quarterback on third downs. Smith was a reach as a first-round pick, although training camp reviews have raved about his performance thus far.

    Barwin & DeMeco were both marveling today at the progress made by rookie Marcus Smith. Both think he'll get a lot of snaps in regular season

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) July 30, 2014

    Per’s Reuben Frank, Smith has been one of the quiet bright spots for the organization this summer. Smith is likely being groomed to replace long-time Eagle Trent Cole, a 10-year veteran whose $11.6 million cap hit in 2015 suggests he’s entering his final season with the franchise.

    Smith has been working with Kevin Greene, one of the NFL’s all-time great pass-rushers. Greene, who ranks third on the career sack list (160), was a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time sack leader.

    Realistic expectations for Smith are that he contributes around five to seven sacks and provides pressure to the quarterback on third downs.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 100 percent

Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt (Round 2, Pick 42)

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The Jordan Matthews hype has been overwhelming so far, to say the least. The second-round wide receiver has already been compared to Hall of Fame talent Terrell Owens, a player who played a major role in the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl run in 2004.

    The Matthews praise isn't for nothing; he is a physically gifted receiver with a skill set that will blossom in Chip Kelly's offense. Matthews is 6'3", 212 pounds. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and benched 225 a position-best 23 times. Simply put, with that power and speed, he’s going to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, especially when he lines up in the slot, as Chip Kelly plans to use him. 

    Jordan Matthews makes a catch over Malcolm Jenkins. Even Jenkins applauds after play. Players have noticed Matthews -- way he plays, works

    — Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 4, 2014 

    It’s not outside the realm of possibility for Matthews to lead the team in receiving yards, even as a rookie.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 100 percent

Josh Huff, WR, Oregon (Round 3, Pick 86)

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Josh Huff was a bit of a reach as a third-round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he should have the added benefit of knowing Chip Kelly’s offense based on their Oregon days together. Huff won’t strictly be a slot receiver, either. 

    Shurmur says the #Eagles are working Josh Huff on both the inside and outside

    — Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 31, 2014

    Huff is a typical Kelly pick in that he’s extremely versatile—he’s a former high school quarterback, like both of Kelly’s first-round picks, Lane Johnson and Marcus Smith. Huff hasn’t been making the plays of his teammate, Jordan Matthews, but he’s still been contributing.

    Quietly having good camp ... RT @Mfranknfl Josh Huff OK w/lack of attention compared to Matthews.

    — Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherCSN) August 4, 2014

    With Matthews lining up primarily in the slot, Huff will essentially be the backup slot receiver. But one injury to Jeremy Maclin or Riley Cooper, and Matthews will move to the outside and Huff will play the primary slot role. Last year, Jason Avant played in over 800 snaps as just a slot receiver, which means training camp will allow Huff a golden opportunity to prove he is worth that many snaps.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 99 percent

Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida (Round 4, Pick 101)

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Like most of his draft picks, Jaylen Watkins was selected primarily for his versatility. The Florida star isn’t solely a nickel cornerback at this level.

    Davis: Right now Jaylen Watkins will work just at cornerback and nickel ... We could grow him to play safety eventually, has the skillset.

    — Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) July 27, 2014 

    Should Malcolm Jenkins get hurt, the Philadelphia Eagles will probably use Watkins in a similar role to him. This will allow defensive coordinator Billy Davis to keep Watkins on the field, whether it is a passing or running situation. Watkins can line up as a nickel corner against slot receivers, an outside corner against bigger receivers or a safety.

    He’s been having a good camp as well, seeing action at multiple spots on the field.

    I like him a lot. Has looked good. Can't wait to see him in game. RT @FaLLeNxNiNjA: Dave how has Jaylen Watkins looked so far in camp

    — Dave Spadaro (@davespadaro) August 3, 2014 

    Watkins should be a lock to make the Eagles. The top four corners look to be set in some order with Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin and Nolan Carroll. Watkins has the clear edge over Roc Carmichael and Curtis Marsh for the fifth and final spot.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 99 percent

Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon (Round 5, Pick 141)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Taylor Hart was just a fifth-round pick expected to contribute as a 5-technique defensive end. He’s not going to start, as he’s at least behind Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton, plus 2012 second-round pass-rushing specialist Vinny Curry.

    But Hart has been one of the more impressive players thus far in camp.

    Wrote this a few times in my practice reports, but rookies Beau Allen and Taylor Hart continue to impress in DL-OL one on ones. #EaglesCamp

    — Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 4, 2014 


    The Eagles have always rotated their defensive linemen heavily, and this is an excellent opportunity for Hart to prove that he’s worth the snaps. Last year, five different ends saw at least 240 snaps, which comes out to 15 per game. The preseason will allow Hart more time to perfect his skills, but he’s on track to be a regular in the rotation.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 90 percent

Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford (Round 5, Pick 162)

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Ed Reynolds is buried on the safety depth chart behind Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen and Earl Wolff. Jenkins is all but a lock to be a starter, and it appears that Allen and Wolff will battle it out for the other starting spot opposite Jenkins.

    But don’t rule out Reynolds seeing solid action, even as a rookie. Free-agent acquisition Chris Maragos was brought over to provide depth, but he’s more of a special teams player than a contributor at safety.

    Reynolds hasn’t been stealing the headlines so far. He missed the spring OTAs due to Stanford’s late graduation and has been running with the third-teamers thus far in training camp. Reynolds will likely still make the team, but standing out in the preseason will really help his chances.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 75 percent

Beau Allen, NT, (Round 7, Pick 224)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Beau Allen was just a seventh-round pick who entered camp expected to have to beat out Damion Square to be the backup nose tackle. So far, Allen has played very well, and he has a good chance to be a regular part of the defensive line rotation by midseason.

    Wrote this a few times in my practice reports, but rookies Beau Allen and Taylor Hart continue to impress in DL-OL one on ones. #EaglesCamp

    — Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 4, 2014 

    Square did nothing to stand out in 2013. He played in about a quarter of the team’s snaps, registering no sacks, no quarterback hits and as many missed tackles (2) as tackles (2), stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required). 

    Allen has the size to be a natural 0-technique nose tackle. He’s a 335-pound mammoth-sized man with the ability to plug the middle on running downs. He will provide immediate help as a short-yardage defender, and if he can rush the quarterback at all, he could push Bennie Logan for time. After all, the Eagles did play Allen with the first-team players already, which means the organization obviously thinks highly of him.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 75 percent

Henry Josey, RB, Missouri/David Fluellen, RB, Toledo

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The odds of either Henry Josey or David Fluellen making the final 53-man roster are not good. LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles and Chris Polk appear to have the first three spots locked up, and Chip Kelly spoke highly of Matthew Tucker recently.

    Chip says Matthew Tucker entrenched at No. 4 RB, and Henry Josey and David Fluellen battling to unseat him. #Eagles

    — Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) August 3, 2014 

    Tucker was on the roster last year, although he didn’t actually receive any carries. Regardless, just one injury to McCoy means Polk and Tucker will get a handful of carries, since Sproles is essentially more of a slot receiver.

    Don’t expect Josey or Fluellen to make the roster, but the best bet for either one is to land on the practice squad and wait for an injury.

    Chance to Make 53-Man Roster: 25 percent

Carey Spear, K, Vanderbilt

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Carey Spear's best bet is that he catches the eye of some other NFL team this preseason. Spear certainly won't be making the roster. The kicker referred to as Murderleg has been largely unspectacular in field goals this summer.

    It seems every time that Alex Henery and Spear compete against one another, Henery wins.

    Alex Henery perfect on FGs today: 6-6. Carey Spear 4-6 (misses from 43 and 48).

    — Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 3, 2014


    Ultimately, the preseason contests will give the team a better chance at Spear’s ability to kick under pressure. But Henery does have the sixth-highest field-goal accuracy rate in league history, and he still comes at a cheap financial tag. He’s a very safe bet to open 2014 as the team’s kicker.