Philadelphia Eagles' Rookie Progress Reports for Preseason Week 1
Preseason Week 1 is officially in the books.
The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Chicago Bears by a score of 34-28, allowing 21 unanswered points after holding a double-digit lead in the third quarter. It was a frustrating loss for sure, but fortunately no players were injured.
The seven draft picks were inconsistent, to say the least. Some of the rookies were spectacular, some were frighteningly awful and some were spectacular and awful at the same time. Here’s a breakdown of the progress reports for the draft picks, plus a few undrafted players.
Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville
Marcus Smith was deemed as a project when the Philadelphia Eagles selected him 26th overall in the 2014 NFL draft. Smith was thought by most analysts to be a second- or even third-round prospect, and it’s likely he starts the season as a backup to Trent Cole and Connor Barwin.
The ideal situation for the team is for Smith to provide a pass-rushing force as a rookie and take over as a full-time player in 2015, when Cole has likely been released. In the first preseason contest, Smith played very well—he rated as a plus-2.3 by Pro Football Focus’s standards, which puts him as the fourth-best 3-4 outside linebacker out of over 100 qualifiers (subscription required).
Smith played 47 snaps, the second-most of any Eagle. He picked up three tackles, recorded a quarterback hurry and batted down a pass. That’s exactly what Philadelphia has to be hoping for—that Smith can provide a strong presence on third downs in getting to the quarterback.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
We don’t have to slow down the Jordan Matthews hype after one failed preseason game, but it sure was a disappointment. Remember when Terrell Owens caught an 81-yard touchdown pass on his first-ever preseason play with the Philadelphia Eagles?
Ok, it was a little much to expect Matthews to do that. But he really looked overmatched in this contest. Matthews was targeted seven times. He caught four passes for just 14 yards and dropped two or three passes (depending on whether that first counts as a drop).
Matthews should still have a bright future. Preseason games are essentially meaningless. Matthews poses a difficult mismatch problem as an oversized slot receiver, and he will assuredly still play well in 2014. And this game will be a distant memory.
Josh Huff, WR/KR, Oregon
Boom. Josh Huff takes a kick 102 yards to the house, giving himself a clear edge in the kick return competition. That gave the Philadelphia Eagles a 21-14 lead right before halftime.
The problem is that Huff was subpar outside of those plays. He was targeted five times in the passing game, catching just one ball for four yards. One of those was dropped. Another was picked off. Outside of his kick return score, Huff returned three kicks for just 41 yards.
Huff was essentially a disappointment for the whole game outside of one spectacular play that got the Eagles six points.
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
Jaylen Watkins turned in the defensive version of Josh Huff’s day. Watkins did not have a good game in coverage. He was burned badly on a 73-yard touchdown, a play that an NFL cornerback simply cannot commit.
Fortunately, Watkins did come up with a nice jumping interception; otherwise, he would have been an F.
Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
The Philadelphia Eagles’ fifth-round rookie held up well in his first taste of NFL action on Friday night. Taylor Hart didn’t stand out either way, playing in 31 snaps.
Hart recorded two tackles, the most impressive of which came when he read a screen pass perfectly. Hart will likely make the team and rotate as depth on the defensive line this season.
Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
There wasn’t much to report out of Ed Reynolds this past game. Reynolds played 22 defensive snaps, which was the same number as Davon Morgan and just six more than Keelan Johnson.
Reynolds didn’t record any official tackles, meaning there was nothing to report from him on the stat sheet. PFF did chart him as having been targeted once in pass coverage, and the result was an incompletion, although it is difficult to tell if the pass was thrown to Reynolds’ receiver.
Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin
Judging solely on his performance in preseason Week 1, Beau Allen is a player. The 340-pound nose tackle has a clear edge on Damion Square to win the backup spot to Bennie Logan.
Allen looked quick and nimble, showing an ability to chase down ball-carriers from behind. The trick for the seventh-rounder will be an ability to stay on the field for both passing and running downs, but if Allen’s play on Friday night was any sort of foreshadowing of the future, he has a bright one.
Henry Josey/David Fluellen, RBs, Missouri/Toledo
The Philadelphia Eagles will likely carry four halfbacks, which means Henry Josey or David Fluellen will have to supplant Matthew Tucker to win a spot on the 53-man roster. Tucker has the clear edge, as he led the 2013 club in preseason carries and scored multiple touchdowns in Friday’s contest.
Fluellen carried the ball six times for 25 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per rush. He broke one tackle. Meanwhile, Josey didn’t get a single rush—Josey saw action in 15 plays, 14 of which were passes.
Grade (Fluellen): B
Grade (Josey): C