Roster Holes Eagles Must Fill Ahead of Training CampJuly 21, 2021
Roster Holes Eagles Must Fill Ahead of Training Camp
The Philadelphia Eagles have not had much success in developing linebackers or defensive backs over the last few years.
Philadelphia turned to the trade market last offseason to fill its defensive back need by adding Darius Slay from the Detroit Lions.
Even with Slay in place, the Eagles carry some depth questions at cornerback going into the first training camp of the Nick Sirianni era.
At linebacker, the Eagles unearthed some playmakers in T.J. Edwards and Alex Singleton, but they still need more options to call on at the position over the course of 17 games.
Offensively, the Eagles are set at the skill positions. Jalen Hurts will likely take over for Carson Wentz quarterback, while Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith form a nice core around him.
In order to get the ball to the talented young players, Hurts needs to be upright. The offensive line is going through a transition at left tackle, and there might be concerns about how Brandon Brooks rebounds from the torn Achilles that kept him out of the 2020 season.
Outside of Slay, the Eagles have some questions to answer in training camp regarding their starting secondary.
Avonte Maddox is the favorite to start opposite Slay at cornerback, but he only appeared in 10 games in 2020. Maddox had 47 tackles and 10 passes defended over 12 games in 2019.
The depth behind Slay and Maddox consists of a bunch of unproven corners, including 2021 draft pick Zech McPhearson.
At safety, the Eagles brought in Anthony Harris from the Minnesota Vikings, but he can cover so much ground by himself.
Marcus Epps was the only Eagles player with multiple interceptions in 2020. If he takes a step in his development, he could be a decent complement to Harris.
Epps may not have to start if Rodney McLeod is back from his torn ACL in Week 1, but the Eagles should not rush the experienced safety back just for the first of 17 contests.
Philadelphia's secondary has the potential to improve, but until the results are out there on the gridiron, a team that allowed 20 or more points in all but one game last season will face questions.
The Eagles may have found something in Edwards and Singleton.
Singleton led the team in tackles last season with 120, while Edwards' 70 take downs were good enough for the third-best total on the roster.
While those numbers were promising, Edwards and Singleton still have a small sample size of success in the NFL, having not been regular starters before last season.
Even if everything goes right for the pair, the Eagles still need at least one more linebacker to fill the hole in the middle of defense.
Philadelphia allowed 12 100-yard rushing performances and seven 250-yard passing outings in 2020. Both totals are far from good enough for that team to be considered as a contender in the NFC East.
Second-year players Shaun Bradley and Davion Taylor could thrive in larger roles and rookie JaCoby Stevens carries some promise out of LSU, but most of the linebackers on the Eagles roster are unproven players.
There is a Jason Peters-sized hole that was vacated on the left side on the Eagles offensive line this offseason.
Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard are fighting to earn the starting spot held down by the nine-time Pro Bowl selection since 2009.
Neither player carries much starting experience in 2021. That could be a scary thought for an offense looking to build around a young quarterback.
Additionally, the Eagles need to make sure Brooks is at 100 percent at right guard to give Hurts the best protection possible.
Second-round draft pick Landon Dickerson could slide in at guard if needs be. Dickerson was a center at Alabama, but Jason Kelce has that role locked down.
The Eagles have the bodies to fill the holes on the offensive line, but there could be plenty of growing pains for the young offensive linemen before they settle into their roles in front of Hurts.
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.