Photo Credit: Philly
The Philadelphia Eagles went 7-9 last season under head coach Chip Kelly, even though a lot of analysts such as Mel Kiper and Adam Schefter predicted that the Eagles would win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. To say that they blew it is an understatement. Chip Kelly got rid of players like Desean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Nick Foles for players like Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell, DeMarco Murray, and Sam Bradford. Kelly has since been relieved his duties as the head coach of the Eagles and taken his talents to San Francisco as the head coach of the 49ers. The Eagles made a lot of moves over this past offseason to try to correct Kelly’s mistakes; they traded Running back Demarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell to the Miami Dolphins and Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings. This is a team in rebuilding mode and they have a lot of good, young play makers that have yet to come into their own in the NFL. Here is a look at what the Philadelphia Eagles future starting lineup could look like on offense and defense.
LT: Lane Johnson
Current LT: Jason Peters
Jason Peters has been one of the best Left Tackles in football over the past several seasons, unfortunately his contract is close to over with and he continues to get up there in age. Eagles Right Tackle Lane Johnson is currently serving a 10 game suspension for PEDs. Johnson is a LT by trade and when the time comes for Peters to leave Philly then I fully expect Johnson to fill in at LT.
LG: Dillon Gordon
Current LG: Allen Barbre
Gordon is a TE by trade out of LSU but at 6’4 322 LBs he made the transition to RG. He played very well in the preseason and for some reason did not make the roster. He was however awarded with a spot on the practice squad. He is just 23 years old and has a lot of potential, if he continues to mature as O-lineman he could be something special.
C: Isaac Seumalo
Current C: Jason Kelce
Seumalo was a third round draft pick by the Eagles in the most recent NFL draft out of Oregon State. He is OG by trade but he is expected to make the transition to Center when Kelce leaves. Kelce has struggled mightily to this point and the Eagles could be looking to trade him, if that happens then you can expect Seumalo to be his replacement.
RG: Brandon Brooks
Current RG: Brandon Brooks
Brandon Brooks signed a 5-year deal with the Eagles over the offseason and through the first 5 games of his Eagles career has been the stud that everyone thought he would be. He is just 27 years old and is the only person on the O-line that I don’t expect to be moved any time in the near future.
RT: Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Current RT: Lane Johnson
Like I said Johnson is currently serving a 10 game suspension; Vaitai is his replacement and hopefully the Eagles future RT. If he plays well for this 10 game stretch than he will most likely be in the Eagles plans at RT after Jason Peters is gone. They would shift Johnson to LT and keep “Big V” as they call him over at RT.
Rest of Offense:
QB: Carson Wentz
Current QB: Carson Wentz
Wentz has played so well so far in his rookie season that it’s really hard to say that he isn’t the Eagles future QB. He has looked poised, mature, and for lack of better words… like a veteran. It looks like the Eagles have a future play caller from under center.
RB: Wendell Smallwood
Current RB: Ryan Mathews
Smallwood was one of the Eagles 5th round draft picks in the most recent NFL draft. He was drafted out of West Virginia and through the first 5 games of his rookie season hasn’t even played half of the teams total snaps. He is still second on the team in rushing. He has shown great play making ability and looks like a feature back as soon as Ryan Mathews is gone.
WR1: Jordan Matthews
Current WR1: Jordan Matthews
Jordan Matthews over the past 3 seasons has been one of the most underrated and versatile receivers in the NFL. Since his rookie year I have seen him line up on the outside, in the slot, and even out of the back field. Eventually I see him developing into a true No.1 wide out in the future and he now has a dependable QB to throw him the ball.
WR2: Dorial Green-Beckham
Current WR2: Nelson Agholor
The Eagles acquired former second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham in an offseason trade with the Tennessee Titans. Through 5 games he has not been used much and head coach Doug Pederson says that is because he is still getting to know the play book, once he figures that out I expect him to be a premium receiving threat in this offense. Standing 6’5 237 LBs he has the hands and the vertical to reach over defenders and catch the football. I can’t wait to see him in action.
Slot: Paul Turner
Current Slot: Josh Huff
Paul Turner was an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech and led the league in receptions during the preseason. He is built like a RB at 5’10 193 LBs but has great hands and excellent speed and acceleration. Despite Turners success in the preseason he did not make the roster but he was rewarded with a spot on the practice squad. When the Eagles get rid of either Huff or Agholor expect Turner to be activated and ready to go.
TE1: Zach Ertz
Current TE1: Zach Ertz
Ertz on paper is the perfect TE. Good hands, good speed, good route runner, and a good blocker. He is highly underrated because he doesn’t get targets in the red zone. He also has a little bit of a problem with holding on to the ball after it hits his hands. If he can work out a few kinks the Eagles have a very productive TE on their hands.
TE2: Trey Burton
Current TE2: Brent Celek
Burton is the third string TE on the birds right now. He is very versatile, Doug Pederson loves to use him as an extra blocker on running plays to the outside, and as a receiving full back in goal line situations. He has a great set of hands and probably has more speed than both Celek and Ertz. Celek will probably finish out his contract as an Eagle before retiring, by the time that happens Burton will only be 26. The Eagles will have two good, young TEs on their hands before long.
LE: Vinny Curry/ Marcus Smith
Current LE: Conner Barwin
Unfortunately, this is most likely Conner Barwin’s final season as an Eagle and the Eagles have two good replacements. I’m using two because of the age difference. Vinny Curry signed a 5-year contract over the offseason and deserves to be the starting LE as of right now, but he is 28 years old. Marcus Smith is just 24 and is proving that when given playing time he can be a productive defensive end. Either would be a good choice but as of right now it looks like Vinny Curry has an edge over Marcus Smith.
DT1: Fletcher Cox
Current DT1: Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox is one of the premier interior defensive lineman in the NFL. He’s up there with Ndamukong Suh (Miami) and Kawaan Short (Carolina) amongst others. The Eagles rewarded his fantastic play since entering the league with a 6-year contract worth over 100 million dollars. What makes him so good is his ability to shed blockers so easily. He’s also just 25 years old and continues to get better.
DT2: Bennie Logan
Current DT2: Bennie Logan
Logan has established himself as one of the best run stuffing defensive tackles in all of football. In 2015 he was third among qualified defensive tackles in Tackles-for-loss. He is right up there with Damon Harrison (New York Giants) and Sheldon Richardson (New York Jets) when it comes to stuffs. The Eagles need to make it a priority to lock this guy up as he is a pending free agent.
RE: Brandon Graham/Alex McCalister
Current RE: Brandon Graham
Like in the case of the left defensive end I have two possible choices here due to the age of one of the players. Brandon Graham is 28 years old but has been amazing to this point during the season. Alex McCalister was the Eagles 6th round draft pick in the most recent NFL draft out of Florida. Graham is very quick and does an excellent job as a force off the edge. McCalister is a towering figure standing at 6’6 for a defensive end. He is very speedy and has good moves but needs to work on getting stronger. Either one would be a good fit.
Strong side Linebacker: Nigel Bradham/ Kamu Grugier-Hill
Current Strongside Linebacker: Nigel Bradham
Nigel Bradham signed a 3-year contract with the Eagles over the offseason and has been the best linebacker on the Eagles to this point in the season. You’ve probably figured out to this point that if I put down two options it’s because of age. Bradham is 27 which is still young but it’s hard to play the toughest position on defense for a long time so hopefully he’s around for a while but if not then we have Grugier-Hill. We acquired him off of waivers from the New England Patriots and he has been a stud on special teams. If Bradham isn’t around after his contract is up the Birds could look to Grugier-Hill as a replacement.
MLB: Jordan Hicks
Current MLB: Jordan Hicks
Hicks had an outstanding rookie season in 2015 before it ended with a bicep tear. There was a good chance that he would’ve won defensive rookie of the year had he not gotten hurt. He came into this season as the Eagles starting MLB and while he hasn’t had too many big plays he is quietly having a very good season. He is very smart with his play and always seems to be at the right place at the right time. It will be fun to watch this guy in Philly for years to come.
Weak Side Linebacker: Joe Walker
Current Weak Side Linebacker: Mychal Kendricks
A few years ago Mychal Kendricks was one of the better Linebackers in the league with Chip Kelly and even before that with Andy Reid. Now it really seems that it is just a bad scheme fit with Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz as the Eagles rebuild. The Eagles could look to move Kendricks in the offseason and with that being said in comes in with Joe Walker. Walker was the Eagles 7th round pick from the most recent NFL draft out of Oregon. He played very well in the preseason before tearing his ACL in the final game of the preseason. When he comes back he might need to be ready to get back out on the field as Mychal Kendricks’ replacement.
CB1: Jalen Mills
Current CB1: Leodis Mckelvin
The one hole in the Eagles defense right now is their cornerback play. Leodis Mckelvin and Nolan Carroll haven’t done a very good job and Mckelvin hasn’t been healthy. Jalen Mills was another one of the Eagles players drafted in the 7th rounf of the most recent NFL draft. He is a safety by trade but the Eagles have moved him to CB and he has done a very good job filling in for Mckelvin. He looks as though he has the potential to be a shutdown CB. Only time will tell.
FS: Malcolm Jenkins/ Jaylen Watkins
Current FS: Malcolm Jenkins
Jenkins has gone from no-name fill in to star defensive captain of the Eagles. He was rewarded for his play with a 5-year contract over the offseason and was rated the best safety in all of football last year by Pro Football Focus. But he is 28 hopefully he plays out the rest of his contract and then some for the birds but if not Watkins will step in. Jaylen Watkins is the brother of Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins. He is a CB by trade but was moved to the safety position and had an amazing preseason and has done a really good job on special teams to this point. We could see Watkins step in at FS in the future.
SS: Rodney Mcleod
Current SS: Rodney Mcleod
Mcleod signed a 5-year contract over the offseason to play for the Eagles and has been amazing alongside Malcolm Jenkins for the first 5 games of the season. He has already recorded 2 INTs and has established himself as another leader of the defense. He is just 26 years old and continues to get better. Jenkins and Mcleod could be one of the best safety tandems in recent memory if they continue like they have played to this point.
CB2: CJ Smith
Current CB2: Nolan Carroll III
When asked if there was anyone else on his college team at North Dakota State that could make an NFL team, Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz said “CB CJ Smith has a great shot” and now they are both on the same NFL team. Smith was the No.1 ranked CB in the preseason by Pro Football Focus and was just recently added to the Eagles roster from the practice squad. He has great Man and Zone coverage skills and the ability to read the QBs eyes. Put that together and you got a good CB situation.
Now of course all of the players I have mentioned could be traded, released, or just not have the spot light put on them in a starting role. Football is funny that way, you can predict all you want but it all comes down to how the players on the field play. The Eagles could also add other players via free agency as they continue in rebuilding mode in the hoped of bringing a Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love.