Stock up, stock down after the first week of Eagles training camp
The Philadelphia Eagles are five practices into their 2022 training camp, so we are a ways away from a more full evaluation of individual players and the team as a whole. Still, here are five players who are off to good starts, and four who are not.
📈 DE Brandon Graham: Because Graham is now 34 years old and he is coming off an Achilles tear that occurred fewer than 11 months ago, my assumption was that the Eagles would try to ease him into a training camp. Nope. Graham has been dominant in 1-on-1’s, and he has been disruptive in 11-on-11’s, often getting into the backfield and busting up plays. He looks nothing like a 34-year-old in the late stages of an Achilles rehab. But beyond his physical abilities, Graham is a Super Bowl hero who could very easily take it easy during camp knowing his roster spot and playing time are safe, but he is playing with the effort of an undrafted rookie who is just trying to make to the team.
📈 CB James Bradberry: Bradberry is the CB2 opposite Darius Slay, but on most Eagles teams that I have covered over the years, he would be the best corner on the roster. Bradberry has stepped right in and has looked good battling guys like AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. He is getting hands on passes and seems to have quickly picked up the defense.
📈 RB Miles Sanders: Over his three-year career, Sanders has shown the ability to be (a) an explosive runner, (b) a weapon as a pass catcher, (c) good enough in pass protection, and (d) secure with the football. However, he’s been more miss than hit in some of those categories, and only seemed to put them all together for a brief period during his rookie season in 2019. Sanders is capable of becoming a complete back, but he has been inconsistent.
I don’t know that Sanders is going to put it all together in 2022, and maybe he’ll lose some snaps on obvious passing downs to a guy like Kenny Gainwell, but what seems rather obvious to me after these first five practices is that he looks very explosive as a runner. Of course, Sanders has also looked explosive in the past, but, I mean, like, more so now.
📈 C Cam Jurgens: Jurgens got a lot of first-team reps early in camp while Jason Kelce was ramping back up from a COVID infection, and he has looked like a perfectly capable starting center right out of the gate. Jurgens has excellent athleticism, but as an undersized center, a natural concern was his ability to anchor against power rushers. In 1-on-1’s, despite possessing a smaller frame, he has demonstrated the strength to stonewall bull rushes, even against guys like Jordan Davis.
📈 LT Andre Dillard: Dillard has been a mainstay on the “stock down” portion of these kinds of articles over his first three years in the pros, but he seems to finally be putting it together in Year 4. I have a #BestShapeOfHisLife warning here, but Dillard physically looks more built than he ever has, and seems to have legitimately added functional strength that is now showing up on the field. Over his first three years in the league, Dillard has been little more than a speed bump for power rushers, but his improvement in that area compared with previous seasons has been obvious so far in this camp.
📉 S K’Von Wallace: With Anthony Harris ramping up from a COVID infection and Jaquiski Tartt having only recently signed with the team, Wallace ran with the first team during the first practice of camp, and as we detailed in our practice notes, he had a rough day.
Wallace is clearly behind Harris, Marcus Epps, and Tartt in the pecking order, and safeties like Andre Chachere and even undrafted rookie Reed Blankenship have had their moments. I have Wallace as a bubble player right now, in danger of not making the initial 53.
📉 CB Zech McPherson: McPherson was an early camp standout last year, earning 4 “stock up” votes in our annual media poll. While he had an impressive interception in Tuesday’s practice, McPhearson has given up a lot of completed passes deep down the field.
His spot as the CB4 is being challenged by some of the other young corners on the roster vying for a role in the Eagles’ defense.
📉 QB Carson Strong: One of the biggest names among the NFL’s undrafted free agent signings was Strong, who completed over 70 percent of his passes in each of his last two seasons at Nevada. Strong possesses good size and a powerful arm to go along with that lofty completion percentage. However, so far in camp, while he has looked OK when he lets it rip deep, he appears uncomfortable throwing to the short-to-intermediate areas of the field. I’m no QB guru (I only play one on the internet), but in a way, Strong has looked a little like a pitcher who can’t find the zone who then compounds his struggles by trying to aim his pitches in. Perhaps when he has more confidence with the playbook and the timing of the receivers’ routes he’ll throw more confidently, but for now it just doesn’t look right.
Meanwhile, Reid Sinnett has been one of the pleasant surprises of camp, and is the clear No. 3 at this point, with a legitimate shot of making the roster, in my opinion. Pencil Strong in for the practice squad.
📉 LB Nakobe Dean: Many (self included) thought Dean had a great chance of stepping in and becoming a starter right off the bat. In hindsight, those early projections of immediate success were probably not well thought out. Dean is small and he has questionable athleticism. He was a star at Georgia because he was the smartest player on the field.
Right now, Dean is not the smartest player on the field, as he is (a) adjusting to life in the NFL, and (b) learning a new defensive scheme. Until he has mastered the defense and found his comfort zone, he’ll be more of a reactionary player instead of a proactive one. That is likely why other linebackers like TJ Edwards, Kyzir White, Davion Taylor, and Shaun Bradley have all splashy plays in this camp, and Dean has not. It might take some time.
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