With rookie mini-camps underway across the entire NFL, some of the games biggest future stars are beginning to showcase their talents. From potential franchise quarterbacks, to seventh-round picks just trying to make special teams, there are tons of questions surrounding each player. For the Philadelphia Eagles, they look to repeat the same success they had last season. While they lost some key depth players in free agency, they were also able to bring in a new batch of talent this offseason. Included in this new group of players are five rookies who will look to make their mark. While some rookies look like more of a sure thing than others, there are still some burning questions that everyone wants the answers to.
- What role will Dallas Goedert have in the 2018 offense?
The departures of tight ends Trey Burton and Brent Celek left a glaring whole at the back-up tight end position. With Zach Ertz coming off his best season as a pro, he is firmly locked in as the starter. However, in the second round of this year’s draft, the Eagles traded up to take another big-bodied pass catcher in Dallas Goedert. Goedert stands at six-feet, four-inches tall. He used his big frame to box out defenders and recorded 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns for South Dakota State last season. He now comes into an Eagles offense that is surrounded by offensive weapons, which begs the question:
Are there enough footballs to go around?
Last season we saw the Eagles use more of a two-tight end system than ever before. However, while Trey Burton was still able to make some huge plays for Philadelphia, he still saw his production decline from the previous year. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if the Eagles plug Goedert directly into Burton’s old role, or if he can become more of a second starting tight end, rather than just Ertz’ backup.
- Where will Avonte Maddox fall in the cornerback depth chart?
Avonte Maddox was taken in the fourth-round of the 2018 NFL draft, and finds himself in the middle of a highly-competitive defensive backs’ room in Philadelphia.
At just five-foot, nine-inches tall, Maddox will be competing for the starting nickel corner position in 2018. While he impressed many at the university of Pittsburgh, Maddox will have to prove himself more so than ever before. With veterans Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills slated to be the starting outside corners, Maddox finds himself in a battle with second-year players Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones to be the teams third cornerback in nickel packages. Both Jones and Douglas showed flashes of brilliance last season, so while Maddox is faced with an uphill battle, a solid performance in training camp and the pre-season could result in him seeing the field quite a bit in his rookie year.
- How much will the injury hold back Josh Sweat this year?
Regarded as one of the top defensive draft prospects in 2018, Josh Sweat fell to the Eagles in the fourth-round due almost entirely to concerns over a knee injury. Despite this, Sweat was still able to become a key part of the Florida State defense. He played in 12 games for the Seminoles last season, where he recorded 56 total tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Sweat now comes to the Eagles who already have one of the most ferocious pass rushes in all of football. With veterans such as Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Chris Long, and Michael Bennett on the roster, Sweat will have difficulty finding a starting role. However, he does find himself in a prime position to be able to learn and develop his game from the very best. If he can fight through his injury and perform well in camp, he may be able to carve out a nice rotational role for himself in 2018 as either a defensive end or outside linebacker.
- Will Matt Pryor be a reliable backup lineman this season?
For the past couple of seasons, one of the most controversial positions for the Eagles has been at offensive tackle. Whether it’s Jason Peters injuries or Lane Johnson’s suspensions, the backup tackle position has been one that has been relied upon a decent amount.
At the end of the sixth-round of the 2018 draft, the Eagles selected former TCU offensive lineman Matt Pryor. Pryor is a good athlete with long arms who has experience playing at both the right tackle and right guard position. His combination of size and versatility made him too valuable for the Eagles to pass up in the late rounds of Day Three. While nobody is expecting Pryor to compete for a starting role, his value as a depth player is what many will be looking for during his time in camp. In recent years the Eagles have been able to find some of their key starters in the late rounds, including cornerback Jalen Mills and starting center Jason Kelce. The team hopes that Pryor can continue that trend and step into a backup role along the offensive line, but at times his dedication has been called into question. As a sixth-round pick, not much was given up for the California native, but the Eagles are hoping that if called upon, Pryor will be able to answer the call.
- Can Jordan Mailata transition from rugby to football?
In perhaps the most interesting pick in the entire 2018 draft, the Eagles used their final pick on a player who has yet to play a single snap of American Football. Jordan Mailata who stands at an impressive six-foot, eight-inches tall is both the tallest and heaviest player on the current Eagles roster. Mailata comes from Sydney, Australia where he gained attention when his rugby highlights went viral on the internet.
Like Pryor, the Eagles took him in the late rounds in hopes that he too can develop into a reliable backup offensive lineman. However, while he has the size, Mailata will have to learn the entire game of football from scratch. He will have to pick it up quickly if he wants to make the team’s final 53-man roster, but he may have no choice once he goes up against the likes of Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham in practice. While nobody knows what the result will be for Mailata, everybody will be paying close attention.