It feels like an eternity has passed since the 2020 NFL Draft, but we are finally at the start of Training Camp.
Certain veterans and rookie report today to the Novacare Complex, which should be the start of one of the most interesting and different training camps in NFL history. With the inability to step on team facilities since they were drafted, the Eagles contingent of drafted and undrafted rookies are going to have an extremely condensed offseason to try and get up to speed.
With that being said, their development will be under the microscope early and often, especially because of how poorly the Eagles have drafted in recent years. There are a few rookies I am going to have my eye on in the coming weeks, starting of course with the most important one; our first round pick Jalen Reagor.
WR Jalen Reagor
Call it a cop out answer, but Reagor is vitally important to the success of the future Eagles offenses.
With all the question marks at wideout, the Eagles cannot afford to miss with him. Reagor’s speed is his calling card, and it’s exactly what Carson and the offense were lacking for most of the season last year.
While most, if not all, of the fan base were calling for CeeDee Lamb, I actually think Reagor fits what this offense needs more than Lamb. Lamb is going to have a hell of a career in Dallas, as much as that pains me to say, but I really have warmed up to the Reagor pick. I think he is coming in with a chip on his shoulder, and his best days are ahead of him.
With Carson throwing him the ball, Reagor’s open field prowess will certainly make an impact on a much more consistent basis than his last year at TCU. Also, with Darren Sproles retiring, Reagor instantly becomes one of the most dangerous punt returners that the Eagles have.
S K’Von Wallace
My favorite rookie on this list has ample opportunities to make a big splash on this defense.
No one knows how well Jalen Mills will adjust to the move to safety, but Wallace is going to see the field regardless of Mills’ performance. Wallace plays a very similar game to the departed Malcolm Jenkins. He was used in a multitude of ways by Brett Venables down at Clemson, but what most impressed me was his ability to play in the box. He’s tough as nails and hardly misses tackles, missing only 13 his entire time with the Tigers.
The QB of the third best total defense in college football this year, Wallace is exactly the type of high football IQ, high motor guy that could be the answer to help replacing Jenkins.
He isn’t just an in the box guy, either. Wallace has shown promise and improvement in his ball skills as last year, he finished with two INTs and 10 PBU, as opposed to three INTs and five PBUs from 2016-2018.
Wallace, who some experts called the steal of the entire draft, has big shoes to fill at the safety position.
OL Jack Driscoll
With Big V headed to Detroit with a bag of cash, the Eagles were in need of some more line depth.
The injury to Brandon Brooks made it all the more important to have that depth. Driscoll has experience playing both guard, playing some while at UMass, and tackle, starting there for Auburn the past two year. He has even started snapping during the shutdown, so being able to play all five positions on the line is only going to help his chances to have an impact.
If there is a consistent team philosophy for the Eagles, its versatility. He is a very athletic kid, running a 5.02 in the 40 at the Combine. That’s moving for a 306 pound man.
Driscoll isn’t going to overpower people at the line of scrimmage, that’s just not his game. He uses great technique to displace defenders in the run and pass game. He is not a flashy offensive lineman, but, then again, there aren’t many who are. He just takes care of his assignments, all you can ask from a rookie lineman.
Not to mention, he has a degree in hospitality and tourism management from UMass and an MBA from Auburn, so he’s incredibly smart.
WR John Hightower/WR Quez Watkins
Okay, so maybe I cheated. Putting Hightower and Watkins in the same paragraph has nothing to do with their ability on the field. Both are extremely talented wideouts with the speed the Eagles made clear they wanted and needed this offseason.
Hightower came out of nowhere to catch 82 passes for 1,447 yards and 14 touchdowns in his two years at Boise State. He ran a 4.43 at the combine, which is good for someone who is 6’2. Supposedly, he packed on around 15 pounds of muscle mass between the end of the season and the combine, so don’t be surprised if he runs as little faster than that in game.
Watkins, similar to Hightower, has game breaking speed. He ran the 40 in 4.35 seconds, which was good enough for third fastest at the entire combine. He is a pure deep threat who will need to work on the other routes in the pros. Playing in the Conference USA with his kind of speed makes it easy to become reliant on one route, but I have no doubt he’ll be able to develop his route tree with the Eagles.
Both Hightower and Watkins are dangerous with the ball in their hands, so even if they aren’t receiving many opportunities in the passing game, getting the ball on gadget plays like screens and jet sweeps will loosen up the defense. Either one can do a lot of damage in space, and it’s up to the coaches to find ways to exploit that.
CB/S Grayland Arnold
Being an undrafted free agent in 2020 is much harder than it typically would be. The condensed offseason has made it difficult for all the rookies to get in and begin to learn, so the undrafted guys have that much more working against them.
Grayland Arnold is someone who the Eagles have a draftable grade on, one of five UDFAs with that distinction. I was surprised he wasn’t drafted just based on the production and accolades he received while at Baylor.
He is not the biggest guy in the world (5’10, 187), but he makes up for above average ball skills, as he pulled in six INTs in 2019. Defensive backs who have the ability to make plays on the ball and force turnovers are always at a premium.
The kid seems to always find himself in the right place, so no matter where he plays (outside, slot, safety, special teams), Arnold has the versatility the Birds covet, and will be given every chance to make the main roster. At the very least, he will have a spot on the practice squad for the upcoming season.
RB Michael Warren II
Like Arnold, Warren has an uphill battle when it comes to making the roster. Warren, however, brings a different dimension to a position group that is full of youth.
There is a reason that he was referred to as the Truck during his time at Cincinnati. Warren does not try and run around people, he will just run right through them. Warren, using his size (5’11, 222), excels at short yardage situations and breaking tackles, something the Eagles lost when Jordan Howard signed in Miami.
He also has some ability in catching passes, so he isn’t just a one dimensional back. He has sneaky speed for someone that big; if he gets to the open field, he’s gone.
By no means is he a complete player. He struggles with his cuts and running laterally, as well as pass protection. With Miles Sanders on the roster, though, the Eagles don’t need a complete back. They need complements to Sanders, and Warren, with his battering ram style of running, is exactly the type of compliment that could make the offense more well rounded.