Eagles players with the most to prove heading into 2022

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The potential for this Eagles team is through the roof.

Keyword, potential.

We’ve seen great Eagles teams on paper fall flat on their face during the season. The Dream Team, the 2019 squad, there are almost too many to count.

This year has the same type of hype surrounding it. On paper, the 2022 Eagles have all the pieces to make a serious run in the postseason. But winning the offseason doesn’t always translate to the football field.

Entering 2022, the Eagles have several players that could make or break their playoff aspirations. All of these guys have potential to be pivotal pieces. It’ll be up to them to prove themselves once the regular season gets underway.

Here are six Eagles players with the most to prove this upcoming season.

QB Jalen Hurts

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first.

Jalen Hurts has everything a quarterback could want heading into the 2022 campaign. An elite offensive line, a great wide receiver duo, a great tight end, and the best rushing attack from last year behind him. Any top tier quarterback would have an MVP caliber season with this kind of weaponry.

We already know Hurts is a lethal dual threat quarterback, but his running ability is what kept him afloat in 2021. Without that, he’s a below average passer at best who has yet to win a game with his arm. It goes without saying that Hurts will need to win games through the air if the Eagles want to be respected as a legitimate contender in 2022.

If he fails to do so, the Eagles will more than likely look for another starting quarterback next offseason. It’s boom or bust for Hurts in 2022.

RB Miles Sanders

Miles Sanders will enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2022. The team hasn’t shown any indication that they’re going to sign Sanders to a long-term deal at this point.

Although some fans have sold their stock on Sanders, he’s still the best overall back on the roster. He’s an explosive playmaker who can take the top off a defense on any given play. With that being said, Sanders needs to be more consistent if he wants a long-term deal. Being a reliable receiver out of the backfield, not being a liability in pass protection, taking the easy yards when they’re available rather than looking for the home run, Sanders could use some work in all of these areas.

If Sanders can stay healthy and prove that he’s more than just a home run hitter, he could be in a for a nice pay day at season’s end.

WR Jalen Reagor

We all know the story on Jalen Reagor by now. He’s been a first-round bust through two NFL seasons and hasn’t shown many glimpses of greatness. Now with A.J. Brown and Zach Pascal in the fold, along with the natural progression of Quez Watkins and DeVonta Smith, Reagor will need to fight for playing time in 2022.

I’ve often compared Reagor to Nelson Agholor and if the comparison is any indication, this could be the year Reagor finally starts showing us why he was a first-round pick. You could argue that he has less pressure on him now that the team has added more capable wideouts to the roster, and that will likely serve him well. Without the mental block of trying to be the team’s No. 1 WR, Reagor can just play his game.

Reagor will be one guy I watch very closely in training camp and during the preseason. The Eagles already have a pretty solid wide receiving corps, adding a confident Jalen Reagor to the mix could put it into elite territory.

S Marcus Epps

As it stands right now, Marcus Epps is in line to be a full-time starter in 2022. His playing time has progressively gone up since joining the Eagles, posting a career-high in defensive snaps last year with 505.

In his limited playing time last season, Epps was elite against the run, recording 48 total tackles and posting a PFF run defense grade of 88.9, second among all safeties in the NFL. The book is still out on whether Epps can consistently play at a high level as a deep safety, but it’s reassuring to know he’s very good at one aspect of playing the position.

Epps wasn’t very good in coverage last season, allowing a completion percentage of 78.6 and a passer rating of 117.3 on 28 targets. His 69.7 PFF coverage grade ranked 31st out of 93 qualifying safeties. Shoring up his coverage ability should be priority number one this offseason.

I’m excited to see what Epps can do as a starter, but if he continues to struggle against the pass, he may not hold that starting spot for very long.

CB Zech McPhearson

Howie Roseman could make a move to add a veteran CB2 before the start of training camp, but as of right now, second-year corner Zech McPhearson is in line to be the starter opposite of Darius Slay.

It’s hard to draw any real conclusions on what McPhearson could be as a starter in the NFL. We just haven’t seen enough of him yet. Playing a total of 179 defensive snaps last year, McPhearson earned a PFF overall grade of 64.2, along with a coverage grade of 60.0.

How well McPhearson performs during minicamp could be a strong indicator on whether or not Howie spends his remaining cap on a veteran corner. It would be nice to have a young, long-term answer at the cornerback position. With Slay getting up there in age, the team will have to address it sometime soon. But, maybe they’ll be able to wait an extra year if McPhearson shows up to play this season.

LB Davion Taylor

There was a substantial amount of hype surrounding Davion Taylor during training camp last year. He was primed to enter the year as a starter, but with a rash of injuries, his season never really got off the ground.

He played a total of 250 defensive snaps last year. Taylor had some solid moments, but with the more playing time he got, offenses started to expose him a bit. He finished the year with an overall PFF grade of 38.6, a run defense grade of 38.3, and a coverage grade of 44.8. Not great, not great at all.

The team determined they couldn’t rely on Taylor as the write-in starter in 2022, so they went out and acquired Kyzir White in free agency and drafted Nakobe Dean in the third-round of the NFL Draft. Both players figure to get more playing time than Taylor this year — unless the former third-round pick can finally put his potential to good use on the field.

If Taylor finally breaks out, the Eagles will have a handful of young linebackers to build around for years to come.

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