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It’s that time of year again.
NFL fans everywhere are anxiously counting down the days to kickoff. The NBA and MLB can only hold us over for so long.
With Week 1 officially 100 days away, it’s time to start lining up our bold predictions for this Eagles team. There will be several new faces taking the field at The Linc this fall. Some will have huge impacts, some won’t. Some will come out of nowhere to let us know they’re here to stay in Philly. Some players, naturally, will continue to be just who they are.
So without further ado, let’s jump into our first round of bold predictions, offensive edition.
Dallas Goedert will lead the team in receiving
This shouldn’t be a ‘bold prediction,’ but it doesn’t seem to be a very popular opinion among the fanbase. With the likes of DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown populating the wide receiver room, and given the fact that the Eagles have a legitimately good receiving corps for the first time in years, it’s easy to forget about the budding star we have at tight end.
Dallas Goedert took the starting tight end spot and ran with it once Zach Ertz was traded last season. In 14 starts, Goedert recorded 56 receptions for 830 yards and four touchdowns. Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best tight end in football, finishing the year with a 90.7 mark.
Goedert is a traditional tight end with new-era tight end ability. He primarily lines up along the line of scrimmage, where he can still dominate across the middle or deep with his big frame. Or, contribute in the running game with his excellent blocking ability.
As Jalen Hurts continues his development as a passer, Goedert should continue being a focal point for the Eagles offense. An elite tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend. When in doubt, throw it up to your big bodied pass catcher — who more often than not will be in a mismatch — and let him do what he does.
This will be the first year of Goedert’s career where he enters a season as the unquestioned TE1. A Pro Bowl nod, and maybe even an All-Pro selection, should be the expectation for Goedert in 2022.
Jalen Reagor will eclipse 500 yards receiving
Now, this should be a given for a first-round wideout entering his third year in the NFL. But as we all know, Jalen Reagor has fallen well short of expectations during his first two seasons in Philly.
In total, the former TCU pass catcher has accumulated 64 receptions for 695 yards and three touchdowns over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus has not been very kind to Reagor either, handing him an overall grade of 55.1 last season, good for 105th out of 115 qualifying wide receivers.
With the additions of A.J. Brown and Zach Pascal, along with the natural development of DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, it’s easy to pin Reagor as the odd-man out. In a perfect world where everyone stays healthy and plays up to par, that would probably be the case. But injuries are pretty much a foregone conclusion. One injury to any of the top-four wideouts and Reagor will be counted on once again to make plays.
Additionally, I’m not sold on Pascal being the write-in for the WR4 spot just yet. We know Nick Sirianni has a man crush on the guy, but is he really head and shoulders above Reagor? PFF doesn’t think so, as they gave Pascal an overall grade of 52.7 in 2021, third-worst in the entire league.
Reagor will have opportunities to prove himself this season. It may be his last shot to do so before Howie Roseman seriously considers recouping some value from him on the trade block.
Some receivers just take a little longer to pop in the NFL. Perhaps Reagor falls into that category — though I know no Eagles fan wants to hear that. But, it’s certainly plausible.
Kenneth Gainwell becomes a key cog in Sirianni’s offense
If I can point to one player who’s usage rate should sky rocket in year two under Sirianni, it’s running back Kenny Gainwell.
As a rookie, Gainwell still contributed, racking up 544 yards from scrimmage and five total touchdowns. He’s your prototypical third down back who can catch out of the backfield, but also contribute in a meaningful way in pass protection, as evidenced by his 76.2 pass blocking grade on PFF, the highest mark in that category for any back on the Eagles roster.
Along with his receiving and blocking ability, Gainwell showcased his ability between the tackles as well, demonstrating solid balance and vision when bursting through holes. He’s a legitimate weapon moving forward and I believe we’ll see that maturation process really come to life in 2022.
Miles Sanders is entering a contract year and Boston Scott will be back on a cheap contract, but there will still be plenty of touches for Gainwell. Sanders has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and Scott has never been a guy you want to give the ball to between the tackles consistently. Gainwell could theoretically be the RB1 heading into 2023 if Sanders isn’t resigned.
Gainwell can be this team’s version of Darren Sproles. He’s strong, stocky, and is very quick and shifty in the open field. We all know the kind of value Sproles brought to the Eagles backfield. Gainwell can have that same effect.