In this article, I will review the performances of each Eagles’ rookie and give my opinion on how the look thus far in training camp. With preseason underway, it will be interesting to see how these rookies fare in competitive situations, but here is a glimpse of what they’ve shown in an Eagles uniform so far.
Fletcher Cox, DT
Although he was the 1st-round pick for the Eagles, Fletcher Cox was always going to find it hard to break straight onto the first-team defense. With a deep, talented defensive line featuring Cullen Jenkins, Antonio Dixon, Derek Landri and Mike Patterson at his position, the challenge was set for Cox from Day One of camp.
However, with an injury to Patterson, Cox has come across a superb opportunity for first-team reps. He has largely impressed in one-on-one drills, has been learning the playbook with alacrity and according to defensive line coach Jim Washburn, “he is sounding like a smart player that wants to learn and improve every day”. Even Jenkins himself has praised the young player, stating that “(Fletcher) has shown a lot of potential. He can be a heck of a player”.
With all the physical tools to be a great player in this league, to hear these positive mental attributes from coaches is a credit to Cox and an exciting piece of news for Eagles fans.
Mychal Kendricks, OLB
Kendricks was plugged into the starting strong-side linebacker position after a strong showing at OTAs this offseason, and his performances at camp have been just as good. Kendricks proved that he was a physical talent at the draft combine, and he’s shown those type of skills such as speed and agility in every play at camp.
As the depth chart currently stands, Kendricks is comfortably at the starting SAM linebacker spot. However, various weaknesses in Mychal’s game have been noticed in camp, such as freeing himself from blocks. Despite this, Mychal has been noted as a great learner by the coaches, and a change in technique is easily coachable. Overall, he has performed beyond expectations in Camp and OTAs, and in the words of Juan Castillo, Mychal is “relentless”.
Vinny Curry, DE
As a lifelong Eagles fan, Vinny Curry comes into his career with that added enthusiasm and passion to contribute to this team. His biggest attribute is his heart: he never stops motoring and has a down-by-down determination that is second-to-none.
With starting ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole missing time in camp, Curry has had plenty of opportunity to show this heart, and to prove himself to the coaches, and has made noted improvements in technique, first-step quickness, and is learning the playbook quickly. When Cole and Babin return, Curry will likely drop back into the Defensive End rotation, and be another piece of this deep, high-quality Eagles defensive line.
Nick Foles, QB
Despite an extremely successful preseason showing against both Pittsburgh and New England, Foles has experienced a relatively quiet training camp. His strengths were obvious from the get-go: arm strength and awareness; but his overall accuracy needs some work before he can establish himself in this league—though he helped assuage some of the fears with some impressive throws downfield to DeSean Jackson on MNF against the Patriots.
As a QB project for Andy Reid, it can be expected that Foles will reach his full potential at some point in the future. Obviously, nobody knows when that point will be, but if he can build on the solid preseason performance, and keep doing what the coaches want him to do at trainings, Foles definitely has the potential to be a starting QB in the NFL.
Brandon Boykin, CB/KR
As a dual-threat player with kick returning and at slot cornerback, Boykin brings some great value and talent to the team for a fourth-round pick. After impressing at camp, Brandon looks like he can make a thorough contribution as a rookie.
Boykin is in competition with Joselio Hanson for the team’s starting slot cornerback, and even with some great plays at camp, Hanson has shown himself up at times also. At this point, it looks like Boykin will be behind Hanson in the Depth Chart at the slot, but will be the team’s first-choice Kick Returner. Regardless of where Boykin ends up, Eagles fans can be happy to have such a multi-talented, pro-ready player in Brandon Boykin from a mid-Draft selection.
Dennis Kelly, OT
Dennis Kelly has been an impressive surprise to Eagles coaches and camp onlookers with his confidence at the first-team offense. Quiet amongst the second-string O-line, Kelly stood in for Todd Herremans in the first-team offense when the starter sat out with a shoulder injury – and the rookie held his own, in particular opening some great holes for runners.
Don’t expect much from Kelly in the regular season this year, but don’t be surprised if he starts to turn heads in seasons to come. A boast of confidence from coaches to place him amongst the first-team starters indicates that Dennis Kelly could make a great progression through the ranks in the future.
Marvin McNutt, WR
My favorite Draft pick in April came in the 6 foot 4 inch form of Wide Receiver Marvin McNutt. He met the team need of an offensive red-zone threat instantly, and at the low-cost of a 6th-round draft selection.
As soon as pads came on in Training Camp, McNutt showed his great ability to adjust on catches and make some acrobatic plays for a big man like himself. His physicality will be a great compliment to the speed and flair of starting receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. McNutt cannot be expected to be a standout performer in his rookie season, and may only see major action on Special Teams. However, all the tools are there, and with some further progression, McNutt could be a great receiver in the league.
Brandon Washington, OG
Brandon Washington is the most unlikely of all drafted rookies to make the final roster cut. He’s also been injured for some days in camp with concussion, and this further damages his chances of making the roster for the Eagles. Washington was a good college player, but his small impact and fragility at Training Camp do not help him in his cause to make the roster.
Bryce Brown, RB
Late-round draft prospects naturally come into training camps with little to no expectations. Often they are roster fill-ins, possible project players, or one-dimensional role players that can bring some sort of talent or specialty to a team. Bryce Brown is no ordinary late-round prospect.
Despite being the Eagles’ final draft pick, Brown has been seen by many as a surprise possible candidate for backup Running Back. Brown had a short and sweet college career: when he played, he was a superb player and looked ready for a Round 2/3 pick in the NFL Draft. However, character and fitness issues took control and Brown ended up switching colleges without making much name for himself.
Brown has brought his old talents into the Eagles camp, and has been superb in almost every facet of his running game. However, his true weakness is his pass-blocking, which is crucial for the Eagles’ offense that sees very little Fullback action. If Brown can develop this part of his game, he can continue to far exceed all expectations on him coming into his pro career.