Week 2 of training camp for the Eagles got under way today as the team had their first live hitting session at the Nova Care Complex.
This is where roster spots are won. When the best of the best truly standout. For a few young players, today was another step in solidifying a roster spot or a significant role with the team.
Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones make plays in the secondary
Former scout and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick said it best when visiting Eagles camp on Sunday.
If the #eagles corners continue to play at the level I witnessed yesterday at TC practice (and stay healthy), this team will be scary.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) July 30, 2018
The Eagles are loaded at every position, and that finally includes the corners. Not only has Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby had strong camps, but 2017 picks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas are catching the eye of the team as well.
Jones took first team reps in the slot again for the defense. If you are tracking the slot CB battle that is 3 days of first team reps for Jones, and 2 for DeVante Bausby.
Jones has made plays in both man coverage and zone. He has been tested by Nelson Agholor which is expected considering Agholor is one of the best slot receivers in the NFL, but Jones has held his own.
Sidney Jones is really good guys. Zone coverage, instantly recognized the routes and shut down Agholor from the slot and slid over to cut off Wallace. Very comfortable out there.
— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) July 31, 2018
He may not crack the outside just yet but the slot CB position has become almost equally as important since teams have begun using their #1 receivers a large portion of the time inside (Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen, Odell Beckham Jr., Larry Fitzgerald).
Rasul Douglas may not get the playing time Jones does without an injury but the second year corner has had a solid summer. Defensive Backs coach Corey Undlin has really focused in on Douglas, trying to teach him better patience in his backpedal before breaking in on the receiver. It is part of why so many of the Eagles corners get beat on double moves. Playing aggressive is good and can lead to turnovers but young players like Douglas and the Eagles secondary need to further develop their route recognition and know when to stay square, and when to get down the field.
In 7 on 7’s today, Douglas went up against Markus Wheaton 1 on 1 and Wentz targeted that match up down the field. Douglas, who has been known to struggle with faster receivers, ran toe to toe with Wheaton and made a nice play on the ball to force the incompletion.
The Eagles use a lot of man coverage both off and press. The defense has really tried to feature Douglas at the line of scrimmage as a press-man corner. With his long arms and physical style, that is an area he can thrive.
It is so great to finally have young, talented depth at corner. Not that long ago the Eagles were dealing with this.
Howie turned the secondary into a strength ??. I remember when we had to deal with this ???? pic.twitter.com/k9oaZUXlRm
— Jeff?? (@PhillyFreck215) July 31, 2018
Schwartz using number of looks at the WILL LB spot
The Eagles starting weak-side linebacker spot is wide open for the taking. Kamu Grugier-Hill got a lot of the first team reps at the start of camp, but the defense as used a number of different players and formations.
On a number of occasions Jordan Hicks (who is having a hell of a camp) lined up as the WILL LB while Joe Walker played MLB. While it is expected Hicks ends up playing in the middle, this could be a look the Eagles go to during the season if the other WILL LB that starts is struggling.
Nate Gerry has been the hot name of the week in the competition. Gerry has shown strong coverage skills and played with the first team today again.
Tre Sullivan could keep Corey Graham off the Eagles
Tre Sullivan is starting right where he left off in the spring. In space, Sullivan made a number of solid tackles today and even picked off Carson Wentz in 3 on 3 drills.
Tre Sullivan with a leaping pick deep down the field on Carson Wentz in 3 on 3. #Eagles
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 31, 2018
Jim Schwartz spoke about the safety depth after practice and mentioned Sullivan as the first guy that will back up McLeod and Jenkins. Although he mentioned it would be difficult going into the season with just Jenkins and McLeod as veterans, he also said the team isn’t focused on bringing anyone in from free agency and instead are focusing in on the talent they have.
Sullivan, and Jeremy Reaves too have an opportunity to stand out in the preseason next week and throughout the rest of training camp. If they do, it may just keep the Eagles from adding Graham or another veteran safety to the team.
Nelson Agholor might just lead the Eagles loaded offense in receiving
The jump Agholor made from year two to year three was incredible. He might make an even bigger leap in 2018. Hands down the former USC Trojan has been the best receiver on the team in training camp.
Agholor has given fits to slot corners and has made some explosive plays down the field.
Sidney Jones is struggling to cover Agholor but the reps against him will make Jones better for the real games #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 31, 2018
He isn’t just fast, Agholor has shown that when he runs, he runs hard and angry. His effort and constant attack mode has been on full display.
Nelson Agholor just basically ripped the ball out of Sidney Jones’ hands, stopping an INT and making the catch #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 31, 2018
Carson Wentz with a beauty of a deep pass TD to Nelson Agholor in 3 on 3. #Eagles
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 31, 2018
The Eagles are the deepest offense in the NFL right now, but if predicting today who would lead the Eagles in receiving this year. Right now Nelson Agholor would be the pick.
Cian Fahey is back and in prime Fahey form (eyes roll out of sockets)
Ugh…..I enjoyed the time away from the self-proclaimed “QB Guru”.
Its just like….this is…..whatever I am not going to even get into it this bothered me in 2016 but not anymore.
The Eagles get back to hitting tomorrow as training camp rolls on and the team prepares for their first preseason game next Thursday against the Steelers.
Who could the Eagles target from 49ers?
It appears the Eagles could be cooking up another trade. This time with the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers have talked to the Eagles about a trade. All I got on that.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) March 16, 2019
What could Howie Roseman be looking for from San Francisco? The Eagles have already taken care of their DT, WR, and LB needs in free agency by trading for DeSean Jackson, signing Malik Jackson, and L.J. Fort.
They locked up their offensive line core keeping Jason Peters and extending both Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo.
They even added to the log jam that is the CB position by bringing back Ronald Darby on a one-year deal.
Here are some players the 49ers could be willing to deal to the Eagles that makes sense for Philadelphia.
RB Matt Breida
With the signing of RB Tevin Coleman, the 49ers could be looking to shop one of their running backs.
Breida makes the most sense of anyone on the 49ers for the Eagles to have interest in. At just 24, Breida is young, and on an inexpensive contract which are two things Roseman loves to deal for.
After Jerick McKinnon went down last season, Breida carried the 49ers backfield finishing with 814 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
He averaged 5.3 YPC and early on in the season, he was averaging over 7.0 YPC.
That fast start included a Week 2 showing against Detroit that resulted in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Breida is explosive in short areas, and has the receiving skills Doug Pederson’s offense loves to have in the backfield.
His receiving DVOA (@fboutsiders ) was 2nd in the league behind Kareem Hunt. 44.8% is outrageous.
— Gino Cammilleri (@Gino_LOE) March 16, 2019
The third year running back surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage and would be an all-around weapon the Eagles desperately need at RB.
RB Jerick McKinnon
If the 49ers decide to keep Breida as Coleman’s counter-part in the backfield, that could spell the end of Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco before it even got started.
The former Viking signed with the 49ers last offseason and was expected to be Kyle Shanahan’s new version of Coleman but he tore his ACL before the season started.
McKinnon still has three years left on his contract with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2019.
He is only 26 and like Breida, McKinnon can make defenses pay on the ground and through the air.
In 2017 after Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon became an important piece to Minnesota’s offense finishing with 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards.
Between 2016 and 2017, McKinnon had 94 receptions. Much like in Shanahan’s offense, Pederson’s offense is better with that kind of RB.
DE Solomon Thomas
The former third overall pick in the 2017 draft hasn’t met that potential in his first two years with the 49ers.
Thomas has just four sacks in two seasons but he could be another young (24 years old), buy-low trade target Howie Roseman takes a chance on.
The 49ers would likely be more willing to deal Thomas after trading and extending DE Dee Ford. San Francisco also holds the second overall pick in a draft class that even Roseman labeled “historic” when it comes to pass rushers.
With Chris Long’s future up in the air, Thomas could be someone the Eagles bring in to compete with Josh Sweat and a rookie if Long doesn’t think more playing time is coming his way for the 2019 season.
If the Eagles do make a trade with the 49ers, San Francisco’s loaded backfield is likely where Philadelphia would like to grab a play-maker from. Expect a deal to involve a draft pick but don’t be surprised if someone like Jalen Mills is also involved.
The CB group is now six-deep after re-signing Darby. With four other young, promising corners to develop and Mills hitting free agency in 2020, it seems likely Philadelphia could look to get some value for him now.
The 49ers already have Richard Sherman and signed former Chargers CB Jason Verrett this offseason but Mills has the versatility to play outside, in the slot, or even at safety.
Mills or a late pick for McKinnon/Breida could make sense for both sides.
T.J. Yeldon fits in Philadelphia
It doesn’t appear the Eagles were in on big names at running back in free agency. Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets. Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers. Mark Ingram signed with the Ravens.
Seeing Ingram and Coleman’s deal both in the $5 million a year range has many scratching their heads about why the Eagles potentially didn’t pursue those two on inexpensive contracts.
While Philadelphia could have been in the hunt for both, a lack of interest would certainly concern fans that want to see the organization invest legitimate resources into the position. It is certainly something to keep a closer eye on.
Howie Roseman can be lackadaisical when it comes to RB including last year, failing to replace Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. However, there is no need to panic just yet. The NFL Draft has talent across all seven rounds.
There are also some intriguing options still out there through trades and free agency that fit what the Eagles want to spend, and how they want to use their backs. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is perhaps the most interesting option. And he would be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
An even cheaper option than Coleman and Ingram
It was a bit surprising seeing Coleman and Ingram get less than expected. If the Eagles weren’t players for either, it could be as a result of their serious interest in the draft class, or their plans to spend even less at the position.
Yeldon could be a cheaper option.
If Coleman and Ingram both got $5 million, it seems evident that Yeldon, a less proven player than the other two, would get less.
The Eagles have not spent significant dollars for a running back since Chip Kelly signed DeMarco Murray in 2015. They have targeted younger, cheaper players.
At 25 years old, Yeldon fits that mold.
The perfect complementary RB
If Yeldon and Corey Clement were the compliments to a rookie the front office invests in, it would be hard to do much better.
The former Alabama prospect has the receiving skills this Eagles offense has valued since the days of Brian Westbrook.
Yeldon has 135 catches in the last three seasons, with a career-high 55 receptions for 487 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
He can make some impressive plays with his hands.
The production is there but he isn’t built like other receiving-backs. At 6’2 218 pounds, Yeldon is a few inches taller, and only two pounds lighter than Jay Ajayi. The majority would agree that Ajayi’s label is that of a power runner.
That allows him to be an option in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Chunk plays are abundant
Yeldon has the ability to turn a four-yard hole, or a three-yard check down into a 15-30 yard play. He is extremely explosive for his size and he isn’t easy to bring down when he is caught. At Alabama, Yeldon forced 54 tackles in his final collegiate season.
Having that kind of weapon with the five dangerous pass-catchers the Eagles already have could be deadly. Wendell Smallwood isn’t that weapon.
In 2018, Yeldon finished with eight receptions of 15+ yards. Four of which were above 20 yards. Tevin Coleman only had five receptions of 15+ yards.
Compared to Alvin Kamara, an elite pass-catching running back, Yeldon only had seven fewer receptions that went past 15 yards.
Moves the chains on third down
In short and long situations on third down, Yeldon was a focal point for the Jaguars.
Whether it was a passing play or a running play, he was effective in moving the chains.
Being capable of converting through the air and ground with just one running back helps make an offense less predictable.
The Eagles still have quality options if they want to add an RB before the draft. The Browns and Bears are actively shopping Duke Johnson and Jordan Howard. If the front office wants to keep their draft capital however, T.J. Yeldon could be their guy.
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Analyzing the Eagles signing LB L.J. Fort
DeSean Jackson’s press conference was encouraging
The Giants continue their blueprint of not having a blueprint signing Golden Tate