My Early Expectations For The Eagles’ Rookie ClassBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
For a guy selected in the first-round, Marcus Smith has generated very little buzz or excitement among Eagles’ fans. Not since Danny Watkins was selected in the first round of 2011 have the Eagles had a first-round pick come out with less hype.
All along, Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ coaching staff have stated that Smith is a “project”.
In other words, don’t expect any kind of immediate contribution from this year’s first-round draft pick.
Unfortunately, I see Smith spending at least the first half of the season as a healthy scratch. He’ll learn and develop in practice, while preparing to replace Trent Cole as the full-time starter next year. If he can prove to be an effective special teams player, perhaps he can still dress on gamedays early in the season.
As the season goes on, I expect Smith to slowly gain ground on the depth chart, and eventually unseat Brandon Graham as one of the team’s top reserves at outside linebacker. Graham goes to the bench by the end of the year, and Smith takes on a roll as a situational pass-rusher.
If there’s one player from this draft class that I’m extremely excited about, its Matthews.
I love Matthews’ attitude. The young wideout has said all of the right things so far. He’s got tremendous work ethic, and he makes it a point to be one of the hardest workers on his teams. That attitude has gotten him far, and it will serve him well in his NFL career.
Matthews’ size is going to help carve him out a role in the offense right away. The Eagles are going to give teams all kinds of fits in the redzone with the amount of size that they’ll be able to put on the field. Matthews joins Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz, and Brent Celek as some of the team’s top redzone options, and Nick Foles should be able to pick and choose the matchups that he likes best.
I think Matthews makes the biggest impact of the rookie class. Depending on the health of Jeremy Maclin, and the effectiveness of Riley Cooper, Matthews could easily find himself as one of this team’s starters by the year’s end.
I see Huff contributing as a role player in his rookie year.
His size and speed will allow Chip Kelly to move him around in a variety of ways, and I see him being used for bubble screens, wheel routes, and other patterns that involve him coming out of the backfield and running with blockers out in front of him.
As a fourth receiver, there will only be so many touches available to him, but I expect that he’ll make them count.
Watkins is a guy who many believe could be one of the steals in the mid-rounds of the draft.
However, I don’t think we’re going to get much of a chance to see what he can do this year.
Watkins is going to have trouble climbing through the depth chart to get playing time this year. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, while unspectacular proved that they’re decent starters last year, and they should be firmly entrenched in their positions for another year.
Brandon Boykin has the nickel role locked up, and the team signed Nolan Carrol to be their top backup in the event that something happens to Fletcher or Williams.
Watkins is going to get a year to watch, learn, and develop, while possibly contributing on special teams. He’s certainly a guy to watch in the preseason, and keep an eye on for the future.
Its tough to expect much from Hart.
This is a guy that a lot of scouts didn’t hold very highly on their draft boards, but Chip Kelly wanted to select him as high as the third round. Hart is going to have a tough time getting playing time as either a defensive end or a linebacker.
He’s someone that I could envision the Eagles placing on injured reserve with a phantom injury in order to redshirt him for the next year.
Safety is the Eagles’ weakest position, and if Reynolds is worth much of anything, he should have a chance to fight his way on as a fourth safety.
Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, and Earl Wolff should all be locks, so Chris Maragos would be the guy that Reynolds would have to beat out. I don’t think its very likely, the Eagles brought Maragos on board with the specific idea of improving their special teams coverage, and Maragos would have to have a terrible camp in order to open the door for Reynolds to stick.
Allen has the size to be an effective nose tackle, but still faces long odds to make the team.
At this point, he’s a practice squad candidate.
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