NFL

2021 Eagles preview, roster breakdown: Time for the kids

Jalen Hurts DeVonta Smith Eagles
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (left) with wide receiver DeVonta Smith (right).
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the youthful revolution.

The Philadelphia Eagles kick off their 2021 season on Sunday afternoon in Atlanta against the Falcons with the hope that they can take a step in the right direction after one of their worst seasons in 20 years.

The front office acted accordingly and made sweeping changes.

Nick Sirianni leads Philadelphia into a new campaign after five years and one Super Bowl with Doug Pederson.

Carson Wentz was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts after struggles and his subsequent benching fractured the relationship between player and organization beyond repair.

Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are gone, so is Malik Jackson.

Zach Ertz is still here, but not for a lack of trying, as the veteran tight end who expected to be shown the door this offseason will now share top tight end duties with Dallas Goedert.

Zach Ertz Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A roster in flux shored up some sections of the roster. Ryan Kerrigan was brought in for pass-rushing help along the edge while the Eagles pillaged the Minnesota Vikings’ ranks and came away with safety Anthony Harris and linebacker Eric Wilson.

But this version of the Eagles is about the kids — and 2021 is the equivalency of mom or dad handing the keys to the family car to them and seeing just how good they can drive this thing. 

The franchise is moving forward, for now, with Jalen Hurts as their starting quarterback after he breezed through an offseason of little competition between he, Joe Flacco, and Gardner Minshew.

The second-round pick in 2020 was given the reins to the offense for the final four games of the season after Wentz was benched, throwing for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions. He added rushed 354 rushing yards and three additional scores.

“I consistently saw a player that got better every single day,” Sirianni said of his QB1 last week. “I consistently saw a player make the read, get better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run, and when not to run. He did exactly what we wanted him to do. 

“Again, nobody else has worked with the [first-team offense], so you could you really argue we named a starter a while ago. But, Jalen will be our starter, and he’s earned that right with a great preseason, and we got a lot of confidence in him and that room in general.”

Hurts’ arsenal of weapons are just as young this season.

Miles Sanders, coming off a career year in which he rushed for 867 yards and six touchdowns is 24. He’ll be expected to make a serious push at breaking the 1,000-yard mark this season as the marquee back in Philadelphia.

Miles SandersJames Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith was taken 10th overall at the 2021 draft and will slot directly into the No. 1 wide receiver role with the Eagles. The big-play threat on the outside is one of the speediest receivers the NFL will see this year at the tender age of 22.

“Just control what I can control, do my job,” Smith told the Eagles’ official website of his outlook this season. “When you control what you can control, everything is going to work out for you. Just focus on the task at hand.

“It’s a business. You’ve got to carry yourself the right way. One mistake and things can not go the way you want them to go.”

Jalen Reagor, who is also 22 and entering his second year after showing flashes of promise in 2020 will be the No. 2 man behind Smith while 23-year-old Quez Watkins impressed in camp so much that he usurped the No. 3 role from Travis Fulgham, who was ultimately cut.

OFFENSE

QB

  1. Jalen Hurts
  2. Joe Flacco
  3. Gardner Minshew

RB

  1. Miles Sanders
  2. Boston Scott
  3. Kenneth Gainwell

WR1

  1. DeVonta Smith
  2. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

WR2

  1. Jalen Reagor
  2. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

WR3

  1. Quez Watkins
  2. Greg Ward

TE

  1. Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert
  2. Jack Stoll

LT

  1. Jordan Mailata
  2. Andre Dillard

LG

  1. Isaac Seumalo
  2. Nate Herbig

C

  1. Jason Kelce
  2. Landon Dickerson

RG

  1. Brandon Brooks
  2. Nate Herbig

RT

  1. Lane Johnson
  2. Brett Toth

 

DEFENSE

LDE

  1. Brandon Graham
  2. Ryan Kerrigan
  3. Tarron Jackson

LDT

  1. Javon Hargrave
  2. Hassan Ridgeway
  3. Marlon Tuipulotu

RDT

  1. Fletcher Cox
  2. Milton Williams

RDE

  1. Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat

Strong Side LB

  1. Genard Avery
  2. Patrick Johnson

Middle LB

  1. Eric Wilson
  2. TJ Edwards
  3. Shaun Bradley

Weak Side LB

  1. Alex Singleton
  2. Davion Taylor

LCB

  1. Darius Slay
  2. Zech McPhearson

RCB

  1. Steven Nelson
  2. Zech McPhearson

NCB

  1. Avonte Maddux
  2. Andre Chachere

SS

  1. Rodney McLeod
  2. K’Von Wallace
  3. Andre Chachere

FS

  1. Anthony Harris
  2. Marcus Epps

 

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