The Eagles have clear strengths and weaknesses as the team begins to assemble and work out during informal, nonmandatory OTAs and minicamps.
Here’s a quick look at some big changes made that have effected the heiarchy of the Eagles’ areas of supposed success and failure.
1. Defensive line
Additions: Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Chris Long
Subtractions: Connor Barwin, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan
Outlook: Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are among the 10 best pass-rushers in football — at least according to Pro Football Focus. They’ll join a line that will attempt to mesh some new faces, like first-round pick Derek Barnett, with veterans Jernigan and Long. There will be a lot of depth and talent for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to play with.
2. Offensive line
Additions: Chance Warmack
Outlook: The Eagles offensive line is once again, like it was in the early days of Chip Kelly (when LeSean McCoy was breaking team records), is a solid and reliable tool for the Eagles offense. They have a solid veteran presence that can help protect Carson Wentz in Lane Johnson, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce as well as young up-and-comers like Isaac Seumalo. They also have relative depth with new signee Warmack and Stefen Wisniewski.
3. Wide receiver
Additions: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson
Outlook: This is the position group least recognizable from a year ago. Instead of leaning on slot specialist Jordan Matthews as their No. 1 and forcing first round bust Nelson Agholor to contribute big numbers the team made a splash adding a new No. 1 and No. 2 in veterans Jeffery and Smith. They will be joined by rookie dopplegangers in Hollins — a big red zone target — and Shelton Gibson — a speedy playmaker.
4. Tight ends
Nothing has changed for the Eagles with a balance between playmaker and blocker in Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton. Ertz has shown flashes of brilliance in stretches but has yet to flex his muscle as an NFL elite tight end.
5. Special teams
Additions: Hollins, Nate Gerry
Donnie Jones is among the best punters in football, Caleb Sturgis is a reliable kicker and Darren Sproles is a Hall of Fame punt returner. The team routinely fields one of the best all-around special teams unites in football and 2017’s Birds will be no different.
Additions: Nick Foles, Matt McGloin
Subtractions: Chase Daniel
Wentz is the man, and will look to build off of a record-setting rookie campaign. He will learn from two talented back ups in former Eagles starter Foles and former Penn Stater McGloin.
Jordan Hicks has turned himself into one of the best middle linebackers in football and has made Mychal Kendricks more or less irrelevant. Nigel Bradham is a solid NFL starter as well but the position is lacking in depth.
8. Running back
Additions: Donnell Pumphrey, Corey Clement
It’s no secret that the Eagles are futilely short in running back. The team seems to be hoping to find a diamond in the rough between Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall flanking Sproles, and also seems to think that depth might overcome talent. The expectation is that Ryan Mathews will be cut this summer.
9. Defensive backs
Additions: Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson
Subtractions: Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin
No surprise here, as the Eagles’ strength in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod is overshadowed by a woefully pathetic cornerback position. Douglas is a big and talented rookie and could contribute right away, Jones is a second round steal but will sit out the start of the year due to injury. Their veteran depth is nothing special.