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Eagles rookie progress reports at the end of training camp


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Eagles rookie progress reports at the end of training camp

How have the Eagles' rookies performed this summer?

PhillyVoice Staff
6.1.23_Eagles-Jalen-Carter-Nolan-Smith_ColleenClaggett-9684.jpgCOLLEEN CLAGGETT/FOR PHILLYVOICE

Eagles rookies Jalen Carter (98) and Nolan Smith (3)

Now that Philadelphia Eagles 2023 training camp is in the books, let's review the performances of each of the Eagles' drafted rookies throughout the summer.

Round 1: iDL Jalen Carter

At the conclusion of camp, we took a look at whose stock was up and whose stock was down. Carter made the stock up list.

We already knew that Carter is extremely talented, but over the last month it has become clear that his play demeanor is a positive as well. He practices hard, he stands up for his teammates, and any stamina concerns that arose during the draft process have not been evident so far.

In recent years, rookie interior defensive linemen have tended to play poorly, so we'll see if Carter can buck that trend, but he had more than his share of "wow" moments this summer, notably when he ran over All-Pro LG Joel Bitonio during joint practices with the Browns. He has a chance to be an impact player from Day 1.

Round 1: EDGE Nolan Smith

Smith might find playing time tough to come by as a rookie since the Eagles are loaded with premium talent on the edges, but his elite athleticism and tireless motor were obvious in practice. He'll be a core special teamer from Day 1, and the Eagles will likely try to find ways to get him involved in the regular defense. He's too talented to waste on the bench, even with stars like Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Round 3: OL Tyler Steen

Steen entered camp in a battle for the starting RG job with Cam Jurgens, however, he got out to a slow start, committing some pre-snap penalties and struggling in 1-on-1's, while Jurgens played well. In the fifth practice of camp, Steen started getting some reps at LT, signaling that the Eagles were pivoting to playing Steen at tackle in addition to guard to increase his versatility as a backup. At that point the starting RG competition was basically over. Jurgens had won.

From that point on, the light started to go on for Steen. He played well at LT, which was his position in college at Vanderbilt and Alabama, and he continued to get better at RG when asked to play there. Looking ahead, Steen will probably be the first player off the bench in 2023 at both LT and RG. He also has starting potential down the road at either spot, and in my opinion is already a better player than 2022 top backup Jack Driscoll.

Round 3: S Sydney Brown

Brown is the most gifted of the Eagles' safeties athletically. When he decides to attack a ball carrier or a spot in the secondary where he thinks a pass is heading, he gets there fast, and with bad intentions. It's not hard to see that he has "fan favorite" potential. 

Brown is an extremely aggressive player who "leaves no regrets," as he likes to say. Brown's "hair on fire" play style is simultaneously exciting and concerning. On the one hand, it's great that he is aggressive and decisive, which should serve him well over his NFL career. However, safety is a difficult position to master as a rookie in the NFL, so if he's overaggressive but is not reading the action in front of him correctly, it could lead to him being out of position, which NFL offenses will not fail to capitalize on.

The Eagles will have to figure out at what point and in what ways Brown can contribute in the regular defense, and how to avoid coverage busts while also not stifling his aggressive mindset. Like Smith above, Brown will be a core special teamer. I also believe he will start at some point in 2023, though it may not be Week 1.

Round 4: CB Kelee Ringo

Ringo is 6'2, 207, he runs a 4.36, and the Eagles spent a 2024 third-round pick to acquire him in the draft. During post-draft press conferences, Howie Roseman was clear that the Eagles would take it slow with Ringo, and allow him to develop behind the scenes over time. His roster spot should be safe for at least two years.

That said, Ringo was outplayed by second year CB Josh Jobe, undrafted rookie Eli Ricks, and also arguably other undrafted guys like Mario Goodrich and Mekhi Garner. In my opinion, the two most disappointing areas of Ringo's game throughout camp and the preseason were a lack of ball skills, and some shoddy tackling.

Again, Ringo is something of a developmental player, albeit one the Eagles used a decent enough resource on. He will likely be a gameday inactive for a while to start his rookie season.

Round 6: QB Tanner McKee

McKee was one of the surprise standouts of the summer, when he had a pair of very good performances against the Ravens and Browns in the Eagles' first two preseason games. While not blessed with the running ability possessed by Jalen Hurts or even Marcus Mariota, McKee showed impressive poise, recognition, and accuracy throughout his first NFL camp.

If he can continue to build on his play this summer, McKee could be a very cheap No. 2 quarterback in 2024, 2025, and 2026. He outperformed Mariota, but is unlikely to leapfrog him in the pecking order until Mariota falters in a real game. For now, McKee will dress for games as the emergency No. 3.

Round 7: iDL Moro Ojomo

Ojomo was disruptive throughout camp and in the first two preseason games against the Ravens and Browns, before he suffered a concussion and was carted off the field. He will almost certainly make the team and could contribute as part of the Eagles' interior defensive line rotation as a rookie. He probably shouldn't have been available in the seventh round.

He was also on the field for practice on Sunday, which means that he is progressing from his concussion.

The undrafted guys

A year ago, three undrafted rookie — Reed Blankenship, Josh Jobe, Josh Sills — made the initial 53-man roster. Britain Covey followed behind soon thereafter.

This year's undrafted rookie class does not appear to be quite as strong, though CB Eli Ricks has a good chance of making the roster after strong preseason game performances against the Ravens and Colts. The other UDFAs who have not yet been cut are WR Joseph Ngata, TE Brady Russell, CB Mekhi Garner, and LB Ben VanSumeren, who all showed this summer that they are worth developing further, but are not likely to make the initial 53.


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