Because the Philadelphia Eagles had the fewest draft picks in the NFL from 2018-2019, their metaphorical cupboards were not stacked with young talents who were ready to explode, as they had in the past. However, here are five young players who are candidates to take their game to the next level in 2020.
1) DE Derek Barnett
It’s great to be a runaway candidate once, maybe, but you don’t want to keep thinking about it over and over again, as Barnett did. With some of the other players noted below, it’s more like, “It’s nice if this person breaks out,” whereas with Barnett the team needs he was out for this season, with 32-year-old Brandon Graham starting to cross him.
There is reason to believe that Barnett could be an excellent starter in the NFL. He was only 23 years old, he was good against fugitives, and while many wanted him to have more than 14 sacks through his first three seasons, he did have 7 sacks a year ago in 14 matches, and his rushed repertoire continued to develop .
With defensive tackle rotations piled up in the middle of the line, Barnett had to see an advantageous one-on-one fight on the edge.
2) TE Dallas Goedert
Goedert is already really good, and there is a reasonable argument to be made that he will start in every team in the NFL except Chiefs, where he won’t start TE, and they probably won’t take one of their speed off-field receivers to accommodate he? Does that make sense? By the way, because of that, he is already an established player, but he also might have room under his ceiling to get better, so he is included in this list.
I am curious to see what the leap from Year 1 to Year 2 to Year 3 has been for the best tight end for the past 20 years. It turns out that the jumps from Year 1 to Year 2 are usually much bigger than the jumps from Year 2 to Year 3. The following is a display of each tight end with at least 5,000 yards received over the past two decades.
|TE||1st year||2 years||3 years|
As a beginner, Goedert has 33 catches for 334 yards and 4 TDs. With more playing time in 2019, he has 58 catches for 607 yards and 5 TDs. The numbers will definitely be higher if Zach Ertz is not on the list.
With some legitimate speed threats outside (assuming DeSean Jackson can stay upright and Jalen Reagor shows something as a beginner), it will be interesting to see what Goedert can do with more room to operate in the middle.
A more realistic expectation is that Goedert continues to show modest production increases, with bounced shots from the outside, although the latter might ask Ertz to spend a significant amount of time.
3) LB T.J. Edwards
If you missed the “Our new Eagles player (or current player with a new role) series,” you can find it here:
If you follow, you will know that Edwards’s profile is rarely positive, and we conclude he is very likely to have an increasing role in 2020. At the very least, he must be in the game when there are three linebackers on the field. He is very good against fugitives as a beginner, and he can fill a role in the defense of Jim Schwartz similar to Joe Walker or Dannell Ellerbe, but potentially far better than anyone the team has in that role. That would place the participation portion of the game somewhere around 10-30 percent, depending on the opponent.
This offseason, we see some Eagles players who are new, or already with the team, but we may not know much about them before because of limited action. Here we will discuss LB T.J. Edwards. 🔥 (thread and article) https://t.co/m9BdRPSLQK
– Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) May 9, 2020
4) DE Josh Sweat
Sweat was further raised last season as a potential escape candidate after his teammates had many good things to say about his work in practice. He does have a greater role in regular defense, and was able to donate four sacks in 2019.
Concerns with Sweat coming out of college is a broad history of injury, but he has managed to stay healthy so far in his NFL career. In 2019, he played all 16 matches, and while he was placed on IR in 2018, it was really more because the Eagles needed a roster spot than that because Sweat had an end-of-season injury.
Sweat shows flashes in its first year as ordinary rotus edge rusher. Like here:
The challenge for him in 2020 and going forward is whether he can get the best from his challenges impressive athleticism and play more consistently.
5) CB Avonte Maddox
Unless further offseason steps are in the corner, it looks more and more like Maddox will become an outside starter in 2020. At only 5’9, that is an uncertain proposition, because Maddox has struggled as an outside angle when forced into a role in the past (see: Seahawks playoff game).
While the outside angle might not be his ideal role, Maddox is tough, talented, and athletic, and he will have a better chance of succeeding as Jalen Mills did in the past, because Maddox will make Darius Slay play from another angle, and possibly (I think?) trailing the recipient of the opponent’s best offense.
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