The Eagles are in a weird position. They’re a 1-3-1 team that’s still very much in the race to win the NFC East.
So how do they view the rest of the season?
While it would normally make sense for a team that might be 1-4-1 after this weekend to start planning for the future and playing younger guys, the Eagles are still going to try to win the pitiful NFC East, as they should. But those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
As we saw in the last quarter of the 2019 season, the Eagles can win with younger talent. In fact, it really gave them some extra juice last year.
So with that in mind, here are 10 young players I’d like to see more of in the last 11 games of the 2020 season:
Jordan Mailata: Sunday will be Mailata’s third career start and he’s played relatively well since replacing Jason Peters, who is on IR with a toe injury. Peters will be eligible to return from IR for the Giants game next week but it’s unclear when he’ll actually be ready. In any case, if Mailata keeps playing well, the Eagles should just keep him at left tackle and really find out what they have.
Is Peters slightly better than Mailata right now? Yeah, probably. But the Eagles owe it to themselves and to Mailata to see if he might have a real future as their left tackle. If he plays well the rest of the season, there should be a competition between him and Andre Dillard for the starting gig in 2021.
Shaun Bradley: Through five games, the rookie linebacker from Temple has played just 14 defensive snaps. I want to see more. I understand that Bradley was a sixth-round pick for a reason but the guys in front of him aren’t exactly All-Pros. Bradley has been stuck behind Nate Gerry, Duke Riley, T.J. Edwards and Alex Singleton all season. I also understand that linebacker is a tough position to play as a rookie but Bradley seems ready for a bigger role.
The good news here is that this weekend with Edwards on IR and Riley already ruled out, Bradley will be one of the top three linebackers.
K’Von Wallace: The fourth-round pick from Clemson has gotten more snaps in recent weeks and that should continue this week without Marcus Epps. Sure, Will Parks is likely returning, but Wallace looks like a player.
Despite being a fourth-round pick, Wallace comes from a big program and has played at a high level before. Wallace was thrown into the game against the 49ers and George Kittle — tough matchup — and wasn’t perfect. But he has also done some impressive things and I want to see more.
Travis Fulgham: The Fulgham show will continue this weekend against the Ravens and their impressive group of cornerbacks. Even if Fulgham gets shut down by Marlon Humphrey this week, it’s still no excuse to play Alshon Jeffery or DeSean Jackson over him when they return. Fulgham’s 10-catch, 152-yard, 1-touchdown game wasn’t a fluke.
Genard Avery: Avery is in Year 3 in the NFL but in his first full year with the Eagles. A couple games ago he had a five-QB hit performance but it’s pretty much the only highlight in his short career with the Eagles. He’s on this list because Vinny Curry will be back soon and that will make Avery the fifth defensive end and possibly bump him out of the rotation.
No disrespect to Curry, but he’s 32 and I know what he is. I want to see more of Avery, who will be in the final year of his rookie contract next season.
Jalen Reagor: The good news is that the Eagles won’t need convincing on this one. Once Reagor is back from his UCL (thumb) surgery, he’s going to play a ton. It has to be tough for Reagor to sit out and watch other receivers from his rookie class have big games. But we saw plenty of encouraging signs from Reagor before the injury.
John Hightower: We saw a couple mistakes from Hightower last week. He dropped that touchdown pass from Carson Wentz on the deep ball at the end of the first half. But the more egregious one was when he failed to get out of bounds earlier on that 2-minute drill. It was a rookie mistake. Sure, the expectations for the fifth-round pick should be tempered but I would keep playing him. Hightower has enough tools to work with and I’d like to see the Eagles show some confidence in him.
Jason Huntley: The running backs behind Miles Sanders this season have left plenty to be desired. Boston Scott has averaged 3.3 yards per carry and Corey Clement has averaged 2.7 yards per attempt. Let’s see what Huntley can do. The Eagles liked the fifth-round pick out of New Mexico State enough to claim him in early September when the Lions released him. The Eagles have a Lions’ sixth-round pick in Fulgham starring for them already. Why not see if Huntley can help too?
Davion Taylor: We all understood when the Eagles took Taylor in the third round out of Colorado that he was a project. And so far that has been the case. Taylor has yet to record a snap on defense. But after the Taylor pick I asked Howie Roseman if Taylor could help this season and he said they were hoping to get him on the field “as quickly as possible.” With the subpar linebacker play in front of him, maybe Taylor can finally get some snaps the rest of the way.
Jalen Hurts: To be clear, the Hurts pick still doesn’t really make a ton of sense to me but he’s here and the Eagles might as well use him. We’ve seen the Eagles integrate him into the offense here and there but they have just scratched the surface with his ability. At least it would be fun to watch.