5 possible breakout candidates for Eagles in 2018

5 possible breakout candidates for Eagles in 2018

In the 2017 Super Bowl season, Nelson Agholor went from first-round bust to legitimate dangerous weapon. 

There’s no question that he was the breakout performer from the 2017 season, although there were plenty of other candidates. What Agholor did last season, catching 62 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns, was remarkable. 

With Agholor’s performance last year in mind, let’s take a look ahead at five candidates to have a breakout season in 2018: 

Dallas Goedert
He’s a rookie tight end in a system that’s incredibly demanding on tight ends, he’s behind a Pro Bowler on the depth chart and he’s coming from the FCS. That doesn’t sound like a promising combination for picking a breakout player. But Goedert could end up being an impact player. 

While he went to South Dakota State, he played in a complex college offense. And even though he’s behind Zach Ertz on the depth chart, there’s still going to be plenty of opportunity with Trey Burton and Brent Celek gone. There might be a learning curve, but Goedert has a chance to make an impact immediately, especially in the red zone, where his athleticism ought to take over (see story)

Derek Barnett
Entering his second season, Barnett still appears to have the chance to be special. He turned in a five-sack rookie season and has the ability to add more to that. Barnett might be penciled in behind Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett on the depth chart, but defensive line coach Chris Wilson said earlier this season that he expects Barnett to compete for a starting gig. That’s pretty high praise, thinking he could knock off Pro Bowl-caliber starters. 

What really impressed Wilson about Barnett is that he kept getting better as an all-around player last year, even as he played through a sports hernia. Barnett can be a three-down player in the NFL because he has the ability to pass-rush and stuff the run, which both are very important in Jim Schwartz’s defense. 

Sidney Jones 
Howie Roseman during the draft said he kind of viewed Jones as a part of this year’s draft class after the talented corner basically red-shirted last season coming off an Achilles tear. Jones doesn’t consider himself a rookie, though. He’s been in the Eagles’ building for over a year and has a really good grasp of the defense and the corner position in the defense. 

Even if Jones doesn’t become the Eagles’ slot cornerback, I don’t think they can keep him off the field. Barring injury, I think he’s going to play a lot in 2018 and has a chance to show people why he would have been a first-round pick last spring. 

Mack Hollins
The problem for Hollins might be less about ability and more about opportunity. Because he’s behind Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Agholor on the depth chart and Markus Wheaton and Shelton Gibson could possibly steal snaps from him. But the Eagles like Hollins, who had just 16 catches and one touchdown during his rookie season. In last year’s playoffs, Hollins had just one catch for nine yards. 

So why might he have a chance to break out? Well, to start, Hollins does have some big-play ability. That’s part of why the Eagles drafted him and he’s still the team’s fourth receiver. The other reason is that Doug Pederson hired his former college position coach, Gunter Brewer, to coach Eagles receivers. That’s a two-sided argument. First, having Brewer around should help Hollins. Second, it might give some idea of how much the Eagles like the second-year wideout. 

Kamu Grugier-Hill 
This will be Grugier-Hill’s third season with the Eagles after having played just 86 defensive snaps over his first two seasons in the NFL. But for now, he appears to be in the lead to take the weakside linebacker spot vacated by Mychal Kendricks. Remember, the team will also be without Nigel Bradham in the opener, giving Grugier-Hill another possible chance.

And there’s plenty to like about Grugier-Hill. The Hawaiian special teamer is a really impressive athlete and has really good coverage ability for a linebacker, having played safety at Eastern Illinois. The Eagles really like his athleticism and it might be time to see it show on defense, not just special teams. 

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Eagles sign Soul wide receiver Darius Prince, waive defensive lineman Adam Reth

Vernon Ray, Creative Mind Productions

Eagles sign Soul wide receiver Darius Prince, waive defensive lineman Adam Reth

Along with a Super Bowl MVP, the Eagles now have an ArenaBowl MVP on their roster. 

The team signed wide receiver Darius Prince on Saturday afternoon, waiving defensive tackle Adam Reth. Prince earned ArenaBowl XXX MVP honors with five catches for 27 yards and two touchdowns in the Soul's 44-40 victory over the Tampa Bay Storm last year. 

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Prince has come a long way in the last year. After making his AFL debut in the 2017 playoffs, the 28-year-old had a league-high 89 catches, 1,024 yards receiving and 24 touchdowns this past season in just 12 games. Before joining the Soul, Prince played for the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks of the National Arena League.

“My first thought was how thankful I am to the Lord for giving me this opportunity,” Prince said, via a statement by the Soul. “Then I thought about everything I’ve been through. I started at the bottom and now I am signing a contract with the Super Bowl champs, it’s really a surreal feeling.”

Prince has an interesting background. The McKeesport, Pennsylvania, native didn't play college football, and was a basketball player at Penn State-Greater Allegheny and Penn State-Beaver. 

The Eagles last signed a Soul player in 2016, when they added defensive end Jake Metz, who did not make the final roster. 

“We’re incredibly proud of Darius,” Soul president John Adams said. "He is a great ambassador of the Soul brand and we wish him all the best on this next stop of his career.”

In all likelihood, Prince won't be with the Eagles for long. The team has to cut down to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Sept. 1, and currently has 13 wide receivers on the roster.

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Carson Wentz to resume full-team drills starting Sunday

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Carson Wentz to resume full-team drills starting Sunday

There’s some good — albeit expected — news with Carson Wentz.

When the Eagles return to practice on Sunday, Wentz will be back in 11-on-11 drills.

Earlier this week, Wentz said he expected to be back in full-team drills this coming week (see story). That’s according to the master plan set forth by the Eagles’ coaches and doctors.

Early in training camp, Wentz was involved in 11-on-11 drills but the team backed off after a few days. Doug Pederson said he saw what he wanted from Wentz and the team didn’t want to expose him to any unnecessary risk.

With less than three weeks until the season opener, Wentz is still targeting a Week 1 return. The last hurdle will still be to get cleared for contact. That hasn’t happened yet.

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