As we push forward through training camp, I answered a bunch of your questions earlier this weekend.
Now, let’s finish off the mailbag.
Both. That’s the reason this competition has looked so one-sided. If both Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard had their moments and Mailata was outplaying him by a little bit, it would be far from over, especially with joint practices and games coming up. But Mailata has looked great and Dillard has struggled, so there has been a wide gap between the two.
As encouraging as it was to hear Dillard speak about his newfound focus and his added strength, it’s just apparent that right now Mailata is a better player. And then you start thinking about how new Mailata is to the game and not only is he a better player right now but he also has more potential to keep getting better.
I got another question asking if it’s time yet to buy a Mailata jersey. It’s an interesting thought. Because if he wins this job, I think it’s his for the future, not just this season. But this is also a contract year for Mailata, so if he wins this job and plays well early in the season, he’ll be in line for a mega contract extension.
Which leads us to the flip side …
If Mailata wins this job — he is certainly doing that so far — then it probably is worth thinking about trading Dillard. The good thing for the Eagles is that they don’t have to right now or at all. Dillard was a 2019 draft pick so he’s still under contract for next season. But if a team offers up something that’s worthwhile, I’d certainly think about shipping him away for a Day 2 pick. It’ll come down to what kind of return they can get for him. Would they trade him for a fourth-round pick?
The thing about Dillard is that based on his game at right tackle in 2019, I don’t think the Eagles can use him as their backup swing tackle. Typically, the third tackle can play on both sides. And it might also depend on Jack Driscoll. The 2020 fourth-round pick showed some promise as a rookie. He has mostly been playing on the right side but said the Eagles are planning on cross training him at left tackle and at guard. Ideally, he would be the next Big V.
The obvious answers here would be Jalen Hurts and Jalen Reagor. Both will have ample opportunities, but I don’t want to give the most obvious answer. So I’ll go with safety K’Von Wallace. He has been working a lot with the first-team next to Anthony Harris with Rodney McLeod out. But even when McLeod returns, I think Jonathan Gannon will have a use for Wallace in his defense. While Harris and McLeod have played the majority of their careers as deep safeties, Wallace’s speciality seems to be playing close to the line. I think he’ll get some chances. He has also worked as a deep safety in this camp.
It’s a shame that Smith is hurt because the instruction during drills isn’t happening between these two. But they’re still talking. And the cool thing about their conversations is that Smith is so mature in football years that it’s a very high level conversation. I think Slay would probably tell you that it doesn’t feel like he’s talking to a rookie. I bet Slay is gaining something out of their chats too. These talks are very detail-oriented.
Back in the spring, Slay gave an example.
“If he asks me, ‘Slay if you’re outside leverage, what you feeling? What would make you overcommit?’ Or if I’m inside leverage, ‘What would make you do this?’ I give him all the pointers that I know and I’ll learn from a lot of guys that’s in this league to help him advance his game.”
I get your point here. Nick Sirianni hasn’t named Hurts the starter when we all obviously know Hurts is the starter. We’re nine days into practice and he has taken 100% of the Eagles’ first-team snaps.
But Hurts is a young player and Sirianni doesn’t want it to look like he’s handing Hurts the job. He also hasn’t named a starter at any other position; he hasn’t been asked either.
Of course, the quarterback is a different position. And the fact that Sirianni hasn’t said Hurts is his starter — and because of the rumors and reports surrounding Deshaun Watson — I can see how it makes the Eagles look like they’re not sold on Hurts. But I really don’t think Hurts sees it as disrespectful. One area where I’ve been very impressed with Hurts is his mental toughness. I can’t imagine this bothers him and if it does, he’s unique enough to channel it correctly.
I don’t know if there’s Jalen Hurts hate. I think there’s Jalen Hurts skepticism and, honestly, I think that’s warranted. I have no idea if he’s the answer at quarterback and it seems like the organization is in the same boat. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t pulling for him, but it’s up to Hurts to prove himself.
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