Training camp for the Philadelphia Eagles is more than halfway over, meaning it’s time to unveil the best players from 2012 training camp.
This list is an unofficial list obviously. I have not been to every training camp practice this season, but I do read daily recaps from practices. These ten players will not have stats in their description. After all, no players have stats in training camp practices.
This is basically based off the eye test. The ten players are, in no particular order, as follows. (The list is actually 11 players. I added one more. Why? Because I wanted to.)
Dion Lewis, Running Back:
There has been some question about whether Lewis is capable of handling the backup running back role this season. In fact, I suggested just a few weeks ago that the Eagles would be wise to bring in veteran Cedric Benson as the backup running back. But Lewis has impressed many with a tremendous camp. I still wouldn’t be completely comfortable if LeSean McCoy was injured, but it’ll be nice with Lewis focusing just on running the football and not on kick returns. And no matter what Lewis does this season, he’ll be more productive than Ronnie Brown was last year.
Bryce Brown, Running Back:
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro is a huge fan of Bryce Brown, the Eagles’ surprise seventh round draft pick. Spadaro knows the Eagles as well as anybody so he’s got me sold on Brown. We have yet to see the rookie in any preseason action but as of now, he’s the favorite to capture the third running back spot.
Chad Hall, Wide Receiver:
Hall is almost always counted out for the 53-man roster but he usually finds a way to make the team one way or another. This season, it’s going to be extremely difficult. He’s having a great camp, catching everything in sight, but he’s probably just the seventh option at wide receiver right now, behind DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, and Damaris Johnson.
Damaris Johnson, Wide Receiver:
Johnson has emerged as a fan favorite at training camp. The undrafted rookie free agent is the first option at punt returner right now but as of now, it’s going to be difficult for him to make the team unless the Eagles keep six wide receivers. I don’t see that happening either. Maybe the Eagles will let Cooper take a longer time to heal to give Johnson a game or two as the punt returner, but if not, it’s either keep six wide receivers, or cut McNutt or Johnson.
Danny Watkins, Right Guard:
Last year was a rough year for the rookie first round draft pick, who was expected to come in and contribute immediately. But he’s been one of the bright spots at training camp this year, frequently winning one-on-one battles against defensive lineman in drills. Last year, he was a below average right guard. I expect him to be a little bit above average this season. By 2013, I expect him to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle:
I’m a huge fan of Cox, I mean Fletcher, and I think he’s going to be a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. You have to wonder if one of the reasons the Eagles drafted Cox was because they knew that complications from Mike Patterson’s brain surgery would keep him out of the preseason (and probably the start of the regular season). Regardless, expect the 21-year old to play a major role in the Eagles’ defense this season.
Derek Landri, Defensive Tackle:
Landri is playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. He’s extremely bitter that he was barely pursued as a free agent after his breakout year in 2011, which rates him as the fourth best defensive tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. So he’s on a mission this year. He’s played some first team defense during training camp and although I think Jenkins and Cox will be the week 1 starters, I think Landri will be the first guy off the bench and right in the middle of the rotation. At least this year, Landri will definitely make the 53-man roster for week one.
Brandon Graham, Defensive End:
Graham might be the best player at camp so far this year. You talk about a guy with a chip on his shoulder. All he has heard from Eagles fans for the past year is how they could have had Jason Pierre-Paul, the star defensive end for the New York Giants who collected 16.5 sacks this past season. Graham as even referred to himself as a bust, and to be honest, he’s accurate so far. But don’t think he’ll end up as the next Jon Harris or Jerome McDougle. If Jason Babin can become a breakout player after six mediocre seasons, Graham can become a breakout player after two mediocre seasons.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback:
The most highly coveted free agent of the 2011 offseason was an incredible disappointment in his first year in a Philadelphia uniform. Blame some of it on defensive coordinator Juan Castillo for not using Nnamdi correctly but blame a lot of it on Nnamdi for poor play (remember his game against the Giants and Victor Cruz). He’s been rejuvenated this year at camp, as expected, and I have no worries that he’ll regain his Pro Bowl form this season.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cornerback:
Dominique Rodgers Cromartie’s story is a poorer man’s version of Nnamdi Asomugha’s: a former great who turned in a very disappointing year, although he was used incorrectly, in his first year in Philadelphia, who is expected to rebound with a strong 2012 season that solidify him as a starting cornerback for the next half decade.
Brandon Boykin, Cornerback:
I can’t stop from comparing Boykin to Curtis Marsh as an example of how much better the Eagles drafted in 2012 than in 2011. Boykin was selected in the fourth round and could probably start for a poor team this year. He’s also a dynamic return man and is in competition for the nickel cornerback spot during training camp. Marsh, a third round pick in 2011, played in exactly 12 plays as a rookie and was an absolute disaster on special teams, losing a fumble on a failed punt return in consecutive weeks late in the season.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.