By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on June 29, 2014
Coming off of an NFC East title in 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles have had a very eventful offseason. The past few months have been highlighted by both notable losses (Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson) and notable additions (Mark Sanchez, Darren Sproles, Malcolm Jenkins). While Philadelphia’s 2014 draft didn’t grab the same kind of headlines, there are some interesting rookies to keep an eye on during the Eagles’ 2014 season.
Some saw the selection of Smith in the first round as a bit of a reach, but there is no denying that he fills a need. The Eagles need someone to alleviate some of the pass-rushing burden placed on Trent Cole. With Cole and Connor Barwin already manning the OLB spots in Philadelphia’s 3-4 defense, expect Smith to be used as a situational pass-rusher.
Like Smith, Matthews fills a need, especially in the wake of DeSean Jackson’s departure. But it is arguable the Eagles got a much better value with Matthews in the second round. Matthews figures to step in behind Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin as the Eagles’ slot receiver, and should put up good numbers in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Huff has a head start on most of his fellow rookies, since he is already very familiar with fellow former Oregon Duck Chip Kelly’s schemes. Huff should pair with Jordan Matthews to give the Eagles a pair of solid young receivers who should be able to create some mismatches in the slot.
Watkins is a part of the general makeover the Eagles did on their defensive backfield. In a group that includes Malcolm Jenkins, Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin, Watkins may not see much time on defense right away. However, he is very versatile, as he played numerous positions at Florida, something that will serve him well down the line.
Along with fellow rookie and college teammate Josh Huff, Hart should be comfortable in whatever role former college coach Chip Kelly places him in. Another addition to a team that needed more pass-rushing depth, Hart will likely play only sparingly in 2014.
Reynolds comes out of Stanford a bit raw, as he might have been better served by staying in school another year. Nevertheless, he is a great athlete with tremendous instincts and the Eagles will likely be able to find a place for him on special teams right away.
At 6-foot-2 and 333 pounds, Allen is not going to blow anybody away with his quickness or athleticism. But with his size and strength he will be able to plug some big holes. Allen has the potential to be a decent two-down run-stuffer a few years down the road.
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