The Philadelphia Eagles are off to one of their best starts in recent memory and there is already a whirlwind of excitement sweeping over the city and their fans. Carson Wentz is playing like an MVP candidate, the defensive line is bringing the hurt on every play and the team is playing a hardnosed, gritty style of football that Eagles fans adore.
One of the most underrated and unheralded aspects to Philly’s success so far had been the solid play of their rookie class. Some have performed better than others, but almost all of them have been thrusted into vital roles right away. Sometimes just doing your individual jobs is all it takes to help a team win and these Eagles rookies have been doing just that.
A select number of Eagles rookies have stepped up to the point that they are becoming more and more known throughout the fanbase and viewers. Here are some Eagles rookies that have established their roles thus far.
New to the Nest: Eagles Rookie Report
Jake Elliott has not only been arguably the most surprising rookie this season for the Birds but he has become one of the surest parts of the offense. After being signed off the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad after week one, the young kicker has been fantastic.
He is 12 for 14 on field goals, including six for six on field goals of 40 plus yards and three of four on field goals of 50 plus yards. He has converted 13 extra point opportunities, with zero blocked kicks, and has 17 touchbacks on 30 kickoffs.
He has made a huge presence in the offense, literally deciding games sometimes. In Week three, his 61-yard field goal as time expired propelled the Eagles to a victory. Now that he has become consistent and reliable, it has taken a load of Doug Pederson’s shoulders and made fourth down play calling much easier thinking. He has stepped up in an unannounced way that is better than anyone expected of the rookie.
The first-year cornerback out of West Virginia has loomed big in the Eagles improved secondary. When cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jaylen Watkins and safety Rodney McLeod went down with injuries, the unproven Rasul Douglas stepped in as the corner opposite Jalen Mills and did well.
Going up against top wide outs Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr. and Larry Fitzgerald, Douglas held his own and even did a great job to limit Hill and Fitzgerald to non-factors. To date, he has six passes defended, two interceptions and has played with an extra bit of aggressiveness that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves.
With the absence of the team’s big corners, Douglas has stepped up and helped keep the ship afloat.
The Eagles first round pick hasn’t made shockwaves through the league yet, but the young defensive end is learning and growing into his own and taking small steps at a time.
One of the biggest things for Derek Barnett to learn as a rookie was to learn multiple moves and techniques to beat a left tackle. He has been working all season with Jason Peters to get better and this has helped him become a force on the end. All season so far, he has done a great job of adding pressure to the pocket. He has natural strength to put pressure on the line and this has payed off well by opening Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox more to make plays.
He finally got his first sack on Cam Newton last week so he broke into the stat sheet, but it’s going to be slow learning process for Barnett. He already does a good job on the line with his aggressive forceful game and soon he will be great.
The undrafted running back has immediately stepped in and has been given ample opportunities to contribute. Corey Clement was added to the preseason roster with a crowded running back corps and he impressed enough to make the roster with four other backs out of training camp.
As Donnel Pumphrey tore his hamstring and Darren Sproles tore his ACL and broke his arm, Clement was quickly moved up to number three in the depth chart. Since the Eagles like to work in multiple backs in each game, Clement has already gotten 25 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown. He has been a nice spell for LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood and his usage has gone up over time.
While he hasn’t gotten a ton of carries or usage each game, he has performed well and not made mistakes. If more injuries occur to the running back corps, he will be a nice player to fill more of a role.
Honorable Mention: Mack Hollins
Mack Hollins, the team’s fourth-round pick, has been buried on the deep wide receiver depth chart to start the season, but he has caught all five of his targets for 70 yards. His biggest impact has been on special teams’ coverage, where he has made a nice impact. In college, he was a great special teams’ specialist on coverage units. Unless there are more injuries to wide receivers, he should make his biggest impact in special teams.