We’re slowly witnessing a new page being turned in the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. Jason Peters and the Eagles have parted ways, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are bound to departure, Darren Sproles has retired, and it’s time for new players to step up and fill the void that these talented players are leaving. The Eagles could quickly find themselves in a rebuilding stage if young players fail to perform at a high level. It’s absolutely imperative that Eagles have a number of breakout players in 2020.
1) Andre Dillard
Dillard is now in the spotlight after the news of Jason Peters and is left with one of the most important roles in football. To put it in perspective as to how important left tackle really is, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, (yes, I had to google how to spell that) our current backup tackle, is in the market for $12 million/year. The importance of protecting a quarterback’s blind side cannot be stressed enough. And considering we’ll play Chase Young, Demarcus Lawrence, and many other talented pass rushers two times a year, Dillard needs to step up. And I really think he will. He showed flashes of excellence last year and is one of my favorite draft choices in recent memory. He has quick feet, a long reach, and has a beautiful kick-slide. He has the talent to fill Jason Peters’ shoes, but it’s always hard to follow up such an accomplished player such as Peters.
2) Dallas Goedert
When Ertz was struggling with injuries last year, Goedert assumed the role of TE1 and proved his value to the Philadelphia Eagles for years to come. I believe his play opened the eyes of some of the coaches and now more than ever, an emphasis will be put on 2 TE sets. And when the Eagles bolster their WR core, the middle of the field will open up for Goedert and Ertz. You have to remember that last year, teams were doubling Ertz and Goedert because of the lack of offensive firepower and they still managed to produce. I expect defenses to gameplan for Ertz, leaving the door open for Goedert to have a career year.
3) Nathan Gerry
The Eagles declined Bradham’s team option are now in a bit of a limbo at the linebacker position. With no proven players, it has become a hole in our roster and is a position of need. Joe Schobert and Blake Martinez highlight some of the free agent linebackers, but if history tells us one thing, it’s that the Eagles likely won’t sign a free agent linebacker. Gerry and Grugier-Hill both are candidates to break out, but I gave Gerry the edge because of his speed. Sideline to sideline linebackers are becoming more and more popular in today’s pass happy league and Gerry fits that prototype. If he can improve his tackling and physicality, the former safety from the University of Wisconsin can truly break out in the 2020 season.
4) Miles Sanders
This one is a bit of an anomaly on this list because unlike everyone else, Sanders has already proved himself among Eagles fans and coaches. The next step for Miles Sanders is proving himself to the world. His combination of running and pass catching is second to none and he has the ability to become a top 5 all around back in this league. A full season as a starter will only boost his stats, and I can’t wait to see what he can do next year.
5) Derek Barnett
Aside from a strip sack recovery, Barnett has underwhelmed as a high first round pick and has many people questioning his future in Philly after his rookie deal expires. One thing I love about him is that he was able to perform well in college without insane physical talent; he is just a very crafty and skillful player who knows how to get to the quarterback. He has experienced a plethora of small and persisting injuries throughout his young career, and a healthy 2020 campaign is crucial.
6) Josh Sweat
I must preface this by admitting my bias towards Josh Sweat. For whatever reason, I am a HUGE fan of Josh Sweat. I love how tall he is, how imposing he is, and how diverse his bag of tricks is. As a pass rusher, it’s important to have a mix between power and finesse and Sweat has both of those boxes checked. He played a limited amount of snaps last year and was able to sack the quarterback four times. With more snaps, I truly believe Sweat can break out in the 2020 season. The issue is that it’s going to be tough for him to get those snaps. The depth at defensive end is a good problem to have and Schwartz has done a good job at rotating all of his pass rushers to keep them fresh, but Sweat deserves more of an opportunity. However, if Barnett fails to stay on the field, Sweat could vulture some of his snaps and potentially “Wally Pipp” him.
Did I forget anyone? Let me know in the comments!