A roster that has been heralded as largely remaining "intact" from 2011 has, when all is said and done, nearly one-third of its members from a rookie class that is expected to step in right away and help. How much help can the Eagles reasonably expect?
I remember a time not that long ago when Andy Reid was chided for not playing his rookies enough. Nobody can say that now, eh?
Anyway, that's not the point here. The point is to illustrate how remarkable the youth on this roster is and how much the Eagles are counting on their kids. So, in alphabetical order, here is the rookie class and what they may or may not give to the Eagles this season ...
BRANDON BOYKIN, cornerback/kick returner
Clearly, there is a lot riding on
The Eagles know that offenses are going to try to tie Boykin up in traffic and in misdirection. He's got to see through the forest to get to the trees, if that analogy works. It's not going to be easy for Boykin, who isn't going to back down.
At the same time, he's going to be the team's kickoff return man. Now, in today's NFL there are very few opportunities to return kickoffs, but Boykin will be the guy when the kickoffs are short enough to return. He showed in the preseason that he has a burst and the speed to get to the edge. The Eagles, for the first time in some time, have a threat in the kickoff return game.
BRYCE BROWN, running back
The young man who played very sparingly in college made enough of an impact in the spring and summer to be a no-doubt-about-it member of this 53-man roster. Bryce Brown brings to the table a blend of power and size and speed and you can understand that the upside to be quite a back in the NFL is there. He has some major ability.
Now ... can Brown put it all together as a rookie and contribute? He's listed as the third-team running back behind
FLETCHER COX, defensive tackle
The team's first-round draft pick in April,
In fact, when the Eagles use
VINNY CURRY, defensive end
Quick off the ball, relentless with his work ethic,
The Eagles have six defensive ends and Curry appears to be No. 6. Will he dress on game days? That remains to be seen. Curry has to stay sharp and work on his technique and prepare for when his name is called.
NICK FOLES, quarterback
The future is bright for
At the moment, Foles is listed behind
DAMARIS JOHNSON, wide receiver/punt returner
Undrafted in April,
Johnson isn't the fastest guy on the field, but he's extremely quick and he has a natural ability to catch the ball and to run in and out of his routes very, very fast.
Johnson has a place in the NFL. The speed of the game goes up a notch in the regular season, so the next test is to see Johnson take his game up another gear.
DENNIS KELLY, offensive lineman
Why does it seem likely that
Kelly reminds some of a rookie version of
MYCHAL KENDRICKS, linebacker
OK, so we've all watched
Kendricks has special qualities and skills. He's going to make mistakes, but he's going to make them moving 100 mph. Kendricks has some major tight ends coming down the pike this season, but he has already shown good coverage skills and a great nose for the football.
It's been a long time since the Eagles drafted a great linebacker. Could Kendricks be the next one?
NATE MENKIN, offensive lineman
Claimed off of waivers from the Texans over the weekend,
It's hard to say what the Eagles have planned for him, but given the uncertainty of the depth behind the starters along the offensive line, who knows? Mudd likes athletes and Menkin certainly is an athlete. He showed a lot of good things in Houston in the preseason. Now he's here and the Eagles want to see him develop quickly over the course of the season.
CHRIS POLK, running back
The big, bruising running back from Washington came on strong in the preseason and won himself a roster spot. Now where does
Polk is the fourth of four halfbacks on the roster and his physical style is unique here. Can the Eagles dress four halfbacks? Can Polk do enough on special teams to dress on game days?