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2020 Eagles Draft Class is a big part of '21 picture

Jalen Hurts 1920 082121

As Head Coach Nick Sirianni sees it, every joint practice session represents a preseason game, so by his count the Eagles have played four times in August. There are more practice sessions with the Jets on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by Friday's preseason closer. At the end of it all, the Eagles will have played seven "games," by Sirianni's count, prior to the roster cutdown to 53 active players.

That is ample opportunity to give every player on the roster a fair chance to represent himself. And that's all any player vying for a spot in the NFL can ask of in this mad dash for a roster position.

That's the underlying feeling in the aftermath of Thursday's preseason loss to the Patriots. That the score was 35-0 made it all the more unpleasant, but that's preseason life in the league. It can get ugly out there, as the Eagles found out. In no way did that poor performance define them.

A final week of the preseason beckons. By August 31 at 4 PM, the Eagles will have their mandate to be at the 53-man roster limit. A lot is going to give in the next 10 days.

What won't change is the way the team looks at its 2020 Draft Class and the importance of that group of players, collectively and individually, in 2021. The Eagles need last year's draft class to contribute now, and it is on schedule to do just that. Let's take a look ...

WR Jalen Reagor

The first-round draft pick has been consistently productive this summer and is clearly a better player than he was a year ago. Reagor is explosive and powerful and he's going to be a big part of the offensive game plan in 2021. How it all works out with the young wide receiver corps remains to be seen exactly, but you can be sure the coaching staff is leaning on Reagor as he stacks strong days back to back to back. Injuries limited Reagor last year. Now he is healthy – fingers crossed – and making the big jump from Year 1 to Year 2.

QB Jalen Hurts

It was so disappointing that Hurts fell ill prior to Thursday's preseason game because he had been playing such good football in the joint practices with New England. You could really see Hurts improve his timing and play the position with great confidence. The Eagles have their open-to-the-public practice on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field and then the big week against the Jets. Hurts is expected to be just fine by the time the Eagles take the road trip. A truly versatile threat, Hurts wants a big week to finish out his preseason.

LB Davion Taylor

Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon has been so high on Taylor, who was showing a lot of improvement until suffering a calf injury in Training Camp. Can he pick up where he left off? Taylor needs every rep he can get given his lack of past playing experience – he didn't play games in high school – and the Eagles want to see where he's at to see if the mental part of the game is where it needs to be with such limited reps. Taylor is a great athlete and a fine prospect who will try to make up for lost time.

S K'Von Wallace

He looked good starting on Thursday until suffering a groin injury. How long before Wallace can get back on the field and compete for playing time? That's the real question here. Wallace has been limited with the groin injury, one that he originally injured earlier in camp. He played with excellent physicality and confidence against New England and then he suffered the injury. With Rodney McLeod still coming back from last year's knee injury, the Eagles need their young safety corps to be ready for action. Wallace was in position for that until re-injuring his groin.

OL Jack Driscoll

He isn't likely to start, but Driscoll is seen as a key reserve who can step in at guard and tackle and play well. He saw time as a rookie before being injured. Driscoll is smart and tough and a good athlete. His versatility is a plus as a sixth offensive line who can plug in and play at four positions up front.

WR John Hightower

Fast and a big-play maker who showed just a glimpse of his ability as a rookie, Hightower is healthy after a camp injury and is vying to make the roster at a crowded and talented position. This last week of work against the Jets and the preseason game is important for Hightower, who is going to have plenty of chances to gain notice.

WR Quez Watkins

One of the most improved players on the roster, Watkins has been a fine version of himself this summer playing both outside and inside at wide receiver. He added 8-9 pounds in the offseason, gaining strength throughout his body – he said his quads are much stronger than last year – and is a different player. Watkins gives the Eagles another weapon in the passing game. His level of consistency has grown this summer and he is firmly in the plans in the passing game. Watkins could be the fastest player on the roster. He has played like it this summer, witness the 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Pittsburgh in the first preseason game.

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