The Organized Team Activities (OTAs) portion of the offseason is over. Players don't wear pads, and there isn't any contact, so this is worlds away from real football. Still, there are some things you can take away from the 10 practice sessions.
1. Wentz On The Mend
Carson Wentz was limited in the OTAs, but he did enough to show that he's made tremendous progress. If you compare him to Sam Bradford from a few years back, Wentz is well ahead of his ACL recovery. Go back to 2007 and Wentz is about where Donovan McNabb was at this point in the offseason. The difference is that Wentz suffered his injury a month later. That's impressive.
The young quarterback looked terrific in individual drills. He fired the football around the field, showing outstanding velocity on his throws. He looked natural dropping back and moving around. Wentz even had some participation in 7-on-7 drills. He is doing everything he can to get back to 100 percent so he can fully practice.
Wentz wants to be the starter when the season opens. There was some question about that back in December and January. Wentz had a long rehab ahead of him and it was fair to question if he could be ready to go by September. ACL injuries are no joke. Ligaments take time to heal.
2. Cornering The Market
The Eagles have a lot of options in the secondary. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby started outside last year. Both saw time outside and in the slot in the OTAs. De'Vante Bausby got everyone's attention with how well he played, primarily in the slot. You still have Sidney Jones trying to find his spot. He played both in the slot and outside, and is talented enough to handle either role. Rookie Avonte Maddox had some impressive moments and showed that he would battle for playing time. Second-year corner Rasul Douglas made his share of good plays.
Cornerback was a turnstile position for years. The Eagles are deep and talented now. They can mix and match players to find the best combination. There is going to be tremendous competition in Training Camp as these players battle for jobs.
Going back to Bausby for a moment, he's a fascinating story. He spent last year on the practice squad. Bausby worked well behind the scenes, waiting for his chance to get on the field and show what he can do. Bausby is getting that chance this spring, and he's proving to be a talented player.
3. The Rookie Is For Real
Tight end Dallas Goedert might be a rookie, but he has excellent hands and looks like he can be a weapon in the passing game. Goedert caught just about everything that came his way, as the cliché goes.
Goedert impressed in the OTAs, showing he could get open and is a gifted receiver. The real test for Goedert will come when the pads go on. Tight ends must be physical players, whether trying to get open or blocking in the run game.
The Eagles need Goedert to play well. That would give them the freedom to move Zach Ertz around. If Goedert proves to be at least functional, that opens up different plays and formations for the coaches. They can get even more creative.
4. Young LBs Emerging
Kamu Grugier-Hill has been a stud on special teams for the past two seasons. This might finally be the year he breaks through and plays some on defense.
The release of Mychal Kendricks means that the weakside linebacker spot is open. Corey Nelson was signed in free agency to take the job, but Grugier-Hill looked good in the OTAs and is throwing his name into the mix.
Grugier-Hill is a terrific athlete. He needs to show that he has the instincts to play on defense. He'll also need to prove he can handle blockers when Training Camp starts. Grugier-Hill used his athleticism to fly around the field and make plays over the past few weeks.
Second-year linebacker Nate Gerry is also trying to make his case for playing time. He was mostly on special teams as a rookie, but did play in the season finale and showed real promise. At the very least, Grugier-Hill and Gerry give the Eagles good depth on the outside.
5. Upgrade At Receiver?
Mike Wallace made some impressive plays in the OTAs. He has the same kind of speed that Torrey Smith had last year, but better hands and more overall talent. It is scary to think that the offense could be more explosive with even better receiver play in 2018.
As good as the Eagles were last year, they left points on the field. The vertical passing game was too erratic, with both Wentz and his receivers sharing the blame. If they get better this year, watch out.
2018 OTA Phase 3 Practice: June 7
Get a look at the Eagles' OTA practice on June 7, 2018.
6. UDFA To Watch
When Fran Duffy speaks, people listen. Fran had a lot of good things to say about undrafted free agent Joe Ostman. The rookie defensive end doesn't care about his size, draft status, or anything else. He attacks up the field and relentlessly goes after the quarterback.
That's the mindset rookies need. Forget about external factors and focus on what you control. Play with a sense of urgency. Make plays and get the coaches attention. Ostman did that on Thursday as he came up with multiple sacks.
7. The Convert
Rookie Jordan Mailata is making the conversion from rugby star to football player. The Eagles are having him play offensive tackle.
The Eagles love his size and potential, but there is no denying that he's got a long way to go. This game is all new to Mailata, and it shows at times. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is tough on his biggest pupil, but that's precisely what Mailata needs if he's going to turn into a quality football player.