Philadelphia Eagles News

Rookies Moving Up Depth Chart

That the Eagles watched the replay of Friday night's preseason game against New England over and over again and then made the decisions to bump Bennie Logan, the team's third-round draft pick, up to the first-team defensive line for Monday's practice and elevate Earl Wolff, a fifth-round pick, to the role of first-team safety. The message sent here is that jobs are won and lost on the field, on the basis of performance, and that the coaches want to take a long, long look at the kids in first-team roles.

How long Logan and Wolff hang on to the assignment is entirely up to them. Logan, for his part, said after practice on Monday that he was not going to be "too comfortable" in the role, understanding that it's one thing to ascend to this position and another entirely to hold on for the long term.

"I'm on the first team now and I think some people may get to this point and slack back. I'm not going to do that," said Logan. "I'm going with the mindset that I'm still on the second- or third-team defense. I still have to be hungry and stay humble and play hard on every snap and improve and work on my craft."

In the big picture here, from this perspective, is the rapid rise of the 2013 Rookie Class, one that the Eagles felt very good about in April and that still they still love after a deeper look. First-round draft pick Lane Johnson is starting at right tackle and emerged from his preseason debut with flying colors and the highest grades of any offensive lineman. Second-round pick Zach Ertz has been a smooth pass catcher and explosive route runner who has gotten a ton of reps from the moment he walked into Training Camp.

Logan is taking reps as a starter. Fourth-round draft pick Matt Barkley caught up with the tempo of his first preseason action at the quarterback position and came on strong against New England. Wolff is making a serious run at a starting job.

That's five players who have a chance to play a lot through the preseason and earn some playing time -- major playing time for most -- when the regular season rolls around.

It isn't as if the Eagles made it easy for the rookies. The truth is, as Bill Davis said about his approach on rookies as far as the defense goes, the kids have earned every rep they've gotten.

"I believe when you start, they should start at the bottom and they should earn their way up.  It doesn't take long for the better players to push their way up," said Davis. "It comes from the basis that the vets have been here and worked at it, someone's got to take it from them before you anoint somebody. 

"But a lot of times you see the talented young guys come up, they take it pretty quick. When it's time, you've seen it, they've earned it, then they come up."

The roster has had significant turnover since the end of the 2012 season, with more to come. The last two draft classes form the young core the Eagles hope grows into greatness in the near future, with some sizeable help from veterans like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, much of the offensive line ad a handful of pieces on defense.

To build into a contender once again, the Eagles need their kids to develop into quality players. They have some of the players from last year's draft class like defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, defensive lineman Vinny Curry (if he continues to play as he did on Friday night), quarterback Nick Foles, cornerback Brandon Boykin and running back Bryce Brown.

Add in the handful -- more like a large scoopful -- of draft picks from this past April already forcing their way into the rotation and the Eagles are developing a strong base from which to build.

This is how it must be for a team transitioning its coaching staff and overhauling its roster. The Eagles need to continue to find out what they have here and who they want to be part of the immediate future.

Certainly, the promotions for Logan and Wolff signify a salute to the good work those two players have done early in their careers. Johnson is off to a dominating start at right tackle. Ertz has a lot of promise as a new-age tight end.

And so, early in camp, the draft class has spoken volumes. The next step is to see how the rookies handle the increased reps and the added pressure of playing with the front-line Eagles.

"I don't feel like I'm jumping ahead of myself at all," said Wolff. "One day at a time. I hear it all the time. One day and one practice at a time and hopefully I'll be where I want to be."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising