Every week, the writers of PhiladelphiaEagles.com will address an important question pertaining to the team.
This week: What's the top storyline to watch in Training Camp?
Dave Spadaro: The Free Agent Class
We won't know for sure how much an impact the free agent class will have until the regular season begins, but there is no doubt that we will get a true taste of the possibilities. The Eagles overhauled the wide receiver position by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, added Chance Warmack and retained Stefen Wisniewski to bolster the offensive line, made a late splash by adding power running back LeGarrette Blount, and upgraded the backup quarterback position with the Chase Daniel-leaves-and-Nick Foles-returns sequence.
Good stuff on that side of the football, for sure.
Over on the defense, the Eagles swapped third-round draft choices with Baltimore and added defensive tackle Tim Jernigan who just looks like he's made for the Jim Schwartz defense, which emphasizes a get-off-the-ball-and-get-up-the-field mentality. Veteran defensive end Chris Long is a nice piece for a changed group. Patrick Robinson is here on a one-year deal with every chance in the world to get some stability going in his career and win a starting cornerback job.
Those are a lot of newcomers for, potentially in some cases, extremely important roles. Jeffery and Smith are expected to add a lot to the wide receivers, a group that was not nearly as productive as needed in 2016. Jernigan lines up next to Fletcher Cox and is needed to be an impact player there. Blount, of course, needs to get first downs and keep the chains moving and score touchdowns inside the 10-yard line.
What the Eagles did in the offseason was to add all of these players, not risk their flexibility for the future in the salary cap, and at the same time retain the core of the roster. They added more experience and at the same time kept a promising younger part of the 90-man roster intact.
2017 Training Camp is officially underway. Check out all of the photos from the first day of action in South Philadelphia.
Chris McPherson: The Development Of Carson Wentz
At this time a year ago, Carson Wentz was No. 3 on the depth chart, expected to essentially redshirt his first NFL season.
Well, we all know what happened.
The Eagles are a year ahead of schedule with Wentz getting a full slate of 16 regular-season games under his belt. He gave Eagles fans plenty of reason to be excited about the future. He has embraced the role of being the franchise quarterback and all that entails, which is just as important - maybe even more so - than all of the statistical achievements from a year ago.
There is no doubt that Wentz is the leader of this team. It speaks volumes that he hosted a number of the pass catchers for workouts in Fargo, North Dakota prior to Training Camp.
Where should we expect Wentz to make the most improvement?
Much ado was made about his mechanics, but the two areas I'm focusing on are: 1. His ability to win before the snap of the ball, and 2. Testing defenses vertically on a more regular basis.
Wentz was very advanced when it came to his command of the playbook as a rookie. His attention to detail and love of film study should allow him to diagnose defenses even faster than he did last season.
Spadaro's point about the free agents should allow him to utilize his strong arm. When shot plays were called last season, too often there was leakage in protection or guys weren't open. The improvements along the offensive line, at wide receiver, and even running back should allow Wentz to throw the ball deep more often in 2017.
If the defense plays at the same level as a year ago, and I certainly believe it will be even better, then Wentz will be the key in helping the Eagles improve in Doug Pederson's second season as head coach.
Fran Duffy: The Battle At Cornerback
The number one thing I'll be paying attention to will absolutely be the cornerback position.
The Eagles will open the season with two new starting corners for the third time in five years, and fans are excited to see which pairing will take up the starting mantle at the end of camp. Will rookie third-round pick Rasul Douglas build off a promising spring and ride that momentum into the summer? Will Jalen Mills continue his progression after seeing a ton of playing time on the outside in 2016? How will newly signed veteran Patrick Robinson fit into the rotation? Can second-year corner C.J. Smith take the next step?
With the competition (and heat) turning up a notch since we last saw this team during minicamp, it will be very interesting to see who stands out among the rest, not only in team drills but also in the one-on-one portions of practice when this position lines up against a much-improved wide receiver corps. Without question for me, the biggest storyline in the early parts of summer is this group of corners.