The Philadelphia Eagles committed to revamping their offense this offseason, after a postseason loss that saw Carson Wentz throwing to three wide receivers that were on the practice squad earlier in the season — needless to say there were a lot of injuries. Philadelphia started by making changes to the coaching staff, bringing in former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as a senior offensive assistant and promoting Press Taylor to passing game coordinator, giving the offense a new look and new concepts for 2020.
Philadelphia committed to adding speed on both sides of the ball this offseason. On offense, the Eagles acquired Marquise Goodwin in a trade, drafted Jalen Reagor in the first round of the 2020 draft — while adding John Hightower and Quez Watkins on Day 3 of the draft. On defense, the Eagles acquired Darius Slay — giving the franchise the No. 1 cornerback they haven’t possessed since Asante Samuel in 2011. Philadelphia also added Will Parks in free agency while moving Jalen Mills over to safety and drafting K’Von Wallace. They also added Nickell Robey-Coleman in free agency in an effort to restructure the secondary. Javon Hargrave was added to the defensive line and Philadelphia added more speed at linebacker with the selections of Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley in the draft.
Let’s not forget the controversial Jalen Hurts pick in the second round. Hurts isn’t the heir apparent to Wentz, but the franchise felt the need to develop a quarterback as a capable No. 2 in case Wentz goes down with an injury again — while also using him as part of a gadget package and adding some wrinkles to the offense.
Whether the Eagles are Super Bowl contenders or not is another story, but this team will go as far as Wentz takes them. As Eagles fans saw last year, Wentz played the best football of his career when the deck wasn’t stacked in his favor. What’s going to happen now that he has a contingent of reliable skill players that can make big plays and stretch the field?
The Eagles are going to look different in 2020, but at least they are trying to evolve from good to great — which is hard for many NFL teams to accomplish. Having an excellent offensive mind in Doug Pederson and a franchise quarterback in Wentz certainly is a step toward accomplishing this task.
How will the new-look Eagles stack up in 2020? We take a look at the depth chart as the team would be in the heart of minicamp. The virtual offseason hurts the young players’ chances to make a move up the depth chart, and any undrafted rookies an opportunity to get on the radar heading into training camp.
For the purpose of this depth chart projection, we will be projecting up to the top-four at any given position. The Eagles, like all 32 teams, have a bloated roster at the moment that is nearing the triple-digit mark — but come September, that number will drop significantly when the coaches settle in on the 53-man roster.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
Here’s how the Eagles depth chart looks heading into the summer:
What the Eagles offensive game plan is in 2020 is a complete unknown, but this year’s unit is built on the vertical passing game and big plays downfield for Wentz. The Eagles have a wide receiver group that competes with the Kansas City Chiefs for the fastest in the NFL with Jackson, Reagor, Hightower and Goodwin — and Watkins shouldn’t be excluded either. A combination of these five would make for an excellent 4×100 relay team, but how are they going to factor in providing big plays for the offense?
Jackson may be 33 years old, but he’s still one of the game’s best deep-ball wideouts when healthy. The Eagles missed a huge part of their offense in the 13 games Jackson missed last season and now they have reinforcements in case Jackson misses time. Reagor can line up at the “Z” to relieve Jackson, but Philadelphia would prefer to have both speedsters on the field — keeping Reagor in the slot to create more yards after the catch and provide a 20-plus yard threat between the hashmarks for Wentz, similar to how the Chiefs line up Demarcus Robinson or Tyreek Hill.
Goodwin will have to compete for a roster spot, but he can line up in the slot or at the “Z,” forcing defenses to respect his speed when he’s on the field. A package of plays will be set for him this preseason, as his roster spot isn’t guaranteed with Hightower, Watkins and Ward on the roster. The Eagles still need a possession receiver and Ward was a reliable target for Wentz down the stretch last December, so that bodes merit in him making this team.
Hightower adds speed on the outside, which also elevates the vertical passing game. He’s a very good deep ball target that can give a different look to the “X” when Jeffery and Arcega-Whiteside are off the field. When Jeffery comes back (LisFranc surgery) is the biggest question mark for the Eagles offense, meaning Arcega-Whiteside will have to improve on a poor rookie season. Arcega-Whiteside will earn an opportunity to contribute in the “X,” and be a red zone target when the Eagles get inside the 20. Don’t expect the long and tedious 12-to-14 play drives that led to touchdowns as often in 2020.
Running back is pretty much set in stone, as Sanders is set to become the featured back in the running back-by-committee approach. The Eagles will look to keep him on the field as much as they can. Scott will contribute to this offense in the Darren Sproles-role, as his elusiveness was vital toward the Eagles clinching the NFC East last year. Scott is going to make an impact in the passing game as an excellent underneath option. His success was no fluke last December. The Eagles could add a veteran running back as the No. 3 (LeSean McCoy perhaps?) as injuries have hurt Clement’s career and Holyfield will get an opportunity to earn a spot as a power back on this roster (should the Eagles decide to go that route). No minicamp hurts Adrian Killins and Michael Warren, but both should see plenty of action in the preseason. Watch out for Killins to steal a roster spot.
Dillard gets his shot as the franchise left tackle, even if the Eagles decide to bring back Jason Peters. The offensive line is set in stone, but Philadelphia could use an experienced backup at tackle. Back injuries have stunted Mailata’s development and Wanogho is just a rookie (even though he appears to have the tools to be a starting left tackle). Pryor occupies both backup guard spots as his versatility is valuable to the Eagles, but he will have competition in Driscoll — who can slide in behind Seumalo at left guard and take some food off Pryor’s plate. Driscoll can also play right tackle as the No. 2 behind Johnson. Seumalo is the backup center behind Kelce, even though Herbig and Render are listed on the depth chart. If Seumalo has to move to center, Pryor goes to left guard.
The Eagles added plenty of speed on defense as they revamped their secondary in order to prevent big plays. Per Sharp Football Stats, the Eagles were 17th in explosive pass rate last season — which is why Slay was brought in to be the No. 1 cornerback and Mills was moved to safety. The Eagles have one of the best cornerbacks in the game on one side of the ball, but who starts opposite of Slay will be the training camp battle to watch. Jones gets the edge here based on how well he performed late last season and the big plays he made in key situations. Jones has the speed and physical traits to be a very good cornerback, but injuries have set him back. This is the “prove it” year for Jones.
Maddox was one of the best slot corners in the league his rookie season but took a step back in year two. With Robey-Coleman and LeBlanc excelling in the slot, the Eagles can play Maddox strictly on the outside (if they wish) — as he’ll compete with Jones for that starting spot. Maddox’s versatility is valuable to the Eagles (who like to put five defensive backs on the field), so there will be room for him at cornerback and safety. Douglas may be the odd man out here, especially if Williams (who has started 27 games in four seasons) beats him for a spot on the roster.
Mills going to safety changes things up for the Eagles, who controversially released Malcolm Jenkins. McLeod has one of the starting spots locked up, so Mills gets the first look at safety based on his knowledge of the defense. Parks can play both safety positions and will compete with Mills for his spot. The Eagles will find ways to involve Parks in the defense, as his inclusion in the secondary will prevent big plays. Wallace will also see time in this secondary, as training camp will be an indicator how he’s progressed with the lack of a true offseason. He has the potential to start Week 1.
Linebacker is different for the Eagles in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Philadelphia typically plays just two linebackers 75-to-80% of the snaps, leaving Edwards as the man with the most experience in the middle and Riley at the outside backer spot. Both players performed well down the stretch last season and will get the opportunity to showcase their talents in 2020. The Eagles really like Edwards, who has a knack for finding the football and an executing at the tackle point. He’ll be the Nigel Bradham replacement.
Taylor is fast but needs some seasoning on the outside — so his snaps may be limited early in the year. Him and Bradley will see significant reps on special teams but will contribute to this group going forward. Riley has plenty of talent, but hasn’t had the opportunity for consistent playing time. The Eagles pass coverage was much better when Riley earned more snaps last year and he’s earned the opportunity to start. Let’s not forget Gerry, who should have one of the two starting jobs locked up — but will be challenged by Riley. Gerry, a converted safety, has become one of the better coverage linebackers in the league.
Not much will change on the defensive line, as Hargrave and Cox start at defensive tackle and Graham and Barnett have the edge on lock. Where does that leave Jackson? The Eagles will rotate their tackles and ends, as Jackson can give Cox a breather as a pass-rushing specialist on the interior — but can also line up on the edge as a No. 3 pass rusher. The Eagles were going to use Jackson on the edge last year, but a LisFranc injury cost him the 2019 season after just one game. Sweat played exceptionally well as a rotational end last year, so he is promoted to No. 3. As a situational pass rusher, Sweat’s job will be to get to the quarterback consistently — but he also performed well against the run.
Avery and Miller will battle for playing time as Philadelphia used last season to develop both ends. If Miller takes the same steps in 2020 as Sweat did in 2019, the Eagles will have an excellent speed rusher off the edge. Avery was acquired for a 2021 fourth-round pick, so he’ll have every opportunity to earn playing time on the edge.
Not much changes on special teams as the Eagles made sure Elliott is their kicker and Johnston their punter for 2020 and beyond. Johnson is a restricted free agent after this season but appears due for an extension based on his performance in the last two years. Lovato will also be the long snapper for the next several seasons, keeping the continuity in the kicking and punting game.
As the feature back, Sanders may relinquish kick returning duties this year — so Scott may get the opportunity at the job (he returned kicks in 2018). Watkins and Reagor also have experience returning kicks, but Scott and Clement have the NFL experience. Don’t sleep on Hightower earning this spot either, as he averaged 24.6 yards per return with a touchdown last season for Boise State. Scott appears to be the natural fit to return kicks if the Eagles decide not to have Sanders do it this year.
Scott appears to be the front runner at punt returner as well, but Reagor was an explosive punt returner at TCU. This may be the opportunity for Philadelphia to get Reagor on the field more than a package of plays at wide receiver in the early part of the season. If the Eagles go with experience, Scott earns this spot.