Eagles Spring Stock Market Report
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — On any 90-man NFL offseason roster, there are blue-chip stocks and there are penny stocks.
And just like in the real world, there is equity to be made if you back the right horse, no matter if the pedigree is Wal-Mart or Disney or it's the little known nano-cap.
What follows is 973espn.com's annual spring stock market report which takes a look at the bulls and the bears through 12 offseason practices, nine on-field OTAs and three mandatory minicamp sessions, six of which were open to the media in their entirety.
TE Dallas Goedert - The Eagles probably have the best tight end duo in the sport with Pro Bowl receiving threat Zach Ertz and Goedert, the second-year player who looks like a well-rounded difference maker. The most impressive part of Goedert's game as a rookie was his blocking, a pleasant surprise because he just wasn't asked to do it all that much at South Dakota State. Coaches will tell you the biggest leap for any player usually comes between Years 1 and 2 and Goedert looked like a star in spring work, giving Doug Pederson a nice but interesting conundrum. Like most modern coaches, Pederson believes 11 personnel (three receivers, one tight end and one running back) is the best way to attack defenses but the presence of Ertz and Goedert is going to almost demand more 12 (two TEs).
WR DeSean Jackson - On paper Jackson seemed like a perfect fit for an offense which has lacked a consistent deep threat since he was jettisoned by Chip Kelly the first time. In shorts, all the good manifested itself as Carson Wentz and D-Jax developed almost instant chemistry and more than once Jackson was seen running past the Eagles' cornerbacks. At 32, if Jackson has lost a step, it wasn't noticeable this spring. About the only thing that could muck this up is traffic -- the volume is this offense is designed for Ertz and Alshon Jeffery -- so Jackson is going to have to be happy with limited touches for big gains.
CB Avonte Maddox - At 5-foot-9 Maddox isn't supposed to be an outside cornerback but all he does is make plays. The Pitt product is the most natural cover corner on the team and we will see how Jim Schwartz handles things in the summer when Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are back from rehabbing injuries but Maddox will be on the field, the only question is whether he's just the slot CB or he plays outside in the base defense and slides inside in the nickel defense.
RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai - With Brandon Brooks rehabbing his Achilles' tear and iffy for Week 1, the Eagles moved Vaitai inside to right guard during the spring for a couple of reasons. The team already knows what veteran backup Stefen Wisniewski can do and Vaitai at least replicates some of the size Brooks brings to the dance. Versatility, meanwhile, only increases value on the O-Line and if Brooks can meet his Week 1 goal perhaps Howie Roseman can peddle Vaitai for an asset in an OL-starved league.
DE Josh Sweat - I've said it a bunch. If you ask Hollywood to cast an NFL edge rusher they might come back with the rangy Sweat, a once high-level college recruit who nearly lost his career to a catastrophic knee injury during his final year in high school. Sweat saw limited action during his rookie campaign before being shut down with an ankle injury. Like the other sophomores on this list he feels much more comfortable this time around and seems to have outpaced Joe Ostman, who was getting most of the hype coming into the spring, as the potential replacement for Chris Long.
The Backup Quarterbacks - The Eagles kicked the Nick Foles' can down the road as far as they could and the league's best safety net is now in Jacksonville. As deep as Philadelphia is as a whole that no longer includes the QB position where Nate Sudfeld easily held off Cody Kessler and rookie Clayton Thorson as the presumptive backup in the spring but hardly looked great in doing so. Sudfeld holds onto the football far too long and needs to speed up his decision-making. Kessler, meanwhile, just did not show off NFL-level arm strength and Thorson is a developmental type who probably should spend a year on the practice squad but will likely get a redshirt year on the 53-man roster.
RB Miles Sanders - Sanders missed the entire spring with a hamstring issue, a far more important time for rookies than veterans, especially rookies expected to contribute like Sanders. While not a disaster by any means and Sanders will be a full go by training camp the late on-field start probably means Sanders will not be ready to contribute as the complementary back to Jordan Howard at least early in the season.
WR Mack Hollins - Hollins missed the entire 2018-19 campaign with a strange core injury that seemed to go backward after sports-hernia surgery un the prior offseason. He finally got back to doing some individual work by the end of the spring but time is running out for the third-year player in a receiving corps that added Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the offseason.
WR Shelton Gibson - Gibson is facing the same numbers crunch that Hollins is although he's been healthy. The problem With Gibson is he again failed to catch the ball consistently in the spring so his future is directly tied to Dave Fipp and special teams where he has proven to be a good gunner but that's a precarious position to be in.
Compensatory-Pick Conspirators - From the minute they were told the Eagles would likely get an extra fourth-round pick if they released free agent Andrew Sendejo, certain fans have been all aboard that train. The problem is that Schwartz really values the third safety role and Sendejo can actually play. In fact, he is a heck of a lot better than players like Tre Sullivan and Blake Countess.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen