Eagles Outlook: 10 Players That Could be Affected by Condensed Roster
To protect against a potential outbreak amid a pandemic, the NFL and NFL Players Association are in talks to minimize training camp rosters from 90 to 75-80 players. This unprecedented move would negatively impact teams and players alike, from lack of practice bodies to fringe players deprived of an opportunity to compete for a spot on an NFL roster. Let's take a look at ten Eagles who could find themselves on the outside looking in.
QB Kyle Lauletta
A fourth-round pick of the New York Giants in 2018 following a decorated career at the University of Richmond, Lauletta spent his rookie season in East Rutherford before landing on the Eagles' practice squad last September. While the Exton, PA, native is considered a longshot to unseat Nate Sudfeld, it will be interesting to see where he stands from a developmental standpoint. The 25-year-old quarterback is a prime example of a young player perfectly positioned to showcase his talents to the rest of the league.
RB Mike Warren
In recent episodes of the Inside the Birds podcast, Adam Caplan mentioned that the Eagles would like to take a long look at second-year running back Elijah Holyfield. Although Warren is an upside-laden rookie with a diverse skill set, the inevitable roster downsizing might not allow the team to carry five running backs. Warren, a highly coveted undrafted free agent, rushed for a combined 2,594 yards from over the past two seasons.
RB Adrian Killins Jr.
The diminutive runner can flat-out fly but could find himself in an early numbers crunch if teams are forced to trim training camp rosters. In the mold of Dexter McCluster, Killins possesses explosive traits in the open field and could potentially boost a sluggish return game if he can stick around long enough to make an impact.
WR Deontay Burnett
Still just 22 years old despite spending parts of the past two seasons with four NFL clubs, Burnett was another practice squad call-up pressed into duty late in the season. Playing in two games, Burnett yielded three receptions for 53 yards on five targets. Despite his youth and college pedigree, the USC product finds himself at the bottom of the pecking order entering training camp and could be onto his fifth team in a matter of weeks.
WR Shelton Gibson
Gibson enters his fourth training camp in Philadelphia. After spending the better part of last season on the Cleveland Browns' practice squad, the Eagles pried Gibson away on Jan. 1 for the playoff matchup. To put the Eagles' sheer lack of depth at the wide receiver into perspective, Josh McCown heaved a deep ball in Gibson's direction late in the game.
While Gibson is known more for his special teams acumen, the West Virginia speedster has never been able to take the next step in his progression and contribute to the offense. The next few weeks could spell the end for Gibson's Eagles' tenure.
DE Joe Ostman
A favorite of the coaching staff for his effort and practice habits, Ostman was merely weeks away from cementing a roster spot last summer. A torn ACL sustained in open practice last August ultimately rendered him an afterthought, however.
Ostman, who sports a squatty, unconventional build for a defensive lineman, seemingly has been replaced by Genard Avery on the roster. Nearly a year removed from knee surgery, it will be interesting to see whether the Eagles view the third-year pro as a legitimate contender for a roster spot this time around.
DT Albert Huggins
In a matter of months, the Eagles went from Fletcher Cox and a cast of unknowns to perhaps the most formidable interior trio in football with Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Malik Jackson. Huggins, who played 44 snaps over four games in 2019, currently sits behind Hassan Ridgeway, Anthony Rush, and Raequan Williams on the depth chart.
LB Dante Olson
If Olson ran a better 40-yard dash time in Indianapolis, he likely hears his name called on draft weekend. Still, the 2019 Buck Buchanan Award winner and Montana's all-time leading tackler could find himself caught in a numbers game in Philadelphia. What the 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker lacks in overall athleticism, he more than makes up for with his football IQ and ability to rapidly read and diagnose plays. The FCS standout has the makings of a core special teams contributor as a rookie.
CB Grayland Arnold
Arnold is another unheralded player that, had this been a traditional training camp, makes a convincing case for a roster spot. Arnold took the Big-12 by storm last season, notching 46 tackles, six interceptions, and a sack. Besides his plus ball skills, the Baylor product boasts the versatility to align anywhere on the back end. Had Arnold not opted to forego his senior season, he likely hears his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft.
CB Prince Smith
The Philadelphia native is a long shot but possesses an enticing skill set that warrants an extended look this summer. Smith amassed 64 tackles (2.0 for loss), seven passes defended, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles in his senior season at New Hampshire. Smith's grittiness, instincts, and impressive recovery speed make him a player worth monitoring in training camp.