New head coach Nick Sirianni loves to preach about competition. So, naturally, when it comes to Eagles position battles in training camp, there are expected to be too many to count. For now, though, we can key in on four of them that seem to be the biggest. Those are at the quarterback, running back, and most importantly the left tackle positions. Jalen Hurts hasn’t ever been hit with his time at Alabama and Oklahoma, so most people will say that the left tackle spot will have the most attention from General Manager Roseman and Coach Sirianni. With that said, here the key Eagles position battles to watch for.
2021 Eagles Position Battles: Offense
QB: Jalen Hurts vs. Joe Flacco
GM Roseman and head coach Sirianni still haven’t anointed Hurts as the starter for the season, even though he will most likely be. Hurts will have to battle veteran Joe Flacco and undrafted free-agent Jamie Newman. Flacco (36) only played five games with the New York Jets last season after Sam Darnold was slammed onto his shoulder in a Week four loss versus the Broncos.
Flacco threw for 864 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions with a Qb rating of 80.6%. Roseman has repeatedly said the Eagles only had less than five games to evaluate Hurts after replacing Carson Wentz. Hurts will be given the chance to play all 17 games to prove that he can be their franchise QB. If not, they have four picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 Draft.
LT: Jordan Mailata vs. Andre Dillard
The Eagles moved up in the draft to get Dillard in 2019, so Roseman obviously sees he has a lot of potential. Surely the Eagle fans remember the Seahawks game when Dillard was benched in the second half of the game for having a terrible first half. Although two weeks prior he was able to contain Khalil Mack at left tackle. He will get his fair shot to protect Hurts.
Mailata got the chance to start at left tackle after former first-round pick Dillard hurt his bicep, which kept him out the entire 2020 season. He didn’t start off well at first, which was surprising since he is new to the sport of football. Mailata was born in Bankstown, Sydney, Australia. He grew up playing rugby for the Bankstorm Bulls.
After seeing clips of him playing rugby, NFL executives invited him to try out at the league’s International Player Pathway Program. Mailata admitted that his knowledge of the sport was minimal, and when asked what position he wanted to play, he said he wanted to play left tackle since he knew the position from the movie Blindside. Once gaining confidence and learning technique, he became one of the best tackles in the league. With size, you can’t teach, it looks like the Eagles found a gem in the seventh round of the 2020 draft.
Backup Running Backs: Boston Scott vs. Running back Room
Over the past two seasons, Scott was a valuable backup for Miles Sanders. He rushed for 374 yards and 1 touchdown. Despite Scott’s performance, the Eagles added Jordan Howard, Kenny Gainwell in the 2021 Draft, and signed former Lions 2018 second-round pick Kerryon Johnson. The Eagles will have five running backs battling it out for what looks like four spots.
The new staff is making it clear no one’s job is safe this season. Sanders and their draft pick Gainwell are the most likely to be guaranteed spots, and the team will surely be hoping they produce, but they are going into this with a competition mindset so the best man may win.
2021 Eagles Position Battles: Defense
The Eagles’ #1 cornerback, Darius Slay will be back at it again this season at no surprise. The major concern is who will fill the number 2 spot. There will be a heated competition taking place, mainly from the likes of Avonte Maddox and K’Von Wallace, and 2021 draft pick Zech McPhearson. Maddox has played in 35 games and started 23 for the Eagles in the past three seasons, so that gives him a leg-up.
Assuming he stays healthy, he will play a huge role on defense, and due to their desperate needs in the secondary, he most likely is their first choice for the #2 spot. McPhearson started his college career at Penn State before transferring to Texas Tech his last two years. He was an immediate standout, with four interceptions over 22 games. He has a great possibility to be a stand-out on defense. Wallace and Scott were both rookies last season and seem to be the two favorites in this position battle. We could see both players make a huge leap this upcoming season
Thanks for reading my article about the four biggest Eagles position battles for the 2021 season! For more NFL content follow me on Twitter @Cooter-Greene.
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