2016 Rookie Focus

We are in the awkward part of the year where the off season hasn’t started but we are anxiously looking forward to next year.  As we continue to watch the playoffs unfold, yet again with out the Eagles this is a good time to get into some different topics around the team.  Along with our Position Focus we are currently writing it’s a good time to take a look back on how the Eagles rookies faired.  This group unlike groups in the recent past looks like it has some potential.  Highlighted by Carson Wentz the future is in good hands.  Teams don’t really know what they have until 2-3 years down the road but we’ll take a look now.

Carson Wentz was sure fun to watch during the bulk of the 16 season.  Was he a little frustrating at times? Sure, but that’s all part of the ups and downs we have with a rookie QB.  The pros certainly out weight the cons.  As this team continues to rebuild they have found the toughest piece.  Everything else needs to fit around Carson Wentz.

Highlight – His best game had to be the Steelers game.  At the time everyone questioned the 2-0 start.  Was this team legit?  Turns out all those people were right but Wentz dominated the Steelers in a 4 PM big game.  Throwing for over 300 yards the Eagles dominated the Steelers on the way to a 3-0 start.

Lowlight – The Bengals game comes to mind.  Not just Wentz but the entire team and game plan were awful.  He set a club record with over 60 plus attempts.  His mechanics were poor missing multiple open receivers which also led to 3 interceptions.

Isaac Seumalo is a very intriguing young player.  He has the versatility to play every spot along the OL.  We’ve said this before but I believe his future is at center and it could be as soon as next year.  Seumalo played in 9 games and started 4.  He started 2 games at RG, 1 at LG and 1 at RT.   At times this year he got caught a little stiff and upright and didn’t have much leverage.  Again, it’s what you’d expect from a rookie interior OL.

Highlight – Seumalo’s ability to adapt quickly is what I really like about him.  I mentioned his versatility but his first start came against the Green Bay Packers.  He didn’t know he was starting until a few moments before Kickoff as G Brandon Brooks was sideline with his anxiety disorder.  He stepped right in and did a nice job.  The Eagles ultimately lost the game but it wasn’t because of the OL play.

Lowlight – His season got off to a slow start as he had a pectoral injury for the first month or 2 of the season.  It would have been exciting to see how productive he could have been if he’d been a full go the entire year.

Wendell Smallwood had a chance to see some extended playing time during the 4th quarter of the year.  A late season injury prevented the Eagles from really getting an extended look at the 5h round pick.  Smallwood showed potential in his limited carries.  He wasn’t afraid to hit the hole and hit it with power.  He finished the year with 77 attempts for 312 yards for 1 TD.

Highlight – His first extended PT came against the Steelers in week 3.  He showed some promise in the blow out scoring his first and only TD of the year .

Lowlight– A late substitution by the offensive coaching staff led to his lone carry vs the Cowboys.  He shouldn’t have been in the game but he fumbled his only carry leading to a tough loss for the Eagles.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai was put in a tough spot in week 6 of the 2016 season.  Lane Johnson should have been in there but we all know what transpired.  Vaitai did really nice job and played hard for the bulk of the season.  As the season went on and he continued to gain reps you didn’t seem notice him as much and that’s a good thing for an OL.  At 6’6″ 320 I don’t believe he has the skills to play LT in this league and we’ve said as much before.  He’s shown he does have the skills to be a solid RT.

Highlight – One of his best games and the ultimate bounce back game was his play vs the Vikings.  After a tough loss in DC the week prior Vaitai really held his own against at the time was the leagues No. 1 defense.

Lowlight – His first start was one to forget.  He was beaten early and often by Redskins veteran Ryan Kerrigan.  The first snap of the game led to Wentz jersey literally being ripped off his back.  Not what you want to see from a RT making his first start.

Blake Countess did make some plays during the preseason and thought he would be a candidate to make the 53.  He was ultimately cut and signed by another team.  He did not play a down for the Eagles in 2016.

Jalen Mills has the potential to be a great steal in the 7th round.  After Ron Brooks was injured against the Vikings his playing time really ramped up.  He saw time in the slot and on the outside during the rest of the 2016 season.  If we know anything about Mills he has the ability to forget the previous play and move forward.  The problem with Mills is at this point in his career the next play often looks like the previous play.

Highlight – It’s hard not to like his overall confidence.  Mills has chops and I think he can play in this league and play on the outside.  With a full offseason (hopefully not under Cory Undlin) we will see some important strides.

Lowlight – Everybody points this out and it is what it is but the finger way needs to go away.  We don’t need to see the finger of the worst ranked corner in the entire league according to PFF.  In his defense I actually think Nolan Carroll was worse but it doesn’t matter on a 7-9 team.

Alex McCalister could be great find during the 16 draft.  He spent the year on IR because the Eagles didn’t want to lose him.  For a team that desperately needs pass rushers expect McCalister to get an extended look during the off-season.

Joe Walker really turned heads during the preseason with his impressive play.  He ultimately tore his ACL and didn’t make an impact.  It’s a shame too because I think he could have made an impact for a defense that desperately needed playmakers.

These are all the players the Eagles drafted.  Next week we will take a look at how the UFDA faired.

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Photo Credit – Philly Mag




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