A youth movement that actually looks like one
A youth movement that actually looks like one originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles youth movement finally looks like this.
If there is one encouraging thing that has emerged from the first seven weeks of this strange season, it is the emergence of a promising group of young players who have come into the season unproven, untested and unknown.
The Eagles have tossed the youth movement around since the end of last season, but when you bet that heavily on the likes of Jason Peters, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, it sure doesn't feel like one.
It started lately.
While numerous Eagles over 30 - Peters, Jackson, Jeffery, Vinny Curry, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson - have missed a significant time in injury this season, there are signs that help is on the way.
34 players under the age of 25 have played at least one game for the Eagles this year, and 18 of them have made at least one start. Eighteen of the 34 had never played in the NFL (or played fewer than ten snaps), and ten of the 18 starters had never started a game in the NFL.
That doesn't mean they will all be stars. Or even productive role-players. But for a team that is aging dangerously - the third oldest squad in the NFL last year - that's a positive sign.
Jordan Mailata, Jack Driscoll and Nate Herbig have all looked like potential future starters on the offensive line and are all 23 or younger.
Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, and Jalen Reagor all made great games in reception play, and that's a pretty good core of broad receivers to build on. And until two months ago, none of them had caught an NFL passport.
The rookie defensive draft picks - K'Von Wallace, Shaun Bradley, and Davion Taylor - focused on specialty teams and got a taste of the defense.
And people like Greg Ward, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, T.J. Edwards and Josh Sweat - all still 24 or 25 - looked like key pieces when they were healthy. Avonte Maddox got beaten up, but he's only 24. Heck, Miles Sanders is only 23 and Dallas Goedert is 25, and we all know how good they are.
All of these guys are 25 or younger and all contribute to different degrees.
"I think it really lifts everyone," said Doug Pederson on Tuesday. “I think there is a sense of energy in a younger player, youthfulness, a man who is out there and kind of flying around. You see him play in practice and then it carries over into games and I think everyone really feeds off it. "
I have no illusions that this is a Super Bowl roster. It is not. There is much to do. Find a lot more young, impactful players.
But whenever you can have productive players for cheap rookie deals, it means there is more space to re-sign valuable veterans or maybe find a free agent or two.
And in general, young players aren't hurt as much as older ones.
But it goes deeper.
Local players are increasingly related to the team they developed, and the more local players grew up in the NovaCare complex, the easier it is to maintain that locker room culture. Because guys who come and go from team to team don't always get involved. Why should they You're just going through.
"It was really exciting to see how our young players influenced our first seven games so much," said Pederson. “And then I think, quite frankly, they will have an impact on the rest of the season as they get more and more playing time. I know that when you see these guys come in and do the things that we see in practice, I get energized and upset and that carries over to games. "
And for the first time in a while there seems to be a coaching staff who can recognize and develop the talent of these young players.
It's hard to work with teens when you keep missing out on premium draft picks.
But you can find players where you can, and Howie Roseman and his staff did well with late picks, bare boys, and waiver wire pickups, and these count just as much.
Some of the Eagles' best players are still their oldest players - Graham, Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Rodney McLeod. And there is still a long way to go before the Eagles' young talent is where it needs to be.
But it's a promising start, and that's more than it has been for a while.
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