The Class of 2023

Posted: May 6th, 2024 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on The Class of 2023

We have talked a lot about this year’s rookie class. There were some exciting picks and the group got high grades from almost every draft analyst. Let’s turn our focus to the class of 2023 and talk about those players.

The biggest jump for most players is from the first year to the second year. Having a season of experience makes a big difference, even if the player didn’t get on the field all that much. They went through Training Camp. There was a year of practice. There was weight training and classroom time. And all of this at the NFL level. As advanced as college football is these days, the NFL is still on another level.

1 – Jalen Carter 

Carter played at a high level as a rookie and was dominant at times. He finished with 6 sacks and 8 TFLs. Carter won’t have Fletcher Cox this year and will get a lot of attention. It will be interesting to see how he handles that.

1 – Nolan Smith  

Howie Roseman talked this offseason about the need to get young guys on the field more. Nolan Smith played in all 17 games, but only finished with 18 tackles and one sack. He didn’t get nearly enough time on defense. I think Howie and Nick Sirianni realize they should have played him more. That isn’t to say Smith was going to fix the defense and lead the team to the Super Bowl, but feeding extra reps to older pass rushers and having Smith watch wasn’t ideal.

Smith will have a chance to play more this year and show what he can do. Josh Sweat and Bryce Huff will start. Smith and BG will be situational rushers and should get mixed in a lot. If he shows enough, he could earn a starting role in the future. If he doesn’t, Smith could be stuck as a role player.

3 – Tyler Steen  

Steen played in 11 games last year, with one start. He is the front runner to be the RG this season with Cam Jurgens is sliding inside to center. Steen will have to earn the RG job since he didn’t play a lot last year. Steen has good size at 6-6, 321. He is a solid athlete. Steen was drafted to be the RG of the future.

This is a small sample size, but you can see good pass protection ability. Micah Parsons beat him cleanly on one play. Parsons beats just about everybody at some point. Steen didn’t get down on himself and kept battling. I think he can take a big leap forward this season. He will have competition from Matt Hennessy and Trevor Keegan.

3 – Sydney Brown

Brown showed good promise as a rookie. He played in 14 games, with 6 starts. He had 45 tackles and an INT, which he ran back 99 yards for a TD. He played fast and aggressive. Unfortunately Brown tore his ACL late in the season. He seems to be ahead of schedule with his rehab and might not miss as much time as expected. Brown can be a key role player in the secondary this year and could start in the future.

4 – Kelee Ringo 

Ringo could go from an Octopus’s Garden to being a starting CB this year. He played in all 17 games last year, with most of his time on STs. He did start 4 games and showed good potential. The Eagles spent their first two picks on corners so that tells you they view Ringo as still a bit of a mystery. He has good size at 6-2, 207, but isn’t a great athlete. He will battle Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean for the ability to start opposite of Darius Slay. Ringo won’t have the pressure to win a starting role this year. He does need to show that he’s taken a step forward from last year and could be a starter in the future.

6 – Tanner McKee 

McKee played well in the 2023 preseason and we didn’t hear anything after that. Now he’s stuck behind Kenny Pickett as well as Jalen Hurts. McKee is a player the Eagles were excited to get last year and he showed why in his preseason play. It will be interesting to see if he can push Pickett for the #2 job this summer. McKee is a long term player. He could be the backup of the future so the team just wants to see progress this season.

7 – Moro Ojomo 

The Eagles deep DL last year meant Ojomo didn’t play much. He was limited to 8 games. Ojomo played well in the preseason and then flashed at times when he did get on the field in the regular season. The Eagles need him to become a key contributor this season. Milton Williams will be starting and Ojomo and Marlon Tuipulotu will become the top backups. Ojomo is a good run defender and also shows potential as a pass rusher. I’m excited to see what he can do.

UDFA – Ben VanSumeren

Nakobe Dean and Devin White are the projected starters for this season. The team looked hard at LB draft prospects, but didn’t end up taking anyone until they picked Jeremiah Trotter Jr in the fifth round. The fact the team was so patient at LB makes me wonder if they are higher on VanSumeren than we know.

That stop came on 3rd and 3. It prevented a first down. VanSumeren is a gifted athlete. He was raw due to the fact he moved from FB to LB in the middle of his college career. If he continues to develop positional ability and improved instincts, he could be a really interesting player in the future.

UDFA – Mekhi Garner

Garner bounced between CB and S last year. I hope the team now leaves him at safety, a position where I think he can carve out a role. He played in 3 games last year, but didn’t record any stats. He has good size at 6-2, 212. Garner lacks ideal speed (4.55) and his skill set fits in nicely at safety. With Brown on the mend, the #3 safety spot is wide open right now. This is a huge opportunity for him.

UDFA – Eli Ricks

Not everyone was cheering the addition of Mitchell and DeJean. Ricks played in 16 games last year. He had 19 tackles and broke up 3 passes. There were times when he looked really promising.

There were other times when Ricks really struggled. The biggest thing for him is being less grabby. College CBs get away with a lot of grabbing and holding. That is called tighter in the NFL. The Eagles now have a lot of bodies at CB. Ricks will not have an easy time winning a roster spot. He could develop into a good role player if he has a good spring and summer and is able to win a job. The key for Ricks will be to embrace competition and not get frustated that he now has to fight for a job.


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