Eagles Mailbag: Picking Breakout Candidates From Both Sides of Ball

Over four months have passed since the Eagles took down the mighty Patriots in Super Bowl LII and they're already well into their preparations as they try to repeat. 

The Eagles held their last OTA practice Thursday and next week the team will hold a mandatory minicamp from Tuesday through Thursday. That's the last time the team will be together before training camp. It's crazy, but we're not all that far from the start of next season. 

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OK, question time: 

I'll double the fun here and give you one player on each side of the ball. 

Offense: Some folks might think Mack Hollins, but his playing time is still going to be somewhat limited if everyone stays healthy. So instead, I'll go with rookie tight end Dallas Goedert. I think he's going to end up being the Eagles' No. 2 tight end and we've seen over the past couple of years how much Doug Pederson likes to use two-tight end sets. During this past week, we watched as Goedert was used in the red zone and caught two touchdowns in the same practice. With how much attention Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery warrant near the goal line, I think we can see the rookie vulture some touchdowns - a nightmare for fantasy football players, but great for the Eagles' offensive balance. 

Defense: Sidney Jones has missed the last couple of practices for reasons unknown, but if he can stay healthy this season, he's going to make a difference. I know we've talked about De'Vante Bausby getting some run with the first team in the nickel package, but I just can't envision Bausby keeping Jones off the field. I think Jones is going to play a ton and I'm already on record saying I think he'll lead the team in interceptions. 

The easy answer would be Donnel Pumphrey just because he has the most room for improvement. He definitely didn't have a good spring and summer last year, so he needs to improve vastly if he has any chance to stick around. 

But Pump isn't my answer. I'm going with Corey Clement. I know it's hard to imagine him getting much better after how good he was as a rookie, but he should be. In 2017, he was an undrafted rookie learning on the fly. Now, he knows the entire offense inside and out and the team should continue to expand his role. Jay Ajayi will have a bigger role too, but the Eagles need to find a way to keep Clement involved. 

I still think it's really possible the Eagles bring back Corey Graham as long as the 32-year-old wants to continue playing. He was really valuable to the team last year because he allowed Malcolm Jenkins to use his versatility by playing in the slot and linebacker. 

The Eagles like Tre Sullivan, whom you mentioned, but he's somewhat of an unknown commodity. That's what this time of year is for … to see if the Eagles feel comfortable enough to get younger at the position. 

If not, they don't have to rush to sign Graham. He was on the street until August before last season, so he'll probably be there again this year, waiting to see if the Eagles call. 

What about it? Well, this is a vague question, but Ertz, Goedert and Richard Rodgers are the top candidates to make the team. Next up would probably be second-year guy Billy Brown, a converted receiver from Division II Shepherd University. Brown has a chance to push Rodgers for a roster spot. 

I still seem to get a lot of questions about Brent Celek and whether the Eagles might want to bring him back on a cheaper deal. I just don't see it happening. 

How much nick foles you think we will see in the preseason? - @aj_pecora

This is an interesting question. I think Foles will play some in the preseason to make sure he's ready if he needs to start the season, but with just Nate Sudfeld behind, the Eagles can't overdo it. And Carson Wentz is very likely to not play at all in the preseason. 

Really, I think those four games are going to be an opportunity for the Eagles - and the rest of the league - to get a closer look at Sudfeld. Remember, Sudfeld didn't get to Philly until after last preseason wrapped up, so the only game action they've seen him in came during the regular season finale against the Cowboys. If Wentz is healthy at the beginning of the season, Sudfeld will be the key to any possible trade. The Eagles could possibly trade Sudfeld. But it seems more likely they'd trade Foles for the right price, as long as they felt Sudfeld could become the No. 2. 

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