Eagles Mailbag: Rookie of the Year, Adams' Role, Sidney Jones

As we head into this weekend, we're just a few days away from the start of Eagles' OTAs in Phase 3 of the offseason program. 

Doug Pederson will have his press conference before practice on Tuesday and Carson Wentz is also scheduled to speak with reporters. 

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You guys gave me so many questions that I broke this mailbag up into three parts. Part 1 is today and we'll run the other two over the weekend. 

Let's get to your questions: 

I'm going to play the odds here and say Miles Sanders. He's one rookie I know will play a lot this season. Now, if Jason Peters suffers a significant injury at some point, I'd go all in on Andre Dillard. But since Peters is clearly the starting left tackle, I can't pick Dillard … at least not now. 

Barring injury, sheer opportunity makes Sanders the easiest pick. But Sanders is going to be a damn good player. I think he's going to play well enough this season that the Eagles don't have to worry too much about letting Jordan Howard walk after this year. 

Since the Eagles drafted Mailata, I don't think there's been a time I've asked for questions and didn't get one back about him. He's an intriguing guy; I get it. And I understand why you'd look at him and think he could play on the defensive line. Still can't see it happening. 

If the Eagles were to move Mailata now, they would have basically wasted a year of his development. Maybe if Mailata hadn't shown incredible growth at offensive tackle, they'd think about it, but he has shown tremendous growth. Last preseason was shocking. He went from never playing football to looking like a serviceable player in a live game. It was never going to be a short-term project, so the Eagles just have to stick with him at offensive tackle. No one knows if he's going to be a Hall of Famer or if he'll ever play a meaningful snap. But there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by his progress as an offensive lineman. 

Simply put: No. Adams was thrust into a lead role last year out of necessity and then was basically benched in the playoffs. And that's not a knock on him; he should have never been in a lead role to begin with, but injuries forced the Eagles' hand. Adams did play through an injury of his own so maybe he comes back healthy and sticks around as the fourth running back, but he doesn't even have a roster spot locked up right now. He needs to have a good spring and summer just to make the team. Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and even Corey Clement are firmly ahead of him. 

Got a couple questions on Sidney Jones, so I'm happy to address him here. I've been bullish on Jones since the Eagles drafted him and I still think he's going to be a really good player in the NFL. Jones is about to turn 23, so the harsh criticism of him is pretty unfair. I get that he didn't have a great season in 2018, but he was injured. Part of the impatience from Eagles fans comes from his redshirt season in 2017, but it's unfair to hold that against him. We all knew the situation when the Eagles drafted him in the second round. They were playing the long game. You can hate the pick because there was too much risk involved, but to say Jones isn't ever going to be good is unfair. Had he been a normal rookie last season, you'd look at it and say, "Oh well, he got hurt." Instead, folks are holding his 2017 season against him. 

And it seems to have been forgotten, but Jones won the nickel corner job out of camp last year and was pretty good at the beginning of the season there. He shined in an unfamiliar position in the first meaningful games of his career. By the time he got to play outside, he was already dealing with that lingering hamstring injury. This is a huge year for Jones, no doubt, but I'm not ruling out big things for him. He just needs to stay healthy. 

The Eagles are in a better position with kick returners than they are with punt returners, which isn't ideal because most kickoffs just end up as touchbacks anyway. 

At kick returner: Wendell Smallwood or Corey Clement would make sense. 

At punt returner: DeSean Jackson in small doses and then maybe a deep reserve WR (like Greg Ward or Braxton Miller) makes the team as a punt returner. Heck, maybe even Nelson Agholor or Avonte Maddox could do it. We'll see who's back there at OTAs and get a better idea. 

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