One fact that is apparent in the NFL is established teams are far easier to predict. Meanwhile, ones with new head coaches, like the Philadelphia Eagles, face a shift in philosophy and with it a shift in types of players they want. So predicting whether they have any gems is difficult simply because it’s hard to pinpoint what Chip Kelly is looking for. With that in mind, here are some names to keep track of.
Offense – Bryce Brown
When the overall scheme of an offense is still a question mark under a new head coach, the best thing to do is look to the history books for answers. In that case the Philadelphia Eagles can expect a lot from their running backs. LeSean McCoy figures to get the ball plenty, but one name that could see lots of attention is Bryce Brown. As a rookie out of Kansas State he carried the ball just 115 times but for 564 yards at a whopping 4.9 yards per carry. He also caught 13 passes. Given his tendency for popping big plays the Eagles coaches are sure to find ways to use him since Kelly did a lot of that during his time at Oregon. If the fast break style holds true, Brown is in for a big year.
Defense – Bennie Logan
A big part of the 3-4 scheme is finding big defensive tackles and defensive ends who can control the line of scrimmage, stop the run and eat up blocks that the pass rushers don’t have to face. Bennie Logan fits that mold perfectly. The defensive tackle out of LSU was taken in the 3rd round of the draft but between Zach Ertz in the 2nd and Matt Barkley in the 4th, so few fans have paid much attention to him. Scouts see him as a legit nose tackle given his large frame and leverage he gains at the point of attack. They also see potential in him to grow further, especially as a pass rusher. Putting him on the field flanked by Trent Cole and Connor Barwin should give Philadelphia all sorts of ways to attack offenses on the ground and in the air.
Special Teams – Damaris Johnson
Johnson was more a victim of the atrocious season the Philadelphia Eagles had last year than anything else. Otherwise how could anybody have missed his incredible 98-yard punt return touchdown last season against Dallas. His short stature (5’8″) overshadow an agility and speed that makes him dangerous with the ball in his hands. No one is sure what will happen with him now that Kelly is in charge but after making so many big plays despite limited opportunities there is no question keeping him on the return team is the best thing for the team to do. If other teams didn’t take notice of him last season, they should pretty early this time around.