Eagles Mailbag: Playing time for JJ Arcega-Whiteside, man out at CB


The Eagles won’t hold their first OTAs until May 21 and we’re still over four months from the season opener, but we’re getting closer. 

This weekend, the Eagles’ rookies will be at the NovaCare Complex for the start of their three-day rookie minicamp. 

We’ll start the mailbag with a question about one of those rookies: 

This is an interesting question because if everything goes well, Arcega-Whiteside might not play much as a rookie. So for this answer, we’ll assume a healthy group of receivers and tight ends on the roster. It’s pretty hard to find playing time on offense for the rookie, but he could become an immediate contributor on special teams. 

With a much different roster in 2018, the most the Eagles’ fourth receiver (in terms of snaps) played in any game last year was 29 and that was former Pro Bowler Golden Tate. In most games, the fourth receiver played fewer than 10 snaps and that was with a less-talented top three. And this year, the Eagles want to incorporate even more two-tight end sets. That means less playing time for Nelson Agholor, so it’ll be even harder for JJAW to get on the field. 

Really, if Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Agholor stay healthy, there won’t be much playing time for Arcega-Whiteside. But he should be ready. Because Alshon has had some serious injuries in the last couple years and DeSean has played just two full seasons in 11 NFL years. Arcega-Whiteside will be the next guy up. 

I got a couple questions about the cornerback group, so I’ll just address the position here. I count seven corners on the roster, not including any rookies: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Josh Hawkins. 

I think there’s a real chance those top six make the roster. The Eagles are six deep at the position, which is why it was always hard to see them using a draft pick on a CB. 

If any of them move to safety, it would probably be Maddox, who played well there in 2018. As well as he played at safety in a pinch, he still played better at corner and is a more natural fit at corner, especially inside. But they love his versatility and his body size at safety is reminiscent of Bob Sanders. 

If one of these guys were to get traded, I could see it being Douglas. He still has two more seasons left on his rookie contract and has significant starting experience in his first two years in the league. It seems that I like Douglas a lot more than this coaching staff. At every turn, when called upon, Douglas has played well. I think he’s earned the right to compete for a starting job, but he also has the most value on the trade block right now. Because Darby and Mills are coming off injuries, I expect Douglas to be a starter at spring practices. 

Treyvon Hester, the belated hero of the double-doink, is still on the roster. The Eagles’ top three DTs seem set: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan. After that, they have Hester, Hassan Ridgeway and Bruce Hector. If the Eagles keep five, Hester will likely stick around. If they keep four, he’ll have to compete with Ridgeway for that final spot. Ridgeway is still just 24 and has played in 34 career games in three seasons, but Hester has played in 26 during his first two seasons. This could actually be a fun training camp battle. Ridgeway came in a trade, but that shouldn’t give him an automatic roster spot. After all, if the Eagles used that seventh-round pick, there wouldn’t be any guarantee that player was going to make the roster. This should be an open competition. 

We’ll know about all the rookies later this week, but for now, Andre Dillard is 77 and Miles Sanders is 26. 

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