Eagles recent draft picks being asked to step up

The Eagles rolled the dice and gambled. And on Sunday, they lost the first hand.

JaCorey Shepherd, who was likely to earn more playing time following the trade of Brandon Boykin, suffered an ACL injury, ending his season.

There are other players the Eagles can turn to for the role of slot cornerback. They have ways they can survive.

But the more you look, the more you see the members of the last two draft classes being elevated to greater roles with much more responsibility. It is the sign of a youth movement for Chip Kelly’s Eagles, while being a risk that Kelly must hope offers plenty of rewards.

The first place we see members of these draft classes is obviously. Jordan Matthews was the second-round pick in 2014. Nelson Agholor was the 2015 first-round pick. Both figure to be key parts of the offense.

Matthews turned in a solid rookie season while dealing with a quarterback carousel. Agholor shows signs of being ready for the transition and being an active part of the Eagles offense. Also part of this equation is 2014 third-round pick Josh Huff.

Next you look to the secondary. Eric Rowe was already going to garner a lot of attention. With Shepherd now sidelined, Randall Evans has a chance to make the roster and play. Jaylen Watkins didn’t see much of the field in 2014, but that could certainly change with Shepherd’s injury.

Next to the linebacker group. The injury to Travis Long may open up a spot and increased role for one of two recent draft picks at the position – 2014 first-round pick Marcus Smith or 2015 third-round pick Jordan Hicks.

Forget the rest of both classes for a moment. Right there, that is eight players that all could be put into increased roles, whether based on their draft position – like Agholor and Rowe – or injuries to other players – like Evans and Hicks.

That could be too much to ask for players with not even a single preseason game under their belt.

However, what this shows is Kelly’s willingness to go all-in on his draft picks. He is putting an immense amount of trust in his new players and giving them a vote of confidence with their roles in training camp.

It may come with risk and it may go against everything that is normal in football. But then again, when has Chip Kelly done anything normal? 

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.