By Dave Spadaro
A busy offseason has given the Eagles some increased star power, and many of those additions — through free agency, a trade and the NFL Draft — figure to play key roles this season.
Here is a ranking of the additions based on their potential impact on the team in 2017:
Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver
He is the go-to wide receiver the Eagles have lacked for many seasons. Jeffery, playing on a one-year contract, has been nothing short of outstanding in the spring through the early portion of training camp. He’s big, he’s got terrific hands and he’s motivated to return to the top of his game. Expect big-time numbers this season.
Tim Jernigan, defensive tackle
An aggressive, up-the-field defensive tackle, Jernigan played in a read-and-react scheme in Baltimore. Here, in Jim Schwartz’s defense, Jernigan will be let loose. Watch out. He’s a beast, and teamed with Fletcher Cox, Jernigan should be a disruptive interior defensive lineman.
LeGarrette Blount, running back
At 250 pounds, Blount gives the Eagles a physical presence in the running game. The Eagles were lousy in the red zone offensively last year, so Blount is an upgrade. He scored 18 touchdowns with New England last season, 15 of those scores coming inside the 10-yard line. Dial him up in your fantasy football league.
Derek Barnett, defensive end
Whether he starts or not, Barnett is going to be a factor with the defense. The rookie №1 draft pick is a promising, natural pass rusher who can help with his burst and relentless pursuit off the edge. You’re going to love this kid. He’s got a chance to be something special.
Torrey Smith, wide receiver
The question with Smith is whether he still has his top-end speed. We won’t know that until the season begins, but the early peek is promising. The Eagles ranked 28th in the league in pass plays of plus-20 yards last season. Smith is here to stretch defenses.
Patrick Robinson, cornerback
Unable to find his footing in the NFL since he was taken in the first round by New Orleans in 2010, Robinson hopes to make the most of an opportunity of a question mark-filled cornerback position. The starting job is there for him to earn.
Rasul Douglas, cornerback
The team’s third-round draft pick, Douglas is competing with Robinson for a starting job. It’s a huge leap for Douglas, who was playing at Nassau Community College three seasons ago. He has a lot of promise, but expecting a lot this season may be asking too much.
Chris Long, defensive end
Long won a Super Bowl in New England last season, so he brings an intangible that few in the locker room (safety Malcolm Jenkins, special teamer Chris Maragos) understand. That means something. It’s also helpful that Long shows he has some gas left in his tank. Once one of the best defensive ends in the league, Long is now best suited as a situational defensive end. He will give a ton of effort every time he’s on the field.
Nick Foles, quarterback
Foles is back, this time as the №2 quarterback behind Carson Wentz. At the very least, Foles is a huge upgrade over Chase Daniel. Hopefully, we never see Foles play, unless he gets some mop-up duty.
Mack Hollins, wide receiver/Donnel Pumphrey, running back
The two fourth-round draft picks should find some time, at the very least, on special teams. Hollins is a demon in coverage. Pumphrey, all 175 pounds of him, is going to touch the ball a lot in the preseason games. Enjoy the show. He’s small, but, oh boy, the kid can fly.