NEPD Contributor: Eric Galko
Watching two teams and a combined set of 180 players wasn’t an easy task during Day One of the Eagles-Patriots scrimmaging. However, with my main focus on the quarterbacks, receivers, and defensive backs, I was able to glean out some impressions from a difficult to keep up with practice.
-After being in awe of Tom Brady’s shear dominance compared to every other quarterback here, I began to take note of his talented rookie receivers. Aaron Dobson didn’t wow as much as I expected, and the most notable play he had today was a scuffle with Cary Williams. But his vertical routes seemed to have separation, a must for him in this offense.
-As for Josh Boyce, he seemed far more NFL ready in terms of separation and routes than I expected. His stop-start, body control through traffic, and ability to work across the field route-wise was very impressive. He may not have the same upside as Dobson or the same polish/experience Amendola has, but he certainly exceed my expectations. He’s absolutely deserving of running with the 1s after just today’s practice.
-One more rookie receiver stood out, multiple times: Kenbrell Thompkins. The Cinncinnati Bearcat undrafted free agent has been getting buzz in the past, but this was my first time experiencing just how impressive he is since his last game at Cincinnati. He’s explosive in his cuts, with a handful of really nice out-breaking routes. He’s looking the ball in and extending away from his body. He even flashed vertical route separation and just missed a catch after a slightly underthrown ball. Again, based off one practice, he’s among their Top 5 receivers.
-Defensively, Alfonso Dennard had an up and down day. He struggled early, giving up inside routes to the likes of Russell Shepard and Damaris Johnson, then got beat vertically by Shepard and Riley Cooper. However, when in a press situation, he destroyed most of the Eagles receivers he faced, aiding to the point that the Eagles have no true receivers who can beat press consistently.
-Aqib Talib also seemed to struggle vertically, burned by DeSean Jackson early and then was out of position later on a deep ball that was miss-thrown. But, like Dennard, when asked to play in the short area, he thrived, using his hands to initiate contact and anticipating very well to shorter routes, including a near (dropped) interception on the first play of 11 on 11s.
-As a unit, I thought the 1st team linebackers for the Patriots did a very good job against the Eagles tight ends. Granted they’ve likely had ample practice against talented tight ends in practice before, but this Philly unit has loads of talent.
-Of the tight ends, I though Zach Sudfeld exceeded my expectations the most. After seeing him impress at the Shrine Game a few months back, he looked surprisingly similar today, making plays in the red zone and showing more athleticism than you think he’d have ball skill-wise. I couldn’t entirely tell who was the best between David Fells, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Sudfeld, but all looked fairly close. I’ll monitor them closely later in the week.
-Tebow was the worst quarterback here. I won’t go into much detail, but he was late on every throw, his mechanics don’t allow him to work effectively in 3 step drops, and his ball flutters instantly when he’s asked to plant and drive deep. But, this shouldn’t be news to anyone really.