Eagles OTAs begin today, although practices are closed to the media. Most of the attention this time last year was on the upcoming camp battle between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. This year, no such high-profile camp battle exists, but there are some lesser competitions to watch.
The wide receivers and tight ends are a diversely talented bunch who will all likely carve out their own roles in Chip Kelly's offense, so pinpointing any specific 'mano a mano' battles is difficult for those guys. However here are my top 5 'mano a mano' camp battles:
Top 5 camp battles
• Matt Barkley vs Mark Sanchez -- There will be no QB controversy for the starting QB job in training camp this year like there was in 2013, but the battle for the Eagles' backup QB job should be a very interesting one to keep an eye on. Nick Foles is a tough QB, but he missed a game in 2012 as well as another game and a half due to injury in 2013. There are pretty good odds that we'll see either Barkley and Sanchez at some point this season, which makes the competition for the backup job a very important one.
• Nate Allen vs Earl Wolff -- The Eagles would love to see Wolff come out in training camp and emphatically earn this job, and he'll be given every opportunity to do so. Allen had a decent season in 2013, and the team was interested enough to bring him back on a 1-year safety-net deal this offseason.
• Alex Henery vs Carey Spear (AKA, Noodleleg vs Murderleg) -- Alex Henery had a rough season in 2013, as he was unable to produce touchbacks on kickoffs, and he left a lasting bitter memory of a missed FG in the playoffs against the Saints. Enter Carey Spear, the hard-hitting kicker with a funny nickname. 'Murderleg' will immediately be a fan favorite because of those two things, but can he kick? We'll find out soon enough.
• Trent Cole vs Marcus Smith -- It feels like the ROLB job is Marcus Smith's in 2015, with Trent Cole keeping it warm until Smith is 'ready.' I sure hope that's not the way Smith and the Eagles see it. Smith is a 1st round draft pick, and while Cole picked up the position as the 2013 season progressed, he remains an imperfect fit. This job should absolutely be one to watch. Frankly, it would be highly concerning if Smith couldn't at least push Cole hard for this spot, which Brandon Graham could not do a year ago.
• Chris Polk vs Matthew Tucker -- Last season Polk was the hunter, trying to take away carries from Bryce Brown in the backup RB role. After the Eagles traded Brown away to the Bills, Polk is now the hunted. Matthew Tucker showed glimpses last camp of a player with legitimate upside, and could begin to make a push not just for a roster spot, but also for carries.
Eagles players will be popular fantasy football picks
Rotoworld's Evan Silva created his first Top 150 fantasy football big board of the 2014 season, and the Eagles had 8 players make his list. (The average team had 4.7). LeSean McCoy is the top player on Silva's board. Here are all the Eagles, and some former ones, who made the list. (Notes are Silva's):
• 1. LeSean McCoy -- Centerpiece of NFL's top rushing attack. 26 in July.
• 58. Jeremy Maclin -- Will be Eagles' primary replacement for DeSean Jackson.
• 66. Nick Foles -- Is otherworldly '13 efficiency sustainable? Lost DeSean Jackson.
• 82. Zach Ertz -- Prime year-two breakout candidate with legit top-five TE1 potential.
• 107. Darren Sproles -- Could flirt with flex value in PPR. Less attractive in standard.
• 142. Chris Polk -- Would be Chip Kelly's main carrier if LeSean McCoy went down.
• 148. Jordan Matthews -- Lots of year-one opportunity in one of NFL's top offenses.
• 149. Riley Cooper -- Jump-ball specialist lacks consistent weekly role in Eagles O.
Other former Eagles of interest.
• 57. DeSean Jackson -- Annual reception average was 55 before Chip Kelly (82).
• 137. Bryce Brown -- Could offer RB2 stats if C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson went down.
Eagles draft grade GPAs
Last week, we asked you to grade the Eagles' draft. You guys were brutal to poor Marcus Smith. I took your grades, and calculated the final GPAs both overall, and for each player the Eagles drafted:
• Overall: 2.77 GPA
• Jordan Matthews, WR, 2nd round: 3.37 GPA
• Jaylen Watkins, CB, 4th round: 3.27 GPA
• Beau Allen, NT, 7th round: 3.03 GPA
• Josh Huff, WR, 3rd round: 2.95 GPA
• Ed Reynolds, S, 5th round: 2.74 GPA
• Taylor Hart, DE, 5th round: 2.63 GPA
• Marcus Smith, OLB, 1st round: 1.94 GPA
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski