Home Sports Rookie camp marks the beginning of the 2024 Eagles season

Rookie camp marks the beginning of the 2024 Eagles season

The 2024 Eagles football season is underway.

With their rookie minicamp kicking off on May 3, the Eagles welcomed their nine latest draft picks and a small class of undrafted rookies to South Philly, which included Australian international exemption Laekin Vakalahi. Other players — four veteran and 17 first-year tryout players — brought the total number of competitors to 41.

While that’s not nearly enough to field a full team, it was more than enough to get a first real look at the future of the team.

And that’s not all.

“What was really cool in my mind was that A.J. (Brown) was out there today and that Jordan Mailata was out there today,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “A.J. giving out coaching points. Jordan Mailata, I got in here this morning, he was in here for the team meeting and went to the O-line meeting this morning, just to be there with those guys. 

“That’s special. That’s a connection that these guys are willing to put that time in to be around our rookies, see what they’re made of, and just be there for them.”

Brown became the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL in the hours before the NFL Draft last month. Mailata signed a contract extension that will keep the left tackle in Philadelphia until 2028.

It’s somewhat telling that Brown and Mailata were on hand.

While other elite wide receivers around the league have been moved or are sitting out of voluntary offseason team activities, Brown wanted to get a first look at the newest receivers and defensive backs who will be competing for jobs this fall.

The Eagles brought in Ainias Smith from Texas A&M and Florida State’s Johnny Wilson. Smith is only 5 feet 9 but has elite speed. Wilson is gigantic at 6-6 and 231 pounds, with the frame of a tight end and the speed of a receiver.

Mailata came to the Eagles through the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. Vakalahi is hoping to become the Eagles’ second successful member of the program. Vakalahi will not count against the training camp roster and, once the season starts, can be added as the 17th member of the practice squad.

The biggest attractions of the rookie camp came on the defensive side of the ball.

Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. was on hand, wearing his father’s familiar No. 54. Trotter has a legitimate opportunity to get on the field right away as a special teams contributor, with a chance at seeing the field for defensive stats. Though undersized, Trotter has good instincts and a penchant for making big plays.

Cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean were the first two picks in the Eagles draft and are expected to play right away.

Mitchell as a first-round pick is all but a lock to play opposite Darius Slay at the cornerback position. James Bradberry currently holds that position on the Eagles depth chart but anything less than Mitchell winning that spot before the season starts would be a disappointment.

DeJean will see the field right away but the question is where. The plan is that DeJean and Mitchell will eventually start together at cornerback for the foreseeable future. Slay will have a lot to say about when that will happen. Slay is still an all-pro level corner.

DeJean could play in the slot as a nickel corner. Avonte Maddox will start off the preseason with that job, but his injury history could put DeJean into the lineup sooner than later.  

Safety is another potential landing spot for DeJean. Reed Blankenship, Sydney Brown and the return of C.J. Gardner-Johnson make that position a tough one for DeJean to break into but as one of the top defensive backs in the draft, DeJean needs to find playing time elsewhere.

The full team will return to the field for the first time on May 20 and May 28 for a pair of three-day OTAs. Mandatory minicamp will start June 4. Training camp begins at the end of July.

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