Each week, theScore will go division by division, highlighting which three players’ performances will most impact their team’s season in 2017.
Which version of Wentz is a more apt depiction of the player the Eagles drafted No. 2 overall last season? The one that was the darling of the league after a 3-0 start, or the one that went on to lose nine of his next 13 games?
Philadelphia spent much of the offseason acquiring offensive weapons for Wentz, in hopes the quarterback will prove to be much more effective with better talent surrounding him. Instead of Dorial Green-Beckham, he has a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Alshon Jeffery and an impressive No. 2 in Torrey Smith. LeGarrette Blount was brought in to ease the workload of Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, and Donnel Pumphrey was drafted as Sproles’ eventual successor.
Wentz also has a strong offensive line protecting him. It’s up to him now. Over the offseason, he’s undergone corrective vision surgery, tended to a sore elbow, and worked to sharpen his footwork and mechanics. Both he and the Eagles are ensuring he’ll be the best version of himself in Year 2 of his NFL career.
Mills’ apprenticeship is over. A seventh-round pick in 2016, the corner started in just two games last season, but he played in all 16. Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll are both gone and so the task of shutting down opposing offenses now falls to him.
Mills currently slots in as Philly’s starting left corner with Patrick Robinson manning the other side of the field. He’ll have to keep the seat warm until 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones is ready and healthy enough to assume the role, but for now, Mills has to shore up a pass defense that was picked on last season.
He racked up an impressive 61 tackles as a backup during his rookie season, but as his targets go up, his pass breakups (7) and interceptions (0) will have to as well.
The Eagles are counting on Jeffery having a major impact in 2017, and the 6-foot-3 receiver needs it just as much for himself.
While he was a prized free-agent signing, Philadelphia only inked Jeffery to a one-year deal. In order to truly cash in, Jeffery needs to restore his value by aiding Wentz and the Philly offense expedite their development.
Jeffery established himself as an elite receiver early in his career, but he has fallen short of 1,000 yards in the past two seasons and 2016 was marred by a performance-enhancing drug violation that cost him four games near the end of the season.
To remove that stain, he’ll have to have a clean, tidy 2017 stint with the Eagles.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
Also from this series
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Giants’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Cowboys’ season
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