Philadelphia Eagles: The dangers in falling for preseason hype

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Is there any tradition among Philadelphia Eagles fans – and NFL fans in general – more time-honored than armchair scouting?

It seems like every year, some unlikely player, be they a UDFA, a journeyman, or a disgraced veteran on his final NFL chance, captures the hearts of fans to the same degree as a first-round pick, and the entire preseason becomes based around whether the hype is warranted.

Did the Eagles just find the next Tony Romo, Jason Peters, or Wes Welker? Or does this player become the next Ifeanyi Momah, Chris Polk, or Paul Turner? Maybe it falls somewhere in the middle. Trey Burton, Nate Herbig, and Greg Ward all began their NFL journies as UDFAs, and all three have had quality NFL careers. Frankly, I’d settle for one of those players a year, especially when you have a nine-man draft class.

Well, if you’re one of those summer talent evaluators who try to find the next diamond in the rough heading into the regular season, you can cross three names off the Eagles’ list, as three of their most hyped UDFA additions, Jamie Newman, Khalil Tate, and Trevon Grimes have been waived mere weeks before 2021 training camp opens up.


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Jamie Newman was the only quarterback in attendance at the Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie minicamp. He looked the part of an NFL QB, threw to everyone from DeVonta Smith to Jack Stoll, and even earned high praise from long-time NFL executive Gil Brandt… mere minutes before being released, literally.

After a failed transition to wide receiver last summer, 22-year-old offensive weapon Khalil Tate had a fresh opportunity to turn heads during a more traditional preseason. He’d already spent a year working on his route running and ball skills and was suddenly fourth on the depth chart at quarterback in a system designed to run around another shifty 6-foot-2 quarterback. Could Tate recapture his sophomore form and prove himself a viable developmental signal-caller moving forward? Or could he instead spend the season on the practice squad in an attempt to become the next Greg Ward?

Fellow 2020 UDFA class member Adrian Killins posted an Instagram story with Tate and fellow receiver John Hightower mere hours before his release. Calm before the storm?

And then there’s Trevon Grimes. Measuring in at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, Grimes looked like a legitimate challenger to not only make the team as a rookie over more veteran players like JJ Arcega-Whiteside and/or Quez Watkins but actually receive some playing time as a big-bodied X receiver with pretty good hands and a five-star pedigree.

While Grimes’ situation isn’t quite the same as his now-former teammates, as he’s coming off an injury and was waived in order to revert to the Eagles’ IR, it’s hard to imagine him playing for the team any time soon, let alone in time to unseat an incumbent receiver this summer.

All three of these cases are unique, impact the Eagles’ roster construction in different ways, and are in no way related but do highlight the dangers in getting too attached to a player and projecting onto them unrealistic expectations that the team doesn’t share.

Look, every Philadelphia Eagles’ regime is different. Andy Reid had this kind of guys, Chip Kelly had this kind of


guys, and even Doug Pederson, in his bizarrely paced four-year tenure with the team, had guys he felt comfortable playing that few other coaches would touch with a 10-foot pole – I think you can figure out whom.

Maybe Nick Sirianni didn’t like the way Jamie Newman processed the field and felt that he could land a better third-stringer either off the street or off of waivers in the not too distant future. Maybe Sirianni preferred the speedy upside Killins brought to the table as a hybrid receiver/runner over Tate’s trick play versatility and felt it unnecessary to bring him to camp. Heck, maybe Grimes’ chances of making the active roster were a whole lot less likely than many assumed and his early addition to the IR list is a blessing in disguise, as it will allow him a full season to learn the ropes and return to the field in 2022 with a chance to make the team a la oft-injured defensive end Joe Ostman.

Either way, we may never know, as even the most locked-in media members aren’t locked into the inner workings of the Eagles’ front office and can only piece together why the team does anything based on the clues available.

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Maybe some other member of the Philadelphia Eagles’ UDFA class will come into their own, earn a roster spot, and stick around long-term. The team gave big money to Jack Stoll coming out of Nebraska, and he’s a pretty safe bet to make the active roster, especially if Zach Ertz isn’t around in time for Week 1; maybe he can beat out the odds and become the next Trey Burton. But either way, it’s pretty safe to assume Jamie Newman, Khalil Tate, and Trevon Grimes won’t be the team’s next breakout star, as they all but surely won’t have the opportunity to do so unless Howie Roseman opts to change course as spring turns to summer. I guess there’s why it’s called armchair scouting, huh.