The Eagles entered training camp last summer with 17 rookies they believed could provide a bridge to the future and instant impact at crucial positions.
The Eagles also added plenty of undrafted talent.
Howie Roseman has raved about previous UDFA classes, with several big-named stars holding second-day draft grades.
Philadelphia had nine undrafted rookies that offered the potential to become critical contributors for years.
Mekhi Garner, Ben VanSumeren, and Eli Ricks saw key snaps as rookies, while Kelee Ringo will likely enter 2024 as a starter after some early learning curves.
With the young guys fully entrenched and the team looking towards April’s NFL draft, we’re handing out grades for 2023.
DT Jalen Carter (first round, No. 9 overall)
Through Week 9, Carter had generated 29 pressures (tied for eighth in the league among interior defensive linemen) according to Pro Football Focus, including four sacks and 20 hurries.
During the first half of the season, Carter played 49% of the defensive snaps (despite missing Week 6 against the New York Jets with an injury), second among Eagles defensive tackles behind only Fletcher Cox.
His production fell off down the stretch.
Carter finished his rookie year with 6.0 sacks, 33 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery (which he returned for a touchdown) in 16 regular-season games.
A Defensive Rookie of the Year finalist, Carter started just one game and played 51 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps, but the ninth overall pick in the 2023 Draft was third on the team in sacks and fifth among all rookies.
Edge Nolan Smith (first round, No. 30 overall)
Smith was drafted to huge fanfare after sliding down to pick No. 30 in the first round. After watching safeties like Brian Branch flourish.
Compared to that of fellow first-round pick Jalen Carter, Smith’s utilization was far more sparse. Playing behind Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham, and Derek Barnett, Smith played 16% of the defensive snaps (188).
He notched his first career sack against the Miami Dolphins in Week 7.
Overall, Smith recorded 18 tackles and 1.0 sacks in 17 regular-season games in his rookie season.
Smith didn’t play more than eight defensive snaps in a game until Week 12, and his season high in that category was 21 snaps, coming in the final week of the regular season, when the team rested several starters. The 30th overall pick will look to compete for a larger defensive role in camp this summer.
OG/OT Tyler Steen (third round, No. 65 overall)
Steen played offensive tackle in college at Vanderbilt and Alabama, but was drafted to eventually play right guard.
Steen’s first NFL action came against the Washington Commanders in Week 8 when right guard Sua Opeta went down late in the second quarter.
The rookie offensive lineman was on the field for just six snaps during the two-minute drill, not allowing a single pressure, according to PFF.
The following week against the Dallas Cowboys Steen earned the starting role struggling in pass protection, allowing six pressures (five hurries) on 35 pass-blocking snaps.
Whenever the post-Jason Kelce era begins, Cam Jurgens moving to center and Steen competing to start at right guard.
S Sydney Brown (third round, No. 66 overall)
Like any rookie, Brown had an up and down campaign.
Brown saw time at nickel cornerback to start his career, a departure from his traditional role at safety, with Avonte Maddox (season-ending torn pectoral muscle) and Bradley Roby (injured shoulder) out.
His worst performance came against the Cowboys as Brown allowed four receptions on four targets for 50 yards and a touchdown, according to PFF. Two of those receptions for 35 yards went to CeeDee Lamb.
Still, the former Illini safety brought physicality and a high motor to the Eagles revamped secondary before suffering a torn ACL.
Brown had a solid rookie year and finished the season with 45 tackles (32 solo), three passes defended, one forced fumble and an interception that was returned for a touchdown in Week 17 against the Cardinals.
Brown will turn his focus to the offseason and get ready for the 2024 campaign.
CB Kelee Ringo (fourth round, No. 105 overall)
Prior to Week 10, Ringo had seen action on only one play this season — in the Eagles’ Week 2 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Only defensive tackle Moro Ojomo, the 11th-to-last pick in the 2023 draft, had played less.
It looked like Ringo would be forced to endure a redshirt season, where he participated on special teams, while learning to play the cornerback position.
Before Week 10, undrafted cornerbacks including Eli Ricks, Josh Jobe, and Mario Goodrich had all played significant snaps before Ringo.
The light clicked on for Ringo after Week 13, as the former Georgia cornerback finished his rookie season with 1.0 sacks, one interception and 21 tackles in 17 regular-season games.
The fourth-round pick spent the bulk of the season limited to special-teams duty, playing just a single defensive snap prior to Week 14. He earned a role on defense for the final six games, starting four of them in place of an injured Darius Slay and benched James Bradberry.
QB Tanner McKee (sixth round, No. 188 overall)
The Eagles offense didn’t needed McKee (or backup quarterback Marcus Mariota) on the field in 2023.
As the third-string quarterback, McKee wasn’t active for a game this season, serving as the emergency quarterback.
In the preseason, McKee beat out Ian Book after logging 453 passing yards and a touchdown on 39 completions (72 attempts, 54.2% completion rate).
DT Moro Ojomo (seventh round, No. 249 overall)
The final pick of the Eagles’ 2023 draft class, Ojomo was active for 8 games and saw a total of 68 defensive snaps. Based on his sparse play and position in the draft, we’ll hold off on giving him a grade.
CB Eli Ricks (undrafted free agent)
Getting baptized by fire isn’t the worst thing in the world, and the former Alabama cornerback was the only 2023 undrafted free agent to make the initial 53-man roster out of training camp, and was given a lot of responsibility at crucial points.
He has made some notable plays, particularly against Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill in Week 7.
Then against the Commanders and the Cowboys, Ricks struggled, allowing a total of seven receptions for 175 yards.
A season learning from James Bradberry and Darius Slay is priceless and Ricks will be better because of this experience.