PHILADELPHIA − For better or worse, the Eagles are relying on undrafted free agents this season with the injuries piling up.
The Eagles used three in the secondary last Thursday in their 34-28 win over the Vikings, all signed in 2022. They are safety Reed Blankenship, who has already become a full-time starter; cornerback Josh Jobe, who started in place of All-Pro James Bradberry; and Mario Goodrich, who replaced nickel corner Avonte Maddox after Maddox suffered what appears to be a season-ending pectoral muscle tear.
Maddox was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
The Eagles also have 2023 undrafted free agent Eli Ricks on the roster, and Britain Covey, also from the 2022 class, is the Eagles' punt returner. Covey was promoted from the practice squad to take Maddox's spot on the roster.
It's no secret that even the best NFL teams need contributions from players who weren't drafted. After all, the salary cap limits how many high-priced players a team can keep.
It has been that way throughout Eagles history, with undrafted players such as defensive backs Herm Edwards and Andre Waters, running back Vaughn Hebron, and wide receiver Vince Papale, whose story was so unlikely that it became a Hollywood movie, playing key roles throughout the 1970s and '80s.
During the Andy Reid era from 1999-2012, there was tight end Chad Lewis, defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, defensive back Quintin Mikell and center Jamaal Jackson, the Delaware State product who started from 2005-09.
Of course, the Eagles might not have won their only Super Bowl in February 2018 if not for the contributions of undrafted running back Corey Clement and tight end Trey Burton, who were two-thirds of the "Philly Special."
Here is a ranking of the top 15 undrafted free agents signed during Howie Roseman's tenure as general manager, dating back to the 2010 season:
Honorable mention, or still too early to tell
Jobe, Goodrich, Ricks and Covey: Ricks has yet to appear in an NFL game, while Jobe started for the first time last Thursday in place of Bradberry. Goodrich, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, made his NFL defensive debut against Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson. He'll likely match up with Tampa Bay's Chris Godwin next.
15. Bruce Hector, DL, signed in 2018
Hector had a finger, literally and figuratively, in the Eagles' playoff win over the Bears that season. As Cody Parkey kicked the potential game-winning field goal, Hector reached up and tipped the ball ever so slightly. The kick hit off the upright, then the crossbar before bouncing out. Hector spent the last two seasons with Detroit. He's currently not on a roster.
14. Chris Polk, RB, signed in 2012
Polk didn't play as a rookie, but found a spot in 2013 behind LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. Polk ran for 98 yards on only 11 carries in 2013, then 172 yards the following season. Polk had his best season in 2015 with Houston, his last in the NFL. He rushed for 334 yards.
13. Jack Stoll, TE, signed in 2021
Stoll is a big part of the Eagles' blocking scheme. As the second tight end behind Dallas Goedert, Stoll is often used in short-yardage situations. Stoll had a career-high 11 catches for 123 yards last season, many coming while Goedert was out with a shoulder injury.
12. Chandon Sullivan, DB, signed in 2018
Sullivan only spent his rookie season with the Eagles. His first significant action came in a 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He started the next week against the Giants, and helped the Eagles to a crucial win. Sullivan went to Green Bay for four seasons, Minnesota last season. He's with the Steelers in 2023.
11. Sua Opeta, OL, signed in 2019
Opeta, out of Weber State, is in his fifth season with the Eagles. Opeta has started four games while in Philadelphia, and he still has a role as a reserve at both guard positions.
10. Josh Andrews, OL, signed in 2014
Andrews spent his first two seasons with the Eagles, playing in 13 games as a rookie, then three more the next season. Andrews, who's 32, then bounced around to Indianapolis, the Jets, Atlanta, and New Orleans last season. Andrews spent some time this summer with the Eagles.
9. Matt Tobin, OL, signed in 2013
Tobin worked himself into a starting role in 2014 when injuries decimated the Eagles' offensive line. He started seven games that season, then 13 more in 2015. Tobin played in 42 games with 21 starts in four seasons with the Eagles.
8. Raheem Mostert, RB, signed in 2015
Mostert never played for the Eagles, who placed him on the practice squad to start the 2015 season. Miami poached him a few weeks later. But it wasn't until 2018 when Mostert got his first real chance with the 49ers, and he's been a full-time player ever since. Mostert rushed for a career-high 891 yards last season with Miami.
7. Cedric Thornton, DL, signed in 2011
Thornton, out of Southern Arkansas, became a full-time starter in his second season at defensive tackle. Thornton spent his first four seasons with the Eagles, starting 45 games, with four sacks. He signed as a free agent with Dallas in 2016 and finished his career with Buffalo in 2017.
6. Josh Adams, RB, signed in 2018
Adams spent only the 2018 season with the Eagles, but he led the team in rushing that season with 511 yards. Adams had 84 and 85 yards rushing, respectively, in two straight must-win games late in the season to help the Eagles make the playoffs. He played for the Jets from 2019-21.
5. Reed Blankenship, S, signed in 2022
Blankenship, from Middle Tennessee State, is a full-time starter this season after starting five games late last season in place of the injured Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Blankenship intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass in his first game replacing Gardner-Johnson. Blankenship clearly has a bright future with the Eagles.
4. Trey Burton, TE, signed in 2014
Burton, a quarterback in college, worked his way up from special teams ace to the second tight end behind Zach Ertz. He'll forever be known for his 1-yard TD pass to quarterback Nick Foles in the Super Bowl. Burton signed a free-agent deal with the Bears after that season. He finished his career in 2020 with Indianapolis.
3. T.J. Edwards, LB, signed in 2019
Edwards was a special teams ace before becoming a full-time starter early in the 2021 season. Edwards led the Eagles with 130 tackles that season and again last season with 159. Edwards parlayed that into a lucrative free-agent contract with the Bears.
2. Corey Clement, RB, signed in 2017
Clement was also part of the "Philly Special" as he took the snap and handed to Burton on a reverse. Clement had a greater contribution that night with four catches for 100 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown catch. Clement rushed for 321 yards as a rookie and 259 in 2018. Clement has bounced around since leaving the Eagles after the 2020 season. He's on the Cardinals practice squad.
1. Greg Ward, WR, signed in 2017
Perhaps the poster child for perseverance, Ward spent 2½ seasons on the practice squad before getting his first chance late in the 2019 season. Ward became the Eagles' most reliable receiver late that season, including the game-winning TD against Washington. Ward then led the Eagles wide receivers with 53 receptions in 2020. He has been on the Eagles' practice squad since the 2022 season.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Why Eagles have to rely on UDFAs. Ranking their 15 best under Roseman