2021 Eagles breakout players: Top five under 25

Posted on July 5, 2021

Recently, Pro Football Focus ranked the Philadelphia Eagles with the 29th best roster in the league. Only ahead of the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans, the Eagles wanted to rely on younger players going into the 2021 season.

Despite numerous gaps that still exist in the roster, below are the top five Eagles breakout players under 25 years of age.


5. Josh Sweat (24)

A defensive lineman from Florida State, Josh Sweat, was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He didn’t do much that year, but the following two seasons showed vast improvements.

In 2019, Sweat totaled 21 tackles and four sacks. Last year, he completed 38 tackles and six sacks, third in sacks behind veterans Brandon Graham (8) and Fletcher Cox (6.5). Sweat also did this in 14 games (Graham, 16 and Cox, 15).

He was injured towards the end of last season, but he’ll likely return and continue to build upon his success.

4. Jordan Mailata (24)

Formerly a rugby player, the Eagles drafted Jordan Mailata one round after Josh Sweat in the 2018 NFL Draft. He did not play in any games his rookie year.

Last season, fans began to see what an impact Mailata could make. The offensive lineman led in pass pro snaps (502), equating to a pass pro snaps per sack score of 71.7. This was third-best behind Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll.

Mailata is now competing for the starting position at left tackle with Andre Dillard, who missed the 2020 season. The 24-year-old needs to improve upon run blocking, but if he’s able to win the spot, Mailata could have a huge breakout season. 

3. Jalen Hurts (22)

It’s now or never for second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts took over the starting role in the final four games of the 2020 season after Carson Wentz was benched. Though he wasn’t an immediate star, only completing 52% of his passes, Hurts provided optimism for Eagles fans.

The 22-year-old finished the season with 1,061 yards and six touchdowns in four games. Many unknowns remain going into 2021, but the quarterback has been known for his dedication and confidence during the offseason. Entering this coming season, Hurts will also be gifted a healthy offensive line, which couldn’t be said last year.

2. DeVonta Smith (22)

DeVonta Smith has never even stepped foot on a field yet to play in an NFL game, but here he is. Coming from Alabama, Smith set over seven school receiving records, winning the Heisman Trophy. He finished his collegiate career with 235 receptions for 3,965 yards and 46 touchdowns.

He’s quick, agile, and already has body control. Smith has also been reunited with former teammate Jalen Hurts and has the utmost confidence in their performance. Earlier this offseason, Smith stated that they will be the “best duo” in the NFL.

Good things come in small packages, and fans should be excited about what’s next. 

1. Miles Sanders (24) 

Pro Football Focus recently omitted Miles Sanders as a top 25 player under 25, and if you ask any Eagles fan, that makes no sense. Sanders is one of the best young running backs in the NFL.

Philadelphia drafted Sanders in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. During his rookie year, he passed LeSean McCoy for the most rushing yards and DeSean Jackson for most all-purpose yards (both for rookies) in franchise history. He finished that year with 818 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Last year, in four fewer games, Sanders completed 867 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. He was also selected for the Pro Bowl.

Sanders is explosive, and this season there’s no doubt that he’s going to prove PFF wrong.

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Alicia Andaloro

Alicia was born and raised in Philadelphia, becoming an avid Eagles fan as a child. She graduated from Penn State University and now works in the medical field. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and baking.

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