Three guys with some serious talent
It was obvious that the Eagles had some tough roster decisions to make this year after the preseason. After a poor showing over four games, there were easy decisions on the offensive side of the ball. The defensive side was a different story. A lot of talented players were in the hunt for spots on the roster. Although the guys selected for the roster deserve their spots, there are three guys who did not make the final roster that could make an impact somewhere else in the league: Steven Means, Elijah Qualls, and Jeremy Reaves.
Means probably had the closest shot
Of the three guys mentioned, Means probably had the highest chance of making the roster. Last season, Means was the last of five defensive ends on the depth chart. Howie Roseman referred to the decision to cut means as “a tough one”. He also said Means was the last cut made. Last season, Means only played in the regular season finale against the Cowboys where he notched three tackles and a sack.
In 2016, he recorded the same stats of three tackles and one sack. Prior to his two years with the Eagles, Means spent time with the Bucs, recording six tackles over two seasons. Means had a great performance against the Jets in the preseason finale where he tallied six tackles and three sacks.
Howie Roseman said Steven Means was the last cut the Eagles made. “Really hard one.”
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 1, 2018
Even though Means did not make the Eagles roster, there are a few teams that could use another defensive end like Means. Teams like the Lions, Seahawks, 49ers, Jets, and Bills could all use a guy like Means even as a backup on their roster. I think the Eagles are doing him a favor by letting him go. Means is good enough to be on most NFL active rosters. He is good enough to have an impact somewhere else in the league.
Qualls has been disappointing so far
Qualls did not really live up to expectations during his rookie season. In the six games he played, he recorded six tackles. The Eagles selected Qualls in the sixth round of the 2017 draft and he was the fifth defensive tackle on the depth chart. He turned some heads during training camp and minicamps. Back in May, he said he wanted to be better than Fletcher Cox.
Does Qualls still have some work to do? Yes. Could he refine his techniques a little bit and make an impact on another NFL team? Absolutely. There are teams still trying to build out their defenses, like the Colts, for example. Qualls definitely has the talent for an NFL roster, just not for the Eagles roster. The Eagles like his ability to play different spots off of the line, but he is still slow coming off the snap. However, he is still young.
Reaves who surprisingly did not make the practice squad
Reaves signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie out of South Alabama. He finished his college career with 296 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, and eight interceptions. Reaves first turned heads in camp on day one with a Pick-six.
The Eagles had eyes on him in the spring coming out of school due to his versatility. He started his college career as a cornerback but played safety his senior year. He also has experience playing the nickel corner role which is something the Eagles had an emphasis on going into this year. Reaves was described as “one of the most physical secondary players in the country”.
Reaves flew around during the final preseason game against the Jets making an extremely strong case for himself. It was extremely surprising the Eagles did not keep him on the practice squad.
Jeremy Reaves has been all over the field tonight. Strong practice squad candidate #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) August 31, 2018
Reaves is a guy who could make an impact on an NFL roster, especially on a team with some injuries.
Did the Eagles make some mistakes?
Only time will tell if the Eagles made mistakes letting these players walk or not. However, if signed by other teams, these three guys could make an impact with different teams. It will be an interesting season for sure!