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Eagles Under the Radar OTA Standouts

Jared Mayden, Jason Huntley, and Deon Cain were among the unheralded Eagles who stood out this spring

PHILADELPHIA - Nick Sirianni has seen enough football to understand how players max out their potential.

"Guys that are tough, guys that have high football character, and guys who love football are going to reach their ceiling," the Eagles coach has said on more than one occasion.

I'm gonna add another category to that assessment - opportunity.

You also need a chance to make your mark in the NFL and that's not always a given with players who arrive with lesser pedigrees, be they late-round draft picks or undrafted free agents.

Reporters didn't get to see a ton of Eagles on-field work this spring - less than two hours total when it came to Phase 3 of OTAs - but there were a couple of young players who splashed in 7-on-7 drills.

By nature, the NFL's offseason is not the place to evaluate the physical nature of the game, so the focus was on the skill-position players on offense and the back-seven on defense.

Here are the five unheralded players who flashed and potentially caught the coaching staff's eyes:

1. Safety Jared Mayden - Running on the third team defense behind starters Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps, as well as backups K'Von Wallace and Andre Chachere, Mayden was able to use his big body (6-foot, 205 pounds) to affect the smaller receivers when they were trying to operate in the middle of the field.

The Alabama product has an impressive PBU while the lightning-quick but 170-pound Britain Covey was trying to find space.

Because of Philadelphia's lack of depth at safety, Mayden, who entered the league in 2020 as an undrafted free agent signed by San Francisco, has an easier path to the roster than most on this list and he took full advantage of Step No. 1.

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2. Running back Jason Huntley - You can't judge backs until the pads come on from a running perspective and that will tell the tale for the undersized Huntley, who has an opportunity to be the fourth RB and kick returner.

As a receiver, the second-year player from New Mexico State stood out, however, with his blazing speed, victimizing Davion Taylor, who isn't exactly slow himself, on two occasions.

Huntley raced by Taylor on a wheel route and then outran an angle Taylor had on a dump-off into the flat. Taylor isn't used to RBs being able to run away from him so easily.

3. Wide receiver Deon Cain - The Eagles' key receivers were rotating during OTA work so we only got to see A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Zach Pascal for one practice each, while Jalen Reagor missed both opportunities perhaps related to the tragic death of his former TCU teammate Jeff Gladney.

That meant extra work for the WRs down the depth chart a bit and the 6-2, 202-pound Deon Cain, a third-year player out of Clemson, got the most out of the extra volume of work and his opportunities.

The numbers don't look good but if the Eagles move Reagor, Cain could be in the mix with Greg Ward for the final WR spot. Cain is probably the better receiver but the latter's intangibles and ability as a punt returner will be difficult to overcome.

4. WR/punt returner Britain Covey - The aforementioned Covey has tremendous short-area quickness and might be the Eagles' best option as a punt returner by providing the ball security Reagor lacks and the explosion Ward doesn't have.

That said, it's hard to envision a 53-man roster spot as just a punt returner and Covey's lack of size is a real issue at receiver that limits him to the slot.

5. Cornerback Mac McCain - In at least a bit of a surprise, McCain lined up opposite Zech McPhearson as an outside CB on the second-team defense ahead of the lengthy Tay Gowan and Kary Vincent, Jr, two players both Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman would often mention in the offseason.

McCain didn't do anything eye-opening but he also wasn't getting beat a ton in drills heavily skewed toward offensive success. In Jonathan Gannon's defense, which stresses limited explosive plays, that shouldn't go unnoticed.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen