Brown, Sullivan will be in camp with champion Eagles
Down Broad Street the long-awaited parade came.
Players bunched together on larger-than-life trucks. The trophy — emblematic of the Super Bowl win over New England — was held high as the long route carried the Philadelphia Eagles through the adoring city.
Philadelphia was celebrating its first Super Bowl championship.
Dressed in Eagles’ sweat clothes and green toboggans were practice squad players Billy Brown (tight end) and Tre Sullivan (safety). Both Brown and Sullivan had spent the entire 2018 season on Philadelphia’s practice squad. Both were undrafted free agents from Shepherd University, where they had been in the NCAA Division II national championship game in 2015 and in the national semifinals in 2016.
Both got to celebrate the Super Bowl success the same as all the players on the active roster.
So, down Broad Street they came, at times jogging alongside the trucks and mingling with the appreciative crowd.
Fast forward to April and the NFL draft, and what did the Eagles do with the five selections they had?
Philadelphia didn’t have a pick until midway through the second round, when they selected South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert. He was the 49th player selected overall. The other players taken were a linebacker, defensive end and two offensive tackles.
The selection of Goedert didn’t help Brown, who was a wide receiver at Shepherd but moved to tight end by the Eagles.
Current tight end Zach Ertz is one of the team’s most valuable players. In last season’s NFC title game bruising of the Vikings, he caught eight passes for 93 yards, and then in the Super Bowl he had seven catches for 67 yards and took a seven-yard TD pass in the last quarter, to give the Eagles a 38-33 lead they would not surrender.
Also in April, the Eagles signed free agent tight end Richard Rodgers to a one-year contract. Rodgers was at Green Bay before but didn’t have a distinguished term with them.
On Philadelphia’s depth chart, Ertz and Rodgers are listed as the preseason starters at tight end. Brown is listed as a second-team player as is Goedert, who was practicing for the Senior Bowl after his college season ended, but didn’t play because he was injured.
Philadelphia relies more heavily on its tight ends than any team in the league. Often it has two of them on the field at the same time.
Sullivan, like Brown, played during the 2017 preseason games, but incurred an ankle injury that all but negated any chance he had of making the 53-player active roster when the regular season began.
On the current depth chart, Sullivan is slotted on the second team, and written articles by Philadelphia publicists suggest that he has a very real chance of making the active roster.
Sullivan has reportedly shown a penchant for quickly learning the Eagles’ defensive system. His teeth-rattling tackling, especially in a 2017 pre-season game against the Packers, has made him hard to miss.
Both Sullivan and Brown were longshots to ever make an NFL active roster.
Here when late July comes, they will be back in training camp again — this time with more experience, more knowledge and with more heads turning their way.