In 2023, the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the deepest rosters in the NFL, with top-tier talent at (almost) every position and a unique blend of veteran leaders and high-end upstarts still on their rookie contracts.

And yet, because of chaos in the coaching room, the team severely underperformed when compared to expectations and ultimately came up dramatically short over expectations, losing in the Wild Card round despite holding the top spot in the NFC for much of the season.

While some fan favorites aren't back in 2024, with Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce retiring and DeAndre Swift leaving the team for the Chicago Bears, the Eagles have still loaded up on interesting talents through the draft and free agency to supplement their core, with Quinyon Mitchell, Cooper DeJean, Mekhi Becton, CJ Gardner-Johnson, and Saquon Barkley all expected to play big roles for the team this fall.

And the best part? There are still a few hidden gems on the roster who could be sneaky big contributors to the team this fall should things shake out in their favor, including a returning familiar face and a speedy long-short who shares a hometown with an all-time Eagles legend.

Keep an eye on these two Philadelphia Eagles hidden gems.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (29) reacts after a defensive stop against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.
Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (29) reacts after a defensive stop against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Avonte Maddox

On paper, it's sort of weird to identify Avonte Maddox as a “hidden gem” on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, as he's been a member of the team since he was drafted in the fourth round out of Pitt in 2018. He's appeared in 64 games for the team with 38 starts, and the number would likely be a lot higher if his position, slot cornerback, didn't have to effectively split starts with a base linebacker depending on any given week's starting roster load out.

And yet, after being released from the team due to budgetary reasons and failing to land a spot on any of the other 31 teams in the NFL, Maddox is back at a much lower cap figure with much less certainty as to how much, let alone where, he will play.

Measuring in at 5-foor-9, 184 pounds, Maddox has played all over the Eagles' secondary for multiple different coordinators, going from slot cornerback to free safety and even outside cornerback when the team needed him in a pinch. He's got fantastic speed for a corner his size, running a sub-4.40 40 at the NFL combine, and has elite change-of-direction speed thanks to his 6.51 3-cone drill, which ranks in the 97th percentile according to Mock Draftables.

Though he may not be a guaranteed starter in the slot anymore, as Cooper DeJean took first-team snaps at the position during camp, and former Atlanta Falcons/Los Angeles Rams/Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Tyler Hall has been playing behind him, Maddox can still contribute to the team as the ultimate utility defensive back, where his athleticism and position versatility could make him into a favorite of Vic Fangio, who likes to deploy his defensive backs creatively, with a base two-safety shell often hiding a more complex look that emerges once the ball is snapped.

Factor in the absence of Sydney Brown, who tore his ACL last December and is expected to miss at least a few weeks of the 2024 NFL season, and who knows, Maddox could be an injury away from starting at safety and at worst appears locked in to be active on game days as a rotational backup at multiple positions across the secondary.

John Ross

If Avonte Maddox is a bit too familiar to be a hidden gem, then John Ross might be at the opposite end of the spectrum, as there's no guarantee he'll even be on the team – 53-man roster or practice squad – when the Birds take the field for Week 1.

A former first-round pick out of Washington who famously broke the NFL Draft combine record with a blistering 4.22 40 yeard dash – a record that lasted until Xavier Worthy broke it this year – Ross never quite lived up to the expectations of his college tape as a pro, with his time in Cincinnati headlined by one only season with more than 500 yards through the air, and his subsequent time with the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs not faring much better as he never became more than a part-time performer with a one-dimensional skill set.

Still, the last time the Eagles had a speedy receiver from Long Beach, California, it turned out very well, and while Ross may not be the next DeSean Jackson – even if he was compared to D-Jax plenty during the pre-draft process – he still runs very fast and could prove himself a useful piece worthy of stashing on the roster to help open up underneath routes for AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, especially if Kellen Moore wants to use the duo more in the slot. Though he'll likely have to beat out Paris Campbell and/or Britain Covey for a spot on the roster – or at least be down to start the season on the practice squad – in the end, Ross has a skill few NFL players can match, and the Eagles would be foolish not to give him every chance to succeed.