2018 Eagles Draft Guide
With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Philadelphia Eagles are doing their due diligence on college prospects. Here are some position needs and players that I believe are best suited to fill those needs in our 2018 Eagles Draft Guide. For the purpose of this article I took into account these factors to come up with the best fit:
Offensive/Defensive scheme fit
Special Teams ability
First Position of Need: Safety – 30-year-old Malcolm Jenkins and 28-year-old Rodney McLeod are the only 2 safeties currently on the roster. Corey Graham (33), who played 60% of the defensive snaps (very well I might add) last season is an unrestricted free agent. So with no depth and no young talent to groom, Safety should be a top priority for the defending Super Bowl Champions. The Eagles don’t employ the traditional Free Safety/Strong Safety alignment, they prefer position versatility. The Eagles look for Safeties that can cover first and foremost, over the top as well as in the slot, and at the same time be physical enough to help in run support. Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz is quoted saying he likes CB/S hybrids more than an In-the-Box Safety, and it shows with every Safety from last season having some sort of Cornerback in their history. So with that blueprint, here are some players that fit the mold:
Justin Reid Stanford 6’1 200 – As of right now, if he was there at 32 for Philly, I think he would be the pick. The picture of versatility, Reid is solid in coverage and against the run. He shows good awareness to make plays on the ball as well. His best trait may be his football IQ….he quickly diagnoses plays and puts himself in position to make a play.
Jessie Bates Wake Forest 6’1 200 – One of the best cover Safeties in this draft class. Good speed and hip fluidity allows him to stay with Wide Receivers and excellent awareness allows him to make plays on the ball and change the game. Not as physical, but willing to make the hit. Needs to add muscle. Adds value as a punt returner on special teams.
Other players that can be added in the later rounds:
Siran Neal Jacksonville State 6’0 199 – Played CB, S and even some LB. Versatility and toughness with good speed as well.
Natrell Jamerson Wisconsin 6’0 198 – Played CB and Safety in college. Can cover and was an excellent gunner and Kickoff Returner. Ran 4.40 at the Combine.
Dane Cruikshank Arizona 6’1 206 – Started out at Cornerback, then moved to safety. Played a hybrid Safety/LB role in the Arizona defensive scheme. Physical hard-hitting player. Ran 4.41 at the Combine.
Second Position of Need: Tight End – With the release of their most tenured Eagle Brent Celek, and SuperBowl hero Trey Burton leaving in free agency, that leaves Zach Ertz as the only player on the roster with NFL experience. The only other guy is former practice squad player Billy Brown, a converted WR. The Eagles seem to like Brown but he remains a huge question mark. Two TE formations were the 2nd most utilized formation group in the NFL last season, at some points, Head Coach Doug Pederson even used three. To continue their offensive versatility the Eagles desperately need more players at the Tight End position:
Mike Gesicki 6’5 247 Penn State – Height, weight, speed…..Gesicki is eerily similar to a player Eagle fans love, Zach Ertz. Adding a receiving threat like Gesicki to a dynamic talent like Ertz would put fear in every defense in the NFL. But just like Ertz, Gesicki must work on blocking.
Dallas Goedert 6’5 255 South Dakota State – A complete player. Solid blocking and effective in the passing game. A big, strong player that can bring the blocking prowess that Celek had.
Later round players that can help:
Tyler Conklin 6’4 240 Central Michigan – Great athleticism shows his basketball background. Excellent hands. A willing blocker but needs to get stronger.
Ian Thomas 6’5 248 Indiana – Physical specimen. Described by coaches as having “Grown Man Strength”. All the physical talent is there, he’s just raw and still learning the position.
Chris Herndon 6’4 245 Miami – Excellent athletic ability. Good speed and is a willing blocker. Needs refinement on technique.
Durham Smythe 6’5 257 Notre Dame – Dominant blocker with some receiving ability. Underutilized as a receiver in school.
Will Dissly 6’4 267 Washington – Former Defensive End and built like one too. Strong blocker, still learning the position.
Third Position of Need: Running Back – Common thought with Eagle fans is that the team doesn’t need a running back. When you break down the position there is a glaring need. On the surface, the position looks strong with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement taking the carries, but looking deeper you see Ajayi on the final year of his contract with noted knee issues that must be monitored. There is no guarantee he is retained. Corey Clement is a hard worker and a true success story but is better in a rotation. An undersized Donnel Pumphrey and often injured Wendell Smallwood round out the position, both unproven and will have to win a job in training camp. The position sorely lacks a home run threat and a receiver out of the backfield. Head Coach Doug Pederson has spoken of the need for a ” Complete” player at RB.
Derrius Guice 5’10 224 LSU – Shows great power and an angry running style, rarely being brought down by oncoming tacklers. Good speed as well with a 4.49 40 yard dash at the combine. Not asked to be a receiver, but shows the ability.
Ronald Jones II 5’11 200 USC – An exciting player to watch and a threat to score every time he touches the ball. A former track star, Jones shows dynamic speed along with good vision and great lateral quickness. Underrated power and receiving ability.
Sony Michel 5’10 212 Georgia – Dynamic-all-purpose RB. Excellent agility and good speed for the home run play. Shows power in his running along with good vision.
Later round guys:
Rashaad Penny 5’11 220 San Diego State – Prototype size and speed for the position. Offers value as a kick returner as well.
Nyheim Hines 5’8 197 North Carolina State – A blazing 4.39 at the combine shows his straight-line speed. Good receiver who also returns kicks.
Mark Walton 5’10 190 Miami – Undersized but dynamic. Excellent quickness with great agility and vision. Very good 3rd down RB.
Kalen Ballage 6’1 228 Arizona State – Freak athlete. Good Receiver but lacks power and vision.
Fourth Position of Need: Linebacker – With the addition of Corey Nelson and the re-signing of Nigel Bradham, the hole at linebacker is a lot less glaring. The Eagles play in Nickel package 90% of the time utilizing only 2 linebackers, so it doesn’t take much to have decent depth. The only real concern is depth behind Mychal Kendricks, who is continuously on the trade block and depth behind injury prone stud Jordan Hicks.
Rashaan Evans 6’3 234 Alabama – Physical and athletic. Good speed and tackles with bad intentions. Good enough to cover in space. All he needs is experience and coaching.
Leighton Vander Esch 6’4 256 Boise State – Excellent size for the position. Shows good read and react to diagnose the play and speed to get to the ball carrier. Needs to get stronger and improve coverage.
Oren Burks 6’3 233 Vanderbilt – Quick reflex fast athletic guy. Former Safety with excellent range in coverage. Needs work tackling.
Uchenna Nwosu 6’2 240 USC – High motor. Athletic, bats down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage. fast enough to cover. Similar player to Nigel Bradham.
Genard Avery 6’1 255 Memphis – Excellent read and react. Shows good speed for a player his size. Strong at the point of attack.
Other sneaky needs that aren’t really immediate are Defensive Line, Offensive Line, and Wide Receiver. Additionally, the team needs a Cornerback that can play the slot. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles address these positions with an eye towards the future.
Some names to know at Defensive Line:
Taven Bryan 6’4 291 DT Florida
Nathan Shepard 6’5 315 DT Fort Hayes
Deadrin Senat 6’0 314 DT USF
Chad Thomas 6’5 277 DE Miami
Duke Ejiofor 6’3 275 DE Wake Forest
Tyquan Lewis 6’3 276 Ohio State
Josh Sweat 6’3 250 DE FSU
Names at WR:
Anthony Miller 5’10 190 Memphis
Antonio Calloway 5’10 193 Florida
J’mon Moore 6’3 200 Missouri
Micheal Gallup 6’1 205 Colorado State
Equanimeous St. Brown 6’5 214 Notre Dame
Names at Slot CB:
Darius Phillips 5’10 188 Western Michigan
Nick Nelson 5’11 208 Wisconsin
Parry Nickerson 6’0 180 Tulane
Names at Tackle:
Tyrell Crosby 6’5 309 Oregon
Chukwuma Okorafor 6’6 320 Western Michigan
Brandon Parker 6’8 305 North Carolina A&T
Alex Cappa 6’7 305 Humboldt State