Eagles on the Bye: Looking Ahead

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Updated: November 4, 2018

 

With the Eagles on their bye week, they usually take that time to self-scout and evaluate the team at the midway point.

I figured I’d take a shot at identifying some positions of need and some potential college prospects that could help in the future……here goes:

Running Back 

All my fellow Eagle fans that know me, know that I have been an advocate for more talent at the RB position. It’s been about 2 years now and I’m still crying for a running back. Darren Sproles is at the end of a brilliant career and there is a legitimate chance we’ve seen the last of Jay Ajayi, with him rehabbing an injury and heading into free agency. Nothing against Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood, but there just isn’t anything dynamic about that duo. There isn’t a defensive coordinator in the league that is losing sleep about defending Clement and Smallwood, and that’s a problem. Josh Adams is probably the best running back on the roster, but I’m not prepared to say he’s anything more than a rotation player. So here are some kids to keep an eye on.

Miles Sanders Penn State – The backup to Saquon Barkley offers much of the same skillset. He’s a nice blend of speed, power, and agility with skill as a receiver as well.

Elijah Holyfield Georgia – The son of boxing legend Evander Holyfield shows tremendous talent in his own right. He shows excellent burst, good speed, and great power finishing runs. All his skills are shown in small sample sizes due to the RB rotation at Georgia, but the talent is obvious.

Justice Hill Oklahoma State – Undersized, but athletic and very fast. Hill would serve well as a change of pace player with his route running ability, high-end speed, and quickness. He’d be an ideal Darren Sproles replacement

Trayveon Williams Texas A&M – Jack of all trades type of player with excellent vision, quickness and good speed. He’s also very adept in the passing game and a good blocker. You won’t have to worry about him missing a block and getting the QB killed. (Looking at you Smallwood)

Rodney Anderson Oklahoma – Anderson might be the most talented running back in the 2019 draft. He’s got breakaway speed with a powerful 220 lb frame. The only reason for concern is his injury history. He’s had three season-ending injuries in college and is a legitimate health concern. But if healthy he would be an instant fan favorite in Philadelphia.

Defensive Tackle

The biggest myth about the Philadelphia Eagles is that they’re stacked on the defensive line. They have enough to continue to compete this year, but beyond that is an issue. Brandon Graham is heading into free agency and has stopped contract talks with the team. Chris Long and Haloti Ngata will more than likely retire after the season and Tim Jernigan is coming off a serious back injury and would save the team 7 million if he’s cut. So for a team that wants to send waves of pass rushers at the QB, they are painfully thin going forward. Luckily the 2019 draft is LOADED at DT.

Quinnen Williams Alabama – Excellent strength at the point of attack. Good hand usage to keep blockers off of him and great burst and pass rush moves. Pairing him next to Fletcher Cox would terrify the rest of the NFL.

Raekwon Davis Alabama – A massive human being at 6’7 300+ lbs. What makes him special is how fast and fluid he is at that size. His long arms allow him to toss blocks aside and make plays in the backfield.

Isaiah Buggs Alabama – Sensing a theme here? Yes.  Alabama has a monstrous defensive line. Buggs has the ability to play inside or outside and is effective in both positions. At 6’5 293 Buggs uses his strength on the outside and speed rushing from inside. The Eagles love versatile defensive linemen.

Rashan Gary Michigan – A player very similar to Michael Bennett. Gary can play every position on the defensive line and is a force due to his freakish athleticism. Gary’s toughness against the run and tremendous upside as a rusher would be a welcome addition for Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Jeffrey Simmons Mississippi State – Beautiful blend of strength and athleticism. Simmons gets into the backfield whenever he wants to. Playing on the Eagles defensive line, Simmons would be insanely successful. The only cause for concern would be his character, there is a video of him hitting a woman that is sure to surface in the offseason.

Gerald Willis Miami – Highly skilled with his technique and hands. Willis routinely gets in the backfield with his speed and quickness. In an aggressive front like the Eagles, Willis would blow up his share of plays.

Wide Receiver (With Deep Speed)

Wide receiver isn’t a serious need. Especially not with the addition of Golden Tate, a highly productive player that will immediately make Carson Wentz’s days easier. But behind players like Tate and Alshon Jeffery, there are some questions. Also opposing defenses crowd the line of scrimmage because they don’t fear any Eagles WR going deep on them. So in a league where you have to keep up with teams like the Rams and Saints, the ability to throw a 70 yard bomb would be a nice weapon to have. There aren’t many speed receivers coming out though. I managed to find a few.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown Oklahoma – Eagles fans will look at Brown and immediately be reminded of Desean Jackson. Like Jackson, Brown is undersized with insane speed and agility. Brown also has good hands and electric run after the catch ability. Brown definitely would create space for Ertz and Tate to work their magic.

Diontae Johnson Toledo – Part of a talented trio of Toledo wide receivers, Johnson brings speed and precision route running to any offense. Like Brown, Johnson isn’t very big but his speed allows him to get all the separation he needs.

Denzel Mims Baylor – One of the most fluid and athletic wide receivers in this class. He has the speed to run by defensive backs as well as the ability to go overtop of them with his 6’3 frame and leaping ability

Deebo Samuel South Carolina – If the Eagles liked Golden Tate, they’d love Deebo. He’s a very similar player, but with deep speed. He is very quick in his route running and strong enough to make contested catches. He offers value as a kick returner as well. Deebo Samuel would be a tremendous addition to the Eagles offense.

Mecole Hardman Georgia – A fairly unknown player because of a limited amount of snaps. Georgia rotates alot of players. But the former 5 star athlete coming out of high school has the speed to spare. He’s already taken a kick return back for a Touchdown and puts fear in defensive units every time he steps on the field. A raw player, but definitely a project worth working on.

Defensive Back

We all know about the struggles of Jalen Mills, but there are some other areas of concern in the Eagles defensive backfield. Starting CB Ronald Darby is heading into free agency and isn’t expected back. Backup Safety Corey Graham is heading towards retirement, and team leader Malcolm Jenkins can’t run like he used to. One silver lining is the emergence of rookie Avonte Maddox who is playing Safety and getting better every week. But this defensive backfield still needs an influx of speed and ball skills.

Dionte Thompson Safety Alabama  – Amazing range and speed. Thompson can play the receiver in the slot, contribute in run support and has the ball skills to snag whatever pass in his vicinity.

Levonta Taylor CB Florida State – Excellent speed and athletic ability. Has loose hips to mirror receivers throughout their routes and ball skills to attack the ball like a receiver. Teams rarely test him. He can play the slot or outside so wherever the Eagles have a need Taylor would help.

Chauncey Gardener Safety Florida – Physical and aggressive is Gardener’s game. He’s a force close to the line of scrimmage and has the speed and range to play in a single high coverage. He also can play the slot, which the Eagles require of their safeties.

The Eagles could definitely address some of these issues in free agency but keep an eye out for these names. One or two could be in midnight green next season.

Eugene Holt is a Writer for Couch Rider Report. Follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.

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