Philadelphia Eagles: Best of What’s Left


The Philadelphia Eagles failed to nab Marcus Mariota in round one.

The Philadelphia Eagles succeeded in adding a terrific fit at wide receiver.

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But the NFL Draft is far from over. So very far. Aside from being my personal favorite part of the draft, rounds two and three have provided some of the league’s most productive and explosive talents in the modern draft era.

Eagles like Brian Dawkins, LeSean McCoy, and Brian Westbrook.

NFL stars like Russell Wilson, Justin Houston, and Rob Gronkowski.

All-Time greats like Joe Montana, Michael Strahan, and Mike Singletary.

And it’s not just about cherry-picking guys who have proven they were steals:

In the last two years the second and third rounds have provided talent like Jordan Matthews, Le’Veon Bell, and Eddie Lacy.

Who will be the next great second/third round pick? I don’t know. But perhaps Chip Kelly does. Here are a few names for Eagles fans to keep tabs on as tonight’s picks come tumbling off the board.

Wide Receivers

Yes, I know. The Eagles took Nelson Agholor in the first round. But it’s a deep position in this draft and there are several receivers left that might have been first-round receivers in previous years. If one falls all the way to the Eagles at #52 or at #84? Never say never.

Jaelen Strong, ASU: A big (6’2, 210) strong (pun not intended) receiver from the Philadelphia area. Strong needs to polish his game and work on route running, but he is a physical specimen that the Eagles invited to Philly for a workout. He likely won’t be there at #52. And the Eagles wouldn’t trade up to take another receiver. But if he falls he will be considered a high value pick.

Nov 28, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) against the Arizona Wildcats during the 88th annual territorial cup at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Funchess, Michigan: 6’4, 230 pound receivers don’t just come along every day. And it’s even rarer that they have the level of production Funchess recorded at the highest level of college ball. Funchess is not a top pick because he is something of a tweener: Not as fast or explosive as you want an outside receiver to be. Not as big and tough as you need your tight ends to be. But Chip Kelly is the rare coach that likes big slot receivers. Funchess played inside in college and, if the long-term goal is to put Jordan Matthews outside… Funchess would make a fun situation slot-guy for many third down and goal-line situations. He’s a guy I wouldn’t expect the Eagles to jump for, but if he’s there at #84? Too good to pass up.

Defensive Backs

This is the area the Eagles most need to attack in these next several rounds. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Eagles added help to the secondary at #52 and #84. With that in mind:

Eric Rowe, Corner/Safety, Utah: Rowe, if he makes it to #52, will be the Eagles pick. At least, that’s my best guess. And he’s probably the player the Eagles are most likely to move up to get if they feel they can’t wait for him to fall. He’s a long, tall corner with the physicality to move to safety if things don’t work out on the outside. As a corner he’s made for press-man coverage (which is what the Eagles do.) And, if he moves to safety, he’d be more of a coverage/ball skills safety with a nasty physical streak (which is what the Eagles do.) The lack of clarity about which position he’d play at the next level contributes to his still being available. But if the Eagles have a shot to grab him tonight… watch out.

Aug 28, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive back Eric Rowe (18) stops Idaho State Bengals wide receiver Broc Malcom (2) from running up the field during the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Carter, Corner/Safety, Stanford: Another PAC-12 guy. And another cornerback who may project better at safety. If the Eagles find the price to move up for Rowe too steep and if Rowe is not there at #52, Carter could be an alternative. He could also be a steal at #84.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Corner, Oregon: Eventually, there will be non-PAC 12 players on this list. Ifo is an Oregon Duck and a former Chip Kelly player. If not for a terrible injury last year he likely would have been a first round selection. Despite all that, he really isn’t a tremendous fit with what the Eagles like to do on the outside. He’s too small to excel in press-man coverage and would likely only be a slot option for the Eagles. But if Brandon Boykin is available via trade as we hear he is? And if a guy who might have been a top-20 talent before injury falls all the way to #52? And if that guy went to Oregon? Could Chip Kelly resist?

Quinten Rollins, Safety/Corner, Miami (OH): Rollins is raw and would likely not be an immediate starter for the Eagles. That said, I think he’s a much better grab at #84 than at #52. But there’s no question that there’s talent there. He’ll never be great as a corner, but has a lot of Devin McCourty in him if you analyze his potential as a safety. And while he didn’t play ball in the PAC-12… Chip Kelly may still take some interest.

Adrian Amos, Safety, Penn State: Amos would be a massive reach at #52 and possibly a tiny bit of a reach at #84, but he’s a safety with tremendous cover skills and that is something the Eagles covet and may feel is worth grabbing and not risking that he’ll be gone before the Eagles pick again.

Jaquiski Tartt, Safety, Samford: A hard-hitting safety that has enough of the range and coverage ability to be considered in this Eagles defense that prefers two interchangeable safeties. An option at #84.

Offensive Line

Jake Fisher, Guard/Tackle, Oregon: Fisher is a player that the Eagles could have selected at #20 without anyone batting an eye. The fact that he’s still available, went to Oregon, and fills a need surely has Chip Kelly chomping at the bit. I see no way that Fisher lasts until #52, but the Eagles have the ammo (in the form of veteran players) to move around a bit. A move up for Fisher would surprise no one.

Nov 23, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Jake Fisher (75) against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Arizona defeated Oregon 42-16. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

La’El Collins, Guard/Tackle, LSU: Collins is easily the best player still on the board. And he’s a guy the Eagles brough in for a visit. He would be the kind of interior lineman the Eagles could use to complement to more straightforward running style of their pair of new backs. But Collins is still on the board for one reason and one reason only: He’s being questioned by the police in a murder investigation.

He is not a suspect and, at the moment. is simply being interviewed because of his closeness with the victim. But the whole situation has scared teams off so much so that Collins officially requested (and was denied) permission to pull out of the draft and enter the supplemental draft instead.

Collins will be a massive steal (talent-wise) for whichever team decides it is willing to risk the PR hit and the eventual possibility of legal issues stemming from this investigation. We all know Chip Kelly doesn’t mess around with players that have known character issues. But, at the moment, Collins’ issue is strictly legal and seemingly circumstantial. Based on the very limited information the public has now… there’s nothing to suggest that Collins is a bad person: Just that he was close with a woman who was killed.

Donovan Smith, Tackle/Guard, Penn State: Smith provides positional versatility because he’s a tackle with tackle skills and a tackle frame (6’6, 340) that could certainly be an imposing guard at the next level. He has issues with consistency at Penn State, but looked strong at the Senior Bowl and has lost weight and toned his body during the pre-draft process. The Eagles showed interest in Smith both at Penn State’s Pro Day and also when they invited him to Philly for a visit. He is a name to watch on Friday night.

Those are the three positions I identified as being the biggest needs for the Eagles entering the draft. But there are a few other names to watch for on Friday night:

Benardick McKinney, 6’5, 249 pounds, Inside Linebacker, Mississippi State

Owamagbe Odighizuwa, 6’3 1/2, 266 pounds, Defensive End, UCLA

Brett Hundley, 6’3, 227 pounds, QB, UCLA

Next: Analyzing the Nelson Agholor Pick

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