April 12, 2018

Eagles draft prospect visit tracker

Eagles NFL
041218_Draft-prospect-tracker_usat Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports, File

USC Trojans linebacker Uchenna Nwosu sacks Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger.


Over the next month or so, we'll be tracking the Eagles' 30 allotted pre-draft private visits to the NovaCare Complex, as they are pretty good indicators of who the Eagles might draft. As visits trickle in, we'll add analysis of each player. Bookmark, please.

Here are the players who have either visited, or reportedly will visit the Eagles, most recently reported at the bottom of the tracker. Hat tip to BleedingGreenNation.com, who does a good job keeping their eye out for reported visits.


RELATED: Eagles' 2018 draft picks | Updated 2018 depth chart | Eagles-only mock draft, version 2.0


Connor Williams, OT, Texas (6'5, 320)

According to Jared Tokarz, the Eagles are bringing in Williams for a visit.

Back in December, we profiled Williams as a potential trade-up option in the first round, with the thinking being that he would never slide as far down as wherever the Eagles were going to be picking.

However, after missing a big chunk of the 2017 season with a knee injury, and then not playing at his best once he did return, some of the shine is apparently off of Williams, which to me is kind of nuts.

Prior to 2017, Williams was thought of as an elite offensive line prospect, and potential top five overall pick. Much of his evaluation this year is certainly on medical testing. If his knee injury is determined not to be degenerative, the Eagles should be all over him should he slide to pick No. 32.

At the Combine, Williams' athletic measurables were outstanding: 

Certainly, however, his T-Rex arms, at 33", have to considered a concern for an offensive tackle. Still, whether Williams plays tackle in the NFL, or is "merely" an interior offensive lineman capable of playing on edge in the event of an injury, he's a player who can fit on any roster.

A highlight reel from when he was dominant in 2016: 

In Williams' scouting report at NFL.com, the following quote appears: 

"I heard all about how good he was last year and then I turned on the tape and what I saw wasn't a first-rounder at all. I can go back to 2016, but who is he now? I have to know who he is and who he's going to be in three to five years. Scouting is projecting." -- NFL team personnel executive

Scouting is pinpointing why he was so much better in 2016 than in 2017 based on facts and information, and then projecting his career path going forward. Which teams are going to get that evaluation right?

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (6'3, 218)

According to Geoff Mosher, the Eagles are bringing Sutton in for a visit.

With a 6'3 frame and a wingspan of 79 ¼", Sutton has a large catch radius, and impressive measurables to go along with his size.

At SMU, Sutton put up good numbers the last two years:

Courtland Sutton Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201427 13.5 
 201549 862 17.6 
 201676 1246 16.4 10 
 201768 1085 16.0 12 
 TOTAL195 3220 16.5 31 


A highlight reel: 

As you can see, Sutton is adept at winning 50-50 opportunities, like current Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Having two bigger receivers would pose matchup problems for opposing defenses that lack a pair of bigger corners.

Jeremy Reaves, CB/S, South Alabama (5'11, 190)

Reaves was a corner who moved to safety, and was the Sun Belt's Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, filling up the stat sheet in the process. In 2017, he had 104 tackles (7 for loss), 1.5 sacks, 3 INT, 8 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 recoveries.

Jim Schwartz loves safeties with cornerback in their backgrounds, as he has noted repeatedly, and Reaves fits that bill. Reaves is perhaps best known for being a vicious hitter.

Here's his game this season against Oklahoma State's dominant offense. You'll see a couple a big smacks here, but more importantly, Reaves shows ability in coverage from the slot, and as a sound tackler in the run game.


The Eagles clearly lack depth at safety, and Reaves makes a lot of sense as a potential Day 3 pick.

Jordan Mailata, gigantic rugby dude (6-8, 346)

I'm not sure if Mailata counts toward one of the Eagles' allotted 30 visits, but what the hell, we'll include him here. According to Gil Brandt, Mailata is visiting the Eagles.

After playing professional rugby, Mailata is preparing to play offensive tackle in the NFL, and he had an impressive pro day, via NFL.com.

Mailata measured just shy of 6-foot-8 and weighed 346 pounds. His arms measured a massive 35.5 inches. He was timed at 5.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash, which would have been good for seventh among tackle participants at the NFL Combine in February. He also excelled in the short shuttle with a time (4.67 seconds) that would have been among the top 10 at his position. Mailata put up 22 reps on the bench press.

Mailata makes sense for the Eagles, who don't need immediate help with a stacked group at OT, but will have tackle needs down the road whenever Jason Peters retires. He is a highly athletic developmental prospect that Jeff Stoutland could try to work his magic with over the next couple years, should the Eagles take a flier on him.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU (5'10, 212)

According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, Guice visited the Eagles (h/t BGN)

After working out for the Tampa Bay Bucs yesterday, LSU running back Derrius Guice will be meeting the Indianapolis Colts in Baton Rouge before jetting off to see the Philadelphia Eagles for an official visit. I’m told Eagles running back coach Duce Staley is a big supporter of Guice.

For the second straight year in 2018, LSU might have a running back taken in the first round, as Guice could follow in the footsteps of Leonard Fournette, who went fourth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Because Guice has been Fournette's backup at LSU, he has low mileage:

Derrius Guice Rush Yards YPC TD 
2015 51 436 8.5 
2016 183 1387 7.6 15 
2017 237 1251 5.3 11 
 TOTAL471 3074 6.5 29 


Guice averaged 7.8 yards per carry during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Obviously, that is excellent. His 5.3 yards per carry average in 2017? Not nearly as impressive, though Guice battled through some injuries. Additionally, in three seasons, Guice has just 32 career receptions, although that could be a symptom of LSU not using their backs much in the passing game.

A highlight reel:


Guice is similar to Fournette to a small degree in that he will occasionally dish out punishment to defenders when finishing runs, but not to the level that Fournette did. Where Guice stands out is his quick feet and cutting ability in the hole, as well as his balance and change of direction at top speed.

Donte Jackson, CB, LSU (5'11, 175)

According to Brandon Gowton of BGN, Jackson seemingly visited the NovaCare Complex.

Jackson is a track star who ran a 4.32 40 at the 2018 NFL Combine. He has outstanding athleticism, but is undersized. 

A highlight reel:


In the NFL, Jackson projects to the slot, which makes him a potential Eagles target, with Patrick Robinson signing with the New Orleans Saints in free agency.

Justin Reid, S, Stanford (6'1, 204)

According to Josh Norris of Rotoworld, the Eagles are one of five teams that have set a visit with Reid.

Reid is the little brother of San Francisco 49ers safety (and former first round pick) Eric Reid. If you read anything about Reid, you'll almost always see people refer to his "football IQ." In addition to his smarts, Reid tested really well at the 2018 NFL Combine:

His strengths, as noted by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:

Offers excellent versatility. Good football intelligence. Plays with rapid response to motion and formation shifts. Rarely caught out of position. Shows ability to excel up top or near the box. Able to line up over the top of slots and drag tight ends around the field as well. Stays deeper than deepest from single high coverage. Works with NFL-caliber recognition to reaction time. Has speed and anticipation to range over top and challenge the catch. Impressive ball skills. Can sink and scoop low throws or elevate and take away the jump ball. Physical challenges to the catch point. Sprints hard from high to low to handle run support. Eludes blockers in space. Tough enough for box duties. Runs the alley and smothers running backs. Reliable wrap and drag tackler.

That sounds a lot like Malcolm Jenkins. Here's a highlight reel:


Note the graphic on the above video at the :05 mark. Again, remind you of anyone?

The Eagles presently have no depth at safety behind the quality starting duo of Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. They could certainly still re-sign Corey Graham, who was a quality addition last offseason, but even if they do, they need a young safety to develop behind Jenkins and McLeod.

Next offseason, the Eagles would save a little over $5 million if they choose to move on from McLeod, so they would be wise to have a player ready to take over for him if they decided to go that route.

Reid would make a lot of sense at pick No. 32.

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State (6'4, 256)

According to Eliot Shorr-Parks af NJ.com, the Eagles had Vander Esch in for a visit.

The Eagles are certainly right to do their due diligence on Vander Esch, but I'd be very surprised if he made it to pick No. 32. At 6'4, 256, Vander Esch is a big, three-down linebacker with outstanding athleticism.

From a height-weight-speed perspective, Vander Esch is as impressive a defensive prospect as there is in this draft.

Though he's a bit of a one-year wonder, Vander Esch filled up the stat sheet in 2017, recording 141 tackles (8.5 TFL), 4 sacks, 2 INT, 5 pass breakups, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Eagles can find a way to trade up, then they could maybe land Vander Esch, because again, I can't see how he'll possibly still be sitting there at pick No. 32.

Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa (6'1, 210)

According to Connor Livesay of SportsTalkLine (h/t BGN), Fountain is visiting the Eagles.

Fountain turned heads at the East-West Shrine Game back in January, drawing praise from NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah:

Fountain was the most explosive receiver all week during practice and his explosiveness was evident in the game, as well. He finished with three catches for a game-high 61 yards and had a 30-yard punt return, too. Unfortunately, he made a costly drop toward the end of the game, but he generated some big plays for the East team. I love what he did running after the catch. He reminds me of the Rams' Pharoh Cooper, who made the Pro Bowl this season as a kick returner.

Fountain never really dominated at Northern Iowa, statistically, as he had 150 career catches for 2077 yards and 23 TDs. His best season was his senior year, when he had 66 catches for 943 yards and 12 TDs. 

Fountain was not invited to the Combine, which would help explain his high number of scheduled visits with teams who did not get a chance to speak with him in Indy.

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan (6'6, 330)

According to Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated, Okorafor is visiting the Eagles.

In the 2017 NFL Draft, Western Michigan had a player go fifth overall. That was wide receiver Corey Davis. In the 2018 NFL Draft, they may have another prospect land in the first round. That would be Okorafor, a big 6'6, 330-pound offensive tackle with very light feet.

Okorafor was named one of six semi-finalists for 2017 Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman (offense or defense) in the country. The others are Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown, Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson, Houston DT Ed Oliver, and Ohio State C Billy Price. You have to be very impressive to be included among a semi-finalist group like that if you play at a smaller school.

As you might expect of a 6'6, 330-pound man, Okorafor can move bodies in the run game, and he anchors very well in pass protection. He also has experience both at RT and LT, which will interest the Eagles. On the downside, there are concerns about his hand fighting and his overall technique, though that can be improved with NFL coaching. 

Okorafor is something a size-athleticism prospect, but raw. For the Eagles' purposes, he makes sense as a player they can draft and develop while Jason Peters finishes out his career, though taking a developmental player in the first round isn't ideal. I can see Okorafor being a player of interest if the Eagles trade back into the second round.

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State (5'11, 220)

According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, Penny will be visiting the NovaCare Complex.

In 2016, playing second-fiddle to Eagles 2017 fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey, Penny ran for 1005 yards and 11 TDs on 135 carries, for an average yards per carry of 7.4. In 2017, as the lead back, he built on those numbers, carrying 289 times for a ridiculous 2248 yards (7.8 YPC) and 23 TDs. Impressive.

Like Pumphrey, Penny is tore up his competition in college. Unlike Pumphrey, Penny has legitimate NFL size, at 5'11, 220. A highlight reel: 


As you can see in the above video, Penny has good speed, despite carrying 220 pounds. At the Combine, he ran a 4.46.

Penny also has special teams appeal. Over his career at San Diego State, Penny averaged an outstanding 30.2 yards per kick return, and brought 7 back for touchdowns. That tied an NCAA record. 

Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State (6'2, 235)

According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com (h/t BGN), Leonard has a visit set up with the Eagles.

Leonard is an interesting prospect who fits the speed profile Jim Schwartz looks for in his linebackers. At the Combine, Leonard ran a 4.7 40, which isn't good, but his time was hurt by a pulled quad during his first run. While he's undersized at 6'2, 235, he has long arms and big hands:

Had he not pulled his quad, Leonard may have been a standout at the Combine. 

In 2017, Leonard was the MEAC Defensive Player Of The Year, racking up 124 tackles (14.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 INTs, and 2 blocked kicks. A highlight reel: 


The Eagles recently signed Corey Nelson in free agency, possibly to replace Mychal Kendricks at the WILL spot, though it's worth noting that he only signed a one-year deal. That is likely where Leonard would fit within the Eagles' defense.

Chris Herndon, TE, Miami (6'4, 245)

According to Josh Norris of NBC, Herndon is visiting the Eagles. 

Herndon is an athletic but raw tight end with modest production (1048 career receiving yards).

Here are all his catches in 2017: 


With the release of Brent Celek and Trey Burton leaving free agency, tight end is an obvious need area.

James Daniels, C, Iowa (6'3, 295)

According to Rob Howe of HawkeyeNation.com, the Eagles are bringing in Daniels for a visit. 

Daniels is a really good player with excellent athleticism: 

This is an interesting visit, as the Eagles are seemingly more than set at center. Jason Kelce is an All-Pro starter, with Stefen Wisniewski and Isaac Seumalo as the reserves. Daniels isn't getting past the second round, so if the Eagles were to draft him, that would tell you what they think of Seumalo.

Tremon Smith, CB/PR, Central Arkansas (5'11, 186)

According to Brandon Gowton of BGN, the Eagles are having Tremon Smith in for a visit.

Smith is a very off-the-radar player, who was not invited to the NFL Combine, and is the 54th ranked CB at NFLDraftScout.com. In 2017, Smith had 5 interceptions, and was Central Arkansas' primary punt returner. Here's a bad angle highlight reel:


In the past, the Eagles have brought players in for visits, built relationships with them, and as a result were able to sign them as undrafted free agents. That could be the Eagles' strategy here.

Smith would make sense as a developmental prospect at slot corner and punt returner.

Jermaine Carter, LB, Maryland (5'11, 228)

According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, Carter will visit the Eagles (h/t BGN). Carter did not receive an invite to the Combine, and is ranked as the 41st best linebacker prospect by DraftScout.com. As noted above, the Eagles like to build rapport with potential undrafted free agents, so they're easier to sign after the conclusion of the draft.

Carter would fit that profile, like Tremon Smith above. Carter was a good player for Maryland, but he is short (5'11), and doesn't make up for his lack of size with stellar athleticism (4.69 40 at his pro day).

That said, Carter has been a productive player in Maryland's defense. His last three seasons:

 Jermaine CarterTackles (TFL) Sacks INT FF 
 2015103 (14) 
 2016 101 (9)
 201790 (6.5) 3.5 


Here's a highlight reel, which appears to have been posted by Carter himself:


As you can see, Carter takes pride in being a big hitter. In my view, he's a late-round or undrafted free agent target.

Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (5'10, 189)

According to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com, Hughes will visit the Eagles (h/t BGN).

There's a theme developing here, and that is the Eagles' pursuit of improving their return game. Many of the Eagles' reported visits so far have been players with return experience, many of whom had elite return skills in college.

Hughes was an excellent returner in 2017, as he had a whopping 16.6-yard average (and 1 TD) on 14 punt returns, and a 31.8-yard average (and 2 TDs) on 20 kick returns.

Oh, and he's also a really good cornerback. In 2017, he had 49 tackles, 4 INTs (one of which was a pick-6), and 11 pass breakups.

Here's a highlight reel. Watch his explosion on the kick return at the 0:59 mark:


With Patrick Robinson leaving in free agency, the Eagles need a slot corner. Hughes is a tough player who can play inside and stick with shifty slot receivers. He would potentially fill three needs -- slot corner, kick returner, and punt returner.

Hughes does have character concerns. He enrolled at North Carolina in 2015 as a four-star recruit, but left UNC after he was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. He played one year at Garden City Community College, where he dominated, before transferring to UCF.

In addition to bringing him in for a visit, the Eagles will also almost certainly ask receiver (and former UNC player) Mack Hollins and former UNC receivers coach Gunter Brewer for their opinions of Hughes. If all checks out, Hughes would absolutely make sense in the first round.

Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC (6'2, 251)

According to Josh Norris, Nwosu is visiting the Eagles.

This one surprised me. In fact, I profiled Nwosu during the season, but did so only because he's so fun to watch. I went out of my way to note that he would be an oddball fit in Jim Schwartz's scheme, as he would be undersized as a 4-3 DE, and not ideal in coverage as a 4-3 LB.

Nwosu's best fit in the NFL is probably as a 3-4 OLB. On the season, he had 75 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and an absolutely absurd 13 pass breakups, the majority of which were batted passes at the line of scrimmage. Nwosu is basically a volleyball player in a football uniform.

A highlight reel:


Perhaps the Eagles have an outside the box use for Nwosu, or maybe they see his future in the NFL as a situational pass rusher only, in which case he would make sense. Very interesting visit.


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