January 09, 2017
Tonight, Alabama will attempt to defend its title as the top team in college football in a rematch of last year's FBS National Championship Game against Clemson. Throughout the season, we've profiled numerous players from both schools, identifying them as potential fits for the Philadelphia Eagles. As long as you're watching the big game, here are five more who could make some sense for the Birds in the 2017 NFL Draft.
In case you missed any of our previously profiled Alabama and Clemson players, you can find them here:
To note, the Eagles currently have eight draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, listed here.
Tomlinson reminds me a little of Bennie Logan, in that Tomlinson is a lesser known player who does a lot of the dirty work along the Crimson Tide's defensive line, but doesn't put up big glamor stats like many of his teammates. Logan played a similar role coming out of college at LSU.
In 2015, Tomlinson was stuck behind A'Shawn Robinson (drafted 46th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft) and Jarran Reed (49th overall). However, in limited opportunities, he made a lot of tackles and got his hands on a lot of passes. He had 34 tackles and six (!) batted passes.
In 2016, Tomlinson became a starter, posting 58 tackles, three sacks, four batted passes, and a forced fumble.
In high school, Tomlinson was the Georgia state wrestling champion three times, pinning this poor bastard in nine seconds in the finals his senior year:
Here's Tomlinson against Wisconsin last season. As you'll see, he anchors very well against the run, as you might expect from his wrestling background. He also does a good job of pushing the pocket, although he doesn't have much in the way of a pass rush arsenal. You'll also see his motor, as he chases plays downfield from his defensive line spot. And then obviously, you'll see his ability to bat passes at the line of scrimmage:
With Bennie Logan slated to become a free agent this upcoming offseason, combined with the fact that two of the Eagles' division rivals -- the Cowboys and Redskins -- have dominant run blocking offensive lines, a run stuffing defensive tackle could interest the Eagles.
Tomlinson was offered a scholarship to Harvard for his academics, and to Alabama for his athleticism. How many people can say that? Ironically, the former may actually hurt Tomlinson's draft stock, as teams may worry that he's "too smart." Also of concern will be that Tomlinson has torn an ACL in both knees, although he latest tear was in 2013.
Clemson has two extremely talented defensive tackles in Watkins and Dexter Lawrence, who is a 6'5, 340-pound athletic beast who will one day be a top 10 pick. (Watch him tonight, too).
Watkins is sort of the opposite of Tomlinson above. While I don't love his motor and he's nowhere near as good against the run, Watkins did put up glamor stats in 2016, when he collected 10.5 sacks, best in the nation among defensive tackles. The majority of those sacks came from Watkins simply pushing the pocket and engulfing the quarterback.
Last season, Brandon Graham was fifth in the NFL in hurries, but he only had 5.5 sacks. Adding a player like Watkins to the middle of the defense who can split double teams and push the pocket would help make everyone else along the defensive line better.
As you might imagine with a 6'2, 340-pound guard, Crowder is a mauler in the run game. For example, watch him dominate Auburn DT Montravius Adams, who is a projected Day 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft:
Also as you might imagine for a man of his dimensions, Crowder isn't exactly pretty to look at in the screen game or when he's asked to pull, although there some moments when he does a good job coming off double teams and picking up an extra block at the second level.
While you might think that Crowder could be easy pickings in the passing game against quicker interior defensive linemen, that didn't happen at the college level. According to cfbfilmroom.com, Crowder didn't allow any sacks in 2016, and he allowed just one in 2015. He also had just three penalties over the last two seasons, all of which were false starts.
If you watched the Raiders this season, while they got excellent play from Derek Carr, a big part of their success was in the run game, which was led by massive guards Kelechi Osemele (6'5, 333) and Gabe Jackson (6'4, 340). The Eagles could have a similar setup in this scenario with Crowder and 6'5, 346 pound RG Brandon Brooks.
Crowder could be taken as high as the second round. If the Eagles intend on parting ways with Jason Kelce, thus opening up the center job for Isaac Seumalo, then Crowder could potentially fill in as the LG, with Allen Barbre serving as the guy off the bench who can play everywhere but center. The second round is probably a little high, but if he's there in the third, I could imagine the Eagles having interest.
Over the last two seasons, Leggett has 79 catches for 1166 yards and 15 TDs. At Clemson, the Tigers used him almost like a big wide receiver, although he didn't run a wide assortment of routes. In that respect, he'll be a bit of a project in the NFL, as he'll be behind some of the other prospects as a blocker and a route runner.
Leggett has ideal size at 6'5, and a large catch radius. He has good hands (when he uses them), but will drop passes when he tries to body catch. A highlight reel:
While the Eagles already have three tight ends in Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, and Trey Burton, Doug Pederson wanted to keep four tight ends coming out of training camp, but Chris Pantale simply was not worthy of a roster spot.
This year's tight end class is much deeper and more talented than it has been over the last two drafts, so there may be a few that fall a little further than they would otherwise. For an Eagles team that doesn't necessarily need any immediate production from a tight end, barring injury, Leggett would make sense as a guy they could develop as a replacement for the spot that will eventually be vacated by Brent Celek, who turns 32 this month, and has only missed one game over his 10-year career.
Johnson is the first safety we've profiled all year, seeing as the Eagles have starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod locked up to long-term deals for the foreseeable future. However, as we noted in our "stay or go" series, Jaylen Watkins will be a restricted free agent this offseason. If he is unwilling to work out a team-friendly deal, then he could be on his way out. Even if Watkins is willing, his roster spot is far from guaranteed.
Johnson has a nose for the football, collecting five interceptions this season.
He also says dumb stuff. For example, before the Tigers' playoff game against Ohio State a couple weeks ago, Johnson said that OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett has a weak arm. Prior to Clemson's game against Louisville, Johnson would only refer to star quarterback Lamar Jackson as "No. 8."
Jadar Johnson is asked about Lamar Jackson and says "That's who, No. 8?" Asked what he'd do if Jackson tries to hurdle him: "Body slam him."— Larry Williams (@LarryWilliamsTI) September 27, 2016
Dumb? Confident? Potato, potahto. However you see it, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves him some finger-wagging defensive backs.
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