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January 22, 2016

10 players who could interest the Eagles at the Senior Bowl: Defense edition

Eagles NFL
012316JeremyCash Gerry Broome/AP

Duke safety Jeremy Cash is a beast.

All week long down in Mobile, Ala., quality college football prospects will be evaluated on and off the field by scouts and front office people at the Senior Bowl, which should be of particular interest to Eagles fans. Since 2010, the Eagles have drafted more players competing at the Senior Bowl than any other team in the NFL.

Earlier this morning we took a look at 10 players who should interest the Eagles on the offensive side of the ball. Here are 10 players who should interest the Eagles on defense.

Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU (6’7, 265)

Here's Utah State head coach Matt Wells talking about Kaufusi:

"The guy is a modern day Goliath. I mean, you all don't walk out there and see him pregame. You'd all be scared. I mean he is humongous, and he's athletic. That's gotta be what Goliath looked like back in the day. I mean, he's intimidating. He's huge, he's athletic. The guy is good. He just flips backs off of him when backs try to block him. The guy is a beast."

Kaufusi is huge and has played both at OLB in the Cougars' 3-4 defense, as well as along their defensive line. In 2015, he played DL, where he racked up 11 sacks (seventh in the nation), 3 forced fumbles, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 5 blocked kicks/punts. His best fit is probably as a 4-3 DE.

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky (6’3, 261)

Spence has first-round talent but comes with baggage. He enrolled at Ohio State but was permanently banned from the Big Ten for repeated failed drug tests. Spence has admitted that he was addicted to the drug Ecstacy.

In the Chip Kelly days, Spence likely wouldn't be a consideration. Under Doug Pederson, who knows?

At Eastern Kentucky in 2015, Spence had 11.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries, even with opposing offenses game planning specifically to stop him.

Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (6'4, 313)

The Eagles started off the 2015 season playing so well against the run. By the time it was all over, they were dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (with a h/t to Chip's O). Reed was a run-stuffing beast in the middle of the Crimson Tide's defensive line.

Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State (6’4, 290)

In the Eagles' former 3-4 scheme, Washington would not have been a consideration. However, as a one-gap penetrating DT, he makes sense in an aggressive, attacking 4-3 scheme under Jim Schwartz. Don't be surprised if the Eagles start loading up on defensive line talent, even if it's one of the stronger areas of the team as is. Washington has good quickness off the ball at the snap, and should be a good fit.

Joe Schobert, LB, Wisconsin (6’2, 236)

Schobert finished his season with 10 sacks as an edge rusher in Wisconsin's defense, but at 6'2, 236, he's probably going to have to transition to a 4-3 in the NFL.

Schobert is an outstanding athlete, so I don't foresee that being an issue. Against Iowa this season, he nearly single-handedly wrecked the second half of the game, when he had 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, several additional knockdowns, and he killed the QB while throwing, which led to a pick. This is worth your time:

Antonio Morrison, LB, Florida (6’1, 230)

Here's Morrison's overview, via Dane Brugler of CBS:

Arguably the most intense player at the college level, Morrison wasn't supposed to play the first half of the 2015 season due to a serious knee injury in the Gators' bowl game last January. He was expected to miss 10-12 months, but was back on the field in only six months and has played at a very high level as a senior.

Do yourself a favor and just watch Morrison's game against Ole Miss, and you'll see what Brugler is talking about when he says he's an intense player. I mean, watch this crazy bastard throw his body around. He's in on everything:

William Jackson III, CB, Houston (6’1, 185)

Jackson has outstanding ball skills. He had 10 pass breakups in 2014 (a nice total), and 23 in 2015. Jackson is a PBU machine, and he also had five interceptions this season, two of which he returned for pick-sixes. Jackson has great size, and almost certainly would have been a target for Eagles in the Chip Kelly regime. To be determined what types of corners Jim Schwartz will prefer, but Jackson is a player.

Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia (6’2, 195)

Canady has the length to play on the outside, but Virginia also used him in the slot and in the return game. The Eagles had little choice but to overspend on a corner in free agency last offseason, and Byron Maxwell predictably did not live up to his pay scale. I see a need here both in the short term and long term.

In the short term, the Eagles are currently running guys like Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos onto the field in nickel looks. That's not good. An additional corner, preferably once with inside/outside versatility, would give the Eagles more numbers on the back end.

Darian Thompson, S, Boise State (6'2, 212)

Thompson is a more traditional safety than Jeremy Cash below (although still versatile), and a ball hawk. Throughout his college career, Thompson had 19 interceptions. He also has great size, at 6'2, 212.

Jeremy Cash, S, Duke (6’2, 210)

I saved one of my favorites for last. Cash has the ability to drop down close to the line of scrimmage to cover slot receivers, and in the games I watched of him, he played a nickel CB role more than he did as a deep safety. He plays both roles extraordinarily well. Additionally, he has excellent size and is a tough run defender.

Cash's numbers the last three seasons are awesome:

 YearTackles TFL Sacks FF INT 
 2013121 9.5 
 2014111 10.5 5.5 
 2015101 18 2.5 
 TOTAL333 38 

38 tackles for loss and nine forced fumbles in just 39 games from the safety position is absolutely ridiculous.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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