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April 28, 2018

20 players who make sense for the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft

After making just one pick on the first two days of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles will have two picks in the fourth round. Here are 20 players who make sense for the Eagles with those picks.

• Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State: Hines is a former receiver who transitioned to running back while at North Carolina State. He is a player the Eagles can move around the formation to create mismatches, like they did with Darren Sproles before he was lost for the year with a torn ACL. Hines has great speed. At the Combine, he ran a 4.38 – that's best in the class among running backs. By comparison, Jay Ajayi ran a 4.57, while Corey Clement ran a 4.68, so Hines would give the Eagles a home run threat that they presently lack.

• Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State: At 6'2, 227, Ballage is a big back, and as you might expect, he breaks a lot of arm tackles. He is perhaps best known for tying the FBS single-game touchdown record, when he scored eight of them against Texas Tech. Ballage's rushing numbers are concerning, however, because of a mediocre 4.4 yards per carry average. Part of the reason for Ballage's low yards per carry and yards per catch numbers were because his offensive line stunk. From a tools perspective, however, he's big, he has impressive speed/athleticism, he runs hard, he's thought of as good in pass protection, and he can catch a little bit, so he should be of interest to the Eagles.

• John Kelly, RB, Tennessee: The Volunteers didn't know what they had in Alvin Kamara, who was laughably underused in college before becoming the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017. As such, you can probably throw out Kelly's pedestrian stats at Tennessee. Despite smaller size, Kelly breaks tackles, is a tough runner, and has some ability as a receiver.

• Mark Walton, RB, Miami: In four games in 2017, Walton had 56 rushes for 428 yards (7.6 YPC) and 3 TDs, before injuring his ankle, which required surgery. In 2016, Walton had 209 carries for 1117 yards (5.3 YPC) and 14 TDs. Despite his smaller size (5'10, 202), Walton excels at breaking tackles and getting yards after contact. He is good all-around back who can catch the football (56 career catches) and pass protect.

• Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama: Alabama is a running back factory, and Scarbrough is the latest Crimson Tide back likely to be drafted into the NFL. He also has low mileage, as he sat behind Derrick Henry in 2015 and has shared the load with Damien Harris in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Scarbrough did the bulk of his damage in the playoffs, carrying 46 times for 364 yards and 6 TDs in his three games against Florida (SEC Championship), Washington (Peach Bowl playoff game), and Clemson (National Championship Game). He is a physical runner in the same mold as Eagles running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, but has some injury history.

• Jaylen Samuels, RB/WR/TE, North Carolina State: Samuels is sometimes listed as a tight end, and sometimes he lines up as one, but that's not what I would call him. I also wouldn't necessarily call him a fullback or a running back or a wide receiver, either. He some sort of hybrid of the four, and a very talented, versatile player with good receiving ability. If teams around the league view Samuels as "just" a versatile player who doesn't excel at any one thing, he could fall into the mid-to-late rounds. I think he would be a versatile player in the same mold as Trey Burton, but with a focus at the running back position as opposed to tight end.

• Deon Cain, WR, Clemson: Cain is the next in line of really godd receivers to come out of Clemson. Cain has good speed and is a threat to take the top off a defense. Additionally, he has good hands, great body control, and is thought of as a good blocker.

• Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State: Ateman doesn't have great speed, but he's big (6'5), he can win contested catches, and he has good hands. In that sense, he can be a player the Eagles could groom in the Alshon Jeffery role.

• Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State: Cedrick Wilson doesn't have ideal deep speed, but he makes plays down the field. In just two seasons, he racked up over 2600 receiving yards, and averaged 19 yards per catch. Unlike Shelton Gibson a year ago, Wilson runs the full route tree, makes guys miss after he has the ball in his hands, and I love his tenacity as a blocker. Wilson could be an immediate special-teams contributor and a guy who competes for meaningful reps in the offense, with No. 2 starter upside.

• Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA: Lasley had a breakout season in 2017 when he caught 69 balls for 1264 yards (18.3 YPC) and 9 TDs, serving as Josh Rosen's deep threat. There are also character concerns with Lasley, as noted in his scouting report on If teams are scared off by Lasley's disappointing 40 time (he ran a 4.5 but was expected to be faster) and his off-field concerns, the Eagles could find good value in him in the fourth round.

• Richie James, WR Middle Tennessee State: James is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, James was incredibly productive, tallying just under 3,000 receiving yards those two seasons. In his junior season, a broken collarbone derailed his season. James lined up all over the field for MTSU, including the backfield, and was occasionally even used as a running back. In his college career, James has 60 carries for 542 yards (9.0 YPC) and 5 TDs. In the pros, he's likely going to be a slot receiver. Though he's only 5'10, 183, he plays much bigger and reminds me a little of Steve Smith (the good one). 

• Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon: Crosby was a starter along the Ducks' offensive line for four years dating back to the 2014 season, when Oregon played in the National Championship Game. He has experience both at left tackle and right tackle, and could probably also play guard at the next level, which in theory should interest the Eagles. Crosby puts defenders on their asses. He's powerful in the run game, and very physical both in pass protection and drive blocking. However, it's pretty clear to see that he doesn't exactly have cat-like quickness, which will pose problems against speed rushers in the NFL. Still, I'm very surprised that he remains available.

• Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia: Harrison destroyed inferior competition in the D-II Gulf Sun Conference, and is a highly athletic developmental prospect that Jeff Stoutland could try to work his magic with over the next couple years while riding the inactive list. Harrison is old (I don't have his age, but he's been in college since 2011), he has off-field concerns, and he has to put on more "good weight" if he's going to make it in the NFL.

• Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State: Jones is a polarizing player whose projections are all over the map. He's only a two-year starter, having taken over at left tackle after Taylor Decker was drafted. Jones has some nasty to him, but he has just average size and athleticism. While he's more pro ready than a guy like Harrison above, he offers extremely limited upside.

• Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest: In 2016, Ejiofor had 50 tackles (17 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 batted passes, and a pick. In 2017, he tore his labrum in his right shoulder, which likely occurred the first week of October. Playing hurt all season, Ejiofor's numbers dipped, as he had 43 tackles (17 for loss), 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 batted pass. He reportedly had successful surgery to repair his labrum early in February. At Wake, Ejiofor also played inside on obvious passing downs, like Graham and Bennett have done over their careers. He could be a player who the Eagles like as a long-term successor to Bennett.

• Kylie Fitts, DE, Utah: Fitts had an injury-riddled career at Utah, after transferring from UCLA. However, when he played, he was a productive pass rusher. The Eagles have shown that they will take chances on players with injury concerns, and Fitts could be a high-reward player if he can stay healthy.

• Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: At, 6'1, 292, Hurst is far from a prototypical defensive tackle. In 2017, Hurst had 59 tackles (13 for loss) 5.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Those numbers aren't great, but make no mistake, Maurice Hurst is really good player. He's quick, fast, he sheds blocks, and he constantly makes plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Clearly, Hurst has fallen into the final day of the draft because of concerns over a heart condition.

• Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech: At 6'3, 329, Settle was a a great run-stuffer for the Hokies, but also caused disruption in the passing game. Many wondered if Settle might slip into the first round, but after a bad Combine, his stock cooled off. In 2017, Settle had 36 tackles 4 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but Settle's game tape is more impressive than his stats or his Combine numbers.

• DeShon Elliott, S, Texas: Elliott is a big, 6'2, 210-pound safety with ball-hawking skills, though a number of his forced turnovers fell in his lap. In 2017, he had 6 INTs, with 127 return yards and 2 pick-sixes. He has also forced 3 fumbles, and has 9 pass breakups. I wonder if the Eagles might view Elliott as a linebacker prospect.

• Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh: Whitehead is a good athlete, as he has also played cornerback, and even some running back at Pitt. In his freshman season, Whitehead looked like a potential stud at the next level. In his sophomore and junior seasons, however, Whitehead did not build on the promise he showed as a freshman, though he did miss time in both seasons. If the Eagles think Whitehead can be the promising player he was a few years ago when he was fully healthy, they could think of him as a value in the mid- to late-rounds.

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