April 27, 2019
In the first round two days of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles made three picks, all on the offensive side of the ball. They only have two picks remaining -- one in the fourth, and one in the fifth. Here are 20 players I that I think would make sense for them in Round 4.
• Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida: Gardner-Johnson played the "Star" position in the Florida defense, which the follow video describes as "a nickel corner on steroids," who toggles back and forth between corner, safety, and linebacker. That is a role similar to that of Jenkins in the Eagles' defense, and Gardner-Johnson is very logical successor.
• Amani Hooker, S, Iowa: Hooker played a similar version at Iowa that Gardner-Johnson (above) played at Florida, in that he played some slot corner, safety, and linebacker. In that sense, once again, he would an eventual replacement for Jenkins. In 2018, Hooker had four picks and seven pass breakups.
• Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama: As a freshman in 2016, Wilson's impact was mainly felt on special teams, where he produced a lot of big hits on kick coverage. When he got his chance to start in 2017, he responded by intercepting four passes. In 2018, he had two picks, and was an enforcer at times (but a shaky tackler at other times) in the middle of Bama's imposing defense. At one point, Wilson was thought of as a potential first round pick. Somewhere along the line, his stock fell, as many have concerns about his ability to read and react. I thought his ability in coverage alone should get him drafted on Day 2, but he has fallen.
• Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame: Love's biggest strength, by far, is his ability to get hands on the football. In 2017, he had a highly impressive 20 pass breakups. In 2018, he had 16. He also has three career return touchdowns (two on INTs, one on a fumble recovery). However, while a confident player (Jim Schwartz alert), he doesn't have ideal speed (4.54), and he's not a particularly physical player.
• Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama: Thompson is a tall safety with excellent range and good ball skills. While he's not a thumper, he is very good in coverage, and would make sense for the Eagles in the McLeod role as a single-high safety.
• Joe Jackson, DE, Miami: Jackson was an immediate force as soon as he got to Miami, as he had 7.5 sacks his freshman season. He finished his three-year career at Miami with 22.5 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss. At 6'4, 275, with plenty of power, he won't get pushed around as a rookie in the NFL, and his relentless style of play would fit well in a rotational role in the Eagles' defense. He's a guy who can play DE on base downs, and be an interior rusher on obvious passing downs, somewhat like Michael Bennett. I believe Jackson is one of the more underrated defensive ends in this class.
• Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston: At 6'2, 208, with a 4.4 40, Johnson is a height-weight-speed freak. However, he's raw. Johnson was a receiver his first two seasons at Houston, but flipped over to corner for his last two. As such, he is thought of as an inconsistent player, but one with a high ceiling. For the Eagles' purposes, Johnson makes sense as a developmental prospect. In the meantime, before he carves out a role in the regular defense, Johnson is thought of as a very good player on special teams.
• Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami: Redwine was a corner at Miami for two seasons before he moved to safety. He has good man-coverage ability against tight ends, he is a good blitzer, and he is a physical run defender. He also had a very good showing at the Combine. Redwine is the type of confident player that Schwartz should love.
• Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State: Oruwariye fits the profile of a bigger corner that the Eagles have brought in under Schwartz, similar to Douglas and Daryl Worley. Like Douglas, he also had good ball skills in college, as he had seven INTs and 18 pass breakups the last two seasons at Penn State. Oruwariye had a solid Combine, and Round 4 would be good value.
• Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon: Jelks is a long-and-lean defensive end from Oregon's 3-4 scheme that required him to play a lot of 2-gap responsibility. Remember those 3-4, 2-gap days in Philly? You'd probably prefer to forget. In the NFL, Jelks projects to 4-3 defensive end, where teams can better utilize his explosiveness. While his 3-4 background won't help his college stats (he has just 15.5 sacks in 4 seasons), his time being misused at Oregon will serve him well in the NFL as a run stopper.
• Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida: Joseph needs a lot of coaching, but his athleticism is obvious when you watch him play. His strength is in the passing game, in coverage. I'm not sure how much he helps you in Year 1, but he's a high floor, low ceiling player worth a shot on Day 3.
• Kris Boyd, CB, Texas: In 2017, Boyd had 15 pass breakups. In 2018, he had 15 once again. My conclusion -- he gets his hands on a lot of footballs, which is good. On the downside, he had some pretty bad games in 2018, playing against high-octane offenses. However, he runs a 4.45 40, he has a thicker build for a corner, at 5'11, 201, and he's a good tackler who will lay the occasional big hit. I kinda like him more as a safety prospect in Jim Schwartz's defense.
• Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan: Crosby absolutely tore up the Combine, but one of the things that you notice when watching him play is his lack of muscle definition. Opposing offensive tackles are going to line up against him and will be licking their chops in the run game. With a year or two of NFL weight training under his belt, Crosby could develop into a more complete player, but his ability to stop the run will be in question until then. For now, he's just a sub-package pass rush specialist prospect worth taking a flyer on early on Day 3.
• Dru Samia, OG/OT, Oklahoma: Samia is a tough, competitive player with some nice athletic attributes who will likely be a guard in the pros, but he does have extensive experience at Oklahoma at RG and RT. At 305 pounds, he's a little undersized, but makes up for it with his athleticism, even if he didn't test well at the Combine. His ability as a pulling guard and a guy who can work to the second level is obvious. The biggest concern would be powerful defenders getting a push against him on bull rushes.
• Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson: Bryant is sort of the forgotten man on Clemson's loaded defensive front. In 2017, he had 50 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. In 2018, has once again had 8.5 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss. Bryant has good blend of size and athleticism, but you don't see much in the way of polish as a pass rusher, and there are concerns about him in the run game. He'll need to develop moves and improve technique at the next level. It's also fair to wonder if he benefited from the presence of so many soon-to-be professional defensive line teammates.
• Gerald Willis III, DT, Miami: Willis was a highly recruited player coming out of high school who originally enrolled at Florida, but transferred to Miami after his first season there. He didn't exactly seem like the best guy off the field, or even on it. At Miami, Willis seemed to get his act together to some degree, as he had 59 tackles, with an impressive 18 tackles for loss, and four sacks. Willis is undersized, a character concern, a liability at times against the run, and he underachieved up until this past season, but he is also a very clearly talented player.
• Hjalte Froholdt, OG/C, Arkansas: Froholdt comes from Denmark, and has limited experience playing football overall, but the experience he does have was in the SEC against some very good defensive linemen. Upon arrival at Arkansas, he was a defensive tackle, who eventually flipped to the offensive side of the ball, where he played guard and center. Obviously, the Eagles took a chance on another foreign player with limited experience, but some athletic upside in Mailata.
• Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami: Johnson was the leader of Miami's defense and a team captain. In 2017, he was a ball hawk, picking off four passes and forcing three fumbles while also leading the team with 96 tackles. In 2018, those numbers fell off a bit, as he had two picks and two forced fumbles. Johnson is a more-than-willing tackler, who will also deliver the occasional big hit, but he has significant size and speed limitations.
• Carl Granderson, DE, Wyoming: Granderson was a lightly-recruited player who played linebacker and tight end in high school, while being listed at 6'6, 185. You can see how skinny he was in his high school highlight reel. At Wyoming, he put on about 70 pounds to play DE, and apparently shrunk an inch. In his third year at Wyoming in 2017, Granderson broke out, collecting 78 tackles (16 for loss), 8.5 sacks, two FF, and two INTs. In 2018, those numbers fell off sharply, as he had 40 tackles (7.5 for loss), three sacks, and no forced fumbles. Granderson has good quickness and athleticism from his DE spot, but is still developing.
• T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin: Edwards led the Badgers in tackles as a freshman, sophomore, and senior, and was second as a junior in 2017. More importantly, over the last two seasons, Edwards has 10 interceptions. Edwards doesn't have good athleticism, and while you don't want him covering guys like Tarik Cohen or Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, he is good in coverage, particularly in zone assignments, which is what Jim Schwartz prioritizes in his linebackers.
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