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April 27, 2019

20 players who make sense for the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft

Eagles NFL
042719TJEdwards Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards

Through six rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles have drafted a left tackle, a running back, a wide receiver, a defensive end, and a quarterback. If you're still reading these, God bless you, but here are 20 players who make sense for the Eagles in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft:

• 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.

• Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo: In 2017, Johnson was sixth in the nation with 1,356 receiving yards, and third in TDs with 14. The five players ahead of him in receiving yards a season ago all got selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Impressively, Johnson put up the above numbers despite playing with three different quarterbacks that each had at least 57 pass attempts. In 2018, he had 57 catches for 1,011 yards and 11 TDs. Johnson is an all-around receiver with good size, decent speed, contested catch traits, and the ability to break tackles and get yards after the catch.

• 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.

• Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri: Hall is deep threat with good size at 6'2, 201 who has averaged more than 20 yards per catch over his career. He is thought of as a one-trick player, though obviously that one trick is a pretty good one. In the NFL, he'll have to develop his game to be effective, however, he would have the time to grow in an Eagles offense that wouldn't need him immediately.

• David Sills, WR, West Virginia: Sills is a touchdown machine, as he had 18 of them in 2017 and 15 of them in 2018. Watch any highlight film of him, and it's clear to see that he's good in the red zone. The Eagles showed they value red zone abilities when they drafted a No. 2 TE in Dallas Goedert with their first pick in 2018.

• Gerald Willis III, DT, MiamiWillis 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 who can probably be had on Day 3.

• Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington: Gaskin was Washington's career leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. He is a smooth runner with good lateral quickness, and while he doesn't have much in the way of receiving numbers, he has shown that he is a good at catching the football. Where Gaskin really stands out, however, is in pass protection, where he is outstanding. On the downside, at 193 pounds, he's not a pile pusher, and he lacks top-end physical traits.

• Carl Granderson, DE, WyomingGranderson 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.

• Preston Williams, WR, Colorado StateComing out of high school, Williams was a highly sought after prospect who enrolled at Tennessee, but had a major knee injury his senior year in high school. After two disappointing seasons with the Vols, he transferred to Colorado State, where he was arrested, and subsequently suspended by CSU (even though he couldn't play during the 2017 season as a transfer anyway). In 2018, Williams had an outstanding season, catching 96 passes for 1,345 yards and 14 TDs. Williams was not invited to the NFL Combine as a result of a that arrest, which was a domestic violence charge. At his pro day, Williams ran a disappointing 4.53, with a crappy 31.5" vertical jump and 116" broad jump. Still, Williams' talent is obvious, and would be a good fit in the Eagles' offense on the outside.

• Lukas Denis, S, Boston College: Denis is a smaller safety prospect, but as Schwartz has shown, he doesn't care much about size at that position. While his production was down in 2018, Denis had 88 tackles, seven INTs, 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 2017. Denis is far from a punishing tackler, and you wouldn't want him playing much in the box, but his skills translate well to the McLeod role in the Eagles' scheme.

• Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson: Hyatt was a big-time high school recruit, as he was rated 45th overall in the country in 2015. Hyatt was an immediate starter at Clemson, as he started 15 games as a true freshman in 2015. He played in 58 games at Clemson (57 starts), including three National Championship appearances, and one additional BCS playoff game. Hyatt just turned 22 years old in February and he already has outstanding high-level experience. While lacking desirable physical attributes, Hyatt knows the game, and could be a swing tackle in the NFL.

• Andrew Wingard, S/LB, WyomingWingard played safety at Wyoming, but I think he fits the mold of linebacker-turned-safety projects (think Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry) that the Eagles have taken on under Schwartz. To begin, Wingard is a good run defender who racked up 454 tackles over his college career. He's also good in zone coverage, and can be opportunistic when he has had a chance to make plays on the football, as evidenced by his 10 career picks.

• Karan Higdon, RB, MichiganHigdon is a smaller Day 3 prospect who runs hard and had better than expected numbers at the Combine. In a run-heavy offense at Michigan, Higdon's numbers were OK. He averaged 5.6 rushing yards per attempt over his career (OK in college), but had just 16 career receptions. Higdon doesn't have much wiggle. He's a downhill, "one-cut" runner, whose game is "see hole, hit hole."

• Porter Gustin, DE, USC: Gustin only played four games in 2017 because of a torn biceps and broken toe. In 2018, he suffered a broken ankle and was done for the season. He played 3-4 OLB at USC, so he would be a bit of a projection to a 4-3 DE in the Eagles' scheme, but he had good production when he was healthy. Over the 10 games he played in 2017 and 2018, Gustin had 42 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and 13 tackles for loss. 

• Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech: In the summer of 2016, Allen was kicked off the Texas Tech football team in the aftermath of felony home burglary charges, notably the theft of a safe full of guns. He landed at East Mississippi Community College, which you may have seen on 'Last Chance U,' a Netflix documentary series that shows the stories of football players at a junior college trying to get back to Division I schools. Allen played for a year there, before returning back to Texas Tech for the 2017 season. He was arguably the Red Raiders' best player, and is now thought of as a leader on their team. That season, Allen had 101 tackles, six tackles for loss, two INTs, a forced fumble, two sacks, and four pass breakups. In 2018, those numbers came way back down to earth. He could be drafted partly because of his intangibles, which are now viewed as a good thing.

• Cody Thompson, WR, Toledo: Thompson is a former quarterback-turned-receiver, and the Eagles kind of have a thing for those guys, as evidenced by their acquisitions of Braxton Miller, Greg Ward, and Trey Burton. Thompson also has an 18.3 yards per catch average over his career at Toledo, which the Eagles also covet, though to note, he ran a 4.57 at the Combine. Over his career, he had 181 catches for 3312 yards and 30 TDs.

• Lil'Jordan Humphrey, WR, Texas: Lil'Jordan Humphrey sounds like a character in a nursery rhyme, and if I'm being honest, that's partly why I'm including him. Secondarily, he has also had a good season, catching 86 passes for 1176 (13.7 YPC) and nine TDs. There isn't much "lil" about Humphrey at all, as he's 6'4, 210, but he ran a 4.75 at the Combine. Bleh. Still, the Eagles have shown they like big red zone targets.

• Elijah Holyfield, RB, GeorgiaEven as the son of boxer Evander Holyfield, Elijah Holyfield got lost in the shuffle at Georgia, which produced a pair of top 35 picks at running back last year, in Sony Michel (31st to the Pats) and Nick Chubb (35th to the Browns). This season, Holyfield shared carries with the more well-known D'Andre Swift. Still Holyfield was a good college player in his own right. In 2018, he had 159 carries for 1018 yards (6.4 YPC) and 7 TDs. Holyfield has good vision, he runs under control using quick steps to find a crease, and when one opens up, he hits it with conviction. One significant downside is that he had just 7 receptions over his college career.

• Nate Herbig, OG, Stanford: Herbig is a 6'3, 335 pound Hawaiian who dealt with injuries in 2018, and curiously skipped his team's bowl game to enter the draft early. He was a decent guard in 2017, when he played a full season, and that's what you hope you're getting if you sign him as a UDFA.

• Terry Beckner Jr., DT, Missouri: Beckner was the 36th rated recruit coming out of high school in 2015, but a pair of knee surgeries (one on each knee) stalled his early college career. Over the last two seasons, he had 22 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. Beckner will have to pass medical checks, but could be a late-round or undrafted red-shirt type of pickup who you just hope regains some explosiveness in his knees.


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