February 04, 2023
For the first time since the first week of September, there won't be an NFL game of importance played on the weekend. If you feel like you need a football fix, you can tune into the Senior Bowl today at 2:30 p.m. EST.
I normally attend the week of practices for the Senior Bowl, but there are bigger fish to fry with the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, so I was not in Mobile, Alabama this week. Still, here are 20 players to watch if you want to check out the game. We'll do 10 on offense and 10 on defense.
• Jaren Hall, QB, BYU: Hall is one of the lesser-known quarterback prospects in this upcoming draft, but he had 51 TDs vs. 11 INTs for BYU the last two seasons, and he can play. He can dial up good velocity, and feather throws in with impressive touch when necessary. He can also throw on the run and make plays with his legs. The downside is that Hall will be 25 years of age when he is drafted in April. Teams looking for "the answer" at quarterback will be turned off by that, but for the Eagles' purposes, Hall makes a ton of sense for a team in need of a backup, who oh by the way has some similar traits as Jalen Hurts.
• Max Duggan, QB, TCU: Duggan was having a fairytale season up until the National Championship Game, when TCU got destroyed by Georgia. Still, Duggan was a Heisman finalist, and like Hall above, can make plays with his legs, and would make sense as a backup in the Eagles' system.
• Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas: Johnson has had an interesting college career. He was originally recruited as a quarterback, but moved to running back after Texas suffered a number of injuries there prior to the 2019 season. He had a good freshman season, but lost carries in 2020 and beyond after Bijan Robinson arrived at Texas and became the clear lead back. Johnson is a big, powerful back at 6'2, 222, and a skilled receiver out of the backfield. He is also thought of as one of the best pass-protecting backs in college football.
• Chase Brown, RB, Illinois: Brown has topped 1000 yards in each of the last two seasons. In 2022, he finished fourth in the nation with 1643 rushing yards. It should be noted that he also had an insane workload to get there, carrying 328 (!) times in 12 games, or 27.3 times per game. He also had 27 receptions for 240 yards and 3 TDs. Brown has good speed, and is a willing participant in pass pro. His extreme number of touches this season creates an interesting debate. On the one hand, he has shown that he can be a durable back despite a high workload. On the other hand, he already has a lot of mileage on him before he has even entered the NFL.
• Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia: McIntosh has a low number of carries over his college career, because he has played in a backfield that has included D'Andre Swift, Zamir White, and James Cook. In my opinion that's a positive, as he'll have a lot of tread on the tires entering the NFL. McIntosh's real appeal, however, is as a receiver, as he has 76 career receptions. McIntosh is a tall back, at 6'1, 210. He has good balance, and while he's not a bruising runner he'll break his share of tackles. He also has some home run threat in him. Reminds me a little of Kenyan Drake.
• Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State: Jones is a massive human being at 6'8, 375 pounds, with 36 5/8" arms. He has moments where he'll simply overpower and dominate guys in the run game, and other moments where he'll completely whiff on blocks. Lane Johnson said in October that he plans on playing two more years after this season, and after the NFC Championship Game he reiterated that he wants to continue to play as long as he can do so at an elite level. Jones makes sense as a player Jeff Stoutland can develop for a couple of years to be ready for whenever Johnson retires.
• Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee: The Eagles love them some versatile offensive linemen, and Wright is certainly that, as he has started games at Tennessee at LT, RG, and RT. Isaac Seumalo's long-term Eagles career is in question, as he is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason. Wright would make some sense as a "RG of the present, RT of the future," kind of like what the plan was for Shawn Andrews once upon a time.
• Wanya Morris, OT, Oklahoma: Morris was ESPN's ninth-ranked high school recruit in 2019, who initially enrolled at Tennessee before transferring to Oklahoma, where he was a backup at first but eventually became a starter at RT. It's probably safe to say that his college career did not live up to his promise coming out of high school. Still, Morris is a legitimate NFL prospect because of his pure physical tools, and because he has extensive experience playing at LT (at Tennessee) and RT (at Oklahoma). Again, the Eagles value OL versatility, and will likely have a vacancy at swing tackle this offseason. There is also some thought that Morris could play guard.
• Steve Avila, OL, TCU: Avila played at C, LG, RG, and RT for the Horned Frogs, so, yep, he's another versatile player. He is a player who could start immediately at RG should Seumalo leave in free agency.
• Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse: Bergeron is an offensive tackle from Quebec, who played right tackle as a freshman in 2019, flipped to left tackle midway through the season as a sophomore in 2020, and has remained at LT ever since. Again, with Andre Dillard likely to be on another team in 2023, the Eagles should be in the market for a new swing tackle, and ideally one with some experience playing on both sides. Bergeron could fill that role in the short-term, with long-term plan to start at RT.
• Isaiah Foskey, Edge, Notre Dame: Foskey is an athletic, bursty edge rusher prospect who had 10 sacks and 6 forced fumbles in 2021, and 10.5 sacks in 2022. He wins in a variety of ways, whether that's with speed, power, or hand fighting, and he's also sturdy setting the edge against the run. Foskey should intrigue the Eagles as an edge defender in the Josh Sweat / Derek Barnett role.
• Keion White, Edge, Georgia Tech: White is a late bloomer that we overlooked in our prospects series this year, but he came in at No. 8 on Daniel Jeremiah's initial top 50 prospect rankings. So, I have some catching up to do on White, but he's a player worth keeping an eye on.
• Derick Hall, Edge, Auburn: Hall is an edge defender with intriguing athleticism (200 meters state finalist in high school), and reportedly 34 3/8" arms who can win with speed around the edge and counter that outside threat with speed-to-power rushes. He is also considered a good run defender. Over the last two seasons (25 games), he has 112 tackles, 15.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles.
• Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane: Williams is a speedy linebacker who racked up 132 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 FFs, 2 INTs, and 7 pass breakups in 2022. He is athletic but undersized, and can make plays in the passing game. High energy player.
• Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State: Brents is a lesser-known CB prospect in the 2023 draft class, but he'll probably go Day 2 because he has some ball skills (4 INT in 2022), he's a physical tackler, and he has great length at 6'3 with 34" arms.
• JL Skinner, S, Boise State: Skinner is a big safety at 6'4, 211, and yes, he's a thumper. But beyond his highlight reel hits, Skinner also has the range and athleticism to play on the back end in the NFL. Skinner is the type of player that the Eagles have often tried to convert to linebacker. Whether they view him as a linebacker or a safety, both of their starting safeties and both of their starting linebackers are scheduled to become free agents next offseason, so he'll no doubt be of interest.
• Jammie Robinson, S, Florida: Robinson is a versatile playmaking safety / slot CB hybrid who led the Seminoles with 99 tackles in 2022. In 2021, Robinson had 84 tackles, 4 INTs, and a pair of forced fumbles. The Eagles found success with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson this season as a player who could play both at safety and in the slot, and it would make sense for them to start collecting those types of players.
• Christopher Smith, S, Georgia: Smith was a high school corner who has transitioned to safety for Georgia. He's a productive cover safety (3 INTs in each of the last two seasons) who played centerfield and some slot corner for the Bulldogs. He has some swagger to his game. Smith could use some improvement in the run support department, but as we have seen under Jonathan Gannon the Eagles now prioritize stopping the pass.
• Jay Ward, S, LSU: Ward is yet another converted cornerback to safety, who still hasn't yet seemed to have gotten the attention he deserves from the draft community, but who is a really good player. He had 158 tackles, 6 INTs, 17 PBUs 2 FFs in 32 games the last three seasons.
• Sydney Brown, S, Illinois: Brown is a great athlete who picked of 6 passes for Illinois in 2022.
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