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September 25, 2021

Five college prospects who could interest the Eagles in the 2022 NFL Draft

During the college football season each year, as long as you're watching the games, we point out five players each week to keep an eye who make logical sense for the Eagles in the following year's draft.

Kyle Hamilton (14), S, Notre Dame (6'4, 220): (12) Notre Dame at (18) Wisconsin, 12:00 p.m.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, TE Kyle Pitts went fourth overall despite the undervalued position he plays, because he was thought of as a "unicorn," or a player with extremely rare and unique size/skill attributes.

Safeties don't normally go top 5. The last to be taken that highly was Eric Berry, by the Chiefs, at fifth overall in 2010. Since then, only two safeties have even gone top 10 (Mark Barron went seventh overall in 2012, and Jamal Adams went sixth overall in 2017).

At 6'4, 220 pounds, with speed, range, instincts, versatility, and ball skills (3 INTs in 3 games this season), Hamilton could be a safety "unicorn" who goes top 5.

The Eagles haven't taken a safety in the first round, ever, much less as highly as Hamilton is projected to go, but he's as close to a can't miss prospect as you'll find.

I don't see a safety as a reasonable top 10 pick for the Eagles, but he's going to be a popular name, so you may as well learn about him now if you haven't already heard of him.

Treylon Burks (16), WR, Arkansas (6'3, 225): (7) Texas A&M at (16) Arkansas, 3:30 p.m.

Burks hasn't quite taken off yet this season (he has 13 catches for 206 yards and 1 TD), but some view him as a potential first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is a big-bodied WR, at 6'3, 225, and while Arkansas moves him around some, he most often operates out of the slot.

As you might expect of a player his size, Burks is able to run through tackle attempts by much smaller defensive backs. He also has good speed for a receiver his size, and is a threat deep down the field. As far as hands go, watch some of the circus catches he has made below.

The Eagles have a young set of receivers with promise, but a guy like this could bring that group to the next level.

MORE: Eagles vs. Cowboys: Predictions, betting odds and more for Week 3 | Eagles LT Jordan Mailata has a knee sprain; status vs. Cowboys in question | Mailbag: How will the Eagles replace Brandon Graham?

DeMarvin Leal (8), DT, Texas A&M (6'4, 290): (7) Texas A&M at (16) Arkansas, 3:30 p.m.

This is a huge season for Leal, who has a chance to be a top 10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In his first two seasons at Texas A&M, Leal has become the Aggies' best defender, and they line him up everywhere along the defensive line. He has proven to be an elite and disciplined run stopper, but has not yet lit up the stat sheet in the sack department. The ability is there. 

Through his first two seasons, Leal registered 4.5 total sacks, but he's off to a good start in 2021, having collected 2.5 sacks in the first three games. A look:

The Eagles love them some interior defensive linemen, and Leal would be a great fit for a Jonathan Gannon scheme that highly values versatility.

Zonovan "Bam" Knight (24), RB, NC State (5'11, 210): (9) Clemson at NC State, 3:30 p.m.

Knight isn't a wrecking ball of a runner, but he does break more than his share of tackles because of his ability to maintain balance through contact. He also has great vision, he hits open holes with explosiveness, he understands angles, and he typically gets the most meat on the bone reasonably possible on every run. In my opinion, he is an ideal backup running back with starting potential who will get you the yards that are there — and sometimes more — without sacrificing what has been blocked up for him. A look:

In 2022, Boston Scott is going to be a restricted free agent, and if his usage continues in the direction it has gone during the early part of the Eagles' season, they will be unlikely to tender him. Knight is probably an early Day 3 guy who can be an immediate contributor in the Eagles' RB rotation, and serve as insurance against Miles Sanders finding a new team at the end of his rookie contract.

Merlin Robertson (8), SAM, Arizona State (6'3, 240): Colorado at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m.

Robertson has experience playing as an edge rusher, as well as in an off-ball linebacker role, comfortable covering backs and tight ends, as well as playing the run. 

In 2018 as a freshman, Robertson made an immediate impact, making 77 tackles (8.5 for loss), 5 sacks, a pick, and a forced fumble. In 2019, he had 74 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. In 2020, he only played in 3 games, but he had 20 tackles and a pick.

Robertson would make sense in the SAM role in the Eagles defense. Probably a late Day 2, early Day 3 guy. Also, his name is Merlin 🧙‍♂️, which is fun, I think.

MORE: Eagles at Cowboys: Five matchups to watch | Eagles DT Javon Hargrave is a beast, with gifs and stuff

Previously profiled players

August 28

  1. Jake Hansen, LB, Illinois
  2. Jeffrey Gunter, SAM, Coastal Carolina
  3. Zach Harrison, EDGE, OSU
  4. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
  5. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota

September 4

  1. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
  2. Bubba Bolden, S, Miami
  3. Adam Anderson, SAM, Georgia
  4. Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
  5. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson

September 11

  1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
  2. Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State
  3. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
  4. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
  5. Drake London, WR, USC

September 18

  1. Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati
  2. Marcelino McCrary-Ball, DB, Indiana
  3. Nik Bonitto, SAM, Oklahoma
  4. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
  5. Kingsley Enagbare, DE, South Carolina

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