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December 28, 2021

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

Eagles NFL
122821SamHowell Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

Sam Howell

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 on who make logical sense for the Eagles in the following year's draft.

Here we'll cover the next three days of bowl games, from Tuesday to Thursday.

Logan Hall (92), DE, Houston (6'6, 275): TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl, (20) Houston vs. Auburn, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 12:00 p.m.

Houston has had four defensive players get drafted in the first round since 2013, including DE Payton Turner (28th overall to the Saints in 2021) and DT Ed Oliver (9th overall to the Bills in 2019).

Hall is probably a little too raw and lacking ideal production to go Round 1, but he's a likely Day 2 guy with intriguing size, power, quickness, and inside-outside versatility.

If the Eagles miss out on the first wave of defensive linemen in Round 1 because of their recently weakened draft positioning, Hall is a player who would make some sense in Rounds 2 or 3, but it might take him a year or two to become a productive pro.

(Hall won't actually play in this game, as he opted out to prepare for the draft.)

Boye Mafe (34), DE, Minnesota (6'4, 265): Guaranteed Rate Bowl, West Virginia vs. Minnesota, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m.

Mafe is probably a Day 3 guy who had a good-not-great career at Minnesota, but who has physical gifts. He came in at No. 17 on Brice Feldman's "freaks" list this past offseason. 

He’s put on more than 50 pounds since arriving at Minnesota and weighs 263 now, up from 260 last year. Mafe (4.5 sacks in six games in 2020) says he did a lot of single-leg work this offseason in hopes of improving his footwork. His weight-room numbers are impressive; now the key is to take a guy who has vertical jumped 40.5 inches, broad jumped 10-6, run the 40 in 4.57 and power cleaned 400 pounds to make a lot more plays on the field.

In 2021, Mafe had 30 tackles, 6 sacks, and 1 FF in 11 games. A highlight reel:

It will be interesting to see how Mafe performs both at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. The Eagles tend to take guys with impressive athleticism in the middle rounds.

Jeremiah Hall (27), FB, Oklahoma (6'2, 248): Valero Alamo Bowl, (14) Oregon vs. (16) Oklahoma, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 9:15 p.m.

In 2021, Hall had 30 receptions for 320 yards and 4 TDs. He has a career yards per catch average of 11.3 and 12 career receiving TDs. As you can see in the following highlight reel, he has some legitimate receiving chops, as in, down the field, and not just as a dump-down guy.

And, of course, coming from Oklahoma, he shared a backfield with Jalen Hurts.

The Eagles don't currently carry a fullback on their roster, nor have they in some time, but if they commit to a run-heavy offense in 2022 and beyond, maybe a fullback who can double as a tight end would make some sense?

Sam Howell (7), QB, North Carolina (6'1, 220): Duke's Mayo Bowl, North Carolina vs. South Carolina, Thursday, Dec. 30, 11:30 a.m.

Back in November, Howie Roseman made a rare visit to a college game when he saw Pittsburgh take on North Carolina. Most assumed that Roseman was there to see Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, which is probably true, but he no doubt was also watching UNC's Sam Howell.

Some had Howell as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft before the start of the 2021 college season, but his production dropped off after the Tar Heels lost four skill players — running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, as well as wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome — to the NFL.

 Sam HowellComp/Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT 
2019 259/422 (61.4%) 3641 (8.6) 38-7 
2020 237/348 (68.1%) 3586 (10.3) 30-7 
2021 205/325 (62.7%) 2851 (8.7) 23-9 

Still, Howell's body of work at UNC is impressive, especially for a player who started as a true freshman. Without his 2020 weapons around him, it should be noted that Howell became more of a runner in 2021, rushing 170 times for 825 yards and 11 TDs, when he only had 181 rushing yards in his previous two seasons combined.

Some highlights from Howell's 2020 season:

It is still to be determined if the Eagles will roll with Jalen Hurts in 2022, and at some point during the offseason we'll take a closer look at all the major quarterback prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, but in the games I have seen Howell play, I agree with Daniel Jeremiah's comp to Baker Mayfield.

Alontae Taylor (2), CB, Tennessee (6'0, 190): TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Tennessee vs. Purdue, Thursday, Dec. 30, 3:00 p.m.

In 12 games for Tennessee in 2021, Taylor had 60 tackles, 2 INTs (one of which was a pick-six), 6 PBUs, and a FF. He enrolled at Tennessee as a wide receiver, but flipped to corner.

Taylor is a physical corner with some ball skills, and a fun player to watch. I love the play below at the 1:13 mark, where he smashes the receiver trying to block him, and then makes the tackle for loss.

I like his fit in Jonathan Gannon's defense.

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

September 25

  1. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  2. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
  3. DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
  4. Zonovan "Bam" Knight, RB, NC State
  5. Merlin Robertson, SAM, Arizona State

October 2

  1. Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas
  2. Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  3. Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame
  4. Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky
  5. Ali Gaye, DE, LSU

October 9

  1. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
  2. Avery Young, CB/S, Rutgers
  3. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
  4. Riley Moss, CB, Iowa
  5. Kenyon Green, OG/OT, Texas A&M

October 16

  1. Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern
  2. George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
  3. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
  4. Ikem Ekwonu, OG/OT, NC State
  5. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

October 23

  1. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
  2. David Bell, WR, Purdue
  3. Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
  4. Sam Williams, DE, Ole Miss
  5. Drake Jackson, DE, USC

October 30

  1. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  2. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
  3. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  4. Chris Rodriguez, Jr., RB, Kentucky
  5. Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

November 6

  1. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
  2. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
  3. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
  4. Jaxson Kirkland, OT/OG, Washington
  5. Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State

November 13

  1. Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
  2. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  3. Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
  4. Cole Turner, TE, Nevada
  5. Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

November 20

  1. Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
  2. Will McDonald IV, DE, Iowa State
  3. DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
  4. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
  5. Abram Smith, RB, Baylor

November 27

  1. Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
  2. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
  3. David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
  4. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
  5. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

December 4

  1. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
  2. Travon Walker, DL, Georgia
  3. Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
  4. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
  5. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

December 11

  1. Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
  2. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
  3. Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
  4. Isaiah Chambers, DE, McNeese State
  5. Travis Jones, DT, UConn

December 18

  1. Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee State
  2. Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina
  3. D'Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State
  4. Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
  5. DeAngelo Malone, SAM, Western Kentucky

December 23

  1. Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
  2. Dominique Robinson, Egde, Miami Ohio
  3. Zachary Carter, DE/DT, Florida
  4. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
  5. Zion Johnson, iOL, Boston College

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