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October 30, 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.

Kenny Pickett (8), QB, Pittsburgh (6'3, 220): Miami at (17) Pittsburgh, 12:00 p.m.

Pickett is making his case to be this year's late bloomer quarterback who emerges in his final college and gets picked in the first round. Through his first seven games, Pickett has led Pitt to a 6-1 record, which included a win over Clemson a week ago. 

On the season, Pickett is completing 68.9 percent of his passes, with 9.2 yards per pass attempt, while throwing for 23 TDs vs. 1 INT. A look at Pickett vs. Clemson:

Pickett isn't as athletically gifted as Liberty's Malik Willis or blessed with a howitzer for an arm, but he can still make plays with his arm and his legs. He has very good pocket presence, mechanics, and you can pretty clearly see his competitiveness and toughness. His ability to escape the pocket, extend the play, and throw on the run gave me some Tony Romo vibes.

One significant knock on Pickett will be his hand size. They're reportedly 8 1/4 inches, via Eric Edholm of Yahoo:

Let’s get this part out of the way: Pickett’s 8 1/4-inch hands are going to be an issue for some teams. Not all teams, but some. It surely will cause internal debate with a few clubs. If you'll notice, he wears two gloves when he plays, just like another smaller-handed QB, Teddy Bridgewater.

Then again, 8 1/4 inches are about as small as we can recall. Nine is a common floor for some teams worried about ball security, especially for worse-weather franchises.

We'll profile quarterback prospects in a little more depth this offseason, but for now, Pickett is a player worth keeping an eye on.

MORE: Week 8 NFL picks: Rounding up the experts' predictions for Eagles vs. Lions | WTS: A bunch of Eagles players are (apparently) on the trade block right now

Daxton Hill (30), S, Michigan (6'0, 192): (6) Michigan at (8) Michigan State, 12:00 p.m.

Hill is a smaller safety prospect at 6'0, 192, but he's an ultra fast player who can cover a ton of ground as a free safety, or man up against fast, shifty slot receivers. 

In 7 games this season, Hill has good production, with 35 tackles (3.5 for loss), a sack, a pair of INTs, and 4 pass breakups. A quick look: 

If the Eagles are going to play a defensive scheme in which they park their safeties a mile off of the line of scrimmage, they'll need their safeties to be reactive and fast to the ball when the offense throws underneath, or when they run it. Hill is a safety who can close in a blink. He can also be a guy who can get to the sidelines from single high looks. 

Hill will be a useful fit for any scheme in the NFL, but a player like him will be particularly necessary for defenses that require safeties to be able to get to wide areas of the field. I think he's a first-round talent.

Nakobe Dean (17), LB, Georgia (6'0, 225): (1) Georgia vs. Florida, 3:30 p.m.

Dean patrols the middle of the field in Georgia's smothering defense. He's a little undersized, but he's explosive. He can cover running backs and blitz in the passing game, and against the run, he can either slither through blocks and make tough tackles in the box, or in pursuit outside of the tackles. Here's his game against Clemson this season:

30 tackles (5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, 1 INT in 7 games this season.

Do the Eagles still need linebackers? Yes. Yes they do.

Chris Rodriguez, Jr. (24), RB, Kentucky (5'11, 224): (12) Kentucky at Mississippi State, 7:00 p.m.

Rodriguez is a bigger back at 224 pounds who has averaged over 6 yards per carry in every one of his seasons at Kentucky. 

Chris Rodriguez Rush Yards YPC TD 
 201843 21.5 
 201971 533 7.5 
 2020119 785 6.6 11 
 2021127 774 6.1 
 TOTAL319 2135 6.7 23 

If you'll also note, he has relatively low mileage as well, with just 319 career carries so far. The downside is that he's not much of a threat as a receiver, as he only has 12 career catches.

Rodriguez is a tough back who will move piles and run through contact, but probably isn't going to put up an eye-popping 40 time. 

I like him as a complement to the smaller, more passing game-oriented Kenny Gainwell. Day 3 guy who is a safe bet to at least be a solid backup.

MORE: Mailbag: The Eagles' 2022 QB: An All-Pro vet, a rookie first-round pick, Jalen Hurts? | Eagles should have traded Fletcher Cox; now they can't

Nicholas Petit-Frere (78), RT, Ohio State (6'5, 315): (20) Penn State at (5) Ohio State, 7:30 p.m.

Petit-Frere is a first-round prospect who does not let opposing edge rushers affect his quarterback. From Todd McShay of ESPN

He has not given up a single sack over four seasons (including one redshirt year) at Ohio State, and he has allowed pressure on seven of 518 career pass-block snaps.

Not sure how believable that is, but whatever. Petit-Frere plays with a strong base, as a former five-star recruit he's a bigtime athlete, his footwork fundamentals look sound, and he's a very good hand fighter.

The Eagles have no doubt already begun thinking about getting Lane Johnson's successor in place, and Petit-Frere would make sense in Round 1.

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

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