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May 09, 2017

Analyzing the Eagles' unofficial 2017 undrafted free agent class

Eagles NFL

This time a year ago, the Eagles signed 15 undrafted free agents. Four ended up seeing game action during the 2016 season. They were Byron Marshall, Destiny Vaeao, Dillon Gordon, and C.J. Smith. None have made a big impact yet, but the Eagles have had success with their undrafted player hauls in the past.

It's also perhaps worth noting that the Eagles are more willing to pony up for undrafted free agent talent and they spent far more money on them in 2016 than any other team in the NFL.

Normally, we would wait to publish the Eagles' list of undrafted free agents until the team officially announces them, however, it does not appear that they will do so this year until we get closer to the team's minicamp, which begins May 12. 

Since we know Eagles fans will not accept waiting that long, we've decided to do analysis on the players who have either stated themselves that they have signed with the Eagles or players who have reportedly signed with the Eagles.

Here are the players that have reportedly signed this year during the undrafted free agent phase of the draft, with CBS Sports' prospect rank and NFL.com' Lance Zierlein's grades:

 PlayerCBS rank Zierlein grade 
Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia 95 5.2 
 Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin196 5.2 
 Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma225 5.2 
 Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech257 5.2 
Billy Brown, TE, Shepard 292 5.1 
 Winston Craig, DT, Richmond324 N/A 
Cameron Johnston, P, Ohio State 376 5.0 
Randall Goforth, S, UCLA 402 N/A 
 Marcus Oliver, LB, Indiana465 4.9 
Greg Ward Jr., WR, Houston 633 4.9 
Jomal Wiltz, CB, Iowa State N/A N/A 
 Tre' Sullivan, S, ShepherdN/A N/A 


A breakdown of the players above:

Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia (6'3, 295)

According to West Virginia Football's Twitter account, Orlosky signed with the Eagles:

The Eagles love Jason Kelce's smarts and have credited him with making life easier on Carson Wentz by making correct line calls. One player we profiled during the college football season was Orlosky, who is widely praised for his smarts and toughness. 

In 2015, former Mountaineers running back Wendell Smallwood led the country with 58 rushes of 10+ yards at West Virginia. A lot of those runs were right up the middle behind Orlosky. For example:


The Eagles are stacked with interior offensive linemen, so it's a little surprising that Orlosky would choose them.

Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin (5'10, 220)

Clement himself announced that he's joining the Eagles: 

Throughout the season, during our Grocery Shopping series in which we profiled five players to watch every Saturday who could interest the Eagles, I had many opportunities to cover Clement but always passed because he doesn't contribute much in the passing game. Over his career at Wisconsin, Clement had just 29 receptions and was often not in the game at all in third-and-long situations.

His Combine performance was also dreadful.

That 28 1/2" vertical leap isn't much better than what I would do.

There are also character concerns. Here's what Lance Zierlein wrote under the "weaknesses" section of his scouting report on NFL.com:

Scouts have labeled him "entitled" and question his football character and leadership. Had 2015 season washed away due to injury, attitude and an off-field incident.

Still, Clement does have his positives. In 2016, he had a heavy workload, carrying the ball 314 times for 1375 yards and 15 TDs. When you watch him run, the obvious thing you'll notice is that he will break a lot of tackles. That is a something the Eagles won't have much of at the running back position when they release Ryan Mathews. 

A highlight reel:


With three small running backs in Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey, Clement should get a legitimate look at making the team as the "big back" in the Eagles' RB committee.

Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma (6'2, 310)

According to Field Yates of ESPN, Walker will be signing with the Eagles.

Walker is a very interesting player who was once thought of as a potential early-round prospect. In 2015, Walker had 36 tackles (10 for loss), and 6 sacks. Expectations were high in 2016, but his season unraveled quickly. After suffering a concussion (his third career concussion) in the Sooners' fourth game, Walker eventually decided to leave the team to prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft.

Oklahoma coaches were not happy about that decision.

Prior to the draft, Walker learned that he suffers from depression. He sent out a letter to all 32 teams explaining his diagnosis, treatment, and that he is hungry to play football again. 

He didn't look hungry last season. Below is his game in the opener against Houston in 2016. I won't sugarcoat it. His effort is awful in this game. There are plenty of examples, but the most egregious one to me is at the 4:07 mark, where he's casually jogging after Houston's running back on an option play to his side of the field.


Walker has a lot of red flags, most notably his concussion history and his desire to play. If indeed it was depression that was holding him back, then perhaps Walker can get more out of his talents with proper treatment. When he is right, Walker can be a disruptive, penetrating interior defensive tackle who should be an ideal fit for Jim Schwartz's attack-style scheme.

Jerod Evans, QB, Virginia Tech (6'3, 232)

According to Eric Galko of Sporting News, the Eagles signed quarterback Jerod Evans. 

Unlike the rest of the players on this list, he did not announce the signing, likely because he's very unhappy about going undrafted.

If you go to Evans' Twitter page, you'll see that his cover picture is of seven quarterbacks that were taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. It would appear that Evans is hungry to prove people wrong about him.

Evans is big quarterback with running ability who is a load to bring down. He also has a good arm, and can make difficult throws down the field. In 2016, he put up impressive numbers:

Jerod Evans (Passing)Comp-Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT 
2016 268-422 (63.5%) 3552 (8.4) 29-8 


Jerod Evans (Rushing) Rush Yards YPC TD 
 2016204 846 4.1 12 


The above numbers are also his career numbers at Virginia Tech, as he has only played in 14 games, all in 2016. Because he does have raw ability but unrefined know-how at quarterback, the overwhelming thinking on Evans is that he should have stayed in school rather than come out this year. 

Here's a highlight reel. The first run in the following clip is awesome:


For the Eagles' purposes, Evans is a perfect match from a developmental quarterback perspective. With their QB-focused coaching staff that includes Doug Pederson, Frank Reich, and John DeFilippo, the Eagles can potentially stash Evans on their practice squad and work toward cultivating his skill set.

Winston Craig, DT, Richmond (6'3, 288)

The Richmond University Twitter account tweeted that Craig is joining the Eagles:

Joe Douglas' alma mater is Richmond, sooooo, #SpiderBias. In 2016, Craig had 59 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, a 7.5 sacks. Here's a bio video of him:


As the video notes, he was "the bell cow of UR's defensive line," whatever that means.

Update: I've learned that a bell cow is "a cow, especially the lead cow of a herd, having a bell attached to a collar around its neck so that the herd can be located easily," according to dictionary.com. In other words, Craig is the player the opposing offense wants to always locate. "Bell cow" is a term I always associated with running backs, but, well, I learned something new today.

Cameron Johnston, P, Ohio State

Johnston himself tweeted that he's joining the Eagles:

Donnie Jones is among the league's best punters and he just signed a contract extension that would constitute significant penalties if they cut him. Johnston is just around to give Donnie a break here and there during camp.

Randall Goforth, CB/S, UCLA (5'10, 186)

According to UCLA Football's Twitter account, Goforth signed with the Eagles:

Goforth is an undersized safety who played some corner at UCLA. The Eagles will likely view him as a slot corner prospect. A highlight reel:


In 2016 Goforth was productive, with 59 tackles, four INTs, nine pass breakups and one forced fumble. 

Greg Ward, Jr., WR, Houston (5'10, 182)

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported that Ward is signing with the Eagles.

Ward played quarterback at Houston, throwing 52 touchdown passes and rushing for 39 more over four years. The following highlight reel should at least give an idea of his ability as a runner:


He'll transition to receiver in the pros, but should have an understanding of route running and what a quarterback wants from his receivers.

Jomal Wiltz, CB, Iowa State (5'10, 174)

Iowa State Football's Twitter account tweeted that Wiltz is joining the Eagles:

Wiltz is an undersized corner that the Cyclones listed at 5'10, 174, and he may not even be that big. But... while he may be small, and granted this is a highlight film, he certainly seems willing to stick his nose in and deliver hits:


Wiltz ran track at Iowa State as well and has good speed. In 2016, he had 49 tackles, 2 INTs, and 9 pass breakups.

Tre' Sullivan, S, Shepherd (5'11, 189)

Shepherd Football's Twitter account tweeted that Sullivan is joining the Eagles:

Sullivan was the teammate of Brown (above) at Shepherd, and the two share an agent. Sullivan was not rated at all by CBS or Zierlein, and NFLDraftScout.com had him as the 69th rated FS. As such, my original assumption was that Sullivan was brought along as a package deal in order to get Brown. After watching a highlight reel of Sullivan, I'm not so sure about that anymore.

As you can see, this kid loves to throw his body around and hit people.

We will update with any additional players who reportedly have joined the team.


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