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April 19, 2023

Eagles 2023 draft prospect visit tracker

A list and analysis of every prospect visiting the Eagles ahead of the draft.

Eagles NFL
040923JalenCarter Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Georgia DT Jalen Carter

Over the next month or so, we'll be tracking the Eagles' 30 allotted pre-draft private visits to the NovaCare Complex, as they are pretty good indicators of who the Eagles might select. As reports of visits trickle in, we'll add analysis of each player. Bookmark, please. Most recent reports first.

Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (6'0, 197)

Banks had just 1 INT and 3 pass breakups over his first three seasons (16 games) at Maryland, but was thought of as a breakout player in 2022 with 8 pass breakups and a pick. At 6'0, 197, Banks has decent size with sticky man-to-man coverage abilities.

Banks tore up the Combine.

If Banks had more takeaway production, he would be talked about as a top half of the first round type of prospect. At pick 30, he would be a nice value, and in Philadelphia he would be able to ease into the NFL playing behind Darius Slay and James Bradberry before eventually taking over as a starting outside corner.

(Report via Ian Rapoport.)

Brian Branch, S, Alabama (6'0, 198)

Branch doesn't have great size at 5'11 5/8" and 190 pounds, nor does he have ideal speed or athleticism, as he ran a 4.58 40 at the Combine, but he is a very good football player.

Branch can man up wide receivers in the slot, or he can play safety, so the easy comp to make from an Eagles perspective is Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Branch likes to play up near the line of scrimmage where there's more action, and he has a knack for making plays in the offensive backfield. He's a unique player who can do a lot of different things, and has no obvious weaknesses either in coverage or against the run, and he can help allow defensive coordinators to disguise defensive looks. Some highlights:

With the departure of Gardner-Johnson, the Eagles could use a player to fill that role, and Branch could potentially even be an upgrade.

(Report via Ian Rapoport.)

Will McDonald IV, Edge, Iowa State (6'4, 239)

McDonald is a productive pass rusher prospect who racked up 34 sacks and 10 forced fumbles at Iowa State. He has speed, twitch, and impressive change of direction. A quick taste:

McDonald had a monster 2021 season, when he had 11.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. As you can see from the below (unofficial) stat, he was among the big boy 2022 draft pass rusher prospects in generating pressure in obvious pass rush situations.

The issue with McDonald is that he's a liability against the run, and as a down lineman, can only be a situational pass rusher at the next level, unless his run defense improves substantially. However, for the Eagles' purposes, McDonald has shown that he's not completely lost dropping into coverage. He could perhaps be a candidate for the SAM position. In that role, he wouldn't often be asked to hold the point of attack at the line of scrimmage against the run and could use his athleticism to attack.

It should also be noted that McDonald turns 24 in June. He faced hardships as a youth and almost joined the Army to help keep the lights on for his family before football paved a different path for him.

McDonald has occasionally been mocked to the Eagles at 30. I believe he would be better value if the Eagles traded back from 30 into the second round.

(Report via Tony Pauline.)

Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (6'5, 333)

Wright started games at Tennessee at LT, RG, and RT, which makes him a candidate for a "RG of the present, RT of the future," kind of role, similar to Shawn Andrews once upon a time. Wright was heavily recruited out of high school (16th in the country by Rivals, 5th overall by ESPN). He had a disappointing start to his college career, but broke out in 2022 while playing RT.

One of Wright's claims to fame is a game against Alabama in 2022 during which he often faced off against star edge rusher Will Anderson. Some have gone as far as to say Wright "dominated" Anderson. I wouldn't go that far, but it was certainly a strong performance. If you have 13 minutes to kill, you can judge for yourself here: 

One of my takeaways from the above video is that Jalin Hyatt is awesome, but I digress.

Wright can pass protect, he can mash in the run game, and watch the athleticism here for a 333-pound dude:

There are concerns with Wright, as he recently responded badly to some criticism of his game. It takes thick skin to play in Philadelphia.

Kahlef Hailassie, CB, Western Kentucky (6'1, 200)

Hailassie originally enrolled at Oregon, but he transferred to Western Kentucky after mostly riding the bench. At WKU in 2022, Hailassie had 51 tackles (8 for loss), 2 INTs, 12 pass breakups, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. 

There isn't exactly much in the way of readily available Western Kentucky games on YouTube, so I haven't watched Hailassie, but he is thought of as a physical corner with some ball skills.

(Report via Tom Pelissero.)

Braeden Daniels, OL, Utah (6'4, 294)

The Eagles are always on the hunt for versatile offensive linemen, and Daniels had 18 career starts at LG, 13 at LT, and 11 at RT, per his bio on Utah's website. He doesn't have ideal size (at OG or OT, really), but could develop into a valuable backup at multiple positions. As you might expect of an undersized offensive lineman, he tested well athletically at the Combine.

Daniels has a similar profile to Jack Driscoll, who has started 16 games over the last three seasons for the Eagles at various positions, and who will be a free agent next offseason.

(Report via Matt Zenitz.)

Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan (6'3, 323)

Smith is a huge, run-stuffing nose tackle in the middle of Michigan's third-ranked run defense. He was ranked No. 1 on Bruce Feldman's "freaks" list this year.

His former teammate, Aidan Hutchinson, almost was our top guy in 2021, but this year a Wolverine is the No. 1 Freak in college football. The 6-foot-3, 337-pound senior has rare power and agility. So rare, in fact, it’s hard to find the right superlative to begin with. But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 33 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.

This is pretty nuts for a 320-plus pound guy:

Smith doesn't have impressive stats, and he had a concerning arrest this year that teams will need to do homework on. That incident is no doubt why he has had so many team interviews:

If his character checks out, Smith is a physical beast with obvious speed and power traits, and in my opinion a player who has not gotten enough attention during this draft cycle as an Eagles possibility at 30 or 62.

The Eagles love them some athletic specimens on the interior of the defensive line. See Jordan Davis and Milton Williams. It's not surprising that Smith is on their radar.

Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State (6'3, 198)

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 extreme length.

There are some pretty good agility measurables for such a tall corner in that spider chart above as well.

Brents first got on my radar when watching TCU-KSU during the college football season. He was often tasked with covering potential first-round WR Quentin Johnston. Brents won some, lost some in that game, but he had a pick, a forced fumble, and a couple of pass breakups.

In Philly, he would have to sit for a while behind Darius Slay and James Bradberry, but he certainly has moldable traits and could be worth the wait.

(Report vis Aaron Wilson.)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA (6'2, 203)

Thompson-Robinson makes sense for the Eagles for a lot of the same reasons that Marcus Mariota made sense in free agency. Like Jalen Hurts, he can threaten opposing defenses with his legs. Should Hurts go down, the Eagles wouldn't have to throw out huge chunks of their playbook, particularly in their RPO attack, like they did with Gardner Minshew.

Thompson-Robinson was a five-year starter at UCLA, throwing for 88 TDs vs. 36 INTs, and completing 63.3 percent of his passes on 7.9 yards per attempt over his college career. In 2022, he completed 69.6 percent of his passes on 8.3 yards per attempt, while throwing 27 TDs vs. 10 INTs. He showed significant improvement each year, as did Hurts during his college and professional careers.

Thompson-Robinson has a fun highlight reel:

Should the Eagles draft Thompson-Robinson, he would be the No. 3 in 2023, assuming he could beat out Ian Book for that job, and ideally would progress enough to be a trustworthy — and very cheap — No. 2 behind Hurts in 2024 and beyond.

(Report via Aaron Wilson.)

Jason Taylor II, S, Oklahoma State (6'0, 204)

I can't claim to have watched Taylor, but he had 6 INTs in 2022 and he's a good athlete:


Obviously, the Eagles could use added help at safety.

(Report via Aaron Wilson.)

Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia (6'3, 314)

Carter has an extremely impressive blend of quickness, power, and change of direction.

Many believe that Carter was the most impressive player on the 2021 Georgia defense that saw Travon Walker (first overall), Jordan Davis (13th overall), and Devonte Wyatt (28th overall) all taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was at one point regarded by many as the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, however, his stock has taken several hits over the past few months. 

• Late in December, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said on the air that Carter had some character concerns, as transcribed by USA Today

"With Carter, there are some character issues. Does he get along with everybody. What’s he like to deal with in the locker room, those sorts of issues. I know it’s early in the process, but I’m forewarning everybody out there. Carter is going to be a hot-button name when we talk about some of the intangible aspects of it...

“That will be the big discussion. It’s not about his talent, his size or his explosive take off or finishing as a pass rusher, it’s about the character and do we want to bring that guy into the building.”

• In January, Carter was at the scene of a crash in which teammate Devin Willock and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy were killed. He misled prosecutors about his whereabouts when the incident occurred, and later left the NFL Combine to go back to Georgia, where he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. He received a year of probation, plus a small fine and community service. A longer summary of the situation can be found here.

• In March, he had an ugly performance at Georgia's pro day during which he came in about 10 pounds heavier than expected, and he looked gassed running through drills, shown here:

As a result of all of the above, Carter will probably be the most heavily scrutinized player in the draft this year, and the Eagles will no doubt do thorough research on him.

That will be a job for Dom DiSandro, the team's chief security officer. It is also interesting to me that the Eagles brought in Georgia co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann in to interview for their then-vacant defensive coordinator job a while back. I imagine Carter's name came up during that interview. The Eagles can also perhaps get some insights from Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, who both played with Carter at Georgia. But certainly, they'll leave no stones unturned.

It's worth noting that Carter is not taking any visits with teams picking outside of the top 10.

Every player drafted in the top 10 has talent. The busts tend to lack the mental makeup to succeed in the NFL. The possibility of getting the most gifted prospect in the draft at pick 10 is highly intriguing, but not exactly a slam dunk.

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia (6'2, 238)

Smith was a highly rated prospect coming out of high school (2nd in the nation, via Rivals), who had the best SPARQ rating in his recruiting class. That means that he's an incredible athlete, in case you're unfamiliar with SPARQ. He also crushed the Combine, running an absurd 4.39 40 and vertical jumping 41 1/2" at 238 pounds.

Compare those numbers to Micah Parsons, for example:

Measurable Micah Parsons Nolan Smith 
Height 6'3 6'2 
Weight 246 238 
Arm length 31 1/2" 32 5/8" 
Hand size 11" 9" 
10-yard split 1.59 1.52 
40-yard dash 4.36 4.39 
Vertical jump 34" 41 1/2" 
Broad jump 126" 128" 

The Eagles love them some moldable athletes in the draft, like Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, Jalen Reagor, Davion Taylor, Jack Driscoll, Casey Toohill, Andre Dillard, Avonte Maddox, Josh Sweat, etc. Obviously, some mixed results there. But Smith isn't just an athlete. He is also a physical run defender willing to set the edge so that his teammates can collect tackles, and in viewing a number of his interviews it's pretty easy to see that he's going to be culture fit in any locker room. For example:

Smith had an immediate role in Georgia's defense as a true freshman, but his production has left something to be desired. 2021 was been his best year, as he had 53 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one INT, and three forced fumbles. Some highlights: 

An easy comparison that I assume many will make for Smith will be Haason Reddick. Of course, the Eagles already have Haason Reddick, so where would Smith fit in? I think the answer is, it doesn't matter. Just go get that guy on your roster and figure out how to get him on the field in a position to make plays. The 10th overall pick should be allocated to a player you think can make an impact for the next decade, not just in 2023.

Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern (6'4, 313)

Skoronski played LT at Northwestern, but at 6'4 with short, 32" arms, he's very likely to move inside to guard in the NFL. He is a polished, plug-and-play Day 1 starter who understands how to attack angles in the run game at the point of attack and at the second level, and he is very good at identifying/communicating twists and and stunts. A look: 

Skoronski has a chance to be a very good NFL player for a long time. BUT... if he's a guard, is the value really there in the top 10?

Report via Jordan Schultz.

Joey Porter, CB, Penn State (6'3, 193)

Porter has outstanding length at 6'3, with 34" arms. In addition to his God-given size, Porter is also a good athlete. 

He is also the son of Steelers great Joey Porter Sr., and he plays with a similar type of passion and edge as his dad. 

Porter only has 1 career interception (20 pass breakups) and he is grabby (to put it mildly), but he is going to get first-round consideration because they just don't make many corners with his size/athleticism.

Report via Aaron Wilson.

Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State (6'1, 166)

Forbes is ball-hawking corner with 14 INTs last three seasons for Mississippi State, six of which he has returned for touchdowns. He is also a willing tackler in run support, despite possessing a very skinny frame. His confidence jumps off the screen: 

His play style actually reminds me a little bit of Darius Slay when he was coming out of MSU. Forbes may very be the most skilled corner in this draft, but at 166 pounds there will be concerns about his durability and physicality at the next level.

Report via Aaron Wilson.

B.J. Ojulari, Edge, LSU (6'2, 248)

B.J. Ojulari is the brother of Azeez Ojulari, who was taken 50th overall by the Giants in the 2021 NFL Draft. He had 128 tackles, 16.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in 31 career games. As you can see in the highlight reel below, he has a good first step, he has an assortment of effective pass rush moves, and he can win with quickness.

What the highlight reel doesn't show is his struggles against the run, which makes his projection as a defensive end at the next level a difficult one.

Ojulari would make sense for the Eagles in a pass rushing role, but can he also drop into coverage on occasion perhaps as a SAM linebacker?

Report via Aaron Wilson.

Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia (6'2, 207)

Ringo is 6'2 and he runs a 4.36, which is a good start. He is probably best known for his pick-six that sealed Georgia's National Championship win over Alabama in 2021. He uses his size to his advantage, both in press coverage, on contested catches, and as a tackler. He also has good awareness in zone coverage.

While Ringo is gifted with size and athleticism, the knock on him is that he gives up too much separation at times. His route recognition will have to improve at the NFL level, but the tools are certainly there.

Report via Jordan Schultz.

Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida (6'6, 310)

Dexter is big, strong, athletic beast of a man who has the ability to dominate one-on-one matchups in the trenches. He is a particularly good run defender who can shoot gaps with his quickness, or two-gap and hold the point of attack. The latter skill is one that NFL teams found less valuable for a while, but are now coming back to, as noted by Daniel Jeremiah.

Of course, the Eagles traded up for such a player in the 2022 draft in Jordan Davis. Like Davis, Dexter is a player who has not played a ton of college snaps, and a quick glance of his stats won't wow anyone. Also like Davis, Dexter possesses a rare blend of size and athleticism, which he has shown in flashes, like here:

Dexter can play a bunch of positions along the defensive line, and his appeal to the Eagles would be that he and Davis would allow Sean Desai to play coverage on the back end, while also possessing upside as a pass rusher.

Jaquan Amos, DB, Ball State (6'0, 194)

Amos is originally from Philadelphia, so this is more likely a local visit that does not count toward the Eagles' 30 official visits, but we'll include him anyway.

He was a standout at Villanova, where he had 149 tackles, 25 pass breakups, 8 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 defensive touchdowns in 3 seasons. He transferred to Iowa State, and then again to Ball State, where he had 95 tackles (6.5 for loss), an INT, and 5 pass breakups in 2022. Safety/corner hybrid.

Amos could be a UDFA target.

Report via Gus Martin of the Muncie Star Press.

Jaquelin Roy, DT, LSU (6'3, 305)

I have not yet watched Roy play at all, so I'll let Lance Zierlein of do the heavy lifting here: 

The more you watch, the more you like the way Roy plays the game. He’s a little tight in his lower body, which prevents consistent gap leverage as a run defender, but he has outstanding upper body power and plays with unbridled energy. Roy has one-gapping snap quickness and two-gapping potential if he can become more consistent with taking on blocks. Despite limited starting experience at LSU, he already displays signs of a rush plan and the athletic talent to execute it. Roy is an ascending talent with the potential to become a quality starter.

Zierlein comped Roy to DT Dalvin Tomlinson, which is interesting since the Eagles had interest in Tomlinson in free agency this offseason, but got priced out. 

Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa (6'5, 272)

Van Ness (nicknamed "Hercules") is a traits-based prospect with great size and good athleticism who had 13 sacks over the last two seasons for Iowa, but oddly wasn't a full-time starter. If I'm being honest, I haven't yet watched enough of Van Ness to have any strong opinions of his worthiness at pick No. 10, but as you'll see in the below highlight reel, he has the capability of being disruptive either on the edge or on the interior.

The Eagles will value that versatility, and Van Ness is becoming a more popular player to be projected to Philly in mock drafts.

Update: I have now watched him. He has a great motor, he has some highlight reel bull rushes against top offensive line prospects, he tested well at the Combine, and he had inside-outside versatility in college. That's all great, but there are just too many red flags for me:

  1. He has 13 sacks in 26 career games, which is good-not-great-production.
  2. He has almost no pass repertoire to speak of other than a bull rush, and he has very little in the way of counter moves if his initial pass rush is stalled. Also, while he has good testing speed, he doesn't actually win on speed rushes. Speed is only part of the equation. Speed + bend + technique is what gets to the quarterback, and he hasn't shown much bend.
  3. I'm even skeptical of his ability to line up inside at the NFL level, unless it's an obvious passing down. He's 272 pounds which is great size for a DE, but certainly not for an iDL. If he's playing inside on early downs, he'll be trying to anchor against guys 50+ pounds heavier than him.

Van Ness is an intriguing prospect, but there are just too many projections for me. If he can develop a wider pass rush repertoire, and if he shows that he can win at times with speed around the edge, and if he continues to get stronger and can thus hold up against much bigger players on the interior, then yeah, sign me up. But when you're picking at 10, you want a player you're confident will be an impact player in the NFL without having to count on a bunch of "if's."

Report via the great Josh Norris of Underdog Fantasy.

Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas (5'11, 215)

Robinson kind of reported his own visit:

Robinson is a big, powerful back who gets tough yards between the tackles, but who also has speed and explosiveness to be a home run hitter. He is a complete, three-down type of back who can run inside, outside, and catch passes out of the backfield. He is widely regarded as the best running back prospect in the country.

Many of Robinson's highlight reel plays look effortless. On inside runs, he executes subtle, but shifty moves that do not slow down his forward movement. On outside runs, he runs patiently until a hole opens up, and then he hits it with sudden acceleration. His cuts in the open field have little wasted motion and often leave defenders with "broken ankles." Even his stiff arm seems almost nonchalant, but puts defenders on the ground. And he's a hands catcher.

So, uh, yeah, he's good. Over a three-year career at Texas, Robinson had 539 carries for 3,410 yards (6.3 YPC) and 33 TDs. He had 60 catches for 805 yards (an outstanding 13.4 YPC for a RB), and 8 TDs.

I don't think he's as good of a prospect as Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott were when their respective teams stupidly drafted them No. 2 and No. 4 overall, respectively, but he is a player who is certain to be drafted in the first round, barring any unknown character concerns.

Howie Roseman's aversion to draft running backs in the first round is not a secret, and the Eagles will almost certainly not be taking a running back with the 10th overall pick. It's also highly likely that Robinson will probably be gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock once again at 30th overall.

That said, I do not think this is a smokescreen. It is wise for the Eagles to do their homework on Robinson. If, say, they trade back from the 10th overall pick into the 20's and Robinson is still available, he would not be an egregiously bad selection, and he would make an already potent Eagles offense even more dangerous. And if he is somehow still available at pick 30 (again, don't count on it), he would be a home run pick.

Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State (6'8, 374)

Jones was Ohio State's starting RT, and he is a massive human being as you can see above at 6'8, 374 pounds. He also has a super wide wingspan and a set of mammoth paws on him.

In the NFL, whoever drafts Jones will want him to drop some of that weight.

If you read enough scouting reports on Jones, you'll come across the phrase "grip strength," which is an attribute that Jeff Stoutland has consistently said he looks for in his linemen. For years, if you asked him anything about Matt Pryor, he'd go right to Pryor's "grip strength." He likes grip strength like former defensive line coach Chris Wilson liked "ankle flexion." 

Anyway, once Jones gets his hands on you, you're done, as he has plenty of highlight reel blocks in which he'll simply overpower and dominate guys in the run game. However, earlier in his career, he also had other moments where he'd completely whiff on blocks, as shown here:

In 2022, he cleaned up some of that inconsistency.

Jones is a fascinating possibility for the Eagles. He has something that can't be taught in his sheer size, however, he's still a little raw. In Philly, he'd have time to grow under Stoutland and eventually take over for Lane Johnson in, sayyyy, 2025, whereas he might be thrown to the wolves as a rookie with another team and have some ugly struggles early in his career.

He's probably a decent enough value late in Round 2.

Report via Ryan Fowler of TheDraftNetwork.

Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State (6'6, 313)

Johnson is being projected by some a possible top 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is athletic with great length (36" arms), and he excelled at LT for Ohio State after playing RG in 2021. Here he is against Notre Dame, winning in a variety of ways (reach blocks, second level blocks, pro pass vs. speed and power, etc.):

The Eagles are set for now at OT with Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson, but their M.O. is to always continue loading up on the offensive line. Should Isaac Seumalo land with another team next week, Paris Johnson is a player who could play at RG in the short-term, and eventually take over for Lane Johnson at RT (or for Mailata at LT, with Mailata flipping to the right side) whenever Lane retires.

That would be something of an unsatisfying but on-brand use of the 10th overall pick by the Eagles.

Report via Jared Tokarz.

Brodric Martin, DT, Western Kentucky (6'5, 337)

Martin is a rather large nose tackle at 6'5, 337 who had 62 tackles and 4 sacks over the last two seasons (26 games) at WKU after transferring from North Alabama. He accepted an invite to the Shrine Bowl and reportedly was a standout there. There isn't much in the way of readily available game tape of Martin, but here he is two-gapping against Auburn: 

The Eagles hosting a mammoth nose tackle for a top-30 visit is interesting, given that they already employ Jordan Davis and Marlon Tuipulotu. Day 3 guy, most likely.

Report via Ryan Fowler of TheDraftNetwork.

MORE: Eagles-only 2023 mock draft, version 2.0

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