April 20, 2017
Over the next month or so, we'll be tracking the Eagles' 30 allotted pre-draft private visits to the NovaCare Complex. As information of those visits trickles in, we'll add analysis of each player. Bookmark, please.
These pre-draft visits were outstanding indicators of who the Eagles might draft during the Chip Kelly era. Last year, Carson Wentz visited the NovaCare Complex on a pre-draft visit long before the Eagles traded up to the second overall pick.
Here are the players who have either visited, or reportedly will visit the Eagles, most recently reported first, with a hat tip to BleedingGreenNation.com, who does a great job keeping their eye out for reported visits.
According to Brandon Gowton of BGN (via a fan, via Griffin's own Instagram account), UCF CB Shaquill Griffin has already visited the Eagles.
Griffin has good size at 6'0, 194, and he ran a 4.38 in addition to other impressive numbers at the Combine:
Griffin has a cool backstory. He and his brother Shaquem (who only has one hand) both enrolled at UCF, when Shaquill had offers from schools like Alabama, but the brothers were adamant that they were a package deal.
Griffin is an aggressive tackler that Schwartz will like, and has the size-speed combo that will allow him to play on the outside in the pros.
According to Brandon Gowton of BGN (via a fan, via Taylor's own Instagram account), Taywan Taylor has already visited the Eagles.
Taylor was thought to have blazing speed, as FOX's Bruce Feldman named him the No. 5 freak athlete in the country before the 2016 season, citing Taylor's 11'5 broad jump, a 39.5" vertical and a 4.33 40. (At the Combine, Taylor ran a disappointing 4.50).
Still, Taylor has also been highly productive the last two years. In 2015, he was third in the nation with 1467 receiving yards and second in the nation with 17 receiving TDs. Those numbers dwarfed those of 2015 teammate TE Tyler Higbee (38-563-8), who was a fourth-round selection of the Rams in the 2015 NFL Draft.
In 2016, Taylor was once again third in the nation with 1,730 receiving yards and tied for third in the nation with 17 TDs. A highlight reel:
We projected Taylor as a fourth-round target in the 2017 NFL Draft.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Florida CB Quincy Wilson visited the Eagles:
Jim Schwartz is certain to love Wilson's confidence. From the strengths section of Lance Zierlein's scouting report on NFL.com:
Very competitive. Willing to accept challenge of taking on a team's top wideout.
That's exactly why Schwartz loved Jalen Mills so much last season, even if Mills was often over-matched by the man across from him. At 6'1, 211, Wilson has great size, and is a physical corner. A highlight reel:
If Wilson made it to the Eagles' pick in Round 2, he would be of significant interest.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Eagles will hist Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, an obvious player of interest.
Barnett is a thick, strong defensive end who reminds me a little of Brandon Graham. Barnett is equally effective against the run as he is as a pass rusher, and has been an impact player since his freshman year:
In just three seasons at Tennessee, Barnett broke the all-time career school sack record that was previously held by some guy named Reggie White. No big deal. A highlight reel:
This draft class is considered to be very strong at edge rusher and defensive backs. I believe that the edge rushers taken in the first round will have a bigger impact than the corners taken in the first round. Conversely, I believe that the corners taken later in the draft will have a bigger impact than the edge rushers taken later. Given the choice in the first round, I'd go edge rusher, and Barnett is a great one.
According to Dave Heller of FOX Sports Wisconsin, Clement will be visiting the Eagles:
Corey Clement met with the Patriots last week and has a meeting scheduled with the Eagles next week. #Badgers— Dave Heller (@dave_heller) April 13, 2017
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:
To note, Clement is from Glassboro, NJ (a suburb of Philly), and may only count as a local visit, not one of the Eagles' 30 allotted pre-draft visits. He doesn't quite fit what the Eagles are looking for in a runner, but as an added back to throw on the pile, he would make sense in the late rounds, or even as a UDFA if the off-field concerns are so alarming that he doesn't get drafted.
According to Jackson himself, via Sirius XM radio (h/t Brandon Gowton of BGN), Jackson will be visiting the Eagles.
Jackson's position could just be listed as "playmaker" at USC, but his primary position in the NFL will be at corner. In 2015, in addition to being a regular starter at CB, Jackson caught 27 passes for 414 yards and 2 TDs, he had two punt return TDs, a pick six, and a blocked field goal. In 2016, he had five interceptions, two punt return TDs, two kick return TDs, one receiving TD, 55 tackles, and 11 pass breakups. Jackson is a big-time playmaker, with elite return skills.
A highlight reel:
In the NFL, Jackson is probably "only" going to be a slot corner because of his smaller size. However, in a division where each of the Eagles' rivals has high-quality slot receivers (Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder, and Sterling Shepard), the Eagles should be placing a higher priority on a slot corner than most teams. Jackson could be a good fit in Philly as a slot corner with high-level return ability in the Eagles' already outstanding special teams units. He's worthy of a second round pick.
According to Derrick Gunn of CSN Philly, Witherspoon has visited the Eagles:
Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon is visiting the eagles at this time...,— Derrick Gunn (@TheRealDGunnCSN) April 12, 2017
Like Florida, Ohio State, and Washington, the University of Colorado had two very good corners in Chidobe Azuwie and Witherspoon. The latter is a taller "Seattle Seahawks type" of corner at 6'3, 198.
Admittedly, I have yet to study Witherspoon at all, so we'll rely on the scouting report of Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:
Possesses a rare combination of size and speed and saw his ball production take a substantial leap this season. Witherspoon played just one season of high school football so his technique and route awareness should continue to improve. Witherspoon's length and his ability to mirror and match in space should launch him into early playing time, but his unwillingness to tackle and hit will be a complete turn-off for some teams.
Interestingly, the player comparison Zierlein used for Witherspoon is recently acquired free agent corner Patrick Robinson.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Kamara will visit the Eagles:
Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara has visits with Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, per a source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 12, 2017
Over his career at Tennessee, Kamara was a complementary back with receiving ability out of the backfield, and also the team's main punt returner.
Kamara doesn't have much of a body of work as a rusher:
However, he showed that he is a good receiver out of the backfield:
Kamara is a hard runner with good speed (although not elite breakaway speed), with good hands, and tackle-breaking ability. Here's a highlight reel. Watch how many tackles this guy breaks:
Kamara has been projected by some to be a first-round pick. I'd by vary of spending that kind of resource on a player with such a small body of work in college, but in the second round, he would be a good fit for the Eagles.
Godwin showed up bigtime in the Rose Bowl against USC, torching the Trojans for 187 yards and two TDs on nine receptions. Here is his Rose Bowl performance:
Godwin's career numbers:
Godwin's yards per catch numbers are good and he makes plays down the field, and he dispelled any idea that he doesn't have good speed when he ran a 4.42 at the Combine. Godwin does a very good job winning contested catches by high-pointing the football and being physical in his route-running with opposing corners. He also has very good hands. I see him as a quality possession receiver in the NFL, who will make the occasional big play down the field.
The Huskies' secondary was absolutely loaded with talent, sporting a former no-doubt-about-it first-round pick in CB Sidney Jones (before he ruptured his Achilles) and another potential first- or second-round pick in S Budda Baker. They also have CB Kevin King, who could be a first- or second-round pick as well.
King has "Seahawks corner" measurements, at 6'3, 200. His college career path followed a similar pattern to that of former Eagles second-round pick Eric Rowe, in that King moved from safety to corner while at Washington. He has also played quite a bit in the slot.
In 2016, King had 44 tackles, two interceptions, and an impressive 13 pass breakups. One of King's interceptions was this highlight reel snag against Arizona State:
My sense is that height-weight-speed excites Jim Schwartz less than it does other personnel people around the league. In other words, there may be other NFL teams who give a higher grade to King for his measurables than the Eagles will. Still, King is an intriguing, versatile corner-slot-safety hybrid who has interested the Eagles enough to bring in for a visit.
Kazee will visit the Eagles, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalayst.com.
Kazee is a lesser known player on a very good San Diego State team who does a great job attacking the football in the air. Over the last two seasons, he has 15 interceptions. His career numbers:
But Kazee isn't just a ballhawk. Watch how he attacks ball carriers in the run game:
Kazee is projected to be a slot corner at the NFL level. The Eagles will still need to find help in the slot in addition to outside corners, as Ron Brooks will be returning from a serious injury. Even if Brooks can make a full return, the Eagles were forced to move Malcolm Jenkins to a slot corner position because they did not have enough cornerback depth to fill that role when Brooks went down. That negated Jenkins' impact as a playmaker to some degree last season.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, UConn safety Obi Melifonwu will be visiting the NovaCare Complex.
Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu is taking a top 30 visit today with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 30, 2017
Melifonwu is a size-athleticism freak of nature, much like former UConn CB/S safety Byron Jones was in 2015, when the Eagles passed on him to draft Nelson Agholor. Here's Melifonwu's ridiculous spider chart:
In 2016, Melifonwu had 118 tackles, 4 INT, and 3 pass breakups.
The Eagles don't have a need at safety, so Meliforwu's visit is an interesting one. There's no question Melifonwu has outstanding physical traits. Perhaps they're trying to get a better idea of his football acumen.
According to Eagles fan @seaneham, Gibson posted on his Twitter account that he has a visit set up with the Eagles.
Here are Gibson's stats the last two seasons. Note his yards per catch:
Good God, that's ridiculous. Gibson is a one-trick pony, but that's a pretty neat trick.
Gibson ran a disappointing 4.50 40 at the Combine, but he has excellent deep ball tracking skills.
Conley needs work as a tackler, but his coverage skills are very good. Here are Conley's coverage numbers the last two seasons:
Allowing 35 completions on 101 targets is pretty good, right? A highlight reel:
Conley's stock seems to have risen quite a bit over the last few months, especially after testing well at the Combine. He is a legitimate option at 14, if he even makes it that far.
According to Josina Anderson (on television on ESPN), as transcribed by Brandon Gowton of BGN, Adams will visit the Eagles.
“[Adams] also had two very good visits. One with the Carolina Panthers a couple of weeks ago,” said Anderson on NFL Live on Thursday. “Met with the DB coach there. […] He also will be meeting with the Panthers again on [April] 11th. Upcoming visits that he has with the Steelers, Bengals, Eagles, and a two-day visit with the Jets. So he’ll definitely be busy in these upcoming weeks before the draft.”
Adams is a huge Brian Dawkins fan.
“Yesterday I talked to a legend, Brian Dawkins, who I've admired everything about him, and that was the highlight of my week," Adams said at the Combine. "Just knowing that he already knew about me, saying how passionate I was and how I play the game the right way. That was huge, to hear that from a legend like him.
"I saw him talking to a player. I was leaving, and he was sitting by himself. Something just spoke, like, that's who I admire, my game – he's so passionate about the game, and I had to go seek wisdom, see what he sees. The fact that I went up to him and he already knew who I was, he's already seen some film on me and watched some games, I was honored, I was blown away."
Adams is an odd visit for the Eagles to conduct, as he could be a top five pick, and safety isn't exactly a big need for the Eagles. It's due diligence, I suppose, in the unlikely event Adams falls.
According to Albert Breer, the Eagles are bringing in Davis in for a visit today:
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis and LSU RB Leonard Fournette also visiting Eagles today. Skill position day at Novacare. https://t.co/Xw4vL186vf— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 17, 2017
In his career at Western Michigan, Davis put up kinda decent numbers:
A highlight reel:
Davis beat the all-time MAC conference receiving record by more than 1000 yards. Is that good? That seems good. Still, Davis will face many of the same questions that Carson Wentz faced last year, coming from a smaller school.
To note, the MAC has produced receivers such as Antonio Brown (Central Michigan), Julian Edelman (Kent State), Randy Moss (Marshall, then in the MAC), Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), Brandon Marshall (Central Florida, then in the MAC), Andrew Hawkins (Toledo), and Lance Moore (Toledo).
Davis has size, speed, and he runs great routes. If there's one knock, it's that he'll have occasional drops, however, those become forgivable because he makes so many improbable acrobatic catches. Davis also did not work out either at the Combine or his Pro Day, so scouts may not have an opportunity to put a stopwatch on him before the draft.
According to Ian Rapoport, Fournette is visiting the Eagles today.
If you don't know who Fournette is, you're just not that into college football. He may have the best size-speed combo since Adrian Peterson. First, his numbers:
While Fournette doesn't have elite lateral agility and he only has 41 career receptions, just watch the highlight reel below, and tell me you wouldn't be intrigued to watch this guy run over and then away from defenders. No written analysis is going to describe what Fournette can do better than this:
Honestly, it's hard to watch that highlight reel above and not feel bad for some of the poor bastards who got trucked.
To note, in LSU's bowl game against Louisville, Fournette made the decision not to play so that he could begin to prepare (cough, not get injured) for the pros. Personally, I have no problem with that, and I doubt any NFL teams will either.
There will debates as to whether you should take a running back in (or near) the top 10, and there will be concerns that Fournette will injure himself with the reckless way he runs, but good God, when he's good to go he's a scary human being.
According to Ian Rapoport, Clemson WR Mike Williams is visiting the NovaCare Complex today.
Williams' 40 time that Rapoport is alluding to wasn't as impressive as initially reported. Most scouts, it would seem, had him closer to the 4.58 range than the 4.50 range, which is what was first reported.
Still, he'll be a sure-fire first round pick. Williams had a strong sophomore season in 2014, catching 57 passes for 1030 yards (18.1 YPC) and 6 TDs. He was poised for a huge season in 2015 when he broke his neck against Wofford in the season opener after being pushed into the goal post on what was a touchdown reception.
He missed the remainder of the season, and there was a question as to whether he'd ever play again. After healing, Williams was ready for the start of the 2016 season, and he caught 98 passes for 1361 yards and 11 TDs. A highlight reel:
At 6'4, 218 pounds, although he's not a speed demon, Williams has the prototypical size for an NFL receiver, with good hands, body control and the ability to win contested catches.
I do wonder, however, if his skill set is too close to that of Alshon Jeffery's for the Eagles to have as much interest as they would have, pre-Alshon.
According to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, the Eagles are bringing in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook for a visit:
FSU RB Dalvin Cook is in Philly for a pre-draft visit with the Eagles, source says. Possible addition after WR upgrades in free agency.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 17, 2017
Dalvin Cook is really good. In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Seminoles lost QB Jameis Winston, RB Karlos Williams, C Cameron Erving, OG Tre' Jackson, OT Bobby Hart, WR Rashad Greene, and TE Nick O'Leary. Cook was the focus of opposing defenses, and he still ran for a ridiculous 7.4 yards per carry.
In 2016, Cook continued to pile up big numbers:
He also had 34 catches for 488 yards (a lofty 14.8 YPC for a running back) and 1 TD in 2016.
Cook is a near-complete back, who has speed and some power, as well as the ability to make plays in the passing game out of the backfield. Perhaps his best strength is his combination of vision and lateral quickness to find (and hit) open holes, which is on display in the highlight reel below:
Cook also has some significant red flags, which we expanded on in much greater detail in February:
• Generally speaking, the lifespan of an NFL running back is short.
• People will point to the recent success of Ezekiel Elliott, but running backs drafted highly can be busts (and often are), just like any other position.
• He fumbles a lot. In 2016, Cook had six fumbles. During his college career as a whole, he had 12 fumbles.
• He has had surgery on his right shoulder twice since 2014. He also injured his left shoulder in high school.
• He has negative off-the-field history, which also has to be seriously considered and thoroughly investigated by any team drafting him.
• The 2017 running back class is stacked. There will be good running backs in round three, four, and five in this draft.
• He had a very disappointing Combine performance. His spider chart:
In addition to all of the above, the Eagles haven't drafted a running back in the first round since 1986 (Keith Byars). Furthermore, teams that employed Joe Douglas drafted a running back every year from 2006 to 2016. During that span, one was a second round pick, one was a third, and the rest were all drafted in round four or later. Five made the Pro Bowl. While Douglas may not have been calling the shots in those drafts, he has certainly seen his share of later round running backs have success in the NFL.
I know a lot of Eagles fans love the idea of taking Cook in the first round, but I wouldn't get your hopes up on that one.
According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, the Eagles are bringing in Alabama stud LB Reuben Foster for a visit. Alabama has churned out their share of inside linebackers the last seven years:
Foster was the next man up, playing in the middle of Bama's defense. He's likely a WILL at the next level in a 4-3. If the Eagles had interest, they could leave Jordan Hicks right where he is at the MIKE spot, and move Bradham to a diminished role as the SAM, or just release him.
A highlight reel:
Foster is an awesome player, who is likely to be gone by the time the Eagles pick at 14/15. If he's still there when the Eagles are in the clock, there's a decent chance he'll be the "best available player," and too good to pass up. He's an intimidating thumper, but he also has speed, ability in coverage, and was a special teams standout while he waited his turn to be "the guy" in the middle of the Crimson Tide defense. He and Hicks would be an outstanding pair of linebackers.
According to Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Alabama edge rusher visited the NovaCare Complex.
Ryan Anderson was in Philadelphia today for a pre-draft visit with the Eagles, per a source https://t.co/0ouvosCRdA— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) March 14, 2017
It would appear that some project him to play SAM in a 4-3, via Lance Zierlein's scouting reports on NFL.com:
SOURCES TELL US: "Size is more suited for 4-3 SAM but he could play some rush outside backer in a 3-4. He would fit Baltimore and Pittsburgh as a 3-4 SAM, too." -- NFC area scout
I don't see 4-3 SAM as Anderson's best fit with the Eagles. Anderson is a pass rusher, who had 9 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 19 tackles for loss a year ago. In 2016, the Eagles blitzed Mychal Kendricks a grand total of 9 times all season, despite that being arguably his best skill. If the Eagles were to have interest in Anderson, it would likely be as a DE, although he certainly doesn't have ideal size for the position.
This is an interesting visit, as Anderson is seemingly a better fit in a 3-4 defense.
According to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, Ross squeezed in a visit to Philly before he was scheduled to have shoulder surgery. Here were two different quotes from the piece.
"I got a chance to talk to the whole (Eagles) offensive staff, pretty much, coach (Frank) Reich, coach (Mike) Groh, coach (Doug) Pederson. It was exciting," Ross said.
"I was a fan of the Eagles because they got DeSean," Ross said.
Ross was our pick in the first round in our "Eagles only mock draft, version 3.0." Go check out the more detailed write-up on him and his fit with the Eagles there.
As always, no matter who you mock to the Eagles, some percentage of the fan base is not going to like it. For those of you who don't like Ross, I hate to break it to you but he is absolutely going to get strong consideration from the Eagles at 14.
According to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, Humphrey's first visit will be with the Eagles.
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey's first club visit: Philadelphia #Eagles. Arrives 3/14. No private workouts scheduled yet.— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) March 8, 2017
Humphrey was the first round selection in our Eagles only mock draft, version 2.0. He has great athleticism, and at 6'0, 197, he has good size. He's about as physical a corner as you'll find in this draft class, and is only 20 years old. Here's Humphrey's game against USC this season. It's a quick, two-minute video.
I think I can see Jim Schwartz being interested in that guy.
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