April 21, 2015
As we noted last month, if the Eagles bring in a prospect for a pre-draft visit, their chances of being drafted by Chip Kelly go up drastically. Six of the seven Eagles draft picks a year ago were among the Eagles' 30 allotted pre-draft visits, which means that it is absolutely worthwhile paying attention to who stops by the NovaCare Complex this time of year.
There have been 26 reported visits (and soon to be visits) so far. You can click on each name for detailed analysis and how they might fit with the Eagles:
Today we'll look at the three latest reported visitors:
• Shaq Thompson, LB/RB/S, Washington
• Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
• Travis Raciti, Edge rusher, San Jose State
• Darryl Roberts, CB, Marshall
H/t to BleedingGreenNation.com for finding many of the above visits reported on Twitter.
Thompson was the first round pick for the Eagles in my first mock draft of the offseason a few months ago.
At the pro level, because of his smaller size, there will be debate about whether Shaq Thompson is a 4-3 WILL, or if he's a safety, or if he can play ILB in a 3-4. What is not up for debate is that he's a ridiculous athlete who makes plays. He's fast, he's agile, he's a sure wrap-up tackler, and is thought of as a high character player with good instincts. He was even a very intriguing running back at Washington. Some teams value "tweeners" like Thompson. Other will struggle to figure out where he fits in their scheme. But just look at what this guy can do:
Could the Eagles find a way to use Thompson creatively if he were to be available at 20? On the one hand, this will be the Eagles' third year in Billy Davis' scheme, so they'll be much further along than they were two years ago. On the other hand, we're talking about a defense here that didn't even have a dime package until last offseason. Still, the way I see it, Thompson may be too athletic to pass on even if he may not have perfect measurables for any specific position in the Eagles' scheme. Maybe you just go get him and watch him make plays.
Projected Round: Late 1 or early 2
Earlier this offseason, we noted that a falloff in big plays offensively was a part of why the Eagles' 2014 season went wrong.
In 2013, the Eagles set a new all-time NFL record with 99 plays of 20+ yards. It's a statistic the NFL has been tracking since 1991, and when you think about the number of prolific offenses that have been around since then, what the Eagles accomplished offensively in 2013 seems all the more impressive. The "Run and Shoot" Oilers of the early 90's, the "K-Gun" Bills under Jim Kelly, the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf," Peyton Manning's teams both in Indianapolis and Denver, the undefeated Patriots, the Randy Moss / Cris Carter Vikings, and the Packers and Saints offenses under Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees all come to mind.
In 2014, however, the Eagles were less explosive. On the season, the they had 75 plays of 20+ yards, which is still a high number compared to other NFL teams, but not near what they were able to do in Chip Kelly's first year with the team.
There was some dude named DeSean Jackson, who the Eagles cut last offseason, who had more than a quarter of the Eagles' 99 plays of 20+ yards in 2013, with 25. In fact, on drives in which Jackson had a 20+ yard reception, the Eagles eventually scored 17 TDs, seven FGs, and missed two FG attempts, for a total of 141 points. The Eagles scored 30.3% of their total points last season on drives in which Jackson made an explosive play.
In 2014, Jackson led the NFL with 13 receptions of 40+ yards, the same number as the Eagles' entire team.
Dorsett could be a similar type player as Jackson who can take the top off the defense. Check out his speed and willingness to catch balls over the middle in traffic:
Dorsett's numbers on the season:
Note the yards per catch above. The Eagles have a pair of targets in their passing game who can pick up the slack for recently departed Jeremy Maclin as "volume catchers" in Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. Dorsett can potentially be the home run threat who keeps defenses honest and allows Matthews, Ertz and Josh Huff to work underneath.
Projected Round: 2
Game action of Raciti on the internet is scarce, so I haven't been able to dig in on him just yet, but here's what Lance Zierlein sees from Raciti, via NFL.com:
BOTTOM LINE Raciti had a big sophomore season but struggled when he was shifted to a 3-4 defense as a junior. In 2014, Raciti moved back to a 4-3 and attacked upfield again. Raciti has to go up or down in weight because he's not big enough to survive at the point of attack on the inside. Some evaluators see value in Raciti slimming down and bouncing outside to a 3-4 strong-side linebacker spot.
From the Eagles' perspective, having Raciti slim down to play 3-4 OLB makes the most sense, based on recent history. In the past they have shown interest in bigger edge rushers like Mike Neal of the Packers (6'3, 284) and last year prior to the draft in former West Virginia edge rusher Will Clarke (6'6, 271). Raciti is a project the Eagles could draft late or bring in as undrafted free agent.
Projected round: Late Day 3 pick or UDFA
Roberts caught the eye of NFL.com's Gil Brandt and a number of teams around the league with a very impressive workout at Marshall's pro day:
Running indoors on Field Turf, cornerback Darryl Roberts clocked times of 4.39 and 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, including a 1.48 10-yard split. He also had a 39-inch vertical and 11-1 broad jump. He ran a 4.08 short shuttle and 6.66 3-cone drill, and had 23 bench-press reps. He had an excellent workout, and a number of teams will be bringing him in for interviews after his pro day. He could be a sixth- or seventh-round pick.
Roberts' scouting summary, via Zierlein:
BOTTOM LINE Will get crossed up in coverage and needs to play with better discipline and overall awareness, but his length and recovery speed allow him to challenge more throws than some of the cornerbacks who will be drafted ahead of him. He could use more time in the weight room, but has the overall size and speed to project as an eventual starting cornerback if his game develops and he takes coaching over the next couple of seasons.
At 6'0, Roberts has the prerequisite size the Eagles are looking for at CB, and impressive athleticism to go with it. He could be a late round flier they look to develop over time.
Projected Round; Late day 3 pick
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski