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March 17, 2015

An initial look at the Eagles' pre-draft visits, which matter

Eagles NFL
031715JaelenStrong Rick Scuteri/AP

Jaelen Strong would make sense as a big target on the outside in Philly's offense.

The Eagles have already begun bringing 2015 NFL Draft prospects to the NovaCare Complex for pre-draft visits. In Chip Kelly's first two seasons as the head coach, almost all of the players the Eagles drafted received some sort of special attention from them leading up to the draft.

For example, last offseason:

Player Round Pre-draft attention 
Marcus Smith Visited NovaCare, Chip attended Louisville Pro Day 
 Jordan MatthewsVisited NovaCare, Chip attended Vanderbilt Pro Day 
 Josh HuffPlayed for Chip at Oregon 
 Jaylen WatkinsVisited NovaCare 
 Taylor HartVisited NovaCare (medical), played for Chip at Oregon
 Ed ReynoldsVisited NovaCare 
 Beau AllenVisited NovaCare 

As you can see from the above chart, six of the seven Eagles draft picks a year ago had a pre-draft visit at the NovaCare Complex. The only one who didn't, Josh Huff, played for Kelly at Oregon, so there wasn't much of a mystery as to who Huff was as a person.

In 2013, the Eagles had a similar track record in regard to special attention paid to the players they eventually drafted, as noted by Tommy Lawlor of

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at some of the players the Eagles have reportedly had in for a visit so far this offseason:

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State, 6'2, 217 (via Brandon Gowton, BGN): 

Philly kid who was very productive in his two seasons at Arizona State:

2013: 75 catches, 1122 yards, 15.0 yards per catch, 7 TD.

2014: 82 catches, 1165 yards, 14.2 yards per catch, 10 TD.

Big, strong, and wins contested catches. Potential first round pick.

Nelson Agholor, WR, USC, 6'0, 198 (via Alex Marvez, FOX Sports)

Agholor started slowly in 2014, but look at how he finished:

Nelson Agholor, 2014 Rec Yards YPC TD 
 Fresno State57 11.4 
 Stanford91 10.1 
 Boston College64 7.1 
 Oregon State27 9.0 
 Arizona State85 9.4 
 Arizona81 11.6 
 Colorado128 21.3 
 Utah10 110 11 
 Washington State220 27.5 
 California16 216 13.5 
 UCLA24 8.0 
 Notre Dame12 120 10.0 
 Nebraska90 12.9 

First six games, on average: 7 catches, 67.5 yards, 9.6 YPC 4 TD. Unimpressive.

Last seven games, on average: 8.9 catches, 129.7 yards, 14.6 YPC, 8 TD. Very impressive.

Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State, 5'11, 196 (via Dane Brugler, CBS Sports)

Randall was the 4th round selection in my Eagles only mock draft, version 3.0

Randall makes sense for the Eagles, who like their safeties to be able drop down and cover slot receivers when opposing offenses go with three-WR sets.

Randall led the Sun Devils in 2014 with 106 tackles, and he also had 9.5 tackles for loss, which is impressive for a safety. In his two-year career at Arizona State, Randall filled up the stat sheet, with 177 tackles, 6 INTs (2 returned for TDs), 4 forced fumbles, 12 pass breakups, 15 tackles for loss, and a sack.

However, the big knock on Randall will be his size, at 5'11, 196. Is he just a slot corner, or can he be a safety in the NFL? If NFL teams think he's a safety, his value goes up.

We'll be tracking player visits as the offseason continues.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski