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June 25, 2017

Eagles rookie NFL player comparisons: Elijah Qualls

During the dead period of the NFL calendar, as we did in 2015 and in 2016, we'll be comparing each of the Eagles' rookies to current or retired NFL players. Today, we'll finish up our series with sixth-round defensive tackle Elijah Qualls.

In case you missed the first seven entries of this series, you can find them here:

• First round: DE Derek Barnett 
• Second round: CB Sidney Jones 
• Third round: CB Rasul Douglas 
• Fourth round: WR Mack Hollins
• Fourth round: RB Donnel Pumphrey
• Fifth round: WR Shelton Gibson
Fifth round: LB Nate Gerry

Throughout this series, we've been trying to find realistic equals for each player, often noting the "floor" comparison, or what the player could be in a worst case scenario. In the case of Qualls, we'll shoot for more of a "ceiling" comparison, or a best case scenario.

A player Qualls reminds me of is Titans DT Jurrell Casey. Here's how their measurables compare:

 MeasurableElijah Qualls Jurrell Casey 
 Height 6'16'1 
 Weight 313305 
 Arm length 30 5/832 
 Hand size 9 3/88 7/8 

Qualls and Casey are both heavy defensive tackles for their heights, with abnormally short arms and small hands. From a body type perspective, they are both quite unimpressive. Additionally, neither player did anything overly impressive in their workouts.

As a result, Casey fell to the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, while Qualls fell to the sixth round. During the season, in our "Grocery Shopping" series, I considered profiling Qualls several times because I thought he'd be a good fit for the Eagles' scheme, but I assumed he'd be a late Day 2, or early Day 3 pick. I thought the odds that the Eagles would take a DT that high were low, so I didn't profile him. 

However, Casey and Qualls were just good football players coming out of college, despite their unimpressive measurables. Qualls believes he was drafted too late.

"I was disappointed that I got picked where I was, but then it gave me a chip on my shoulder," said Qualls. "I was drafted at No. 214, and I truly don't feel like 213 players were better than me coming out of college."

In six seasons with the Titans, Casey has 33 sacks, and he has been named to two Pro Bowls. While we are certainly not projecting that (or even a guaranteed roster spot) for Qualls, Casey is representative of a player with similar athleticism, body type and skill set.

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