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December 12, 2015

Grocery shopping: Five college players to watch who could interest the Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft

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121215MylesJack Danny Moloshok/AP

UCLA's Myles Jack is very similar to a player the Eagles checked out a year ago.

Every Saturday morning during this college football season, we've listed five players worth watching who might make sense for the Eagles in the 2016 NFL Draft

This week, there is only one game on the schedule -- Army vs Navy. Since I don't think we're going to be finding five Army or Navy players who would make sense for the Birds, I figured we'd profile a few players we've previously skipped because they're injured. Therefore, this week will be an "all-injured guy" version of this week's Grocery Shopping. And we know how Chip Kelly loves him some walking wounded.

Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (6'1, 245)

I can remember watching a pair of potential Eagles targets the last two offseasons in OLB Anthony Barr and ILB Eric Kendricks, both of whom went to UCLA, and being far more impressed with another guy on the Bruins' defense, Myles Jack.

In September, Jack suffered a torn anterior meniscus, which ended his season, but will likely not affect his ability to play next season for any team that drafts him. Jack is regarded as a top-10 type of talent and is reminiscent of former Washington LB/RB/S Shaq Thompson, who was taken by the Panthers in the first round of the 2015 draft. Like Thompson, Jack doubled as a running back in addition to his linebacker duties, only Jack is bigger, faster, and just... better.

During the pre-draft process a year ago, the Eagles reportedly brought Thompson in for a visit to the NovaCare Complex, which makes Jack, at least, worth noting as a player of interest.

In a 3-4, Jack would play ILB. Obviously, the Eagles have numbers at ILB, however, Kiko Alonso has not panned out this season and DeMeco Ryans appears as though he's nearing the end of his career. Would the Eagles spend their first round pick on a guy to add to a positional group that already has Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks set in place for the long-term? Or could they also view Jack as a running back? The Eagles drafting Jack feels like an unlikely scenario unless the Eagles won the division and they simply couldn't pass up Jack's value if he unexpectedly dropped into the 20's.

Here's what he can do:

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (6'6, 230)

For each quarterback we profile, we're going to do an extensive look worthy of its own post. That's what we did for Carson Wentz here on Friday. In case you missed any of the other quarterbacks we've profiled, you can catch up on them all below:

• Michigan State's Connor Cook
• Ohio State's Cardale Jones
• USC's Cody Kessler
• Cal's Jared Goff
• Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel
• Mississippi State's Dak Prescott
• Memphis' Paxton Lynch
• Penn State's Christian Hackenberg
• Western Kentucky's Brandon Doughty
• North Dakota State's Carson Wentz

Spoiler on Wentz: He's big, he has a good arm, and he's surprisingly athletic, but he could be more accurate for my tastes and will face concerns about the level of competition he faced at North Dakota State.

Wentz had his season interrupted by a broken bone in his wrist on his throwing arm. His return to the field for the Bison's playoff run is unknown, but Wentz should be ready to play in time for the Senior Bowl in January.

Also, while we're at it, I'll quickly rank the quarterbacks I've watched so far: Lynch, Goff, Cook, Wentz, Jones, Kiel, Prescott, Hackenberg, Kessler, Doughty.

Adam Gotsis, DL, Georgia Tech (6'5, 285)

A couple weeks ago, we noted four Eagles defenders who may not be back in 2016. One of those players was upcoming unrestricted free agent Cedric Thornton:

DE Cedric Thornton: While Thornton has been a solid starter for the Eagles, the Birds are going to have to make some difficult choices on their defense. They already handed out lucrative contracts to Byron Maxwell, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Mychal Kendricks, and Malcolm Jenkins. They'll soon also have to pay Walter Thurmond, Fletcher Cox, and Bennie Logan. The Eagles can't pay everyone, and may view Taylor Hart as a cheaper option at DE.

Gotsis, who tore his ACL against Virginia this season, fits the profile of taller, longer players that the Eagles have targeted for their defensive line.

"We want taller, longer guys with longer arms that can two-gap," said Kelly this past offseason. "And if you look at our D-Line, they’re taller and longer than when we first got here.

"When you kind of have those height/weight/speed parameters by position, it narrows it down, narrows the pool down in terms of what you’re looking for. But that’s what you play with. It’s tough to play with a 6-foot, 290-pound guy who’s not gonna be a good two-gapper. It doesn’t mean he’s not gonna be a good football player. It just means he doesn’t fit in terms of what we’re trying to get accomplished.”

Gotsis could be a player available in the mid-late rounds that the Eagles could see as depth for a defensive line that could be without Thornton next season.

Devontae Booker, RB, Utah (5'11, 212)

Booker tore his meniscus this season, but not before racking up 1261 rushing yards as Utah's workhorse back. Still, I don't love Booker's numbers over the last two years:

 YearCarries Yards YPC TD 
 2014292 1512 5.2 10 
 2015268 1261 4.7 11 

The concern for me would be Booker's yards per carry. They look good compared to NFL runners, but in college, the top guys are typically hovering around 6.0 yards per carry or better.

The Eagles are likely to want to get DeMarco Murray off their roster as soon as that is feasible, whether they can figure out a way this offseason, or after the 2016 season. Booker is in the same mold of Chip Kelly's famous (or perhaps infamous, depending on your viewpoint) attraction to "north-south" runners. Booker does a good job breaking tackles, and he is also a good pass-catcher out of the backfield, as he had 80 receptions the last two seasons at Utah.

One additional thing to note is Booker's age. He turns 24 in May, which will turn teams off. However, Kelly doesn't seem to care a lick about age, as his team has gotten progressively (and significantly) older since he arrived in Philly. Here are the Eagles average ages after 53 man cutdowns each of the last four seasons, with their NFL rank in parentheses:

2012 2013 2014 2015 
 25.55 (2)25.74 (10) 26.26 (19) 26.69 (28) 

Here's Booker in action:

Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas (5'11, 223)

Williams did not play in 2015, but he was elected a team captain by his teammates even after he was lost for the season after having surgery to insert two screws in his foot to help repair damaged ligaments. So, you know, #culture. His numbers in 2013 and 2014:

Year Carries Yards YPC TD 
 2013150 900 6.0 
 2014211 1190 5.6 12 

Williams is a bigger back who, again, fits that "north-south" mold of runner Kelly prefers. If he declares for the draft, as he is expected to do, Williams could be a mid-late round possibility for the Eagles. A highlight reel:

Check out our grocery shopping page here, or any of the individual grocery shopping posts below.

September 5

  1. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
  2. A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
  3. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  4. Dadi Nicolas, Edge rusher, Virginia Tech
  5. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

• September 12

  1. Tyler Johnstone, OT, Oregon
  2. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
  3. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
  4. Shilique Calhoun, Edge rusher, Michigan State
  5. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU

• September 19

  1. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
  2. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
  3. Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State
  4. Jared Goff, QB, California
  5. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

• September 26

  1. Wayne Lyons, CB/S, Michigan
  2. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
  3. Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
  4. Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State
  5. Cody Kessler, QB, USC

• October 3

  1. Jordan Jenkins, Edge rusher, Georgia
  2. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
  3. Cody Whitehair, OT/OG, Kansas State
  4. Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge rusher, Oklahoma State
  5. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame

• October 10

  1. Maurice Canady, CB, Virginia
  2. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
  3. Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee
  4. John Theus, OT, Georgia
  5. Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern

• October 17

  1. Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
  2. Jalen Mills, CB/S, LSU
  3. Vadal Alexander, OT/OG, LSU
  4. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
  5. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State

• October 24

  1. Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
  2. Le'Raven Clark, OT/OG, Texas Tech
  3. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
  4. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
  5. Darian Thompson, S, Boise State

• October 31

  1. Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
  2. Isaac Seumalo, C/OG/OT, Oregon State
  3. Nick Martin, OG/C, Notre Dame
  4. Tyler Matakevich, ILB, Temple
  5. Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

• November 7

  1. Landon Turner, OG, North Carolina
  2. Gunner Kiel, QB, Cincinnati
  3. William Jackson III, CB, Houston
  4. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
  5. Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

• November 14

  1. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
  2. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
  3. Chris Jones, DE, Mississippi State
  4. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
  5. Shawn Oakman, DE Baylor

• November 21

  1. Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
  2. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
  3. Braxton Miller, OW, Ohio State
  4. Spencer Drango, OT/OG, Baylor
  5. Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford

• November 28

  1. Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Williams, TE, East Carolina
  3. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
  4. Max Tuerk, C, USC
  5. Antonio Morrison, ILB, Florida

December 5

  1. Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky
  2. Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford
  3. Desmond King, CB, Iowa
  4. Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina
  5. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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