September 24, 2016
As long as you're taking in some college football action this Saturday afternoon/evening, here are some players who could make some sense for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 NFL Draft.
King has outstanding ball skills, as he racked up 13 pass breakups and tied for second in the NCAA with 8 INTs in 2015. He also has versatility that the Eagles emphasize, as he looks comfortable playing both on the outside and in the slot, and contributes as Iowa's primary kick and punt returner.
Here's King against Pitt last season, when he bested 2016 second-round pick Tyler Boyd. Note that his two picks come on plays in which King made the play, as opposed to being the beneficiary of some kind of errant pass.
The one thing working against King is his 'heighth,' at 5'10, but that seems to be less of a concern to Jim Schwartz if the guy can play.
Because of his blend of size and athleticism, McDowell could be a top 10 pick in 2017, and maybe even top five. Therefore, the Minnesota Vikings' season would really have to go into a tailspin for the Eagles to have any kind of shot at McDowell, who could be a penetrating disruptive force next to Fletcher Cox on the interior of the Eagles' defensive line.
Defensive tackle could be a need area for the Eagles this offseason if they cannot find a way to re-sign DT Bennie Logan. After locking up a laundry list of current players this offseason in Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Sam Bradford (sort of), and Fletcher Cox, the Eagles never seemed to be in a hurry to get a deal done with Logan. It is worth noting that Logan has the same agent as Fletcher Cox, and Cox's negotiations with the Eagles were sloooooow.
Many believe that Tabor is the best CB in college football. According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Tabor had a pass breakup or interception on 19 of the 50 targets he saw last season, and has allowed only one touchdown catch over the last two seasons.
While the Eagles have competent corners, they do not have that one stud "lockdown" corner, which Tabor could be in Jim Schwartz's defense. The Eagles also lack CB depth after trading 2015 second round pick Eric Rowe to the New England Patriots.
If there's a knock on Tabor, it's his tackling. Tennessee has a 6'4, 240 back in Jalen Hurd, and a running quarterback in 6'3, 210 pound Joshua Dobbs. There's no question Tabor can cover, but Tennessee's offense will provide glimpses into whether or not he has improved as a tackler. A highlight reel:
Unfortunately though, again, the Vikings might not be bad enough for the Eagles to be high enough to draft Tabor.
McCaffrey garnered 290 first place Heisman votes, finishing second overall to Alabama's Derrick Henry. In 2015, McCaffrey set a new NCAA single-season record of 3,864 all-purpose yards. The accolades on his Stanford bio page are almost comical. He can run, he can catch, and he can return kicks and punts. Essentially, he's like a bigger version Brian Westbrook. Or maybe Ricky Watters without the alligator arms? His numbers:
However, McCaffrey's 2000-yard season isn't even the impressive part. In 2015, McCaffrey had 45 receptions for 645 yards (a ypc average of 14.3), and 5 TDs. He also had two kick/punt returns for touchdowns, and he even threw two TD passes. There may not be a more versatile offensive weapon in college football. A highlight reel:
One of the guys blocking for McCaffrey is Caspers, who is the starting RG at Stanford, but moves to center in short yardage and goal line situation. He is the type of versatile lineman Doug Pederson prefers.
"You love offensive linemen that are versatile," explained Pederson back at the Senior Bowl. "You love to have tackles that can play left or right. You love to have guards that can also play center. The more you can have that flexibility with your guys up front, the more combinations and rotations you can have, because not everyone is going to stay healthy for 16 games and you have to mix and match that."
Stanford has produced an abnormal number of offensive linemen over the last five drafts:
As you can see, there were four offensive linemen selected in the first 42 picks. Caspers likely won't be drafted that highly, but he'll be playing in the NFL. Watch his technique and athleticism:
The Eagles have better depth along their OL than they've had in recent years, but they need to continue to develop OL talent.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski