October 15, 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.
To note, the Eagles currently have eight draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, listed here.
Over his college career Switzer has seven punt return touchdowns, most of which are shown here:
A list of the NCAA career leaders for punt return touchdowns:
|Player||Years||School||Punt return TDs|
|Wes Welker||2000-2003||Texas Tech||8|
|David Allen||1997-2000||Kansas State||7|
|Ryne Robinson||2003-2006||Miami Ohio||7|
|Ryan Switzer||2013-2016||North Carolina||7|
|Ted Ginn||2004-2006||Ohio State||6|
|James Henry||1986-1988||Southern Mississippi||6|
Switzer also had two punt return touchdowns called back over his career.
As a receiver, Switzer has always been a contributor in the regular offense, but has not put up big numbers by any stretch until this season:
|2016 (6 games)||49||589||12.0||2|
Assuming North Carolina makes a bowl game, Switzer is on pace for 100+ catches and 1200+ yards.
Darren Sproles said this offseason that he believes 2017 will be his last year in the NFL. Switzer could be a guy who takes over for Sproles as the team's primary punt returner, while also providing more depth at receiver.
The Eagles currently keep just two quarterbacks on their active roster, as roughly half the NFL does. Before they traded Sam Bradford, they would have kept three. Aaron Murray is the Eagles' third quarterback, although he resides on the practice squad. However, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie clearly stated that the Birds are looking to draft a quarterback in most years going forward.
"We’re still looking for a third quarterback, somewhere in the draft, like we used to do," said Lurie at the NFL owner's meetings back in March, before the Eagles drafted Wentz. "We would always, each year, or every other year, try to draft a quarterback. At some point, that’ll probably continue as long as there’s quality throughout the draft, and you can identify how you want to develop a quarterback over time. It’s not somebody who has to step in (immediately), then hopefully we can find somebody throughout the draft."
A list of quarterbacks the Eagles have drafted in the Jeffrey Lurie era:
One developmental quarterback who may make sense for the Eagles is Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs. 2015 was Dobbs' first season as the opening day starter, although he became Tennessee's starter midway through the 2014 season. His career numbers at Tennessee:
|Joshua Dobbs||Comp-Att (Comp%)||Yards (YPA)||TD-INT|
|2013||72-121 (59.5%)||695 (5.7)||2-6|
|2014||112-177 (63.3%)||1206 (6.8)||9-6|
|2015||205-344 (59.6%)||2291 (6.7)||15-5|
|2016||105-180 (58.3%)||1433 (8.0)||14-8|
Dobbs also has 1653 rushing yards and 25 rushing TDs over his career. His running ability is obvious, as Tennessee often calls designed quarterback runs with him as you'll see in his game against Alabama last year shows:
As a passer, Dobbs has a good arm and can be accurate when he's able to step into his throws, but he tends to lose that accuracy and can make bad decisions when he's forced to move. Also, he can be over-reliant on his running ability, as he'll often bail from the pocket at the first sign of pressure.
Still, his physical traits could make for an intriguing project in the later rounds for an Eagles coaching staff that is absolutely loaded up with quarterback gurus.
Dobbs is a senior, so there's a pretty good bet he'll get an invite to compete at the Senior Bowl in January.
Barnett is a shorter, thick, strong defensive end who reminds me a little of Brandon Graham. Barnett is equally effective against the run as he is as a pass rusher, and has been an impact player since his freshman year:
|2016 (6 games)||18||5||9.5||1|
Here's a highlight reel:
Barnett is likely to be a first-round pick. The Eagles' defensive line is the strongest unit on the team, so why would they use a first round pick on another defensive end? Well, the defensive line's ability to get to the quarterback while only rushing four sets up everything else for the defense to succeed on the back end. In my view, you can never have enough talented pass rushers, especially when you're that reliant on their production up front.
Here's a list of guys Cam Robinson has blocked during his time at Alabama, where he has been the starting left tackle since his true freshman season in 2014:
|Dante Fowler Jr., Florida||Jaguars||1||3|
|Joey Bosa, Ohio State||Chargers||1||3|
|Leonard Floyd, Georgia||Bears||1||9|
|Shaq Lawson, Clemson||Bills||1||19|
|Shane Ray, Missouri||Broncos||1||23|
|Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss||Cardinals||1||29|
|Kevin Dodd, Clemson||Titans||2||33|
|Preston Smith, Mississippi State||Redskins||2||38|
|Markus Golden, Missouri||Cardinals||2||58|
|Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State||Raiders||3||75|
|Jordan Jenkins, Georgia||Jets||3||83|
|Danielle Hunter, LSU||Vikings||3||88|
And the above list is incomplete. There were more players he blocked who have been drafted, but the above players are just the Day 1 and Day 2 picks. Throughout Robinson's college career, there has been a new stud pass rusher that he has had to face every single week. To note, Robinson may not have necessarily blocked all of those players for the entirety of the game when he faced them, but as the LT, for the majority of the above, he did.
That list doesn't include guys like Texas A&M likely top five pick Miles Garrett, LSU's Arden Key, Arkansas' Diatrich Wise, Auburn's Carl Lawson, and Tennessee's Derek Barnett, all of whom Robinson will face (or already faced) this year. It also doesn't include the multitude of stud Alabama pass rushers he faces every day in practice, like Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, and Ryan Anderson. There won't be a more battle-tested offensive line prospect than Robinson coming of college this year, assuming he declares for the draft.
As a player, Robinson is stout. You can't bull rush him, he moves defenders against their will in the run game, and plays through the whistle. Here's his game against Miles Garrett a year ago:
You can see Robinson's dominance in the run game, which is clearly his strength. Robinson is easily a first round talent, and based solely on his play on the field, he's highly unlikely to slip to wherever the Vikings' first round pick owned by the Eagles falls.
The only way he'll slip will be due to off-the-field concerns. In May, Robinson was arrested for possession of marijuana and a stolen firearm. The latter was a felony charge, which was later dropped along with all other charges.
The Eagles' need for an offensive tackle could be dependent on the play of rookie fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai over the next 10 games while Lane Johnson serves his suspension.
With Nigel Bradham's off-the-field risks, Mychal Kendricks' poor play, Jordan Hicks' durability concerns, and Stephen Tulloch's age, the Eagles could certainly use a stable, long-term presence in the middle of their defense.
McMillan has good size at 6'2, 240, and led the Buckeyes a year ago with 119 tackles. He also leads Ohio State in tackles so far this season with 33.
McMillan reminds me a little of DeMeco Ryans, in that he's very good at taking on blockers and stuffing ball carriers in their tracks, although there may be times when he'll struggle in space at the next level, as he does not possess high-end athleticism. That comparison isn't to be confused with "late career DeMeco Ryans," who was a liability in the passing game. McMillan should be adept enough in coverage in the NFL to be a three-down starting linebacker.
Drafting a player like this could prompt Hicks to move outside, which could add to the longevity of his career.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski