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October 29, 2016

Grocery shopping: Five college players to watch who could interest the Eagles in the 2017 NFL Draft

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102816JohnRoss Elaine Thompson/AP

Washington WR John Ross runs fast.

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.

John Ross, WR, Washington (5'11, 190): (4) Washington at (17) Utah, 3:30 p.m.

Washington has blown out almost everyone it has faced this season, outscoring its opponents 338-102. As such, the Huskies have not needed their passing attack in the second half of their games, rushing 271 times this season and only attempting 185 passes. Ross' numbers have been affected by that. On the season, he has 34 catches for 486 yards (14.3 yards per catch) and 9 TDs.

On the downside, Ross has a significant injury history. He previously tore an ACL in one knee, and tore his meniscus in the other. Still, despite his injury setbacks, at the Husky Combine back in March, Ross ran a 4.25 40, according to Washington football's Twitter account:

While that's not the most trustworthy 40 ever run, clearly Ross has blazing speed:

The Eagles don't currently have a receiver who has shown he can consistently take the top off a defense. If they're comfortable with his medicals, Ross could be a target.

Vita Vea, DT, Washington (6'4, 322): Washington at Utah, 3:30 p.m.

The week of the Dallas game feels like a good time to profile Vea, who is a dominant run stuffer along Washington's defensive line. Run stuffers have become devalued in the NFL to some degree, but with Bennie Logan slated to become a free agent this upcoming offseason, combined with the fact that two of the Eagles' division rivals -- the Cowboys and Redskins -- have dominant run blocking offensive lines, a run stuffing defensive tackle could make sense for the Eagles.

Vea has played approximately 40 percent of his team's snaps this season, but he is a better pass rusher than he is given credit for, much like Logan. If you try to single-block Vea, he can simply overpower interior offensive linemen and walk them back into the pocket. 

For example, there's this:

And this:

Vea is redshirt sophomore, so there's certainly a chance he could stay in school for another season, but if he comes out, he'll likely be a Day 2 pick.

Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky (6'0, 195): Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic

OK, so nobody is actually going to watch Western Kentucky vs. Florida Atlantic, but I wanted to profile Taywan Taylor, so we'll shoehorn him in. Like Ross above, Taylor has blazing speed, as FOX's Bruce Feldman named him the No. 5 freak athlete in the country, citing Taylor's 11'5 broad jump, a 39.5" vertical and a 4.33 40.

Taylor has also been highly productive the last two years. In 2015, he was third in the nation with 1467 receiving yards and second in the nation with 17 receiving TDs. Those numbers dwarfed those of 2015 teammate TE Tyler Higbee (38-563-8), who was a fourth-round selection of the Rams in the 2015 NFL Draft.

So far this season, Taylor is third in the nation with 993 receiving yards. A highlight reel:

Spoiler: We'll be profiling a lot of receivers who run fast.

Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn (6'3, 309): (15) Auburn at Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m.

In watching a lot of SEC offensive linemen and running backs over the last three years during this "Grocery Shopping" series, one player who always seemed to flash on the other side of the ball was Adams. However, when I finally got around to specifically watching him, I was a little disappointed.

The reason he is so noticeable when you're not necessarily watching him is because his get-off at the snap is extremely impressive. His explosive first step allows him to get the upper hand to begin most snaps. However, he ends up on the ground far, faaaaaar too often. For example, here's his game against LSU last year. He's on the ground at least 15 times, which is maddening.

In Jim Schwartz's attack-style scheme, that quick first step is a major asset. While Adams has a ways to go in becoming a more polished player, Adams' impressive agility for such a big man is a good start, and he has a high ceiling. 

DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State (6'2, 273): (3) Clemson at (12) Florida State

Walker is currently second in the nation with 8.5 sacks this season, a half-sack behind Pitt's Ejuan Price. He has put up impressive numbers the last two years:

 DeMarcus WalkerTackles Sacks Batted passesFF 
 201558 10.5 
 201631 8.5 
 TOTAL (20 games)89 19 7 

That is great production. He also had the blocked PAT that essentially won a game for Florida State over Miami this year. The Eagles are going to be shopping for pass rushers this offseason, as their defense is so much more effective (as is any defense, duh) when they can pressure the quarterback without having to blitz.

Previously profiled players

• September 1

  1. Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt
  2. Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota
  3. Jonah Persig, OT, Minnesota
  4. Sean Harlow, OG, Oregon State
  5. Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

• September 3

  1. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
  2. Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
  3. Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina
  4. Adoree' Jackson, CB/PR/KR/WR, USC
  5. Zach Banner, OT, USC

• September 10

  1. Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh
  2. Deatrich Wise, Jr., DE, Arkansas
  3. Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
  4. Jalen Hurd, RB, Tenn-essee
  5. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

• September 17

  1. Damore'ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss
  2. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
  3. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
  4. Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
  5. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

• September 24

  1. Desmond King, CB, Iowa
  2. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
  3. Jalen 'Teez' Tabor, CB, Florida
  4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
  5. Johnny Caspers, OG, Stanford

• October 1

  1. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
  2. Freddie Stevenson, FB, Florida State
  3. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
  4. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
  5. Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

• October 8

  1. Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
  2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
  3. Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
  4. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee
  5. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State

• October 15

  1. Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina
  2. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
  3. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
  4. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
  5. Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State

October 22

  1. Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse
  2. Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois
  3. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
  4. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
  5. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

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