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November 12, 2016

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

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110816NickChubb David Stephenson/AP

Georgia RB Nick Chubb's medical evaluations will factor in heavily on where he is drafted.

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.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (5'10, 220): (9) Auburn at Georgia, 3:30 p.m.

When Georgia lost Todd Gurley for the season in 2014, Chubb came in and the Bulldogs' run game didn't suffer all that much. Insert Chubb, and everything was fine. In his first five games in 2014, playing second fiddle to Gurley, Chubb only had 31 carries for 224 yards and 2 TDs. As the starter, Chubb lit it up in the final eight games, carrying the ball 188 times for 1323 yards and 12 TDs. 

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In 2015, he picked up where he left off the previous season, rushing 91 times for 745 yards (for a ridiculous 8.2 ypc) and 7 TDs in his first five games. And then he suffered a grotesque injury in his sixth game against Tennessee that ended his season and drastically affected his likely draft position.

His numbers over two incomplete seasons, pre-injury:

Nick Chubb Rush Yards YPC TD 
 2014219 1547 7.1 14 
 201592 747 8.1 
 TOTAL311 2294 7.4 21 

Post-injury, Chubb's numbers are way down. In 2016, Chubb has 146 carries for 691 yards (4.7 YPC), and 5 TDs. There were questions as to whether or not Chubb would be back in time to start the 2016 season. Impressively, he was ready to go Week 1, but it's probably safe to say he's not the same back he was pre-injury.

Chubb will be a player of extreme interest when teams do medical checks at the NFL Combine. They will have to determine if he can be the same guy that he once was. A highlight reel of Chubb, pre-injury:

Chubb has a low center of gravity and runs with power and balance, but as you can see in the video above, he also runs with good vision, he makes effective cuts in traffic, and has good enough speed to rattle off long runs. 

Greg Pyke, OG, Georgia (6'5, 313): (9) Auburn at Georgia, 3:30 p.m.

Pyke started at RG for Georgia in 2014 and 2015, before moving to RT in 2016. Heading into 2015, Pyke was thought to be a potential candidate to leave early for the 2016 NFL Draft, but had a disappointing season and was even benched for one game.

Pyke is a good run blocker, as the above video shows:

His potential appeal to the Eagles will be that he played both at guard and tackle, as Doug Pederson values versatility. The Eagles will have to determine if he is truly versatile, or if he's nothing more than a guard prospect at the next level. 

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State (6'0, 205): Texas Tech at (13) Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m.

If you'll note the receivers we've profiled so far (at the bottom of this article), many of them are speed receivers who can take the top of a defense, as the Eagles have an obvious need for someone who can get vertical in the passing game.

Washington fits the bill, as he has averaged 19.2 yards per catch over his career.

James Washington Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201428 456 16.3 
 201553 1087 20.5 10 
 201650 974 19.5 
 TOTAL131 2517 19.2 24 

A highlight reel:

Note above that Washington does a great job adjusting to balls in the air that aren't perfectly thrown, which is something Carson Wentz could have used against the Lions this season.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC (6'2, 220): (20) USC at (4) Washington, 7:30 p.m.

There's a notion that USC offensive skill position players don't often pan out in the NFL, which sounds about right, but I figured I'd take a look to see how bad it is, and good God it's awful. Here are the USC skill position players (we'll include TE and FB) who have been drafted since 2000:

Year Player Team Round Overall
2016 QB Cody Kessler Browns 3 93
2015 WR Nelson Agholor Eagles 1 20
2015 RB Javorius Allen Ravens 4 125
2015 TE Randall Telfer Browns 6 198
2014 WR Marqise Lee Jaguars 2 39
2013 WR Robert Woods Bills 2 41
2013 QB Matt Barkley Eagles 4 98
2012 TE Rhett Ellison Vikings 4 128
2011 TE Jordan Cameron Browns 4 102
2011 WR Ronald Johnson 49ers 6 182
2011 RB Allen Bradford Buccaneers 6 187
2011 FB Stanley Havili Eagles 7 240
2011 WR David Ausberry Raiders 7 241
2010 WR Damian Williams Titans 3 77
2010 RB Joe McKnight Jets 4 112
2010 TE Anthony McCoy Seahawks 6 185
2009 QB Mark Sanchez Jets 1 5
2009 WR Patrick Turner Dolphins 3 87
2008 TE Fred Davis Redskins 2 48
2008 QB John David Booty Vikings 5 137
2008 RB Chauncey Washington Jaguars 7 213
2007 WR Dwayne Jarrett Panthers 2 45
2007 WR Steve Smith (the bad one) Giants 2 51
2006 RB Reggie Bush Saints 1 2
2006 QB Matt Leinart Cardinals 1 10
2006 RB LenDale White Titans 2 45
2006 TE Dominique Byrd Rams 3 93
2006 FB David Kirtman Seahawks 5 136
2005 WR Mike Williams Lions 1 10
2005 QB Matt Cassel Patriots 7 230
2004 WR Keary Colbert Panthers 2 62
2003 QB Carson Palmer Bengals 1 1
2003 RB Justin Fargas Raiders 3 96
2003 WR Kareem Kelly Saints 6 203
2003 FB Malaefou MacKenzie Jaguars 7 218
2000 WR R. Jay Soward Jaguars 1 29
2000 WR Windrell Hayes Jets 5 143

That's craptastic.

USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster probably shouldn't be punished for previous busts who have played at his school, but it's kind of hard to overlook. (I won't guess on why USC has had so many disappointments at the skill positions, but have produced quality pro players at other positions).

Here are Smith-Schuster's numbers at USC:

 YearRec Yards YPC TD 
201454 724 13.4 
 2015 89 1454 16.3 10 
 2016 (8 games) 48 641 13.4 

Smith-Schuster has good size at 6'2, 220, and he seems to enjoy contact once he has the ball in his hands. He had good YAC ability, breaking tackles with his thick build. He can also beat defenses over the top, and make difficult catches in traffic.

A highlight reel:

Smith-Schuster is a likely first-round pick. Would the Eagles dare go the route of the first round USC receiver after Nelson Agholor? 

Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State (5'9, 207): (22) Boise State at Hawaii, 7:00 p.m.

McNichols is in the second year as the lead back at Boise State. His numbers the last two years are incredibly similar to Doug Martin's last two years at Boise when he was a first-round pick coming out of college.

 PlayerRushes Yards YPC TD 
 Doug Martin (2010-11)464 2559 5.5 28 
 Jeremy McNichols (2015-16)466 2553 5.5 36 

And as receivers out of the backfield:

 PlayerRec Yards YPC TD 
 Doug Martin (2010-11)56 593 10.9 
 Jeremy McNichols (2015-16)79 859 10.9 10 

McNichols and Martin also happen to have short statures, at 5'9. While Martin was a first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, McNichols can probably be had in the third. A highlight reel:

McNichols is a hard runner with a nose for the end zone (46 total TDs the last two years), and his receiving ability should interest Doug Pederson, who emphasizes that attribute in his running backs.

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

• October 29

  1. John Ross, WR, Washington
  2. Vita Vea, DT, Washington
  3. Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
  4. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
  5. DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

November 5

  1. Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern
  2. Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh
  3. Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech
  4. Curtis Samuel, RB, Ohio State
  5. Ethan Pocic, C, LSU

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