November 19, 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.
During a lazy press conference last Friday when there wasn't much in the way of pressing news to cover, I asked Doug Pederson what traits he values in his offensive tackles.
"Obviously, athleticism and length," he said. "Those guys are on islands quite a bit, so just the way they move and the change-of-direction stuff inside from pass setting. The ability to pull -- we look for that athleticism there, if they can pull and do the things that we ask our tackles to do, which I think Big V and of course Jason and Lane can all do that.
"And you know, just, again, sheer explosiveness off the ball. They're asked to do a lot of things with tight ends and guards and double teams and things like that, and those are all things that you look for when you're looking for tackles: just the feet, how well they move in space, length of arms keep defenders off. All that stuff helps when you're studying tackles."
It feels a lot like pass protection is valued more heavily than run blocking in Doug Pederson's scheme, which makes sense, seeing as he is a former quarterback himself, and priority No. 1 should be protecting the face of the franchise in Carson Wentz.
When it comes to athleticism, there may not be an offensive tackle in this draft who fits what Pederson described better than Wisconsin LT Ryan Ramczyk. He looks very natural in his pass protection sets and does an excellent job pulling and/or getting to the second level in the run game. But unlike many other offensive linemen who are blessed with athleticism, Ramczyk is also powerful, and he moves defensive linemen off the ball against their will. Here's his impressive performance this season against Ohio State:
Ramczyk is a very special case. He went to four schools before landing at Wisconsin, as he was unsure about his love of the game, even pondering becoming a welder, according to Jesse Temple of ESPN. While that is a nice, folksy story, it is also an enormous concern. Substitute "welder" with "firefighter" and you have Danny Watkins.
The Eagles would also have to feel comfortable with Ramczyk's potential ability to play either LT or RT, as he does not have experience playing at a high level of competition at RT. Lane Johnson is going to be the team's LT whenever Jason Peters can no longer play at a high level, so an offensive tackle who can play either side is preferable.
Throughout this series, we've profileD a lot of burners at the wide receiver position. While Ford is likely not going to blaze a fast 40 at the NFL Combine, he does a good job getting open deep because he is a skilled, crafty route runner. Ford's numbers:
|2016 (10 games)||58||795||13.7||7|
He's also feisty as a blocker and as a runner after the catch, although he's not going to rack up a lot of pancakes or broken tackles because of his smaller frame.
Also, and this is an important one, he has good hands. A highlight reel:
Catching the football is kind of an important attribute for a wide receiver, as Eagles fans have seen (or rather, not seen) over the last few years.
Kazee is a lesser known player on a very good San Diego State team who does a great job attacking the football in the air. Over the last two seasons, he has 13 interceptions. His career numbers:
|Damontae Kazee||Tackles (TFL)||INT||PBU||FF|
|2016 (10 games)||46 (3)||5||6||1|
But Kazee isn't just a ballhawk. Watch how he attacks ball carriers in the run game:
Earlier this week, Jim Schwartz emphasized his preference for corners who compete, and Kazee fits that profile.
Kazee has the exact same height and weight (5'10, 190) as Eagles slot corner Ron Brooks. He could potentially be a long-term answer as a slot corner in the Eagles' defense.
The Eagles love Jason Kelce's smarts and have credited him with making life easier on Carson Wentz by making correct line calls. However, it is unknown whether they would prefer a bulkier center who can move defenders in the run game, or if they prefer Kelce's skill set which allows him to get to the edges on screens and sweeps. Personally, as noted previously, I lean toward Kelce being back in 2017, but if the Eagles were to cut or trade him next offseason, they would save $3,800,000 of his $6,200,000 cap number in 2017.
One player who can be an out-of-the-box replacement is Orlosky, who is widely praised for his smarts and toughness. A season ago, Wendell Small led the country with 58 rushes of 10+ yards. A lot of those runs were right up the middle behind Orlosky. For example:
If the Eagles plan on going in another direction away from Kelce, Orlosky could make sense in the third or fourth round.
Staying on the "athletic tackle" theme, USC's Chad Wheeler also fits the bill. He has a long and lean build, and has shown good footwork, technique, and the ability to get to the second level. On the downside, Wheeler has had to add weight during his career at USC, and his ability to hold his ground against power rushers must improve. Here's his game this year against Stanford:
Wheeler has off-the-field baggage. He missed USC's bowl game last year because of an incident with Los Angeles police, as reported by Andrew Blankstein on NBC News:
Los Angeles officers responded to a man at around 8:45 a.m. PT (11:45 a.m. ET) who was possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, punching walls and windows, and injuring his hands inside an apartment in South Los Angeles near the USC campus, said the law enforcement sources close to the investigation.
The man was identified as Chad Wheeler, a junior and an offensive lineman at USC. He ran out of the apartment after hitting at the walls and windows, the sources said.
Wheeler was confronted by officers, got into an altercation with them, and was hit with bean bag rounds. The sources did not go into detail about the exact nature of what led police to use bean bag rounds, a less lethal form of force.
He was not arrested, but was transported to a local hospital and is being held under protective custody for psychiatric evaluation.
Yikes. That's some Lattimer stuff right there.
Still, in the post-Chip era, the Eagles showed last year that they are willing to take chances in the draft on character concern players when they drafted Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills, and Alex McCalister.
On a side note, last week we dogged USC's craptastic list of skill position players drafted by NFL teams since 2000. Some of you asked how USC fared on defense and the offensive line. This feels like an opportune time to show their offensive lineman draft history since 2000, which is a little more mixed:
If you'll note, they've had 10 players drafted in the first or second round since 2000.
Here's a breakdown by position on the number of players we've profiled at each position so far:
|Position||No. of players profiled|
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski
Like Jimmy on Facebook.