December 03, 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.
Ever since the 2002 NFL Draft, when they surprisingly took Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, and Sheldon Brown with their first three draft picks when they already had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor still on their roster, the Eagles have drafted 25 defensive backs. Those 25 draft picks were, uh, not so productive. The full list:
|Year||Player||Round||Overall||Years as regular starter with Eagles|
By my count, the Eagles have gotten nine combined seasons in which those players were clear, regular starters on the Eagles' defense. If you want to include slot corner as a starter, then go ahead an add three more for Brandon Boykin.
The point here is that the Eagles haven't found a home-grown, quality defensive back in the draft in almost 15 years, and as the chart above shows, they sure have tried.
The other thing they haven't done since 2002 is take a defensive back in the first round of a draft. This could be the year, as there could be a lot of high-quality corners that come off the board in round one of the 2017 NFL Draft.
There may be three playing in the SEC Championship Game today, in Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Florida's Quincy Wilson, and Florida's Jalen "Teez" Tabor (previously profiled here). We'll get to Humphrey and Wilson in a minute.
Oklahoma CB Jordan Thomas was previously thought to be a first-round pick by some. For example, ESPN's Todd McShay had Thomas as his No. 1 rated cornerback back in August:
Thomas tracks the ball well and routinely comes down with 50-50 balls. He finished last season with five interceptions -- one of which was returned for a touchdown. He projects as an early-round pick because of his combination of size (6-foot, 192 pounds), athletic ability and instincts. But Thomas' off-field decision making -- two suspensions in 2015 and an arrest -- deserves attention from teams.
The off-field decision making McShay referred to includes two different suspensions, as well as an arrest for failing to appear in court after receiving a speeding ticket for driving 94 MPH. He was also arrested in June on charges of "assault and battery, public intoxication and interference with official process."
The Eagles showed last offseason that they were willing to draft character concern players, when they selected Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills, and Alex McCalister.
On the field, Thomas hasn't been nearly as good in 2016 as he was in 2015. CFB Film Room has him down for six touchdowns and 471 yards allowed this season, with no interceptions. Not good.
Thomas might be best served to stay in school and regroup from a bad season, but if he comes out he could be a bargain in the mid- to late-rounds.
Humphrey is only a redshirt sophomore, but there's a good chance he'll declare for the draft, as he's a likely first round pick. Humphrey has great athleticism, and at 6'1, 196, he has great size. Is he physical? You tell me. Here's Humphrey's game against USC this season. It's a quick, two-minute video. Give it a watch:
I think I can see Jim Schwartz being interested in that guy.
As mentioned above, another potential first round corner playing in the Florida-Bama game is Quincy Wilson, Florida's "other" corner opposite Jalen Tabor. Or IS he the "other" guy? According to at least one NFL executive, Wilson is the best cornerback in the country.
"I think Wilson is the best corner in the country. Tabor gets all of the hype but Wilson is better in every area," an NFL executive told NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
And then there's this from NFL.com's Bucky Brooks:
Scouts descending on Florida's campus expect to come away convinced that Teez Tabor is the Gators' top cornerback prospect, but I've been hearing that UF's Quincy Wilson might be garnering more attention as a potential CB1. The 6-foot-1, 213-pounder has excellent size and length. He's a technician who's capable of snuffing out elite receivers on the island. An AFC college scouting director raved about Wilson's "physicality, toughness and instincts." In addition, he loved Wilson's competitiveness and that he asked coaches to allow him to take on the opponents' top receiver in certain games (see Ole Miss and Laquon Treadwell).
Hey wait... Competitiveness, you say? As we noted a couple weeks ago, what Jim Schwartz values in his cornerbacks is becoming clear. (Spoiler: It's competitiveness). A highlight reel:
Humphrey, Wilson, Tabor, Washington's Sidney Jones, USC's Adoree Jackson, Iowa's Desmond King, Michigan's Jourdan Lewis, Tennessee's Cam Sutton, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley, and LSU's Tre'Davious White lead a very impressive group of corners set to enter this draft.
This offseason, the Eagles could explore a trade of Mychal Kendricks, who has gotten nowhere near as many snaps as Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham so far this season:
Kendricks will count for $6,600,000 against the Eagles' cap next year, $1,800,000 of which they can save if they cut or trade him. While $1.8 million isn't exactly a huge savings, if the Eagles can get something like a late draft pick in return for him, it might be worthwhile cutting their losses and drafting a rookie linebacker who can give the Birds similar or better production at a lower cost.
Davis is a linebacker who has good speed and plays with great intensity. He's a great blitzer, and very good at running sideline to sideline in the run game. His numbers at Florida:
Davis' stats aren't eye-popping, and are perhaps a little misleading, as he often makes big plays that don't show up in the stat sheet. When former Alabama Heisman-winning running back Derrick Henry was asked who the toughest player he ever faced was (and he saw his share at Bama), he named Davis.
There are some who believe Davis is a potential first round pick. I don't see that, however, in the second round Davis might make sense for a team in need of added linebacker help that plays in the same division as Ezekiel Elliott.
Gallman is the running complement to Deshaun Watson and Clemson's passing attack. He's a little leaner than preferred, and thus he's not much of a pile-pusher, but he is a physical, determined runner who breaks a lot of tackles in space. His career numbers:
In the highlight reel below, watch his impressive cutting ability in the hole:
With 60 career receptions, Gallman also has some receiving ability. He does a nice job catching the ball with his hands and then immediately transitioning as a runner. That has to be a skill set that will intrigue the Eagles in the screen game.
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