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December 03, 2016

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

Eagles NFL
112716MarlonHumphrey Gerald Herbert/AP

Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey is a likely first round pick.

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.

Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma (6'0, 192): (10) Oklahoma State at (9) Oklahoma, 12:00 p.m.

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:

YearPlayerRoundOverallYears as regular starter with Eagles
2016Blake Countess61960
2016Jalen Mills72330
2015Eric Rowe2470
2015JaCorey Shepherd61910
2015Randall Evans61960
2014Jaylen Watkins41010
2014Ed Reynolds51620
2013Earl Wolff51360
2013Jordan Poyer72180
2012Brandon Boykin41230
2011Jaiquawn Jarrett2540
2011Curtis Marsh3900
2010Nate Allen2375
2010Trevard Lindley41050
2010Kurt Coleman72442
2009Macho Harris51570
2008Quintin Demps41170
2008Jack Ikegwuonu41310
2007C.J. Gaddis51590
2007Rashad Barksdale62010
2005Sean Considine41022
2004Matt Ware3890
2004J.R. Reed41290
2004Dexter Wynn61920
2003Norman LeJeune72440

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.

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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.

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (6'1, 196): (15) Florida vs. (1) Alabama, 4:00 p.m.

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. 

Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (6'1, 213): (15) Florida vs. (1) Alabama, 4:00 p.m.

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 analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

And then there's this from'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.

Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida (6'1, 238): (15) Florida vs. (1) Alabama, 4:00 p.m.

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:

Eagles LBs Snaps 
 Nigel Bradham680 
 Jordan Hicks665 
 Mychal Kendricks205 

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:

 YearTackles (TFL) Sacks FF INT 
 2015 98 (11)3.5 
 2016 56 (6)
 TOTAL 154 (17)5.5 

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.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson (6'0, 215): Virginia Tech vs. (4) Clemson, 8:00 p.m.

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:

Wayne Gallman Rush Yards YPC TD 
 2014161 769 4.8 
 2015283 1527 5.4 13 
 2016179 943 5.3 14 
 TOTAL623 3239 5.2 31 

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.

Previously profiled players

• September 1

  1. Zach Cunningham, LB, 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, Tennessee
  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, LB, 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

• November 12

  1. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
  2. Greg Pyke, OG, Georgia
  3. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
  4. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
  5. Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State

• November 19

  1. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
  2. Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech
  3. Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
  4. Tyler Orlosky, C, West Virginia
  5. Chad Wheeler, OT, USC

November 26

  1. Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State 
  2. Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State
  3. Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
  4. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
  5. Marquez White, CB, Florida State

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