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December 17, 2016

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

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121016KareemHunt Michael Dwyer/AP

Toledo's Kareem Hunt is a very underrated player among the 2017 running back class.

It's college bowl season, and 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.

Steven Taylor, LB, Houston (6'1, 225): Houston vs. San Diego State, Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico, 3:30 p.m.

Taylor is a very impressive player for the Cougars who has filled up the stat sheet the last three years at Houston:

 Steven TaylorTackles Sacks TFL FF INT 
 201476  9
 201592 10  18.5
 201672 8.5 11 
 TOTAL240 22.5 38.5 

That's a playmaker. As you can see, perhaps the most impressive thing about Taylor's numbers above is that he has 22.5 sacks the last three years from his linebacker spot. As you might imagine, Taylor is an outstanding blitzer.

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Here's his game last year against Florida State in the Peach Bowl. While he "only" had six tackles and a sack, watch how many plays Taylor messes up without actually getting credit in the stat sheet. He is a very fun player to watch:

I do wonder if other teams will value him more than the Eagles, seeing as the best thing that Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks does is blitz, and he has rushed the quarterback just seven times this season. Perhaps the counter argument would be that if you're going to spend, say, a third-round pick on Taylor, he would be a replacement not just for Kendricks, but also a starter who would take over at OLB for Nigel Bradham, and therefore would have more opportunities to get after the quarterback.

At any rate, Taylor is an aggressive player in the Jim Schwartz mold, however, he also plays under control and isn't often fooled by play action or misdirection.

Nico Siragusa, OG, San Diego State (6'4, 330): Houston vs. San Diego State, Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico, 3:30 p.m.

A season ago, the Eagles made San Diego State RG Darrell Greene the highest paid undrafted free agent in the NFL. This year, San Diego State LG Nico Siragusa is a much better prospect, paving the way for RB Donnel Pumphrey (previously profiled here), who has amassed 2018 rushing yards this season for the Aztecs.

Siragusa is capable of pulling in shorter areas, but he isn't the most athletic guy in the world. What he does well is get good movement at the point of attack in the run game. Here's his game in 2015 against San Jose State:

Siragusa has accepted an invite to play in the Senior Bowl. There's no question he can anchor against bull rushers, but NFL people will want to see how he holds up against quicker interior pass rushers.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (5'11, 225): Appalachian State vs. Toledo, Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, 5:30 p.m.

Over his four-year career at Toledo, Hunt has racked up almost 5,000 rushing yards:

 Kareem HuntRush Yards YPC TD 
 2013137 866 6.3 
 2014205 1631 8.0 16 
 2015178 973 5.5 12 
 2016240 1355 5.6 
 TOTAL760 4825 6.3 42 

Through his first three seasons at Toledo, Hunt wasn't much of a threat as a receiver, but as a senior he caught 39 passes for 377 yards and a TD. On those 760 career carries, Hunt has a grand total of one fumble, which was in 2013.

At 5'11, 225, Hunt is a short, bulky back with good speed and ability to break tackles. However, what really stands out when watching him is his balance:

In a running class loaded with talent, Hunt could potentially be available a little later in the draft than he should be. If he's still somehow sitting there in the fourth round, that would be outstanding value.

Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo (6'4, 270): Appalachian State vs. Toledo, Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, 5:30 p.m.

Roberts has been a touchdown machine for Toledo this season catching 15 TD passes for the Rockets. That's sixth in the nation among all players, and first among tight ends. In fact, the next-closest tight end to Roberts for TD receptions has eight. Roberts' numbers the last two years:

Michael Roberts Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201521 234  11.1
 201643 514 12.0 15 
 TOTAL64 748 11.7 19 

Roberts isn't the fastest guy, so you're not going to get many big plays down the field from him, but obviously has been very good in the red zone for Toledo. The Rockets also often use Roberts on occasion in something of a fullback-type role out of the shotgun, in which he'll line up two yards behind the offensive line and lead block for Kareem Hunt. There's some good, some bad with Roberts' blocking, but there's something to work with there. 

As we noted last week, Doug Pederson wanted to keep four tight ends coming out of training camp, but Chris Pantale simply was not worthy of a roster spot. In a draft class loaded with tight end talent, a guy like Roberts could be available in the mid-to-late rounds.

Elijah McGuire, RB, Louisiana Lafayette (5'10, 208): Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, 9:00 p.m.

Like Hunt above, McGuire produced all four years of his college career, although it's somewhat interesting that his yards per carry declined every year:

Elijah McGuire Rush Yards YPC TD 
 2013103 863 8.4 
 2014166 1264 7.6 14 
 2015210 1058 5.0 13 
 2016187 918 4.9 
 TOTAL666 4103 6.2 41 

Where McGuire stands out, at least in terms of his appeal to the Eagles, is his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, which Doug Pedereson prioritizes in his offense. McGuire's receiving numbers at ULL:

 Elijah McGuireRec Yards YPC TD 
 201322 384 17.5 
 201445 468 10.4 
 201533 293 8.9 
 201627 231 8.6 
 TOTAL127 1376 10.8 10 

A highlight reel:

If you'll notice above, McGuire isn't just catching screen passes. He's catching passes deep down the field like a receiver. Also note that he has a little Shady in his game with his cutting ability.

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

• December 3

  1. Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
  2. Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
  3. Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
  4. Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
  5. Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson

December 10

  1. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
  2. Billy Brown, WR, Shepherd
  3. Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
  4. Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
  5. Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga

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