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September 23, 2017

Grocery shopping: Five college players to watch who could interest the Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft

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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 2018 NFL Draft.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Eagles vs. Giants: Predictions, betting lines and TV/radio broadcast info | Eagles-Giants injury report, with analysis | Mailbag: Are the Eagles likely to get a third-round pick for Eric Rowe? | Recap: Eagles chat with Jimmy Kempski | Week 3 NFL picks | Brandon Brooks: Obviously, we want to run the ball more | Eagles vs. Giants: Five matchups to watch

To note, the Eagles currently have seven draft picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, listed here.

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (6'4, 275): NC State at (12) Florida State, 12:00 p.m.

At 6'4, 275, Chubb is a big, powerful defensive end with athletic traits. In 2016, he had 57 tackles, 10 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. With another strong season, Chubb could be a first-round pick in the range where the Eagles could be drafting.

A highlight reel:

Defensive end is a sneaky potential need for the Eagles next offseason. While they drafted Derek Barnett 14th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Vinny Curry is likely to be released, Chris Long is in the twilight of his career, and Brandon Graham will turn 30 next offseason. The Eagles need to continue to load up on the edge.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College (6'3, 250): Boston College at (2) Clemson, 3:30 p.m.

In 2016, Landry put up incredible numbers. He had 51 tackles, 16.5 sacks (that led the country), 22 tackles for loss, and a ridiculous 7 forced fumbles. Rather than declare for the draft, Landry surprisingly decided to go back to BC for his senior season.

A highlight reel:

Landry has outstanding get-off at the snap, along with burst and bend to get around the edge. Barring injury, he could be a top five pick (top 10 at worst), so the Eagles' season would really have to go sideways for them to have any reasonable shot at drafting him.

Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson (6'5, 295): Boston College at (2) Clemson, 3:30 p.m.

Harold Landry mainly plays LDE, mostly going up against the RT, so LT Mitch Hyatt won't see much of him on Saturday night. Still, he's worth watching.

Hyatt was a big-time high school recruit, as he was rated 45th overall in the country in 2015. Hyatt was an immediate starter at Clemson, as he started 15 games as a true freshman in 2015 and 14 starts in 2016 as a sophomore, on teams that went to the National Championship Game both years.

In other words, if Hyatt decides to declare for the draft, he'll have the benefit of youth (he'll be 21 when drafted) and outstanding high-level experience.

Hyatt is undersized at 6'5, 295, and will likely have to put on more bulk in the NFL so he can anchor better against bull-rushing edge players. While he's very aggressive and has a nasty demeanor at times, he's not at all what you would consider being a drive-blocker in the run game. On the plus side, Hyatt has quick feet and the ability to neutralize speed guys, as you would expect from a player as undersized as he is.

Here's Hyatt in the National Championship Game last January:

At some point, Jason Peters is going to retire. When he does, the Eagles will have a need at tackle, whether that be in the form of a starter or a swing tackle. If the Eagles aren't 100 percent sold on Halapoulivaati Vaitai at the end of the 2017 season as a long-term starter, a guy like Hyatt could make sense.

Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State (6'5, 305): (17) Mississippi State at (11) Georgia, 7:00 p.m.

Rankin is something of a lesser-known potential first-round pick who had a bad start to the 2016 season but got a lot better as the season progressed. ESPN's Todd McShay has Rankin ranked as his 32nd best 2018 draft prospect.

There's a lot of buzz surrounding Rankin, who is a juco transfer and has only one year of SEC experience. He has the length to handle speed off the edge and the athletic ability to mirror inside pass-rushing moves. I want to see how he does against SEC competition throughout the season, including two big games coming up (at Georgia, at Auburn), but he has performed well so far.

Here's Rankin's game last year against Alabama's outstanding defense:

I don't see a first-round talent, but if he's there when the Eagles are picking either late on Day 2 or early Day 3, there is certainly some potential to work with. 

Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa (5'11, 195): (4) Penn State at Iowa, 7:30 p.m.

In three games this season, Penn State has two shutouts, they've given up a grand total of 14 points, and opposing offenses are averaging 2.95 yards per carry against them. That would make them a great test for Iowa RB Akrum Wadley.

In 2016, Wadley rushed 168 times for 1081 yards (6.4 YPC) and 10 TDs. He also caught 36 passes for 315 yards and 3 TDs.

A highlight reel:

While Wadley does not possess great size, he gets up to top speed quickly and is able to make jump cuts without slowing down. His lateral agility in reminiscent in some ways of LeSean McCoy. Wadley also has ability as a receiver, which adds to his appeal in a west coast offense.

Previously profiled players

• August 26

  1. Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
  2. Adam Breneman, TE, UMass
  3. Quinton Flowers, QB, South Florida
  4. Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
  5. Justin Reid, S, Stanford

• August 31

  1. Richard Lagow, QB, Indiana
  2. Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana
  3. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
  4. Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
  5. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

• September 2

  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
  2. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
  3. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
  4. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
  5. Tarvaris McFadden, CB, Florida State

• September 9

  1. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
  2. Tyrone Crowder, OG, Clemson
  3. Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
  4. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
  5. Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

September 16

  1. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
  2. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
  3. Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
  4. Jaire Alexander, CB, Lousiville
  5. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

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