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October 14, 2017

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

Eagles NFL

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.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU (5'11, 212): (10) Auburn at LSU, 3:30 p.m.

For the second straight year in 2018, LSU might have a running back taken in the first round, as Guice could follow in the footsteps of Leonard Fournette, who went fourth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Because Guice has been Fournette's backup at LSU, he has low mileage:

Derrius Guice Rush Yards YPC TD 
2015 51 436 8.5 
2016 183 1387 7.6 15 
2017 82 364 4.4 
 TOTAL316 2187 6.9 23 

Guice averaged 7.8 yards per carry during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Obviously, that is excellent. His 4.4 yards per carry average in 2017? Not so much. Additionally, in three seasons, Guice has just 18 career receptions, although that could be a symptom of LSU not using their backs much in the passing game. A highlight reel:

Guice is similar to Fournette to a small degree in that he will occasionally dish out punishment to defenders when finishing runs, but not to the level that Fournette did. Where Guice stands out is his quick feet and cutting ability in the hole, as well as his sudden burst when he sees some daylight. His balance and change of direction at top speed is extraordinary.

Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin (6'6, 249): Purdue at (7) Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m.

Fumagalli is a redshirt senior who has put up "ok" numbers at Wisconsin, in a run-dominant offense. In 2016, he had 47 catches for 580 yards and 2 TDs. So far this season, he has 18 catches for 267 and 3 TDs. Still, Fumagalli is a skilled receiver with great height who is fearless over the middle, and grinds for yards after the catch.

A highlight reel:

In 2018, Brent Celek is scheduled to count for $5 million against the cap, $4 million of which the Eagles would save if they released him. There's no way Celek will ever see that money, which means that he'll either be taking another pay cut, retiring, or being released. That's just the business of the NFL.

It's also not a lock that Trey Burton will return in 2018. He is making $2,746,000 as a restricted free agent this season, and is an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

As such, the Eagles could be in the market for a tight end to back up Zach Ertz.

Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas (6'5, 317): Arkansas at (1) Alabama, 7:15 p.m.

As a sophomore in 2015, Ragnow started all 13 games at right guard. As a junior, he started 12 games at center and one at right guard. The Eagles will value that versatility along the interior of their offensive line. 

There are some who believe Ragnow is a potential first-round pick. I don't see that at all, but he could certainly be a value, in say, the third or fourth round. After trading away both Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin last offseason, and then Isaac Seumalo subsequently being benched, the Eagles were left perhaps a little thinner along their line than they envisioned. They could continue to add to the interior of their line.  

Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah (6'2, 320): Utah at (13) USC, 8:00 p.m.

Loulelei is the brother of Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei, who was the 14th-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. While he is not as good as his brother and won't be drafted nearly as highly, Lotulelei is a very strong, effective run-stopping defensive tackle.

Over his three years at Utah, Lotulelei has 8.5 sacks, so he's not exactly an impact player in the passing game, although he does a decent enough job pushing the pocket so edge rushers can make plays.

Two-down run stuffers have become devalued in the NFL to some degree, but with two of the Eagles' division rivals -- the Cowboys and Redskins -- have dominant run-blocking offensive lines, an added run-stuffing defensive tackle could interest the Eagles.

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State (5'11, 220): Boise State at (19) San Diego State, 10:30 p.m.

Did the Eagles draft the wrong San Diego State running back? Last year, playing second-fiddle to Donnel Pumphrey, Penny ran for 1005 yards and 11 TDs on 135 carries, for an average yards per carry of 7.4.

This season, as the lead back, Penny already is seven yards shy of 1000 yards after just six games. His game log:

 Rashaad PennyRush Yards YPC TD 
 UC Davis21 197 9.4 
 Arizona State18 216 12.0 
 Stanford32 175 5.5 
 Air Force20 128 6.4 
 Northern Illinois25 107 4.3 
 UNLV27 170 6.3 
 TOTAL143 993 6.9 

He also has 16 catches for 127 yards and 2 TDs. Like Pumphrey, Penny is tearing up his competition in college. Unlike Pumphrey, Penny has legitimate NFL size, at 5'11, 220. A highlight reel vs. Arizona State this season: 

As you can see from the above video, Penny is also a kick returner, which the Eagles could use as well.

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

• September 23

  1. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
  2. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
  3. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
  4. Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
  5. Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa

• September 30

  1. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
  2. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
  3. Jamar Summers, CB, UConn
  4. Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech
  5. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

• October 7

  1. Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest
  2. Brian O'Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
  3. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
  4. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
  5. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

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