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November 11, 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.

Jaylen Samuels, RB/FB/TE/WR, NC State (5'11, 223): (23) NC State at Boston College, 12:00 p.m.

Samuels is listed as a tight end, and sometimes he lines up as one, but that's not what I would call him. I also wouldn't necessarily call him a fullback or a running back or a wide receiver, either. He some sort of hybrid of the four, and a very talented, versatile player with good receiving ability.

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Since 2015, Samuels has 179 receptions (and counting), although many of them come on shovel passes and screens, thus leading to a low yards per catch average:

Jaylen Samuels Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201565 597 9.2 
 201655 565 10.3 
 201759 480 8.1 

He also gets carries as a runner, and has been productive when given opportunities:

Jaylen Samuels Rush Yards YPC TD 
 201556 368 6.6 
 201633 189 5.7 
 201751 247 4.8 

Since 2015, Samuels has 23 touchdowns on 140 carries, which is obviously kind of ridiculous.

A highlight reel from Samuels' sophomore year in 2015:

Samuels would make sense for an Eagles team that does not have much in the way of glaring holes. He could simply come in as a versatile football player who the Eagles' staff could find creative ways to use.

Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF (6'1, 223): Connecticut at (18) UCF, 12:00 p.m.

Shaquem Griffin is the twin brother of Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin, who is playing well as a rookie in the NFL. The Griffins have a cool backstory. Shaquill and Shaquem (who only has one hand) both enrolled at UCF, when Shaquill had offers from schools like Alabama, but the brothers were adamant that they were a package deal.

Despite playing with one hand, Shaquem Griffin finished the 2016 season with 92 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 7 pass breakups, 2 FFs, 2 FRs, and an INT. That is incredible. He has great speed, and simply makes plays. A highlight reel (as always, feel free to use the mute button liberally):

Some team is going to take a chance on this guy in the draft and be rewarded with a good player.

Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State (6'4, 220): (15) Oklahoma State at (21) Iowa State, 12:00 p.m.

Earlier this year, we profiled speed demon OK State receiver James Washington, who is likely going to be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Cowboys have a bigger complementary receiver to Washington in Marcell Ateman, who has good size at 6'4, 220. Through nine games, Ateman has 40 catches for 732 yards (18.3 YPC) and 6 TDs. 

Here's his game this season against TCU:

Ateman doesn't have great speed, but he's big, he can win contested catches, and he has good hands. In that sense, he can be a player the Eagles could groom in the Alshon Jeffery role.

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (6'3, 234): (2) Alabama at (16) Mississippi State, 7:00 p.m.

Evans is a pass rusher who converted to linebacker at Bama. Over his first three years, he had a lack of playing time, sitting and watching behind guys like Reuben Foster at linebacker and a slew of edge rushers who have been drafted into the NFL. However, he's getting his chance this year, and with great athleticism and size at 6'3, 234, Evans will be among the next high-round picks to come out of the Crimson Tide defense.

Evans suffered a groin injury early in the season this year, so he got off to a slow start statistically, but over his last three games, he has 22 tackles, 4 sacks, and a forced fumble. His skill set is reminiscent of Haason Reddick, the former Temple versatile edge rusher turned linebacker who was drafted 13th overall by the Cardinals in the 2017 NFL Draft. A highlight reel: 

Expect Evans' stock to rise as the season progresses and he continues to gain more comfort at linebacker.

Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame (6'2, 225): (3) Notre Dame at (7) Miami, 8:00 p.m.

After a pair of productive seasons as a freshman and sophomore, Adams is having a monster season this year, as he has worked himself into the Heisman discussion. His numbers:

 Josh AdamsRush Yards YPC TD 
 2015117 835 7.1 
 2016158 933 5.9 
 2017137 1191 8.9 

Adams is a bigger back, obviously, at 6'2, 225. Personally, watching him run, he gives me sort of a DeMarco Murray vibe. (Murray isn't remembered fondly in Philly, but I mean that comparison as a compliment.)

A highlight reel (again, my apologies for the mumble rap):

It's hard to get a beat on what the Eagles want at running back. Ideally, the Eagles would like to have a back who can run inside, run outside, be a weapon as a receiver, and pass protect well. Unfortunately, there just aren't many of those guys around. As such, they're brought in an assortment of backs. In one offseason, they drafted a 5'9, 170-pound pipsqueak in Donnel Pumphrey. Less than a month later, they signed 6'0, 250-pound bruiser in LeGarrette Blount. So... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I guess we'll just profile good running backs.

Adams can clearly run. As a pass catcher, he's just OK. You're not going to do much with him in terms of moving him around the formation and having him run routes like a receiver, but he can make easy catches. This is a very deep and talented running back class.

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

• October 14

  1. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
  2. Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
  3. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
  4. Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah
  5. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

• October 21

  1. Trey Marshall, S, Florida State
  2. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
  3. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State 
  4. Cameron Smith, LB, USC
  5. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

• October 28

  1. M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
  2. Trey Adams, OT, Washington
  3. Adarius Pickett, S, UCLA
  4. Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
  5. Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State

November 4

  1. Brian Allen, OG, Michigan State
  2. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
  3. Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
  4. Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
  5. Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama

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