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December 16, 2017

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

Eagles NFL

We're now into the bowl game part of the college football season, as there are games on TV most nights. As long as you're taking in some of the action over the following week, here are some players who could make some sense for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky (6'4, 225): Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State, Saturday, Dec 16, 2:30 p.m.

In recent years, Western Kentucky has been producing NFL talent on offense:

 YearWKU draftees Team Round Overall 
 2016 OT/OG Forrest LampChargers 38 
 2016WR Taywan Taylor Titans 72 
 2015TE Tyler Higbee Rams 110 
 2015QB Brandon Doughty Dolphins 223 

Mike White will be the next WKU player taken in the draft. He's rarely mentioned among the top quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft, but this guy can play. A quick highlight reel:

At 6'4, 225, he fits the mold of bigger Eagles quarterbacks, as Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, and Nate Sudfeld are all at least 6'5 and 235 pounds. As you can see in the above highlight reel, White throws a pretty deep ball and has NFL arm strength. White will compete at the Senior Bowl.

The Eagles have their franchise quarterback in Wentz, their solid backup in Foles, and a developmental guy in Sudfeld. Still, if the value is there, and White slides a bit, I can see the Eagles having interest, especially now with the start of Wentz's 2018 season in question.

Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State (6'4, 215): South Dakota State at James Madison, 4:30 p.m.

Earlier this year, we profiled another SDSU prospect in TE Dallas Goedert. He's not the only dominant player in SDSU's offense. In his college career, Wieneke has put up big numbers in his own right, going over 5000 receiving yards for his career.

 Jake WienekeRec Yards YPC TD 
 201473 1404 19.2 16 
 201572 1472 20.4 11 
 201678 1316 16.9 16 
 201758 860 14.8 15 
TOTAL 281 5052 18.0 58 

Those aren't quite Cooper Kupp college numbers, but they're pretty damn good. Here's Wieneke's game a year ago against a good TCU defense in which he had 8 catches for 196 yards and 2 TDs:

Wieneke should be receiving a Senior Bowl invite.

Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee (5'9, 176): Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State, Saturday, Dec 16, 8:00 p.m.

James is one of my new favorite pro prospects. He likely won't play in this game, and he may not even declare for the draft, but I'm previewing him anyway. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, James was incredibly productive, tallying just under 3,000 receiving yards those two seasons. In his junior season, a broken collarbone derailed his season. His numbers:

 Richie JamesRec Yards YPC TD 
 2015108 1346 12.5 
 2016105 1625 15.5 12 
 201731 290 9.4 

James lines up all over the field for MTSU, including the backfield, and was occasionally even used as a running back. In his college career, James has 60 carries for 542 yards (9.0 YPC) and 5 TDs. 

In the pros, he's likely going to be a slot receiver. Though he's only 5'9, 176, he plays much bigger and reminds me a little of Steve Smith (the good one). Here's his game against Hawaii last year:

The Eagles' depth chart at receiver currently looks like this:

 X WRZ WR Slot 
 Alshon JefferyTorrey Smith Nelson Agholor 
 Marcus JohnsonMack Hollins  
  Shelton Gibson 

They could use another playmaking slot receiver.

Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech (6'5, 269): Louisiana Tech vs. SMU, Wednesday, Dec 20, 8:00 p.m.

Ferguson was tied for third in the country in 2016 with 14.5 sacks, but he has cooled off some in 2017, as he has just 6 sacks while being the focus of opposing offensive line schemes. 

At 6'5 with long arms, Ferguson has good length for the position, but his college production is perhaps better than his actual ability. Here's his game last year against Western Kentucky, going up against 2017 second round pick (38th overall) Forrest Lamp, who mostly owned him.

Still, this is a draftable player, and the Eagles could use a developmental prospect to groom behind some of their older veteran defensive ends.

Justin Lawler, DE, SMU (6'4, 265): Louisiana Tech vs. SMU, Wednesday, Dec 20, 8:00 p.m.

Like Louisiana Tech, SMU has an edge rusher prospect in this bowl matchup as well in Justin Lawler. This season, Lawler has 74 tackles (a ton for a DE), 15.5 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks. Here's a quick film review of his game:

Lawler isn't going to light up the Combine, but he hustles and he plays good run defense. I can see the Eagles having interest in the late rounds.

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

• November 11

  1. Jaylen Samuels, RB/FB/TE/WR, NC State
  2. Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
  3. Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
  4. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
  5. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

• November 18

  1. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
  2. Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
  3. Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
  4. Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi
  5. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

• November 25

  1. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
  2. Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
  3. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
  4. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
  5. Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio

• December 2

  1. Derrick Nnadi, DE, Florida State
  2. Braden Smith, OG/OT, Auburn
  3. Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
  4. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  5. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

December 9

  1. Derrick Nnadi, DE, Florida State
  2. Braden Smith, OG/OT, Auburn
  3. Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
  4. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  5. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

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