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December 23, 2017

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

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.

Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech (6'1, 235): Texas Tech vs. South Florida, Saturday, Dec 23, 12:00 p.m.

In the summer of 2016, Allen was kicked off the Texas Tech football team in the aftermath of felony home burglary charges, notably the theft of a safe full of guns. He landed at East Mississippi Community College, which you may have seen on 'Last Chance U,' a Netflix documentary series that shows the stories of football players at a junior college trying to get back to Division I schools.

Allen played for a year there, before returning back to Texas Tech for the 2017 season. He was arguably the Red Raiders' best player. On the season, Allen had 93 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 INTs, a forced fumble, 2 sacks, and 4 pass breakups.

The Eagles' need for linebacker depth is fairly obvious, and they have taken chances on character concern players in the past. If Allen declares for the 2018 NFL Draft (he may not), the Eagles will certainly do their homework on him.

Kylie Fitts, DE, Utah (6'4, 260): Utah vs. West Virginia, Tuesday, Dec 26, 1:30 p.m.

Fitts has had an injury-riddled career at Utah, after transferring from UCLA. However, when he has played, he has been a productive pass rusher, enough so to warrant an invite to the Senior Bowl. In his first season at Utah (his third in college after a nothingburger season at UCLA and then a lost season of eligibility after his transfer), Fitts had 7 sacks. 

In one game in 2016 before being lost for the season in 2016, Fitts had a sack and a half, as well as three tackles for loss. And then in 2017, he had three sacks in another injury-riddled season, as he had ankle issues.

Here's Fitts' bowl game in 2015:

Because of his injury history and the fact that he'll be 24 years old his rookie season, Fitts is going to be a late-round draft pick, at best. However, he makes sense for the Eagles as a developmental defensive end to groom behind Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Chris Long.

Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA (6'8, 310): Kansas State vs. UCLA, Tuesday, Dec 26, 9:00 p.m.

Miller is a long, 6'8 offensive tackle who has protected potential top-five pick Josh Rosen's blind side. There aren't any immediately available cut-ups of Miller's play, but you can get a taste of his pass protection abilities when watching Rosen highlights:

The Eagles will have to determine if they believe Halapoulivaati Vaitai can be a long-term starter along their offensive line. Personally, I think he's best suited as a reserve swing tackle who can play both LT and RT off the bench. If the Eagles can snag an offensive tackle in the first round with starter ability, they should do so, and it may not be a stretch to take Miller that high.

Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA (6'1, 210): Kansas State vs. UCLA, Tuesday, Dec 26, 9:00 p.m.

Lasley had a breakout season in 2017 when he caught 61 balls for 1136 yards (18.6 YPC) and 8 TDs, serving as Rosen's deep threat. He also caught the game-winning fake spike fade throw that completed a 44-10 comeback vs. Texas A&M early this season:

The Eagles will have a decision to make on Torrey Smith's $5 million contract this offseason. They are probably better served spending that money elsewhere, and selecting one of the many deep threats in this draft class, while Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson continue to develop. Lasley is one of many prospects in this class with plus deep ball ability.

Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State (6'5, 300): Kansas State vs. UCLA, Tuesday, Dec 26, 9:00 p.m.

Risner has offensive line versatility that Doug Pederson and the Eagles love. As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Risner started 13 games at center. In 2016, he moved to right tackle, where he started 13 games and has played since. He is a player similar to Isaac Seumalo, in that he can play all five spots along the offensive line. (Yes, I realize Seumalo is having a bad season.)

Here he is more than holding his own at RT against 2017 No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas. This is a very impressive showing:

The Eagles would be wise to continue to load up on offensive line talent, and Risner would be a player who they can eventually start at guard, and move around to account for injuries.

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

December 16

  1. Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
  2. Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
  3. Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
  4. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
  5. Justin Lawler, DE, SMU

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