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August 31, 2019

Grocery shopping: Five college players to watch who could interest the Eagles in the 2020 NFL Draft

The college football season technically began last Saturday, but with just two games. This Saturday marks the first full slate of games on the schedule. Football is back.  

As long as you're taking in some of the action, here are some players who could make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Scottie Phillips, RB, Ole Miss (5'8, 211): Ole Miss at Memphis, 12:00 p.m.

Phillips is a JUCO transfer who is now a senior, but with only one year of experience at the D1 level. In 2018, he put good numbers in the SEC on a 5-7 team. Despite carrying the ball just seven times in Ole Miss' last three games, Phillips still had 928 yards and 12 TDs on 153 carries (6.1 YPC) on the season. He added 10 catches for 105 yards and 2 TDs through the air.

Phillips is a smaller back at 5'8, 211, and he doesn't exactly have sprinter's speed when he's in his top gear. Where he stands out, however, is with his quick feet in the hole, where he makes defenders miss in tight spaces with creative, rapid-fire mini jump cuts, and vision. A highlight reel: 

In the Eagles' offense, Phillips would make sense as something of a third-down back, especially if he can show more as a receiver in 2019.

Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama (6'0, 183): Duke vs. (2) Alabama (in Atlanta), 3:30 p.m.

Many believe that Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy will be a top five pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Jeudy has a WR teammate in Ruggs who is also really good. Ruggs landed at No. 18 in Bruce Feldman's 2019 college football Freaks List (via The Athletic):

The Tide has the best receiving corps in the country, but much of the spotlight has gone to the great Jerry Jeudy. Ruggs is one of several other legit standouts. None of them have the straight-up speed that Ruggs has. The 6-0, 190-pounder, who made 46 catches for 741 yards and 11 scores as a sophomore, had jaws on the floor at the Tide’s junior day when for NFL scouts who had him in the 4.2s in the 40, according to sources.

The Eagles have searched (mostly unsuccessfully) for years for a speed receiver who can take the top off the defense, before finally going out and doing it right this offseason with their trade for DeSean Jackson. While the Eagles hope that Jackson can be a difference-maker in that role over the next three or so years, they would also be smart to draft his eventual replacement in next year's draft, if the value is there. The Eagles believe that receivers tend to develop at the pro level a little more slowly than other positions.

A highlight reel:

As you can see, Ruggs isn't just a deep threat. He has good hands, he makes contested catches, he'll get yards after the catch, and he'll get up and keep playing after taking hits.

In a loaded offense in 2018, Ruggs still managed to find a way to make 46 catches for 741 yards and 11 TDs as a sophomore. If he can continue to improve, Bama should have two receivers in the first round of next year's draft. 

MORE: Report: Bills to cut RB LeSean McCoy | Eagles cut a bunch of guys ahead of 53-man roster deadline | Final 2019 Eagles 53-man roster projection

Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina (6'6, 302): South Carolina vs. North Carolina, 3:30 p.m.

Last season, Kinlaw was a raw, 6'6, 302 pound chiseled monster with very good strength and athleticism who I would have liked quite a bit had he come out in the 2019 NFL Draft. Instead, he made what I thought was a smart decision to stay in school for another year to work on his game while also avoiding potentially falling to Day 3 of the draft because of a stacked defensive line class. 

In 2018, he had 30 tackles (9 for loss), 4 sacks, 5 batted passed, and 2 forced fumbles, which aren't exactly eye-popping numbers, but he showed enough to have people excited about him heading into his senior year.

If he's going to be a Day 1 or Day 2 prospect, he's going to have to have impact games more consistently. He'd be a good fit on the interior of the Eagles' 4-3 front.

Troy Dye, LB, Oregon (6'4, 224): (11) Oregon vs. (16) Auburn (in Arlington, TX), 7:30 p.m.

Dye is a long, lean, highly athletic linebacker with coverage and blitzing skills who led the Ducks in tackles each of the last three seasons. In both 2017 and 2018, there was a huge disparity in his total tackles and the next closest Duck. And yet, despite what his tackle numbers would indicate, Dye's biggest concern is his physicality in the run game, as he will far too often look to avoid offensive linemen as opposed to stacking and shedding them. The following highlight reel won't show those deficiencies, obviously:

Some have Dye projected as a first-round pick. I don't see it. According to James Crepea of The Oregonian, when deciding whether to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft or return to Oregon for his final season, Dye reportedly "requested an evaluation by the NFL College Advisory Committee but declined to share the result." The NFL gives one of three projections when college players request them:

  1. First round grade
  2. Second round grade
  3. Stay in school

If he didn't come out and he declined to say how the NFL graded him, it's safe to say he didn't get a first round grade, and it's probably more likely that they suggested he stay in school.

However, as a late Day 2, or an early Day 3 pick, I do think he'd fit well in the Eagles' defense as a sub-package linebacker on obvious passing downs, as I do like what he has to offer in terms of covering a lot of ground in zone coverage, and his height will certainly be plus against tight ends.

Jeremiah Dinson, S, Auburn (6'0, 195): (11) Oregon at (16) Auburn (in Arlington, TX), 7:30 p.m.

In his freshman year in 2015, Dinson took a brutal shot on a blind-side block by Ricky Seals-Jones. He tore three of four ligaments in his right knee, which was also dislocated, and suffered a dislocated shoulder, per He missed the entirety of the 2016, but returned in 2017 as the nickel corner. 

In 2018, he moved to safety, where he had 64 tackles (4 for loss), a sack, 2 picks, and a forced fumble. He considered coming out for the draft, but eventually decided to stay for a redshirt senior season. Now nearly four years removed from his devastating injuries, Dinson is thought of as one of the top senior safety prospects in the nation. Here's his injury, and a highlight reel:

As we always point out, Jim Schwartz likes his safeties to have cornerback experience in their background, and Dinson applies. In the Eagles' scheme, he would play the Rodney McLeod role as the deep safety.

Previously profiled players

August 24

  1. Lamical Perine, RB, Florida
  2. Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida
  3. C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida
  4. Jonathan Garvin, DE, Miami
  5. Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami

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