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October 06, 2018

Grocery shopping: Five college players to watch who could interest the Eagles in the 2019 NFL Draft

The college football season is in full swing, as we are now into the sixth week of a full slate of games.

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 2019 NFL Draft, in which the Birds are projected to have 12 picks.

Ross Pierschbacher, OG/C, Alabama (6'4, 303): (1) Alabama at Arkansas, 12:00 p.m.

Pierschbacher has been a starter on Bama's offensive line since he was a freshman in 2015. By the time his college career is over, he's going to have close to 60 starts under his belt. In his first three seasons, Pierschbacher got experience starting at both guard spots, before taking over at center this season. The Eagles will value that versatility.

Here's his game against USC in 2016. He's the RG here: 

Eagles starting LG Stefen Wisniewski was one of the pleasant surprises of the 2017 season, but he is reportedly in danger of losing his starting job, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Philly. If the Eagles cut or traded Wisniewski next offseason, they would save $3 million, with $708,334 in dead money. He is a candidate to be a 2019 cap casualty, and a player like Pierschbacher could be a long-term answer in his role.

Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami (5'11, 190): Florida State at (17) Miami, 3:30 p.m.

Johnson is the leader of Miami's defense and a team captain. In 2017, he was a ball hawk, picking off 4 passes and forcing 3 fumbles while also leading the team with 96 tackles. He has the speed to play deep middle, and is a more-than-willing tackler, who will also deliver the occasional big hit. A highlight reel:

At 5'11, 190, Johnson is undersized, which doesn't seem to bother Jim Schwartz much at all, given that the team signed Rodney McLeod (5'11, 183) and are now looking at Avonte Maddox (5'9, 184) at safety.

Johnson would be a great fit in the Eagles' defense.

Joe Jackson, DE, Miami (6'5, 258): Florida State at (17) Miami, 3:30 p.m.

A week ago against North Carolina, Jackson was a menace, as he had 5 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, and a pick six on a screen pass, shown here:

Jackson was an immediate force as soon as he got to Miami, as he had 8.5 sacks his freshman season. He has good size at 6'5, 258, with great speed and bend around the edge, to go along with the ability to convert speed to power. Here's a highlight reel from 2017:

The Eagles have an obvious need at defensive end, with Michael Bennett and Chris Long nearing the end of their careers, and Brandon Graham becoming a free agent next offseason.

Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky (5'11, 223): (13) Kentucky at Texas A&M, 7:00 p.m.

Snell is junior running back who has been a workhorse at Kentucky. His numbers:

 Bennie SnellRush Yards YPC TD 
 2016186 1091 5.9 13 
 2017262 1333 5.1 19 
 2018 (5 games)115 639 5.6 

He is a 5'11, 223-pound power back who breaks tackles, which is the kind of guy the Eagles seem to prefer under Doug Pederson. A highlight reel:

On the downside, Snell doesn't have much in the way of receiving production.

We'll see what happens with the Eagles' reported interest in Le'Veon Bell, but as this season has shown, you often need a deep stable of running backs in the NFL, and Snell could make sense in the middle rounds.

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State (6'6, 245): (8) Auburn at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m.

Another defensive end with good production is Sweat, who managed 10.5 sacks last season, despite being shut out in the sack column first four games. In 2018, he already has 4.5 sacks. Sweat originally enrolled at Michigan State, left to play at a junior college, and then landed at Mississippi State. 

Here's a video of his background, and his ability as a pass rusher: 

The concern here would be that Sweat has skinny legs, so there will be questions about his ability to hold up against the run in the pros. Do you bulk him up a bit to play 4-3 DE, or is he a 3-4 OLB? That would be a question the Eagles will have to figure out, but he clearly has very good pass rushing traits.

Previously profiled players

• August 25

  1. Carl Granderson, DE, Wyoming
  2. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
  3. Nate Herbig, OG, Stanford
  4. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin
  5. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

• September 1

  1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  2. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic
  3. David Sills V, WR, West Virginia
  4. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
  5. Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

• September 8

  1. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
  2. Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
  3. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
  4. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
  5. Cameron Smith, LB, USC

• September 15

  1. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
  2. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
  3. Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
  4. Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech
  5. Zack Moss, RB, Utah

• September 22

  1. Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo
  2. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
  3. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
  4. Troy Dye, LB, Oregon
  5. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

September 29

  1. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
  2. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson 
  3. Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
  4. Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
  5. Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon

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