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October 13, 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 seventh 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.

Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame (6'7, 305): Pittsburg at (5) Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m.

In six games in a breakout season so far in 2018, Tillery already has 7 sacks and 3 forced fumbles from his defensive tackle spot. Four of those came in a win over Stanford in which Tillery got pressure all game, even when he didn't get home. 

With Timmy Jernigan out, the defensive tackle spot opposite Fletcher Cox has been a glaring hole in the Eagles' defense. Haloti Ngata is still a capable run-stuffer, which is fine situationally, but when opposing offenses are passing on first down with him in the game, it's basically a wasted lineman who isn't getting pressure. Ngata aside, the rest of the D-tackles on the Birds' roster are just bodies.

Tillery would give the Eagles a big body on the interior who can also get pressure up the middle.

Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis (5'9, 200): (10) UCF at Memphis, 3:30 p.m.

Henderson is a lesser-known running back prospect in this draft, but he's already one of my favorites. He has very good speed and he finishes runs. Here's Henderson's game against Georgia State this season: 

Henderson's yards per carry numbers are absurd. In 2017, he ran 130 times for 1154 yards (8.9 YPC) and 9 TDs. In six games so far in 2018, he has 79 carries for 934 yards (11.8 YPC!) and 12 TDs.

As an added bonus, Henderson is a good receiver out of the backfield, as he has 53 catches in a little over two seasons at Memphis.

Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia (5'11, 183): (2) Georgia at (13) LSU, 3:30 p.m.

Hardman is a forgotten player on Georgia's offense at times, but he possesses many of the traits the Eagles could use at wide receiver. He's a fast vertical threat, he returns kicks and punts, and Georgia uses him on jet sweeps. A highlight reel:

The Eagles don't have any long-term options at returner. Hardman could be that, plus a versatile threat with speed in the regular offense.

Taylor Rapp, S, Washington (6'0, 200): (7) Washington at (17) Oregon, 3:30 p.m.

The Eagles have a bigger need at the deep middle safety spot in Jim Schwartz's defense with Rodney McLeod out, but they would also be wise to have a safety in the pipeline who handle a number of responsibilities, the way that Malcolm Jenkins has in Philly the last five years.

Rapp is that kind of all-around good player who tackles well, makes plays on the football, and can move around from one position to the next. In the highlight reel below, what stands out to me is his ability as a pass rusher. He's dipping and bending around the edge like a polished defensive end on one sack, and he exposes a 300-plus pound right tackle in space on another. 

He's just a savvy football player who you can leave on the field for the entirety of the game. 

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan (6'5, 283): (15) Wisconsin at (12) Michigan, 7:30 p.m.

Gary is a big, versatile defensive lineman who plays inside, outside, left side, and right side in Michigan's defense, creating disruption against both the the run and the pass. While his stats aren't overly impressive (he has 8 sacks 5 games into his junior year), his ability is obvious. A highlight reel:

Gary's fit on the Eagles' defense could be in something of a Michael Bennett role, where he can play defensive end, but also move inside on obvious passing downs.

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

October 6

  1. Ross Pierschbacher, OG/C, Alabama
  2. Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
  3. Joe Jackson, DE, Miami
  4. Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
  5. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

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