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November 17, 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 twelfth 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 10 picks.

Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State (5'11, 215): (14) Penn State at Rutgers, 12:00 p.m.

Sanders' 2018 season is his first as the lead back for PSU, as he sat behind Saquon Barkley for a couple years. In his first 10 games as the guy at Penn State, Sanders has racked up 1007 yards and 9 TDs on 166 carries. He has also had standout games against good competition, most notably a 17-162-1 effort against Michigan State, who has the best run defense in the nation, allowing just 2.6 yards per carry.

While it's not fair to compare Sanders to an elite player like Barkley, it's noteworthy that Sanders' career yards per carry (6.2) are better than Barkley's (5.7), though obviously, Barkley was the focus of opposing defensive game plans every week. Still, Sanders is a talented back in his own right, and he's going to be playing in the pros. To be determined if he comes out after this season, or goes back to Happy Valley.

Sanders has great feet, change of direction, and balance. He has a knack for picking his way through traffic, while also running with some power. Here's a highlight reel from 2017, when he was mostly playing in mop-up duty.

The Eagles' needs at running back are painfully obvious. 

Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State (6'3, 213): NC State at Louisville, 12:20 p.m.

Harmon is a local kid (Palmyra, NJ), who has been productive over his three seasons at NC State. In 2018, he is currently 10th in the nation with 965 receiving yards.

Kelvin Harmon Rec Yards YPC TD 
 201627 462 17.1 
 201769 1017 14.7 
 201865 965 14.5 

There's a much more detailed breakdown of Harmon's game here, but in watching him, it's clear that he can make plays down the field, and he possesses the ability to turn shorter catches into longer gains with his YAC skills.

The Eagles' needs at receiver seem clear, with Golden Tate scheduled to become a free agent, Nelson Agholor playing on his fifth-year option in 2019, and Mike Wallace almost certainly being gone in 2018.

Gerald Willis III, DT, Miami (6'4, 285): Miami at Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m.

Willis was a highly recruited player coming out of high school who originally enrolled at Florida, but transferred to Miami after his first season there. He didn't exactly seem like the best guy.

At Miami, playing defensive tackle at 6'4, 285 (those numbers might be generous), Willis seems to have gotten his act together, and is having his best season in 2018. On the season, he has 50 tackles, with a highly impressive 17 tackles for loss, and three sacks. 

You can see his disruptive ability in his game against LSU this season, when he had 8 tackles (4 for loss), and a sack.

Willis is undersized, a character concern, and has underachieved up until this season, but he is a very clearly talented player who can maybe be had on Day 3.

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington (5'11, 182): Oregon State at Washington, 4:30 p.m.

Washington has churned out a lot of defensive backs in recent years (Sidney Jones among them), and Murphy is the next in line. Murphy possesses inside-outside versatility, which the Eagles value. A highlight reel:

On the season, Murphy has 47 tackles (4 for loss), a pick, a forced fumble, and an impressive 12 pass breakups. With Ronald Darby likely departing in free agency this offseason, the Eagles can use help at corner.

Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State (6'6, 225): (16) Iowa State at (15) Texas, 8:00 p.m.

This is an easy one. Butler is a 6'6 monster with obvious red zone ability who can also make plays down the field, as evidenced by his 22.7 yards per catch average in 2018. A highlight reel (lol at the music): 

He would be an obvious prospect for the low-volume but big impact Torrey Smith / Mike Wallace role where the Eagles have been unsuccessful in finding a consistent playmaker.

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

• October 13

  1. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
  2. Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
  3. Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
  4. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
  5. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

• October 20

  1. Kavontae Turpin, WR/KR/PR, TCU
  2. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  3. Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama
  4. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
  5. Connor McGovern, OG/C, Penn State

• October 27

  1. Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson
  2. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
  3. Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
  4. Elgton Jenkins, C/OG/OT, Mississippi State
  5. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

• November 3

  1. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
  2. Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
  3. Lukas Denis, S, Boston College
  4. Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan
  5. Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

November 10

  1. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
  2. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
  3. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
  4. Zach Allen, DE/DT, Boston College
  5. Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State

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