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September 08, 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 in second 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.

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston (6'3, 292): Arizona at Houston, 12:00 p.m.

As we noted last week and will continue to point out throughout the season, the 2019 NFL Draft is loaded with defensive line talent, which also happens to align with what will likely be the Eagles' biggest need in the draft. As such, we're just going to profile all of them. 

Oliver is a special talent, who is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, depending on who is picking first, and whether or not an elite quarterback prospect emerges. His ability to get into the backfield and make plays in reminiscent of Aaron Donald.

In his first two seasons at Houston, Oliver had 138 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 9 batted passes, and 4 forced fumbles. In his first game of 2018, he had 13 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. You may as well just begin to learn his name now, and hope one of the other teams in the NFC East aren't bad enough this season to draft him.

Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State (6'5, 230): (18) Mississippi State at Kansas State, 12:00 p.m.

At the 2016 NFL Combine, Jeffrey Lurie said that he wanted the Eagles to get back into the practice of continually filling the quarterback pipeline on the roster through the draft. 

It did not make sense for the Eagles to draft one in the 2018 NFL Draft, as the Eagles already had three quarterbacks certain to make the roster. In 2019, with Nick Foles likely moving on and a projected 12 picks, a quarterback might make sense in the 2019 NFL Draft.

A quarterback with raw ability who is more of long-term project is Fitzgerald, who fits the size requirements the Eagles seem to prefer. The most obvious thing about Fitzgerald's skill set is his ability to run. A highlight reel here:

As a passer, Fitzgerald leaves a lot to be desired. His numbers:

 Nick FitzgeraldComp/Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT 
2016196/361 (54.3%) 2423 (6.7) 21-10 
 2017 159/286 (55.6%) 1782 (6.2) 15-11 

As you can see, Fitzgerald's completion percentage and yards per attempt are both awful, and his TD-INT ratio isn't much better.

With Carson Wentz as the starter and Nate Sudfeld ready to step in as the No. 2 when Foles leaves, Fitzgerald could be a developmental project worthy of a seventh round pick or as a priority UDFA.

Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina (6'0, 210): (3) Georgia at (24) South Carolina, 3:30 p.m.

Throughout his college career, Samuel has been more potential than production, as his numbers through three college seasons are far from impressive:

 Deebo SamuelRec Yards YPC TD 
 201512 161 13.4 
 201659 783 13.3 
 201715 250 16.7 
 TOTAL83 1194 14.4 

Those are decent numbers for one season for a highly rated prospect. Unfortunately for Samuel, in 2015, he missed seven games with a soft tissue injury, and he missed 10 games in 2017 with a broken leg, so there are durability concerns.

But the talent is there. Samuel is a sure-handed receiver with a thick build who breaks tackles and gets yards after the catch. He is also a good kick returner, which the Eagles still need. Some believe Samuel is a potential first round prospect. A quick highlight reel: 

DeAndre Carter, a guy the Eagles signed off the street during training camp, played 53 snaps Week 1, which should hammer home to idea that quality receiver depth is a good thing.

Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia (5'11, 185): (3) Georgia at (24) South Carolina, 3:30 p.m.

The guy who will have to cover Samuel all day is Baker, a standout corner for the Bulldogs, who is being projected as a first round pick. Here's a highlight reel. I love the first play that they show.

According to, Baker allowed just 9 completions and 1 TD on 34 targets in 2017. He had 3 interceptions. He also had 43 tackles, and only had 4 missed tackles, a good ratio for a corner.

Baker should also be extra motivated this Saturday.

That'll be a fun matchup.

The Eagles could use cornerback help next offseason, especially if Ronald Darby walks in free agency.

Cameron Smith, LB, USC (6'2, 250): (17) USC at (10) Stanford, 8:30 p.m.

Smith led the Trojans in tackles each of the last two seasons (83 in 2016, 112 in 2017), and was second his freshman year with 78 tackles. He is an instinctive linebacker with a lot of college football experience. 

Here are some highlights from Smith's freshman year:

After his freshman year, Smith was being thought of as a future first round pick, but his production has not improved as his career has continued. He is a good, solid, all-around linebacker prospect with a ceiling on his athleticism who could make for good depth in the mid- to late-rounds.

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

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