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December 05, 2020

Grocery shopping: Five college prospects who could interest the Eagles in the 2021 NFL Draft

Eagles NFL

As long as you're taking in some college football action this Saturday (and Sunday?), here are some players who could make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Patrick Johnson, DE, Tulane (6'3, 255): Memphis at Tulane, 12:00 p.m.

Johnson is a high energy pass rusher with burst who leads the nation with 10 sacks. Since 2018, Johnson has 24.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, and 11 batted passes. As you can see here, Johnson wins with speed, and and can counter that speed with speed-to-power rushes.

Johnson is little undersized, and the concern would be holding up against the run on early downs, but he could be a good rotational pass rusher on Day 2 or early Day 3.

Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa (6'4, 260): (24) Tulsa at Navy, 3:30 p.m.

Collins is a very intriguing player who could be a versatile piece in a creative defense at the next level, as a 6'4, 260-pound off-ball linebacker. You don't see many of those anymore, because in the NFL (and college football, for that matter) linebackers have to be able to cover more ground in the passing game than they used to. Collins is athletically gifted for his size, and he is absolutely crushing the stat sheet in 2020 both as a traditional linebacker, and as a pass rusher.

In 6 games, Collins has 49 tackles (6.5 for loss), 4 sacks, 4 INT (including 2 pick-sixes), 2 PBUs, and 2 forced fumbles. Here are some highlights, and as well as some comps from Fran Duffy: 

As Fran notes, Collins would be a great fit in a Patriots- or Dolphins-like defense that highly values multipurpose players. We've heard the Eagles say they want to adopt that type of "positionless" personnel, but we haven't seen them be successful with it yet.

Collins is a player worth knowing, since he could go somewhere in that late first round, early second round range, where the Eagles could be picking.

MORE: Eagles-Packers final injury report, with analysis | Eagles vs. Packers: Predictions, betting odds and broadcast info for Week 13 | Eagles mailbag: What is Zach Ertz's trade value this offseason?

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (5'10, 205): (3) Clemson at Virginia Tech, 7:30 p.m.

Etienne is a top 15-20 talent who likely won't go top 15-20 because the NFL as a whole is (rightfully) beginning to realize it's stupid to take running backs that high in the draft. That said, should he somehow fall into the second round, and if the Eagles are picking in the top five, the value would be hard to pass up.

In four years at Clemson, Etienne has 68 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 7.3 yards per carry. He has excellent acceleration, good top end speed, and he competes through tackles. A look at him as a runner:

Just as importantly, he's a weapon in the passing game, as he is thought of as good in pass protection, and his receiving numbers have taken off as he has grown in Clemson's offense.

 Travis EtienneRec Yards YPC TD 
 201757 11.4 
 201812 78 6.5 
 201937 432 11.7 
 202040 511 12.8 

Etienne's 40 catches and 511 receiving yards both lead the nation among running backs. The guy with the second-most receiving yards has 389.

Of course, one of the rare good players on the Eagles' roster is Miles Sanders, so why double up on good young backs with similar skill sets when there are so many other bigger needs? It would probably just be a matter of value, and the fact that Sanders has struggled with injuries so far in his young career. Plus, a pairing of Sanders and Etienne could keep both runners fresh, and perhaps set them up for more longevity in the NFL. I don't love the idea of that, but there's some reasoning if you squint a bit, and you really like Etienne.

Jabril Cox, LB, LSU (6'4, 231): (1) Alabama at LSU, 8:00 p.m.

Cox was a high school quarterback who transitioned to linebacker at North Dakota State, and he was a very productive one in three years there, racking up 258 tackles, 14 sacks, 6 INTs, and 12 pass breakups. He looked like the most impressive athlete on the field at NDSU.

Cox transferred to LSU for the 2020 season, where he has continued to make plays. In 7 games, he has 36 tackles (4.5 for loss), a sack, 2 INTs (1 pick-six), and 3 pass breakups. He is a long, speedy linebacker with coverage skills whose game should translate to the next level.

He's a clear Day 2 pick who could creep up high in the second round if he has a good week at the Senior Bowl (assuming the Senior Bowl happens).

MORE: Eagles power ranking roundup, after Week 12 | John McMullen: Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has lost his way | Week 13 NFL picks

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC (6'1, 195): Washington State at (20) USC, Sunday, 7:30 p.m.

All season long, we have profiled smaller explosive slot receivers, as there are a slew of them that could enter the 2021 draft, like Kadarius Toney (Florida), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Tutu Atwell (Louisville), Amari Rodgers (Clemson), Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), and Dazz Newsome (UNC).

Amon-Ra St. Brown is a slot receiver, but he's a little different. While no slouch athletically, he may not have the waterbug-like stop-start quickness as some of the guys noted above, but is tough and and physical from the inside, and will fight for yards after the catch. He also has good hands, and as you'll see in the following highlight reel, he can track a deep ball.

We all love the Greg Ward story, but he's averaging 7.9 yards per catch on 69 career receptions. St. Brown will likely go Day 2.

MORE: Archbishop Wood grad Kyle Pitts tearing it up with Gators, climbing up NFL Draft boards

Previously profiled players

• August 9

  1. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
  2. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
  3. Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
  4. Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh
  5. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

• August 23

  1. Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma
  2. Warren Jackson, WR, Colorado State
  3. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
  4. Jay Tufele, DT, USC
  5. Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU

• September 5

  1. Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
  2. Reed Blankenship, S, Middle Tennessee State
  3. Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
  4. T.J. Carter, CB, Memphis
  5. Damonte Coxie, WR, Memphis

• September 12

  1. Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
  2. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
  3. Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
  4. Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest
  5. Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

• September 19

  1. Paris Ford, S, Pittsburgh
  2. Victor Dimukeje, DE, Duke
  3. Matt Bushman, TE, BYU
  4. Chatarius Atwell, WR, Louisville
  5. Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville

• September 26

  1. Rashad Weaver, DE, Pittsburgh
  2. Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
  3. Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
  4. Alex Leatherwood, OG/OT, Alabama
  5. Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

• October 3

  1. Alim McNeill, DT, NC State
  2. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
  3. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  4. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
  5. Tony Poljan, TE, Virginia

• October 10

  1. Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
  2. Marco Wilson, CB, Florida
  3. Amari Burney, LB, Florida 
  4. Trey Smith, iOL, Tennessee
  5. Amari Rodgers, WR, Clemson

• October 17

  1. Patrick Jones II, DE, Pittsburgh
  2. Hamsah Nasirildeen, S/LB, Florida State
  3. Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
  4. Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia
  5. Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama

• October 24

  1. Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
  2. Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
  3. Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State
  4. Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
  5. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

• October 31

  1. Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
  2. Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State
  3. Shaun Wade, DB, Ohio State
  4. Master Teague, RB, Ohio State
  5. Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

November 7

  1. Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State
  2. Brant Kuithe, TE, Utah
  3. Mustafa Johnson, DT, Colorado
  4. Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  5. Jevon Holland, S, Oregon

November 14

  1. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
  2. Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
  3. Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG/OT, USC
  4. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
  5. Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan

November 21

  1. Derion Kendrick, CB, Clemson
  2. Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State
  3. Amari Gainer, LB, Florida State
  4. Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
  5. Sadarius Hutcherson, OG/OT, South Carolina

November 28

  1. Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
  2. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
  3. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
  4. Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
  5. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

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