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January 08, 2018

Grocery shopping: 10 players to watch in the National Championship game who could interest the Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft

Eagles NFL

As long as you're taking in the National Championship game, here are some Alabama and Georgia players who could make some sense for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Note: We already profiled most of the players below during the season.)

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama (6'2, 235): (19) LSU at (2) Alabama, 8:00 p.m.

Alabama is a running back factory, and Scarbrough is the latest Crimson Tide back (along with Damien Harris below) likely to be drafted into the NFL. He also has low mileage, as he sat behind Derrick Henry in 2015 and has shared the load with Harris in 2016 and 2017. His career numbers:

Bo Scarbrough Rush Yards YPC TD 
 201518 104 5.8 
 2016125 812 6.5 11 
 2017120 573 4.8 
 TOTAL224 1293 5.8 18 

In 2016, Scarbrough did the bulk of his damage in the playoffs, carrying 46 times for 364 yards and 6 TDs in his three games against Florida (SEC Championship), Washington (Peach Bowl playoff game), and Clemson (National Championship Game). 

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He is a physical runner in the same mold as Eagles running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. A highlight reel:

On the downside (or perhaps the bright side for the draft pick-challenged Eagles), Scarbrough has a grand total of 20 career receptions, with a long of reception of 13 yards, so my guess would be many teams would like to see some evidence of receiving ability before they'd ever consider him in the first two days of the draft.

Damien Harris, RB, Alabama (5'11, 216)

Harris is perhaps the lesser known of Bama's backs (for now), but he outproduced Scarbrough in 2016, needing only 145 carries to gain 1040 yards (7.2 YPC), though Scarbrough got the goal line chances, as Harris scored just 2 TDs.

In 2017, Harris again tore it up on a modest number of carries. He has 129 carries (less than 10 per game) for 983 yards and 11 TDs. That would be 7.6 yards-per-carry. A highlight reel:

As you can see in the video above, Harris is a no-nonsense, one-cut, north-south runner who doesn't possess great long speed but has very good acceleration and gets up to top speed quickly. He is also a coordinated runner with good balance. In that sense, he reminds me a little of Kareem Hunt, but perhaps without the same level of receiving ability.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (6'1, 190)

Ridley had something of a down year in 2016 statistically after a great freshman season in 2015. His 2017 numbers were also somewhat modest:

 Calvin RidleyCatches Yards YPC TD 
 201589 1045 11.7 
 201672 769 10.7 
 201759 935 15.8 

While his yards per catch are lower than a number of other wide receiver prospects in this upcoming class, Ridley does have great speed, and was perhaps not used as effectively as he should have been in Alabama's offense. But he can be a down-the-field threat in the Eagles' offense.

A highlight reel: 

Ridley is a smooth, athletic receiver who could mayyyyybe sneak into the the first round with a great Combine.

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (6'3, 234)

Evans is a pass rusher who converted to linebacker at Bama. Over his first three years, he had a lack of playing time, sitting and watching behind guys like Reuben Foster at linebacker and a slew of edge rushers who have been drafted into the NFL.

Evans suffered a groin injury early in the season this year, so he got off to a slow start statistically, but he has 66 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks. His skill set is reminiscent of Haason Reddick, the former Temple versatile edge rusher turned linebacker who was drafted 13th overall by the Cardinals in the 2017 NFL Draft. A highlight reel: 

Evans doesn't have huge tackle numbers, but NFL teams could view him as a high-upside guy who will continue to gain more comfort at linebacker.

Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama (6'0, 181)

Wallace had excellent production when he was targeted this season, statistically, according to

 PlayerTackles (Missed tackles)Targets Catches allowed INT (PBU) 
 Levi Wallace37 (4) 47 15 3 (7) 

Wallace has a slight build at 181 pounds, but he a willing and capable tackler, with good ball skills. A highlight reel:

Wallace is a former walk-on who had to earn everything he got, and he could be a bargain in the middle rounds.

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama (6'3, 214)

When you think of 6'3, 214 safeties, you think of thumpers who play close to the line of scrimmage. While Harrison will make big hits, he is also skilled in coverage, as Bama used him as a deep half safety, with some assignments against some of the better tight ends they faced. A highlight reel:

Ideally, the Eagles would prefer their safeties to also be able to cover slot receivers, and I'm not sure Harrison can do that at the pro level. Then again, most safeties cannot. Harrison could flourish in more of a Rodney McLeod type of role, and they may even think of him as a linebacker prospect.

Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (5'10, 228)

When Georgia lost Todd Gurley for the season in 2014, Chubb came in and the Bulldogs' run game didn't suffer all that much. Insert Chubb, and everything was fine. In his first five games in 2014, playing second fiddle to Gurley, Chubb only had 31 carries for 224 yards and 2 TDs. As the starter, Chubb lit it up in the final eight games, carrying the ball 219 times for 1547 yards and 14 TDs.

In 2015, he picked up where he left off the previous season, rushing 92 times for 747 yards (for a ridiculous 8.1 ypc) and 7 TDs in his first five games. And then he suffered a grotesque injury in his sixth game against Tennessee.

His numbers at Georgia:

Nick Chubb Rush Yards YPC TD 
 2014219 1547 7.1 14 
 201592 747 8.1 
 2016224 1130 5.0 
 2017205 1320 6.4 15 

Chubb has a low center of gravity, running with good power and vision. However, his explosive cutting ability and home run potential last season wasn't quite what it used to be before he shredded his knee in 2015. A highlight reel, post-injury:

As you can see from Chubb's numbers above, his yards per carry went down after his injury. As a result, he made the correct decision to stay in school for his senior season. In 2017, Chubb looked to be a little closer to what he once was, a year removed from his injury.

Sony Michel, RB, Georgia (5'11, 222)

In the 2016 NFL Draft, two Alabama running backs -- Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake -- were both taken in the first three rounds. Georgia could also have two backs taken very early in the 2018 NFL Draft in Chubb and Michel. 

Michel's numbers aren't what they could be because he has had to split time with Chubb. And yet, they both have at least 1129 rushing yards this season. A quick look:

Sony Michel Rush Yards YPC TD 
 201464 410 6.4 
 2015219 1161 5.3 
 2016152 840 5.5 
 2017142 1129 8.0 16 

Here's a highlight reel from Michel's 2015 season, when Chubb went down:

Michel is a hard runner with receiving ability, which will appeal to the Eagles.

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (6'1, 225) 

Smith has excellent sideline-to-sideline speed and is not only a big hitter, but he is also a sound tackler. (There's a difference.)

If you watched Georgia's win over Oklahoma last weekend, you saw how good Smith is, and you'll see it again tonight. Here's a cutup of Smith's game last week: 

Assuming there are no late-emerging character or injury issues like the ones that popped up last year with Reuben Foster, Smith is going to be long gone by the time the Eagles pick.

But if for some reason his draft stock falls, he could be an outstanding playmaker behind Philly's talented front four.

(To note, we'll also put Bama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the "He'd fit nicely with the Eagles, but they have little shot at him" bucket.)

Lorenzo Carter, Edge, Georgia (6'6, 242)

Carter had a monster game last week against Oklahoma, as he had 10 tackles and the play of the game when he blocked a field goal in overtime.

At 6'6, 242, Carter is a size-length freak, and a former five-star recruit out of high school. However, his sack numbers at Georgia are unimpressive. In four seasons there, he had just 14 total sacks, though he does have upside.

The Eagles took a chance on a similar speed-length freak in Alex McCalister, though Carter is going to require more of an investment than a seventh-round pick. At 242 pounds, Carter will have to put on weight in the NFL to play DE. The Eagles would have to determine if he can do that without losing explosiveness.

Previously profiled players

• August 26

  1. Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
  2. Adam Breneman, TE, UMass
  3. Quinton Flowers, QB, South Florida
  4. Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
  5. Justin Reid, S, Stanford

• August 31

  1. Richard Lagow, QB, Indiana
  2. Simmie Cobbs Jr., WR, Indiana
  3. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
  4. Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
  5. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

• September 2

  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
  2. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
  3. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
  4. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
  5. Tarvaris McFadden, CB, Florida State

• September 9

  1. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
  2. Tyrone Crowder, OG, Clemson
  3. Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
  4. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
  5. Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

• September 16

  1. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
  2. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
  3. Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
  4. Jaire Alexander, CB, Lousiville
  5. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

• September 23

  1. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
  2. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
  3. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
  4. Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
  5. Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa

• September 30

  1. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
  2. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
  3. Jamar Summers, CB, UConn
  4. Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech
  5. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

• October 7

  1. Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest
  2. Brian O'Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
  3. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
  4. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
  5. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

• October 14

  1. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
  2. Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
  3. Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
  4. Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah
  5. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

• October 21

  1. Trey Marshall, S, Florida State
  2. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
  3. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State 
  4. Cameron Smith, LB, USC
  5. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

• October 28

  1. M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
  2. Trey Adams, OT, Washington
  3. Adarius Pickett, S, UCLA
  4. Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
  5. Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State

• November 4

  1. Brian Allen, OG, Michigan State
  2. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
  3. Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State
  4. Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
  5. Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama

• November 11

  1. Jaylen Samuels, RB/FB/TE/WR, NC State
  2. Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
  3. Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
  4. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
  5. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

• November 18

  1. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
  2. Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
  3. Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
  4. Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi
  5. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

• November 25

  1. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
  2. Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
  3. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
  4. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
  5. Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio

• December 2

  1. Derrick Nnadi, DE, Florida State
  2. Braden Smith, OG/OT, Auburn
  3. Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State
  4. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  5. T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

• December 9

  1. Connor Williams, OT, Texas
  2. Mark Walton, RB, Miami
  3. Chris Herndon, TE, Miami
  4. Donovan Wilson, S, Texas A&M
  5. Marcell Harris, S, Florida

• December 16

  1. Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky
  2. Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
  3. Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
  4. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
  5. Justin Lawler, DE, SMU

• December 23

  1. Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech
  2. Kylie Fitts, DE, Utah
  3. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
  4. Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA
  5. Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State

• December 27

  1. Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
  2. DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
  3. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
  4. Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
  5. Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State

December 31

  1. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
  2. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan 
  3. Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF
  4. Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
  5. Dorian O'Daniel, LB, Clemson

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