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April 24, 2019

NFL Draft will once again feature some local talent — and Eagles may be interested

La Salle's Kyle Shurmur and Millville’s Ryquell Armstead are just two of the players who could hear their names called this weekend in Nashville.

NFL NFL Draft
Rock-Armstead-Temple_042419_usat Derik Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports

Temple Owls running back Ryquell Armstead reacts after a first down at Lincoln Financial Field.

They’re all going to be somewhere trying to preoccupy themselves while they wait, some on a golf course, some by working out, others huddled with family and friends in a living room, while still others chase their nieces or nephews around the house. The precautionary warnings have already been issued not to call at certain times on Friday or Saturday.

This weekend will change the lives of La Salle grad Kyle Shurmur, Millville’s Ryquell Armstead, Great Valley’s Nasir Adderley (more), and Wildwood’s Wes Hills (more).

Adderley, a cornerback out of the University of Delaware, is likely to go the highest among the area high school stars in the first or second rounds, while Shurmur, the son of New York Giants’ coach (and former Eagles coordinator) Pat Shurmur and a quarterback at Vanderbilt, may be a third-day pick, along with Armstead, the star Temple running back, and Hills, who played three years at Delaware before shattering the record books at Division II Slippery Rock last season after taking a year off.

The Eagles have spoken to each of these players, and all four fit Eagles’ needs at defensive back, running back and a quality backup to Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld.

Projected to go as high as the late second round, Armstead was slowed last season by nagging injuries, yet, he still gained 1,098 yards rushing on 210 carries (5.2 average) and scored 13 touchdowns to earn first-team all-American Athletic Conference honors. Armstead, listed at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, is a bruising, short-yardage back who some question whether or not he can catch the ball swinging out of the backfield.

I would love to go to the Eagles, but at the same time, I’m just going to be grateful for my opportunity. I’m ready to go to whatever organization puts their trust in me.

But that hasn’t deterred the Eagles, Saints, Falcons and Lions from showing deep interest.

“I always believed in myself and Matt Rhule always let NFL coaches to the practice facility every day,” Armstead said. “I would say my sophomore year was when I really knew I could take off. I’m hearing as high as second round, and from there, [I'll] see how things go. Right now, with everything going on, I’m trying to enjoy the process.

“I’ll watch the draft with my family and once my name is called, get ready to go to work. I’ll stay with my family and wait for the call.”

Armstead’s feedback has been positive and his game tape provides a good resume. The drawback, scouts say, is catching the ball, Armstead caught only eight passes last season for the Owls for 52 yards, however, NFL teams won’t be drafting Armstead for his catching ability but his pounding power in short yardage and goal line situations.

“Catching the ball isn’t an issue — I can catch the ball with the opportunity,” said Armstead, who will work out Friday and Saturday morning, sticking with his routine, before joining his family. “I’ve shown I can catch the ball. My biggest thing right now is maintaining. I would love to go to the Eagles, but at the same time, I’m just going to be grateful for my opportunity. I’m ready to go to whatever organization puts their trust in me.”

Armstead graduated with a bachelor’s degree in adult organizational development in December and will walk with his graduating class on May 10.


MORE: Eagles-only mock draft, final version | Eagles 2019 NFL Draft board


Shurmur, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback out of La Salle, smashed Jay Cutler’s career passing records at Vanderbilt, becoming the Commodore’s all-time leader in touchdowns (64), passing yards (8,865), completions (723) and passing attempts (1,264), with single-season records in touchdown passes (26) and total touchdowns (29). He became the first Vanderbilt quarterback to register three wins over Tennessee since the 1920s and in his last four regular-season appearances, all against SEC teams, Shurmur was sensational, completing 90-of-123 (73%) for 11 touchdowns and one interception.

I like hearing the constructive criticism. I see it as an opportunity... I want to have a career in the NFL. I think I have a lot of room to grow and I think I have a lot to offer to an NFL team.

One intangible that doesn’t show up on any stat chart, which Shurmur carries in abundance, is character. During his senior year at La Salle, Shurmur won the Jim Henry award by the prestigious Maxwell Club, yet bypassed the national dinner that spring in Atlantic City, one of the biggest nights of his life, because he gave a commitment to his teammates on the La Salle swimming team to compete in the PIAA state championships.

“I’m hearing Day Three is going to be my day, going somewhere between rounds five through seven,” said Shurmur, who graduated with a Vanderbilt degree in economics in December and received his degree through the mail. “I’m going to watch the draft with my mom [Jennifer] and my sisters in Summit [NJ, where they live].

“My dad and I both have done a good job of keeping this professional. He’s obviously been a very supportive person in my life, and my role model, but he has a job to do for the New York Giants and I have a job to do in showing I can play and compete for a team. We haven’t overstepped boundaries or anything like that, and we’ve kept it professional to an extent.

“But it’s my dad. He’s rooting for me.”

Kyle-Shurmur-Vanderbilt_042419Vanderbilt Athletic Dept./Courtesy

Vanderbilt quarterback (and La Salle High School grad) Kyle Shurmur.


Kyle thinks fast, he has a good pocket presence, and the intelligence to decipher anything a defense tries against him. As for knocks, he’s not the most mobile — the same knock a certain sixth-round pick had in the 2000 draft out of Michigan, Tom Brady.

“These scouts have a job to do and they want to get all of this information about you as they can,” Shurmur said. “I understand that. I know who I am. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned some things going through this process and what I can do to improve those weaknesses. I comfortable with who I am.

“I like hearing the constructive criticism. I see it as an opportunity. It’s been little mechanical issues, like my feet aren’t as tied to my upper body. Sometimes, I get long with my throwing motion. I have to know when to take off. It’s not always about how fast you can run, but a lot of it is about the mental side and when I take off, and when I let me feet take me through the progression and when to take off based on a certain defensive presentation.

I remember when I first began playing at Vanderbilt. The pass rush in the SEC is a little different than Father Judge and Roman Catholic.

“I want to have a career in the NFL. I think I have a lot of room to grow and I think I have a lot to offer to an NFL team.”

In many aspects, Shurmur has gained a wealth of simulated NFL experience already playing in the SEC, for a Vanderbilt team that didn’t have the physical talent of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida.

“I heard Pat Kirwin being interviewed about Kyle, and Pat is not only a very good talent evaluator, he’s also someone who talks to a lot of people, and he likes Kyle a lot, that got my ears perking up,” said NFL Hall of Fame writer Ray Didinger, the NBC Philadelphia Sports NFL analyst and one of the most respected voices in the game today. “Kyle will get drafted, maybe Day Two, possibly in the third round.

“Kyle is also a coach’s son and he was a really good high school player. Vanderbilt is a tough situation. They’re overmatched many weeks and he took his lumps, but he kept getting up. He never got discouraged when he was getting banged around. For someone who was under pressure a lot, he didn’t make many mistakes. He was very smart with where he put the football.

“You combine that with a pretty good work ethic and a good football background, and his size, I can definitely see a team saying, ‘Let’s pick this guy, and he’ll be our third guy and let’s work with him.’ He would be the perfect No. 3 and you might have something. Someone is going to draft him.”

Shurmur will be heading out with his mom to play golf and get their minds off of the draft—and whatever happens happens.

“Yeah, my mom may be a little more nervous about it than me,” Kyle said. “I remember when I first began playing at Vanderbilt. The pass rush in the SEC is a little different than Father Judge and Roman Catholic. She was a little nervous about that. But my mom is fine. My older sisters work in Philly, they have to work, and my little sister will be around the house.

“I want to take my mind off of it a little bit and control what I can control.”


MORE: Wes Hills' journey from Wildwood to NFL nearly came to crashing halt in Pa. woods | For Delaware's Nasir Adderley, a Hall-of-Fame name was never going to be enough


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