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April 28, 2017

The top 20 options for the Eagles in round three of the 2017 NFL Draft

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120316CooperKupp Patrick Record/AP

Cooper Kupp > Jerry Rice. OK, maybe not, but he's good.

With their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles added some pass rush help, when they selected Derek Barnett. In round two, they added injured Washington CB Sidney Jones. In round three, the Eagles won't select again until pick 99.

Here are my top 20 options for the Eagles in round three:

• Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee: Over his career at Tennessee, Kamara was a complementary back with receiving ability (74-683-7 the last two seasons) out of the backfield, and also the team's main punt returner. Though small, he is a hard runner with good speed (although not elite breakaway speed), with good hands, and tackle-breaking ability. Oddly, Tennessee didn't use Kamara as much as they should have, as he only had 210 carries over the last two seasons.

• Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson: Gallman was the running complement to Deshaun Watson and Clemson's passing attack. He's a little leaner than preferred, and thus he's not much of a pile-pusher, but I love the way he runs. He is a physical, determined runner who breaks a lot of tackles in space, and looks to dish out punishment to would-be tacklers. With 65 career receptions, Gallman also has some receiving ability. He does a nice job catching the ball with his hands and then immediately transitioning as a runner. That has to be a skill set that will intrigue the Eagles in the screen game.

• Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma: Perine is probably most known for owning the FBS single-game rushing record, when he had 427 rushing yards in a 2014 game as a freshman against Kansas. He is also known for his incredible strength. Go read what Perine's teammates say about him in the weight room. Though he doesn't have the requisite receiving ability, at 5'10, 235, and with his strength noted above, tackling Perine is like tackling a runaway bowling ball.

• Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State: Godwin's yards per catch numbers are good, he makes plays down the field, and he dispelled any idea that he doesn't have good speed when he ran a 4.42 at the Combine. Godwin does a very good job winning contested catches by high-pointing the football and being physical in his route-running with opposing corners. He also has very good hands. I see him as a quality possession receiver in the NFL, who will make the occasional big play down the field.

• Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington: In his four years at EWU, Kupp had 428 receptions for 6464 yards and 73 TDs. By comparison, former FCS player Jerry Rice had 301 catches for 4,693 yards and 50 TDs during his four-year career at Mississippi Valley State. Kupp isn't a burner, but he makes catches that should otherwise be incompletions, and he's difficult to tackle once he has the ball in his hands. Like Carson Wentz did last year, Kupp had a good showing at the Senior Bowl as a small school prospect.

• Chad Hansen, WR, California: Hansen was a bit of a one-year wonder at Cal. When you watch his games, you see his obvious play speed, leaping ability, body control, and YAC. While the skill set is certainly there, I'd be very wary of taking a 22-year old developmental one-year wonder earlier than the third round.

 Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech: Henderson is a less-heralded receiver in this class, but he put up great numbers (82-1535-19) in 2016. Louisiana Tech runs a spread offense conducive to big numbers, however, Henderson averaged 19.6 yards per catch, which is an uncommonly high number for a receiver coming from a spread offense.

• Taywan Taylor, WR, Western KentuckyTaylor has blazing speed, as FOX's Bruce Feldman named him the No. 5 freak athlete in the country, citing Taylor's 11'5 broad jump, a 39.5" vertical and a 4.33 40. Taylor has also been highly productive the last two years. In 2015, he was third in the nation with 1467 receiving yards and second in the nation with 17 receiving TDs. Those numbers dwarfed those of 2015 teammate TE Tyler Higbee (38-563-8), who was a fourth-round selection of the Rams in the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2016, Taylor was once again third in the nation with 1,730 receiving yards and tied for third in the nation with 17 TDs.

• Jake Butt, TE, Michigan: Butt reminds me quite a bit of Brent Celek, actually. He's far from an elite athlete, but he's a good blocker, he has reliable hands, he makes the most of his limited athleticism with subtly good route running, and he's not going to shy away from contact once he gets the ball in his hands. The downside? Butt tore his ACL in Michigan's bowl game against Florida State, and there's a decent chance he'll be a complete non-factor in his rookie season. However, if a team like the Eagles has the foresight to view Butt as a replacement for Celek in 2018, would it make sense to draft a second round level prospect in, say, the third round, for long-term gains? Also, his name is Butt.

• Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson: The 2015 season was Tankersley's first as a starter at corner, and he was smart to stay at Clemson for his senior season to build on his impressive starting debut. In 2015, Tankersley led the Tigers with five interceptions and nine pass breakups. In 2016, he had four interceptions and 11 pass breakups. At 6'1, 199, Tankersley has good size and production.

• Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan: Lewis is small, at 5'10, 188, and therefore he's likely to be drafted later than he should, but he is a great football player who could be a steal for someone. It's extremely difficult to get separation on Lewis, who is as sticky a cover corner as there is in college football. In 2015, Lewis had a ridiculous 20 pass breakups. In 2016, despite opposing quarterbacks largely avoiding him, Lewis had 11 pass breakups. Schwartz doesn't seem to care as much about size in his corners than other defensive coordinators. The most important attribute to Schwartz is competitiveness, and if you watch Lewis play, it's pretty easy to see that when the ball is in the air, he thinks it's his. Lewis does have an accusation of domestic abuse that will need to be investigated by any interested team.

• Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia: At 6'1, 208, Douglas has ideal size at the corner spot in the NFL, and he led the country in interceptions in 2016, with eight. Those two things alone will make Douglas an attractive prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. Douglas isn't always the most willing tackler in the run game, and he can tend to be a gambler in coverage. The latter will be viewed by some coaches as a negative but is likely to appeal to Schwartz.

• Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA: Moreau was among the biggest standouts at the East-West Shrine Game week of practices. During the game, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said that "worst case," Moreau will go in the second round. That's no longer the case as Moreau tore his pectoral message. Moreau's college stats aren't very impressive, as he had just three interceptions and two forced fumbles over his career at UCLA. As a redshirt senior, he'll also be 23 years old when he's drafted, which is less than ideal. At 6'0, 205, he has very good size, and although his INT numbers are low, Moreau does a good job breaking on the football and batting down passes. He is also thought of as a physical defender in the run game.

• Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee: Sutton is a highly athletic corner who does a good job of getting his hands on the football. Unfortunately, he's 5'11 with 30" arms (that's really short), and he only ran a 4.52 at the Combine. Add all that together and Sutton is probably a slot corner in the NFL, but he can be a really good one. Sutton doubles as an outstanding punt returner. In 2015, he led the NCAA with a whopping 18.7 yards per punt return on 25 attempts, including two scores.

• Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado: Witherspoon is a "Seattle Seahawks" type corner at 6'3, 198, with a size-speed combo that will appeal to scouts. However, the knock on Witherspoon is that he is often not the most willing tackler.

• Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State: Kazee is a lesser known player on a very good San Diego State team who does a great job attacking the football in the air. Over the last two seasons, he has 15 interceptions. He also added three forced fumbles and is aggressive in run support. At 5'10, 184, Kazee is projected to be a slot corner at the NFL level. Ron Brooks took a pay cut to stay with the team in 2017. Kazee could be a long-term solution at slot corner.

 Corn Elder, CB, Miami: Despite his small size, Elder is a physical tackler who also contributes on special teams for the Hurricanes. In 2016, Elder had 76 tackles (4.5 for loss), 3 sacks, 1 INT, and 12 pass breakups. In 2015, he had 41 tackles (4 for loss), 2 sacks, 2 INTs, and 11 pass breakups.

• Desmond King, S, Iowa: After watching King get roasted all week at the Senior Bowl, I don't think he is long for corner in the NFL, at least on the outside. I think he'll be a safety who can also play slot corner, and he may even slip to Day 3 of the draft. King has good ball skills, as he racked up 13 pass breakups and tied for second in the NCAA with 8 INTs in 2015. He had three picks (one for a pick-six) and seven pass breakups in 2016. He was also Iowa's primary kick and punt returner, putting up decent numbers, but never taking one back for a touchdown. I don't think you'd view King as an answer at returner, but he'd be another guy who can do it.

• Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern: As a sophomore in 2015, Walker filled up the stat sheet, compiling 120 tackles, 20.5 of which were tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 4 pass breakups, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown. In 2016, he had 105 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 1 INT, 4 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Very underrated player who has flown way under the radar.

• Montravious Adams, DT, Auburn: In watching a lot of SEC offensive linemen and running backs over the last three years during our "Grocery Shopping" series, one player who always seemed to flash on the other side of the ball was Adams. The reason he is so noticeable when you're not necessarily watching him is because his get-off at the snap is extremely impressive. His explosive first step allows him to penetrate through gaps and force double teams. However, he ends up on the ground far, faaaaaar too often. In Jim Schwartz's attack-style scheme, that quick first step is a major asset. While Adams has a ways to go in becoming a more polished player, Adams' impressive agility for such a big man is a good start, and he has a high ceiling.

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