January 25, 2017
After each practice at the Senior Bowl, players are available on the field to speak both with NFL scouts and media. Teams will speak with hundreds of prospects throughout the draft process, at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, at pro days, individual workouts, and visits to team complexes.
In other words, don't make too much of the following list of players, although it's noteworthy that there isn't a randomness to it. Scouts seek out specific players after practice and zero in on them.
After Day 1 of practices, the Eagles spoke with five players. Today they spoke with at least four more. Here's who we noticed:
Taylor 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. A highlight reel:
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.
Davis is a bulkier DE who may interest the Eagles as a rotational defensive end. Prior to the 2016 season, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein named Davis among 10 college football edge rushers who were "generating interest from NFL scouts and/or are expected to post big seasons for their teams." Here's what Zierlein had to say at the time:
Don't look now, but FCS schools are cranking out NFL draft picks. Davis figures to be yet another after the 2016 season concludes. Turn on the tape and you'll see the first-team All-SoCon defensive end giving Florida State's heralded tackle, Roderick Johnson, all he could handle with powerful inside charges and trips around the edge as a rusher in a November game last year. Davis plays with solid strength at the point of attack and a hunger that drives him through the whistle. He might not be a high-end athlete by NFL standards, but he's a productive, driven player.
In 2015, Davis had 13.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. In 2016, his production dipped a bit, but was still good, when he had 10.5 sacks. At the Senior Bowl, Davis will have the chance to impress against better competition.
Over the last two seasons, Willis has 21 sacks, 32.5 tackles for loss, and 7 forced fumbles. Is that good? Willis is an intriguing Day 2 pass rush prospect.
Tomlinson reminds me a little of Bennie Logan, in that Tomlinson is a lesser known player who does a lot of the dirty work along the Crimson Tide's defensive line, but doesn't put up big glamor stats like many of his teammates. Logan played a similar role coming out of college at LSU.
In 2015, Tomlinson was stuck behind A'Shawn Robinson (drafted 46th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft) and Jarran Reed (49th overall). However, in limited opportunities, he made a lot of tackles and got his hands on a lot of passes. He had 34 tackles and six (!) batted passes.
In 2016, Tomlinson became a starter, posting 58 tackles, three sacks, four batted passes, and a forced fumble.
In high school, Tomlinson was the Georgia state wrestling champion three times, pinning this poor bastard in nine seconds in the finals his senior year:
Here's Tomlinson against Wisconsin last season. As you'll see, he anchors very well against the run, as you might expect from his wrestling background. He also does a good job of pushing the pocket, although he doesn't have much in the way of a pass rush arsenal. You'll also see his motor, as he chases plays downfield from his defensive line spot. And then obviously, you'll see his ability to bat passes at the line of scrimmage:
With Bennie Logan slated to become a free agent this upcoming offseason, combined with the fact that two of the Eagles' division rivals -- the Cowboys and Redskins -- have dominant run blocking offensive lines, a run stuffing defensive tackle could interest the Eagles.
Tomlinson was offered a scholarship to Harvard for his academics, and to Alabama for his athleticism. How many people can say that? Ironically, the former may actually hurt Tomlinson's draft stock, as teams may worry that he's "too smart." Also of concern will be that Tomlinson has torn an ACL in both knees, although he latest tear was in 2013.
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