Eagles Wake-Up Call: Senior Bowl Stock Watch

Mobile, Alabama was taken over this week by scouts, coaches, agents and, of course, Birds 24/7 writers, all looking to spot the next big thing. There is value to Senior Bowl week, as the NFL decision-makers get to visit with the prospects and watch them compete up close against top-tier collegiate talent.  It is also dangerous to put too much stock in what you see.

With that in mind, a look at some players whose arrows appear to be pointing up after a week in the Mobile sun. We’ll focus on potential positions of need for the Eagles.

A tiny nugget to start with: According to a source, the Eagles came away impressed with Rice tight end Vance McDonald. With Jason Kelce’s brother, Travis, sidelined with an injury, the 6-4, 260-pound McDonald was arguably the premiere tight end in Mobile.

NFL Draft Scout had good things to say about McDonald.

With Travis Kelce pulling out of the Senior Bowl due to injury, the distinction of top tight end in Mobile is wide open, but Vance McDonald is making a strong case for the spot. He looks the part with broad shoulders, long arms (34.5 inch) and big hands (10 inch) to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. McDonald also looked aggressive during blocking drills, staying balanced through contact and flashing a finishing attitude. He did have some drops on Tuesday when trying to run before securing the grab, but for the most part, McDonald has been impressive this week and is making a strong case to be a top-100 pick in April.

Former Eagles  scout Daniel Jeremiah likes what he sees out of Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant:

 Trufant has been the top cornerback in Mobile. He has shown outstanding foot quickness, agility and ball skills. Most teams that I spoke with prior to the Senior Bowl had Trufant pegged as a middle-of-the-second-round-type player. Following three days of practice, nearly every personnel executive I spoke with considers him a likely first-round pick.

Desmond is the younger brother of pro cornerbacks Isaiah and Marcus Trufant. Marcus was spotted on the sidelines down in Mobile watching his little brother practice.

Jeremiah is also high on Missouri Southern defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

Williams quickly garnered the attention of NFL personnel during the weigh-ins, checking in at a whopping 341 pounds. He hasn’t had any trouble using his size and strength to overpower opposing linemen in one-on-one pass-rush drills. However, his surprisingly nimble footwork is what has been most impressive. He is being talked about as a likely second-round pick.

And finally, CBS Sports is bullish on Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher.

After two days of practice, it’s clear that Eric Fisher has separated himself as the best prospect in Mobile this week. He hasn’t been perfect, but he has won more battles than he’s lost, displaying the coordination and feet to hold up in space. Although he will get too tall at times, Fisher has shown better base strength than expected to absorb contact and hold his ground to control blockers, flashing a nasty demeanor as well. He has cemented himself as a top-12 pick, and it isn’t a stretch to consider him one of this year’s top prospects.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Eagles check out big DT John Jenkins.

Chip Kelly once recruited Denard Robinson. Would he go after him today?

Sheil updates you on Kelly’s coaching staff.

What DeSean Jackson thinks of playing for Kelly.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mark Sanchez is studying up on his new offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg. From PFT:

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily Newsreports that Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez called retired quarterback Jeff Garcia in an effort to begin learning the offense Marty Mornhinweg will be bringing to the Jets.

Both players confirmed to Mehta that they hope to get together soon for classroom and on-field work.

“It’s great,” Sanchez told Mehta.  “Jeff sounds like one of those guys that keeps his old playbook and is still really into it.  He really speaks the language of that West Coast offense.  It’s nice to hear the schematic side, but also to hear what people think about [Mornhinweg].”

Marc Sessler of NFL.com ponders the Eagles’ quarterback situation.

Landry Jones, in theory, might be a match. He operated out of a spread, no-huddle scheme at Oklahoma, but scouts came to Mobile concerned with Landry’s ability to move around and make plays when the pocket breaks down. Jeremiah said Tuesday that Landry has shown some promise on that front and has “helped his stock a lot” in two practices this week.

COMING UP

We have our milk bought, shovels ready and computers charged in the event of an Eagles emergency.

  • dislikedisqus

    Eacles need a bigger, better TE. I think we had at least 2 lisses last year where TE play was the difference between W & L

    • 1972

      i agree,clay harbor stinks. i was watching game tape of this guy, he cant block or catch.I never understood the lack of a blocking tight end in the reid era. SO many blind spots with this coach.one more year with celek and a blocking Te backing him up

    • xlGmanlx

      Is it our TE’s or our inept OC that put them in places to stink? Probably both, but I wouldn’t write anyone off who didn’t excel in a MM offense, he stinks! One of the worst play callers out there I think.

      • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

        It’s Celek, Celek doesn’t compare well to the better tight ends in the league. Celek doesn’t measure up with the Tight ends in the division as a pass catching or blocking threat. Also Celek has no potential to fight off defenders in traffic for balls. There is no need to assign a Safety to Celek in the route to keep him in check.

      • dislikedisqus

        It was dropped balls I was thinking of. There were multiple TE drops in the ez or at the goal line. Can’t blame an OC for those.

  • http://twitter.com/Randyljobst Randy Jobst

    Nothing wrong with Clay Harbor’s blocking skills. He isn’t Jason Dunn, but he can block. The Eagles need a big, red zone target at WR/TE to open things up for everyone else. They had TO for one year and that was really it for RZ threat.

    • The Guru

      Clay Harbor couldn’t block my grandmother in a wheel chair.

    • 1972

      no offense randy but u cant possibly be watching the all 22 videos. his blocking is horrible.. desean jackson blocks better. Thats not a shot a djax either, because he can actually block…Way to pull out a jason dunn reference LMAO!!WHAT A DOG HE WAS

  • The Guru

    Please draft a TE who’s basically a glorified OT who can catch a little bit. I’m sooo tired of watching Celek and Harbor either whiff or get tossed around like rag dolls.

    • aub32

      Why waste the pick. I would love if we took a page out of Harbaugh’s book and just put Dennis Kelly in there as TE.

      • 1972

        i love that big formation, still want a backup that can give the threat to catch but still be able to maul u..

  • borntosuffer

    Mark, butt fumble, Sanchez? Oh man. The Jets have really fallen. The farther they move from the running game and to Sanchez, the farther they fall. With Marty, even more will be expected of Sanchez. I don’t see that as a good fit. They’d be better of if they signed Jeff Garcia.

  • aub32

    I hope we move back in the first and take Eric Fisher. He looked like a beast in practices, and some are saying that he might be every bit as good as Joeckel. This could give us some extra ammunition to attack our defense in the second round, especially if we switch to a 3-4.

  • barry_nic

    It’s a crazy draft this year, it’s tough to project which of these prospects will be worth their draft position. When you have an OT projected as the first pick in the draft, not a skill player it’s usually a sign that the draft class is not a great one. The usual positions that would not go in the top 3 or 5 are not there, and you don’t have a player in those positions that are being called the best (insert safety, corner, guard, tackle, etc.. here.) to come along in years. It’s going to be interesting to see who goes where and if the eagles go with need over the best player available. I also wonder if there are many rookie in this class that will have an impact on the league as starters.

  • andre

    Come on Howie, bring us Brandon Williams!

  • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

    Speaking of Travis Kelce and his Eagles connection, maybe you guys could talk to Jason and do a piece on his younger brother. I have seen and heard nothing but great things. Travis was the Bearcats leading receiver and he blocks like an offensive lineman. He has a gigantic catching radius at 6’6″ tall and moves incredibly for someone his size (just like his older brother). His physicality has drawn comparisons to Rob Gronkowski, as you will see in this glowing scouting review.

    http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/cfb/42294/321/watch-out-for-te-kelce

    You can see his blocking and playmaking on display in his last bowl game. He really is an incredible blocker:

    youtube.com/watch?v=QxxDN81kT8A

    If this Kelly/Belichick thing is a two way street, you know the value of versatile tight ends will be given heavy consideration.

  • xlGmanlx

    To be honest, I am interested to see what Value Chip puts into the TE position. The igg’s haven’t had an elite TE, well, never in the reid era. It is a critical position, especially in the red zone. I’m not saying we need Vernon Davis 2.0, but if size, blue collar, tough TE, could probably do wonders for a chip kelly offense. Personally, I like attacking the middle of a defense, which means runs between the tackles and tight ends putting pressure on the secondary. I would make defenses defend the middle of the field, otherwise, defenders can use the sideline to their advantage.