Eagles Work Out Rice TE, Fresno St. Safety

With the draft less than a month away, prospect workouts are in full swing.

The two latest names to garner interest from the Eagles are Rice tight end Vance McDonald and Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas.

The Birds worked McDonald (6-4, 267) out on Monday, according to Adam Caplan. A projected second-round pick, McDonald caught 36 balls for 458 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. He lined up quite a bit in the slot and was used in a variety of ways. McDonald averaged a healthy 12.7 yards per catch last season.

HogsHaven.com recently posted a good piece showing McDonald’s versatility. You can see that some of what he does is similar to James Casey. Again, it’s clear that Chip Kelly values players who are not one-dimensional and can line up in a variety of places.

The Eagles have Brent Celek and Clay Harbor on the roster, in addition to Casey. Harbor is no lock to make the team, and we really have no clue how many tight ends Kelly would like to keep when all is said and done.

The negatives for McDonald on the scouting report are that he does not have great hands and will need to refine his skills as an in-line blocker.

Below is a cut-up of McDonald from 2011, courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.

Meanwhile, the Eagles also have a workout set up with Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas, according to Rivals.com.

Thomas (6-0, 208) is part of a deep class of safety prospects. He led the nation with eight interceptions last year and took three back to the house for touchdowns. Thomas also showed he could play up in the box, coming up with 12 tackles for loss, third among all defensive backs.

“I feel like my strength is getting to the ball no matter what, if it’s in the air or on the ground,” Thomas said at the Senior Bowl. “Just getting the ball and creating turnovers. Film study, that’s the biggest thing to me. It helps you play a lot faster.”

Thomas admitted that he needs to improve his open-field tackling. Most draft projections have him going in the third round.

Don’t forget to check out our master list of prospect visits and workouts.

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  • sig

    What did Phillip Thomas run the 40 in? With 8 picks and 12 tackles for a loss there has to be a reason he is projected in the 3ed round, and not higher. Sounds like a great player.

    • Graham

      I agree, could be the deep safety class that causes it. Seems like he would be a great pick for us in 3rd rd

      • sig

        Adding a Safety in rounds 2-4 would be a smart move. Having Philips, Chung, Allen, and a draft pick would provide good competition at camp. I am hoping Allen gets it together, and pushes Chung for a starting spot.

        • theycallmerob

          Add colt anderson to your list of players; that would leave Coleman, SIms, and Philips (due strictly to the medical concerns) fighting for seemingly one roster spot (maybe Kelly keeps 5? 6?). As you say, that’s exactly the kind of competition we’ve been lacking in camp recently (Marlin Jackson? Atogwe? Page? sigh…)

          • sig

            I could see the Eagles keeping 5 safeties. I don’t think they will cut Allen, and Colt Anderson is a lock for ST. Chip Kelly has shown he wants a strong presence on kick and cover teams. 5 safeties on the roster can help make the eagles be respectable in that area.

          • xlGmanlx

            If they bring in all these LB’s hopefully Colt loses his spot. I would rather be heavy in the front 7 and expect the backups to play ST then to have a ST “ace” that might only get on the field 3-7 times a game.

      • Wilbert M.

        Shamarko Thomas is a much better prospect that the Eagles could get with their 3rd rounder. His 40 time at the combine was one of the fastest among safeties and he hits like a ton of bricks. His only knock is that he’s short. (He gained some notoriety at the combine for his nasty face plant at the end of his 40.)

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      4.65

  • southy

    Since there’s been so much mention of the difficulty in finding a solid NFL safety these days, I’d certainly prefer to take the best of a deep class, and not sit and think some mid-round guy can get the job done just as well.

    • Token

      I agree, but I think signing Chung and Philips means no high round safety unfortunately. If Philips can stay healthy you really only need one safety. Chung just isnt very good.

    • southy

      This is a crazy idea, but say you take Jordan at 4 and play him at SS in certain situations. Having a SS that’s 6’8”, 4.6 fast, can cover, matches up well on TEs, is a pass-rushing threat in the box, and can hit? Scary.

  • JofreyRice

    Thomas is a great centerfielder, but definitely struggles in open-field tackling. I’d guess that if they draft him, it’s a hedge against Kenny Phillips balky knees, which would be fine with me; I think that it’s the right move to have a backup plan if you’re signing oft-injured guys like Fletcher and Phillips. I’m glad that it seems they realize they’ve got nothing in Coleman and Allen. Maybe one of the two will surprise them, and end up being a semi-competent backup.

    MacDonald is interesting as well. Rice split him out wide of the formation and put him in the slot a lot–I thought that was going to be James Casey’s role? I was sort of expecting a more in-line type TE, that could offer more in terms of blocking for the zone-read; Jason Kelce, Dion Sims, or Nick Kasa.

    • theycallmerob

      I take it you mean Travis Kelce? I agree with needing a bigger, blocking type of TE, especially since Casey does figure to be more a receiving threat and Celek blocks like…well….poorly.
      In fact, I wouldn’t mind having a tandem of brothers on the team- the Kelce bros and the Brown bros (that being Arthur Brown, a stud ILB who is not dumb enough to get a DUI before the draft, like some peers)

      • JofreyRice

        Yeah, sorry, whoops. My mistake. I think Travis Kelce is worth drafting just because we always seem to get the crappy brother. The fact that Travis is coming into the league with Jason already on the Birds roster guarantees that Travis will be a star. Ditto on Arthur Brown.

      • JofreyRice

        deleted.

    • GGeagle21

      I agree that it’s very important to hedge our bets with the injured players we brought in. the secondary of our future is far from set..but I think it’s much more important to find a CB we are comfortable playing for extended period of times against a number 1 or 2 WR, than a safety because we have Colt,Kurt,Nate on our roster, and all 3 have game experience atthe nFL level. I doubt anyone of us would ever include going into the season with one of those 3 as our starter in our wish lists, but I’m much more comfortable throwing them in a game, than anything we have at CB depth. I believe n C-dub as our future at one of the starting outside CB spots, and I don’t think enough people realize how good B-Fletch is capable of being in coverage, but we have to hedge our bets with his two bad knees…and inexplicably, no matter how putrid, NNamdi and DRC were playing, the Fatman EVER let’s us see any of our young backup CBs, so I don’t see how any of us can be expected to have any level of comfort with our depth at CB. because of Bradley’s knees, it’s imperative that we find a CB that we are comfortable with having to cover number 1 and 2 NFL recievers for an extended period of times(I have a feeling Miami CB Brandon McGee is a major target for us in the mid rounds). Because the safety depth in this draft is a major strength, I have to believe we will still draft one or two, but I expect us to take a CB like in the 4th and safeties like Dexter McCoil, Cooper Taylor, or Rontez miles somewhere between the 5-7th…people might think iM nuts for believing in a 7th round safety, but I have an abnormal amount of belief in 6’4 safety, Dexter McCoil, who I think has a chance at being a hidden Gem, this years Richard Sherman…Coincidently, I think the Seahawks will try and get him in the 7th…

  • GGeagle21

    Much rather have Nick “Do you like girls” Kasa who can be had in rd 4, maybe rd 5