Fifteen Prospects To Know: Eagles DB Targets
We went over the wide receivers on Friday. Now it’s onto the defensive backs.
Since there are several guys with positional versatility, lumping them all together seemed to make the most sense.
Here are 15 DB prospects who could make sense for the Eagles.
Byron Jones, CB, UConn (6-1/199/4.40 Pro Day) – At this point, if the Eagles stay at No. 20, he may be the favorite. They’ve been doing a ton of work on Jones. He’s reportedly come in for an official visit, and Chip Kelly has gone up to Connecticut twice to work him out. A freak athlete, Jones was a team captain last year and is considered a high character prospect. He played safety his first two years before transitioning to corner (full breakdown with No-22 here). Versatility, culture, measurables. It makes sense that Jones would rank highly on the Eagles’ board.
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (6-0/188/4.52) – From a measurables standpoint, he has the height but could stand to bulk up a bit. Johnson ran a 4.52 but showed tremendous athleticism in other categories. His tape was impressive, and some like ESPN’s Louis Riddick think he’s the best corner in the draft. Johnson plays with a feisty, physical demeanor (full breakdown with No-22 here). He has experience in man and zone, although he didn’t play press as much as some of the other guys on this list. He was ejected from a game for targeting and also missed a year at Wake because he was academically ineligible. The Eagles reportedly had him in for an official visit, likely to see if he passes the #culture test. I like Johnson and think he would be a good pick at No. 20 if he makes it that far.
Jalen Collins, CB, LSU (6-1/203/4.48) – He has the size and length to play press and is a plus athlete. Only a handful of corners in this draft can match Collins’ measurables. But there are concerns too. He only started 10 games in his college career. Some will point to the fact that LSU often has talented defensive backs, but they’re not better than the guys Collins will have to beat out in the NFL. Meanwhile, he also failed multiple drug tests, per Albert Breer of NFL Network. Does Collins pass he #culture test? That’s likely why the Eagles reportedly had him in for an official visit. I understand the upside, but taking Collins at No. 20 seems too risky for me, and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be there at No. 52.
Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah (6-1/205/4.45) – He’s one of my favorites on this list. Rowe played safety for three years before transitioning to cornerback. He has the size and athleticism to line up at either spot in the NFL. Rowe is a fantastic tackler in open space, will mix it up in the run game and has good ball skills (full breakdown with No-22 here). I’ve only seen one mock have him as the pick at No. 20, but he could be a player the Eagles target if they trade back in the first or even early in the second.
Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State (5-11/193/4.38) – He’s probably a long shot, but I decided to include Darby anyway. In addition to his blazing speed, Darby showed off a 41.5-inch vertical at the combine. He’s a press corner who only allowed completions on 41.9 percent of the passes thrown his way, per NFL.com. The same writeup, however, notes that some question his toughness and willingness to get physical. Given his physical traits, Darby might go off the board at the end of the first. But if not, he could be a player on the Eagles’ radar on Day 2.
Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State (5-11/196/4.46) – The good news? He’s one of the more athletic safeties in the draft and was a first-team All Pac-12 selection last year. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has Randall rated as the top safety in the draft and has praised his coverage skills. Greg Cosell of NFL Films is also a big fan. From a scheme standpoint, he’s a fit for the Eagles. Randall has man coverage ability and was used against slot receivers. But as we showed in our breakdown, he was in the middle of quite a few (negative) big plays last year. Maybe the All-22 tells a different story, but Randall in the first seems like a huge stretch. I’m not even sure he’s good value in the second. But the Eagles had him in for a visit and could feel differently.
Derron Smith, S, Fresno State (5-10/200) – I’m surprised we haven’t heard him linked to the Eagles. Smith is not the biggest guy, but per NFL.com, he has excellent man cover skills and good ball skills when playing center field. Smith did not participate in the combine as he recovered from sports hernia surgery. Maybe there’s a medical issue. Maybe he doesn’t fit their size requirements. Or maybe the Eagles are interested in Smith, but it hasn’t been reported. He’s expected to be a Day 2 pick.
Adrian Amos, S, Penn State (6-0/218/4.56) – Of all the guys on this list, he might be the most likely to land with the Eagles. Amos filled a variety of roles for the Nittany Lions. He can play safety but also has experience playing corner and nickel. The Eagles reportedly had him in for an official visit and also worked Amos out at his high school recently. Don’t be surprised if they snag him in the third or fourth round.
Josh Shaw, CB/S, USC (6-0/201/4.44) – I was on the fence about whether to include Shaw, but he has a few things going for him. The measurables are good. He has experience playing corner and safety. And he is a Pac-12 product. On the other hand, Shaw has that bizarre tale on his resume where he lied about saving his drowning nephew. It’s quite possible he’s not a #culture fit, but if Shaw is still on the board in Day 3, maybe the Eagles take a flier.
Alex Carter, CB/S, Stanford (6-0/196/4.51) – He played cornerback for the Cardinal, but could be a candidate to transition to safety in the NFL. Mayock has him ranked as the No. 5 safety in this year’s class. Carter has good length and was a three-year starter for David Shaw. Measurables, versatility and played in the Pac-12. Sounds like a player who could draw the Eagles’ interest in the middle rounds.
Justin Coleman, CB, Tennessee (5-11/185/4.53) – His spider chart looks somewhat similar to Jaylen Watkins. Coleman has experience playing both inside and outside. His 40 wasn’t great, but he tested well in a number of other areas. Writes NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “Could be tough to cut based on toughness and ability to play on special teams.” Coleman is projected to go in the fifth or sixth round.
Julian Wilson, CB, Oklahoma (6-2/205/4.58) – When Ed Marynowitz described his philosophy on late-round picks, he mentioned looking for physical traits and a willingness to develop/take coaching. Wilson could fit the bill. He has the length to be a press corner and earned Academic All-Big 12 honors four years in a row. Wilson could be an option in the sixth or seventh round.
Randall Evans, CB, Kansas State (6-0/195/4.44 Pro Day) – Another guy who could warrant a look in the sixth or seventh round. Evans walked on at Kansas State but developed into a first-team All Big 12 selection. He has experience playing nickel, corner and safety. Evans graduated with a double major and was reportedly one of the players the Eagles brought in for an official visit.
Darryl Roberts, CB, Marshall (6-0/182/4.39 Pro Day) – Excellent measurables and a player the Eagles brought in for an official visit. He’s one more cornerback who could draw interest on Day 3.
Damian Swann, CB, Georgia (6-0/189/4.50) – Not a great athlete, but he’s got adequate height and filled a variety of roles for the Bulldogs. Swann was a three-year starter, a team captain and earned the team’s coaches leadership award in 2014. He’s another guy who could get a look on Day 3, depending on what the Eagles do in the earlier rounds.