Top 50: First Round Eagles Cheat Sheet
Every year, we try to get you ready for the first round with a cheat sheet.
This time around, we’re using Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 list on NFL.com.
The idea here is simple. We divided his list into five different categories:
* The targets at No. 20 – Players in the mix if the Eagles stay put.
* Trade-up candidates – Guys they might be willing to move up for.
* Trade-down candidates – Guys who could be in play if they trade down.
* Wild cards – Prospects who are tough to categorize.
* Don’t count on it – Guys I don’t see them ending up with.
If you haven’t been keeping up with all the draft noise or need a primer for Thursday night, hopefully this piece serves that purpose.
THE TARGETS AT NO. 20
Byron Jones, CB, UConn – At this point, if the Eagles stay at No. 20, he may be the favorite. Jones (6-1/199) reportedly came 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.
Jake Fisher, OL, Oregon – I have him as one of my three most likely targets at No. 20. Fisher is a freak athlete and has experience playing both guard and tackle. I don’t think Kelly cares if outsiders believe Fisher might be a reach at No. 20. My guess is the Eagles will have him rated higher than any other team because of scheme fit and familiarity.
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida – Perriman (6-2/212) has great size/speed measurables, and he was a big-play producer. Perriman was the only receiver in the country who caught 50+ balls and averaged at least 20 yards per catch (full write-up/breakdown here). He does an excellent job of adjusting to downfield throws and can also make plays in traffic. Perriman had issues with drops, but his upside is significant. I’m a believer in his talent and think Perriman could be an option with the 20th pick.
Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon – Kelly seems to embrace an evidence-based approach to the draft. He’s seen Armstead effectively operate in a two-gap 3-4 at Oregon. At 6-7, 292 with 33-inch arms, Armstead is an excellent athlete. Defensive line is not an area of need, but if Armstead projects to Calais Campbell 2.0, and he slips, he could be the pick.
T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh – He began his college career as a defensive end, but made the switch to offensive tackle two years ago and was a team captain in 2014. Clemmings (6-5, 309) has great measurables (35 1/8-inch arms) and tested very well at the combine. He doesn’t have experience playing guard, but Clemmings could start his career there and then transition to tackle. He could make sense at No. 20 or later if they trade down.
Nelson Agholor, WR, USC – He has drawn some Jeremy Maclin comparisons. Agholor (6-0/198/4.42) is one of my favorite wide receivers in this class, and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s a player Kelly will covet (full breakdown here). Agholor caught 104 balls for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands and can return punts (four TDs the past two seasons). Agholor can operate outside or in the slot and plays with toughness. He has no problem making tough catches in traffic. A month ago, he was getting mocked in the second round. Now it seems he might be gone by 20.
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State – The West Catholic product caught 82 balls for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He has a 42-inch vertical and is great on back-shoulder fades. Strong (6-2/217/4.44) didn’t show as much ability to stretch the field as some of the other first-round prospects (full breakdown here), and he wasn’t dynamic with the ball in his hands. But he has the size to make contested catches. Some have compared him to Jordan Matthews, which I think makes some sense. I’m not as high on Strong as others, but Kelly could feel differently. He’s unlikely to make it out of the first round.
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest – He ran a 4.52, but showed tremendous athleticism in other areas. Some think Johnson (6-0/188) is the best corner in the draft (full breakdown 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.
Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah – He actually wasn’t on Jeremiah’s top 50, but I think Rowe (6-1/205/4.45) is a sneaky possibility at No. 20. He played safety for three years before transitioning to cornerback and has the size/athleticism to line up at either spot in the NFL (full breakdown here). Rowe is a fantastic tackler in open space, will mix it up in the run game and has good ball skills. He’s an option anywhere from 20 to 52.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – Heard of him? I laid out everything I think about the possibility of trading up for Mariota yesterday. Nothing else to really add.
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia – Ed Marynowitz said the Eagles thought there were eight to 10 difference-makers in this draft. I firmly believe White is one of those guys. It’s quite possible he goes in the top five, but I’ve seen some mocks that have him falling. If that happens, I could see the Eagles taking a long look. He’s 6-3/215, ran a 4.35 at the combine and caught 109 balls last year. White can make contested catches, adjusts to find the ball downfield and can make plays with the ball in his hands. He seems like he could be a trade-up option.
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama – Cooper (6-1, 211) seems like the safer option. He’s a polished route-runner who appears to have many of the intricacies of the position already down. Marynowitz knows Cooper from his days working for Nick Saban. I don’t think Cooper’s going to slide, but if he does, the Eagles could explore the possibility of trading up.
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State – Through most of the process, Waynes seemed like a lock to be the first corner off the board. But in recent weeks, it seems Johnson and Jones have been generating some buzz. Waynes (6-0, 186) ran a 4.31 and is considered a lock-down man corner. If teams pass on him, perhaps the Eagles take a look.
TRADE-DOWN CANDIDATES/SECOND ROUND OPTIONS
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami – He’s smaller (5-10, 185) than many of the other receivers in this class, but the Eagles had him in for an official visit, so obviously there’s some level of interest. Dorsett is a burner and one of the best field stretchers in this year’s class (full breakdown here). He averaged 24.19 yards per catch last year, which was second-best in the country. Dorsett is also dynamic with the ball in his hands and plays with toughness. Despite his size, he’s not afraid to take on contact and can work the middle of the field. If he is still on the board in the second round, he could be an option.
Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State – He was the premiere vertical threat in the country last year, catching 33 balls for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns. Smith led all receivers, averaging 28.21 yards per reception. He can operate inside or outside, and NFL.com labeled him as arguably the best gunner in the country on special teams. Smith does as good a job tracking the ball downfield as any receiver in this draft. I’m not sure he’ll be there at No. 52, but if the Eagles acquire an earlier pick in the second round, Smith could be on their radar.
Donovan Smith, OT, Penn State – He has the measurables (6-6/338, 34 3/8-inch arms) to play tackle, and that’s where he started 31 games for the Nittany Lions. But Lance Zierlein of NFL.com thinks he could be better suited to play guard. I don’t buy the first-round buzz with him, but the Eagles have reportedly had Smith in for a visit, and he could get a look in the second.
Preston Smith, DL/OLB, Mississippi State – I had a hard time deciding where to include Smith. But his size (6-5/271 with 34-inch arms) and athleticism are intriguing. Smith had nine sacks last year and could get a look as a front-seven player on Day 2.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska – I don’t think they’re going to take a running back in the first two rounds, but if they do, Abdullah is the name to watch. He’s a rocked up 5-9, 205 and showed explosive traits at the combine. Abdullah tests off the charts in the #culture category as well. There’s a small possibility he gets a look on Day 2.
Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia – He had 15.5 sacks the past two seasons and tested very well athletically at the combine. At 6-3, 247 pounds, he could be an option in the second round.