Eagles Take DBs Shepherd, Evans In Sixth

 John Rieger / USA TODAY Sports

John Rieger / USA TODAY Sports

Intended or not, as Chip Kelly explained the reasoning behind the Eagles’ sixth-round picks, he took a little jab at the previous regime’s decision-makers.

“If you look at the history, and I studied the history here, they haven’t drafted a lot of DBs in the last 10 years,” Kelly said. “We need to develop those guys and try not to rely on free agency to go out and get those guys. We had to because of the situation we were in. We hope to continue to get defensive backs through the draft and develop them.”

He’s not wrong. The Eagles have done a poor job of drafting and developing talent in the defensive backfield. They signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher when Kelly was first hired. And this offseason they added Byron Maxwell.

This weekend, three of the team’s first five picks were spent on defensive backs. They took Eric Rowe in the second. In the sixth, the Eagles picked Kansas defensive back JaCorey Shepherd (191st overall) and Kansas State DB Randall Evans (196th overall).

Shepherd (5-11/199) was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year. He began his college career as a wide receiver before transitioning to cornerback, where he started the past two seasons.

“It wasn’t really my choice,” said Shepherd. “We had lack of depth at the corner position, and the coaches felt like I was one of the few players who was smart enough but also athletic enough to make the switch. So they asked me, and I felt like I could do it. So I gave it a shot. If it didn’t work, then I would just go back to receiver. But if it did work, then I would be able to play corner, so I went with it and it turned out well for me.”

Shepherd ran 4.65 and 4.62 at his Pro Day, but he was dealing with a hamstring injury at the time. Normally, he said, he runs between 4.40 and 4.45.

“His play time is a lot faster if you turn the tape on,” Kelly said.

Evans (6-0/190), meanwhile, has taken a fascinating journey to the NFL ranks. He only got D-2 offers coming out of high school. Evans said he had seven interceptions as a junior, but the local newspaper only put him down for three. As a result, he didn’t earn many accolades and didn’t get a lot of recruiting attention.

But it just so happened that former lottery pick (NBA) Michael Beasley was an acquaintance of Evans’. He was dating Beasley’s sister. Beasley played his college ball at Kansas State and suggested that Evans try to walk on.

“I thought about it, and we went from there,” Evans said. “His Mom got in contact with one of the basketball coaches. They called the football department. And it just went from there. I looked at it as an open door and open opportunity for me. I took it, and it came out successful.”

Evans walked on and developed into an All-Big 12 selection. He ran a 4.44 at his Pro Day and has experience playing corner, nickel and safety. Evans graduated with a double major.