Eagles Wake-Up Call: Todd McShay Draft Notes

On Wednesday, Todd McShay broke down the 2016 NFL Draft as he sees it.

Robert Nkemdiche. (USA Today Sports Images)

Robert Nkemdiche. (USA Today Sports)

ESPN’s Todd McShay held a conference call this afternoon, offering up his takes on the NFL Draft, teams’ best fits, and prospects’ ceilings and projections.

We didn’t have a chance to get a word in and ask McShay about the Eagles’ outlook after the combine — curse you, time limits and wonky question selection processes — but here are a few topics McShay touched on that should be of interest to the Eagles, both in the first round and in the draft as a whole.

McShay discussed Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, who is widely regarded as one of the most impressive athletes and players in the draft, but is in danger of a precipitous fall because of off-the-field character concerns.

“It’s hard to get someone to say something positive about Nkemdiche recently,” McShay said. “There’s a lot of specifics that I’m not privy to in meetings, and different teams will react differently to the information. But Robert Nkemdiche, in talking to maybe six or seven representatives from teams, whether it’s scouts or GMs or coaches, he did not do himself any favors at the combine.

“Ultimately, it’s about trust. Do you trust this individual to handle the fame, more fame than he’s ever had before in his life, more money than he’s ever had before in his life, and more free time than he’s ever had before? I think there are a lot of people in the league, decision makers, right now really questioning that. One of the top five most naturally talented individuals in this draft, and he backed that up with the combine workout, could wind up late in the first or out of the first round completely.”

If what McShay prognosticates here becomes a reality, the Eagles could very well have a shot at Nkemdiche when the No. 13 pick rolls around. It will be interesting to see if they take the shot.

 McShay also dove into quarterback options outside of the top two prospects, Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, both of whom will likely be taken before the Eagles’ first pick — not to mention their subsequent selections.

“[Paxton Lynch] would be another guy that needs time to develop, because he comes from a simplified offense, never huddled, look-at-me checks, all that, but he has a lot of tools to develop,” McShay said. “And then Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg are a couple other guys that they could bring in and try to develop on the backend at that quarterback position.”

Later in the call, McShay raved about what he’s seen from Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams.

“I see a lot of good things in his tape, and I wish there was more of it at this level, and I wish there was more of it, to a certain degree, in a pro-style system,” McShay said. “But he’s kind of like with Russell Wilson, throughout his career and then especially working behind that big offensive line for Wisconsin [in Wilson’s] final year.

“[Adams is] a leader, he’s a winner — when he was healthy, Oregon was one of the top three, four most dangerous teams you just didn’t want to play. I thought he had a great grasp of the system, considering the little time he had working in it. He goes to the East-West Shrine Game and the week of practice, from what I’m told, was solid, and then the game, which I watched, he was sensational. He was the MVP of that game. You can just see, he’s got something to him in terms of his leadership, and the character, and guys just naturally gravitate towards him.”

McShay expects Adams’ name to be called on the second or third day. If the Eagles decide not to go quarterback in the first round, there are plenty of indicators they’ll take a quarterback to develop on day two or three. Adams could be a name to watch, especially considering how close the Eagles came to drafting Russell Wilson when Seattle picked the Super Bowl-winning quarterback in 2012.

McShay mentioned several defensive linemen who may warrant a first-round selection, and some mock drafts project the Eagles will take one of them.

Jarran Reed is probably just the best pure run-stopper in terms of plugging gaps and taking up space,” McShay said. “He’s not a great pass rusher, but I’ll say this: he can chase. He can run and get off blocks, and go make plays. He’s not just a guy who’ll sit there and eat up space. He can do that, but then he can get off blocks and go make plays. I just don’t know if he’ll be your every down player.

“And [Sheldon] Rankins, when I watch him, I think he’s probably better suited as a 4-3 nose tackle, but everyone kind of thinks he’s a three-technique, and maybe he can be that. He’s … I hear the comparisons to Aaron Donald. I know he had a great Senior Bowl week, but I don’t know. Aaron Donald’s in a rare air.”

The Eagles may be a little wary of selecting Rankins, who played at Louisville, after the Marcus Smith selection two years ago. He would be a reach at No. 13, and is expected to go somewhere closer to No. 20. But there are also a lot of people very high on him.