Eagles Wake-Up Call: Analyzing the UDFAs
The Eagles picked eight times in the draft this year, but because their selections were backloaded on the third day, the team changed up their approach to signing undrafted free agents.
“We were extremely aggressive. I’d say more so than ever before,” Howie Roseman said. “Just in terms of the opportunity, because of the lack of picks. It was much easier for us to go about it and say, ‘Hey look, we didn’t have a 2, we didn’t have a 4, we didn’t have a lot of picks in this draft.’ We made our case to the agents and the players, and we’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks.”
The Eagles announced the signing of 16 undrafted free agents yesterday, which will put them at the 90-man limit once the last three draft picks agree to terms. Let’s take a look at who the Eagles brought in.
|John DePalma||LS||West Virginia|
|Darrell Greene||G||San Diego State|
|Cedric O'Neal||RB||Valdosta State|
|Hunter Sharp||WR||Utah State|
|C.J. Smith||CB||North Dakota State|
|Myke Tavarres||LB||Incarnate Word|
|Paul Turner||WR||Louisiana Tech|
|Destiny Vaeao||DT||Washington State|
|Connor Wujciak||DT||Boston College|
The Eagles drafted West Virginia’s Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round, so they seem set at running back, but I’m interested to see how Doug Pederson uses Byron Marshall in training camp and the preseason. While the Eagles list Marshall as a running back, most draft sites seem to call him a receiver.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein called him “a jack of all trades type, [but] he is simply not a master of any,” labeling him a fifth- or sixth-round pick. As a junior at Oregon in 2014, Marshall became the first player in conference history to accumulate 1,000 receiving yards (2014) and 1,000 rushing yards (2013) in his career. However, the running back/receiver/kick returner injured his ankle last year, which required surgery and shortened his season.
Meanwhile, Cedric O’Neal finished his career at Division II’s Valdosta State as the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards (4,115) and rushing touchdowns (49).
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END
The Eagles didn’t shy away from players with potential red flags off of the field at the end of the draft, and the same goes for the undrafted free agents. Arizona receiver Cayleb Jones transferred from Texas after punching a Longhorns tennis player and breaking his jaw, while Utah State wide receiver Hunter Sharp was suspended for the first two games last season for a violation of team rules.
According to Zierlein, Sharp projected as a sixth- or seventh-round pick, but as an NFC area scout told him, “He didn’t get that two-game suspension for nothing.” It’s unclear what prompted the event, but tight end Dillon Gordon was stabbed several times in a bar in January, causing Les Miles to ban his players from going to bars. Baton Rouge Police said the stabbing occurred “during a fistic encounter,” but the injuries were non-life threatening.
Wide receiver is arguably the weakest position on the Eagles offense, and it appears Sharp is the guy with the best chance to make the roster in this position group.
Based off a few different scouting reports, San Diego State guard Darrell Greene and Maine center Bruce Johnson seem to fit the tough, rugged and mean mold Pederson wants in his offensive linemen. Johnson, who won the Rimington Award last season for being the top center in the FCS, didn’t miss a snap in his last three years at Maine.
Greene, however, tested positive for marijuana last year and was one of five San Diego State players suspended for the first six games of the season, but one West Coast area scout told Zierlein that “he’s not considered a bad kid in that building at all” and how “they go to bat for him over there.” Zierlein also projected Greene as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
Because of the depth in the draft, Roseman said defensive tackle was one position the Eagles expected to select at some point, but didn’t because of how the rounds unfolded. They added three undrafted defensive tackles, including Stanford’s Aziz Shittu, who earned Rose Bowl Defensive MVP honors against Iowa last season. Although he’s listed as a tackle, Zierlein said Shittu’s “final destination may be a run-only base end in a 4-3.”
Washington State’s Destiny Vaeao may be the best prospect in this undrafted free agent class, as Zierlein projected him as a fourth-round pick. Zierlein also said he fits as a 5-technique who “has the talent to be a quality rotational defensive lineman.”
According to Tommy Lawlor over at Iggles Blitz, Myke Tavarres appears to be more of a weak-side linebacker, whereas Quentin Gause played on the strong side at Rutgers. Before dominating at Incarnate Word, Tavarres spent a year at Arkansas.
Even though he’s not going up against great competition in these clips, I think Tavarres will do something in the preseason that makes him a fan favorite because of his hard-hitting nature and athleticism.
Even when he was in community college, you could tell Eagles UDFA Myke Tavarres was a Jim Schwartz kind of guy. pic.twitter.com/1Ps7hGxWFP
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) May 3, 2016
(Cont.) Don’t mess with Eagles UDFA Myke Tavarres. pic.twitter.com/irLPAK42EJ
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) May 3, 2016
Cornerback C.J. Smith finished his career fourth in FCS history (since 2000) with 57 passes defended, which ranks second in North Dakota State history. It also appears John DePalma is legitimate competition for Jon Dorenbos, as DePalma reportedly received “unprecedented” money for a rookie long snapper.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles signed 16 undrafted free agents yesterday evening.
Is it even viable to keep Sam Bradford? Tim’s thoughts on that and more his latest mailbag.
The Eagles released two more players on Thursday.
I assigned grades to each position on the roster now that we’re past the draft.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Zach Berman writes about new Eagles lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
The Eagles sent offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland to Fort Worth, Texas, before the draft to work out Vaitai. The team’s brass deduced that Vaitai needs more consistency. That’s why Vaitai was available in the fifth round. But his size and potential fits the profile of the type of young, developmental tackle that the Eagles have lacked in recent years. The Eagles haven’t drafted a middle-round offensive tackle since Dennis Kelly in 2012.
In the week before the draft, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock mentioned Vaitai as a candidate for the Eagles in the third round. He was a prospect who impressed offensive line coaches around the league during the pre-draft process.
“I think when everyone sees him move, they will understand kind of why we took a shot in the fifth round,” Roseman said.
Terrell Owens thinks Sam Bradford’s trade request is the “sign of a coward,” per CSN Philly.
“Carson who?” Owens starts.”I think it’s Sam Bradford’s job to lose.”
He says some other stuff, then it gets juicy.
“I think it was not a great move for Sam to request a trade,” Owens says. “For me that’s kind of a sign of a coward to be honest. Again, if you’re not secure in your abilities, it shouldn’t matter who they’re drafting. That should motivate you and prepare you for the best season you’ve ever had. I like competition. With that request [to be traded], it just seems like he’s not really comfortable in his own skin and what he can do.”
We’ll keep an eye on a potentially upcoming hire for the personnel head position.