Eagles Undrafted Free Agents To Keep An Eye On
Undrafted free agents often go overlooked, especially when a team invests a lot of resources into acquiring an early pick to get a potential franchise quarterback. But they make up a large portion of NFL rosters, as more than 28 percent of the Eagles’ initial 53-man roster last year included players who weren’t drafted coming out of college.
Sometimes rookie undrafted free agents, like Denzel Rice a year ago, unexpectedly make the roster but don’t contribute much, or they can eventually turn into a starter, as Cedric Thornton did. In the rarest of examples, they can follow Jason Peters’ path and become one of the game’s all-time greats.
Because of the Eagles’ current roster configuration, multiple undrafted free agents appear to have a pretty good shot at making the 53-man roster. Let’s take a look at some players to keep an eye on when training camp finally hits.
LB Myke Tavarres, Incarnate Word
The Eagles’ starting linebacking corps seems to be relatively set: Nigel Bradham on the strong side, Jordan Hicks in the middle and Mychal Kendricks on the weak side. But who are the backups? Joe Walker and Najee Goode seem to be good bets at MIKE and WILL, but it’s very unclear who the third reserve would be. Tavarres seems to be a reasonable projection because of his special teams potential — he told Birds 24/7 he’s looking to model his game off of Bryan Braman — and because he received the second-most guaranteed money among all of the undrafted free agents this year across the league.
G Darrell Greene, San Diego State
Tavarres came in second in guaranteed money, but there’s been surprisingly little chatter about Greene, who received the most. Perhaps it’s because linemen can’t really stand out in OTAs and minicamp when they don’t have pads on, or because of the intrigue surrounding Isaac Seumalo, who couldn’t attend the workouts because of the graduation rule. Regardless, the Eagles’ lack of depth along the offensive line is no secret, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Greene, who some had a fifth-round grade on, challenges for a roster spot.
LS John DePalma, West Virginia
Jon Dorenbos has made two Pro Bowls as a long snapper, include one just a couple of seasons ago, but he struggled a bit last season and the Eagles brought in competition for him this summer. DePalma reportedly received “unprecedented” guaranteed money for a rookie long snapper, and he told National Football Post before the draft the Eagles were showing the most interest in him at that time, so it seems he was a priority on the team’s radar for a while.
RB/WR Byron Marshall, Oregon
Marshall will be interesting to follow because the graduation rule prevented him from participating in OTAs and minicamp, and his versatility could lead Doug Pederson to use him in a variety of ways. 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. Pederson expressed excitement over how he could get Darren Sproles involved as a receiver in the passing game, so we could see Pederson involve Marshall in a similar role.
DT Destiny Vaeao, Washington State
Vaeao may be the best undrafted prospect the Eagles signed, as NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projected him to be a fourth-round pick. The Eagles will have one of the best pairs of starting defensive tackles in the NFL, but their backups are far from set. It won’t be easy for Vaeao to beat out Beau Allen, Mike Martin and Taylor Hart, but he’s one of the rookies I’ll be keeping a close eye on during training camp.