Eagles

8 NFL draft prospects to watch in bowl games Friday

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8 NFL draft prospects to watch in bowl games Friday

With three days of college football bowl games in the books this week, we turn our attention to Thursday's contests and NFL draft prospects.

The Eagles will have a late first-round pick and no second- or third-rounders. But Howie Roseman isn't one to sit on his hands come draft day.

Here are eight prospects in action today that could help the Eagles next season.

Wake Forest-Texas A&M
Belk Bowl (1 p.m./ESPN)

No. 53 - Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest, senior (6-4/275)
Ejiofor has been one of the most disruptive players in the ACC over the past two seasons. He's put up 17 ½ sacks and 32 tackles for a loss over the last two campaigns combined. He wins with excellent and violent hand usage. He has a lethal swim move on his inside rush and a pretty decent spin move. He's ultra aggressive — perhaps too much at times — so he would fit what the Eagles do defensively.

No. 3 - Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M, junior (5-11/200)
Kirk has seen a drop off in receiving yards in each of his three seasons at Texas A&M. But don't be fooled by the numbers. Kirk is one of the most electrifying receivers coming out this season. With his size, he's done most of his damage in the slot but has at times played on the outside. He's also returned six punts and one kickoff for TDs in his career. Nelson Agholor has had an outstanding year in the slot, but will be on the last year of his deal next season. Kirk could be an ideal replacement or perhaps get reps on the outside if Agholor is signed long term.

No 24. NC State-Arizona State
Hyundai Sun Bowl ( 3 p.m./CBS)

No. 1 - Jaylen Samuels, TE/WR/RB, NC State, senior (5-11/223)
You've heard of positionless basketball, but Samuels has introduced the college football world to the concept. Because of his size, Samuels lacked a true position when he got to Louisville. He's lined up as a halfback, H-back, tight end and wide receiver during his four-year career. He's also put his name in the record books, with a chance to pass Jerricho Cotchery's all-time receptions record for the Wolfpack. The Eagles will likely lose Trey Burton. Doug Pederson could probably think of some creative ways to deploy Samuels.

No. 7 - Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State, senior (6-3/230)
Ballage has been in a timeshare for all four of his years at Arizona State with Demario Richard (No. 4). Ballage is the back with more NFL potential. His numbers aren't overly impressive because of the shared backfield and the Sun Devils' struggles as a football team. Ballage does possess incredibly quick feet and good patience and burst in finding holes. For a bigger back, you'd like to see him finish runs and punish tacklers. On a similar note, he doesn't stand his ground in pass protection. He's an intriguing late-round option if running backs coach Duce Staley thinks he can get the most out of him.

Kentucky-No. 21 Northwestern
Music City Bowl (4:30 p.m./ESPN)

No. 7 - Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky, junior (6-0/200)
Edwards might be better served coming back for his senior season, but there's a lot to like about the junior safety. He's recorded 189 tackles and seven interceptions the last two seasons combined. He's versatile with the ability to cover and play up in the box. It's also worth keeping an eye on LB Josh Allen (No. 41). He's an undersized edge rusher at 235 pounds, but he's registered 14 ½ sacks in the last two seasons combined. 

No. 16 - Godwin Igwebuike, S, Northwestern, senior (6-0/212)
Igwebuike is a perfect example of a player increasing his value by staying in school for an extra year. The hard-hitting safety flies around the field like a heat-seeking missile. Off the field, he paints and is the vocalist in a band. He's been very outspoken about his desire to be more than a football player even after he reaches the NFL. That might scare some scouts off, but the Eagles' locker room can certainly handle that personality. As far as on the field, Igwebuike can add physicality to the team's back end and become a special teams maven.

No. 8 USC-No. 5 Ohio State
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (8:30 p.m./ESPN)

No. 25 - Ronald Jones, RB, USC, junior (6-0/200)
In another deep running back class, a guy like Jones could get lost in the shuffle. He shouldn't. He followed up a 1,082-yard, 12 touchdown sophomore campaign with 1,486 yards and 18 TDs in 2017. Jones is shifty and explosive, averaging 6.2 yards per carry for his college career. It's tough to know whether Jones will be an elite back at the next level because of his size. He sort of resembles Jamaal Charles, who's had a spectacular but oft-injured career. If he slips, the Eagles should certainly take a long look.

No. 13 - Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State, junior (6-1/225)
Baker came into this season with a ton of hype, but his stock has seemed to slip. Advantage, Eagles. Baker has the eyes and coverage ability of a safety with the willingness to mix it up in the box. He's racked up 154 tackles (16 for a loss), 6 ½ sacks and two interceptions during his college career. He's a difference-making 'backer that would look excellent playing alongside (a healthy) Jordan Hicks. With Nigel Bradham's status uncertain next season, it's certainly a position of need. 

5 Minutes with Roob: Beau Allen getting better and better

5 Minutes with Roob: Beau Allen getting better and better

Beau Allen is definitely one of the unsung performers on this Eagles' roster.

Now in his fourth year as an undrafted free-agent defensive tackle out of Wisconsin, Allen played a career-high 28 snaps per game this year in the Eagles' D-line rotation and is a valued enough player that he was on the field when the Eagles stopped the Falcons on 4th-and-2 with the game on the line Saturday.

Allen joined us for this week's 5 Minutes with Roob.

Roob: We've got to start with the most important thing. Tell us about Seven-Layer Jello.

Beau: "Oh yeah, that is by far the most important thing. Seven-layer jello is a dish that my mom makes, and it's pretty self-explanatory. It's seven layers of jello. It's kind of a visual spectacle, too. It's different flavors of jello kind of stacked on top of each other. Usually, you have a clear bowl and it's a main dish at basically any Allen holiday event. It's pretty good. My mom's a great cook. She hates when I talk about it, but it's really an amazing dish."

Roob: The nucleus of this defensive line — Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and you — has been together a long time. All you guys have been together since at least 2014. How big is that for this group?

Beau: "I think we are a pretty well-seasoned group. We have spent a lot of time together and we all really like each other too. One thing that we're all pretty experienced, we've all gotten a lot of reps, and we all bring kind of a something different to the table. Fletcher is a different player than I am and Timmy (Jernigan) is different from Destiny (Vaeao), and the same thing with the defensive ends, and I think that makes it tough for offensive lines."

Roob: You played 17 percent of the snaps as a rookie, then almost 30 percent in your second year under Bill Davis, then up to 40 percent last year and 41 percent this year. How hard have you worked to go from an undrafted rookie free agent to a key part of this defensive line rotation?

Beau: "I don't really like to talk too much about how hard I'm working. I feel like if you're talking about how you're working hard you're probably not working that hard. But yeah, whenever you get to this time of year you kind of look back a little bit. It's been a heck of a journey for me. I tore my pec last offseason and it seems like it was a really long time ago, but it was just seven months ago or something like that. But battled back from that and to end up where we are now, playing for the NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings, it's really cool. It's always fun to look back and kind of see how far you've come."

Roob: What was your first career playoff game like?

Beau: "It was amazing. It was really cool. I was fortunate to be on the field there at the end of the game, and anytime you get a 4th-and-2 stop for your season, it was pretty electric. I kind of blacked out, but celebrating after that play was a lot of fun."

Roob: On that play and really the whole game, you guys seemed to approach it like any other game, despite what was at stake. How big was that?

Beau: "When you come to playoff football, what it really comes down to is just doing your job, just doing what you've done to get to that point. Not really trying to do anything above and beyond your role. That's one thing we all try to do, just perfect the little details of each play, and I think that gets even more elevated in the playoffs."

Roob: Chris Maragos is always talking about the crazy atmosphere at Wisconsin home games at Camp Randall Stadium. How did Saturday at the Linc compare to football on Saturday afternoons in Madison?

Beau: "It is pretty similar. One thing that I love about Madison and Camp Randle is 'Jump Around.' I think it's the coolest tradition in college football. But both are definitely rowdy fans that are really passionate about the game of football, so definitely similar in that aspect."

Roob: How important has it been to focus on the Vikings and not think about how the Super Bowl is just one win away?

Beau: "I'm definitely a one-day-at-a-time, a one-play-at-a-time kind of guy. You can't look too far ahead. We're just focused on this game Sunday and, like I said, doing all the little things. That's definitely how we've approached it this week and kind of how we've approached every game this season."

Roob: OK, you're from Minnesota. Can you please assure Eagles fans that you're not — and never were — a Vikings fan?

Beau: "I put an end to that narrative real quick. I grew up about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis. I was a Packers fan growing up. Not a Vikings fan. Nobody in my family is Vikings fans. They're all going to be out here cheering for us on Sunday. I made sure of it. I gave them lie detector tests and flashed a real bright light in everybody's face and made sure. They've all been vetted thoroughly."

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

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These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

It took Nigel Bradham six years in the NFL before he got a chance to play in his first playoff game. 

He's not taking any of this for granted. 

"It's funny, man, because you think, 'Damn, I've been playing in the league six years and this is my first appearance,'" Bradham said this week as the Eagles prepare for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. "You kind of be like, 'Dang, man, why'd it take so long?' It's more than just you, obviously. It's a team sport. I've been fortunate enough to be on a great team and to have the opportunity. 

"Right now, I'm 1-0 and I'm looking forward to having more success in the playoffs. It's definitely an amazing feeling."

Bradham isn't the only Eagles player in a similar situation. Stefen Wisniewski, in his seventh season, and Rodney McLeod and Alshon Jeffery, both in their sixth seasons, all played in their first playoff game last Saturday against the Falcons. 

The group, which had a combined 369 regular-season games without a playoff appearance, finally got a taste of the postseason. They're not ready for this ride to end. 

Because no one ever really knows how long it might take to get back. 

"The feeling was great," McLeod said. "To go out there, first playoff game, at home and come out with the win. Couldn't ask for a better story. 

"But now knowing that game is history and moving on to the Vikings, who are a great team and they've been like that all year. We're going to have to elevate our game even more than last week if we want to get to that next step. The road to the Super Bowl doesn't get easier."

All four definitely made their impact felt against the Falcons last Saturday. Bradham played well all game and came up huge on the final fourth down. McLeod was called for a personal foul, but it was a weak call and either way, it saved a touchdown. Jeffery caught four passes for 61 yards, including some that came in huge situations. And Wisniewski played his best game since joining the Eagles two years ago. 

Jeffery called the atmosphere at the Linc against the Falcons "electric" and expects the same type of level from fans this Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. 

"I just try to stay in the moment, stay locked in," Jeffery said about his first playoff run. "I'm not trying to reflect on anything right now. I think I'll do that after the season, when the season is officially over with. Right now, I'm just trying to do a great job trying to stay locked in one day at a time." 

It's pretty clear it meant a lot to Jeffery to finally make it to the playoffs, but he's also very clearly not happy with just getting there. He's always a calm guy during the week, but it's obvious he's working to keep his emotions in check. 

"Of course, we all know we're one game away from the Super Bowl," Jeffery said, "but you just have to be relaxed and try to not go out there and think about that." 

Of course, these four players aren't the only first-timers the Eagles have in the playoffs. They have many more. It's just that these four had to wait the longest. 

In the week leading into the Falcons game, head coach Doug Pederson admitted he of course wondered how his first-timers would perform under the bright lights of the playoffs. Based on one win, he got a pretty quick answer. 

One thing is for sure: the four guys who had to all wait at least six seasons for their first taste of the playoffs will do almost anything to keep this going. 

"This is what we worked for," Bradham said. "When you go back to OTAs and all your training and doing everything in the offseason with the guys, 7-on-7 and things like that. This is what it's all for. You put all that work in, man, and you know what's on the line. We all are excited. We're just ready to go out here and play."