2017 NFL draft prospect watch: Eagles' possible needs

2017 NFL draft prospect watch: Eagles' possible needs

The next several games on the Eagles' schedule will reveal an awful lot about the team.

One thing that will hopefully become more apparent is what the team needs when the draft comes in April.

Here are six prospects that may fit a couple of those needs.

Corey Davis, Western Michigan, senior, WR, (6-3/213)
36 catches, 589 yards, 8 TDs

Western Michigan is ranked for the first time in the program's history, so I had to include Davis here. If you've been following along with my prospect posts, you know Davis is one of my favorites. Akron is giving up almost 300 passing yards a game, so Davis should have a field day.

No. 24 Western Michigan at Akron, 3:30 p.m.

Ryan Switzer, North Carolina, senior, WR, (5-10/185)
49 catches, 589 yards, 2 TDs

Switzer is a traditional slot receiver with great hands, toughness, quickness and route running ability. If the Eagles decide to go to a traditional slot guy and experiment with Jordan Matthews on the outside, Switzer could be an intriguing fit. He also returns punts and Darren Sproles can't play forever.

North Carolina at No. 16 Miami, 3:30 p.m.

Jeremy McNichols, Boise State, junior, RB, (5-9/212)
110 carries, 558 yards, 9 TDs

The easiest comparison would be to former Boise State back Doug Martin. McNichols does share Martin's versatility and willingness to run up the middle despite his size. Martin may have a little more power, but McNichols has proven to be a better pass catcher. McNichols has 16 catches this season after posting 51 a season ago. Martin's high at Boise State was 28.

No. 15 Boise State vs. Colorado State, 10:15 p.m.

Reuben Foster, Alabama, senior, LB, (6-1/236)
37 total tackles

Foster is considered a mid first-round pick, but he's talented and instinctual enough to be a top-10 pick. He's been compared to Carolina Panthers stud linebacker Luke Kuechly. It's an apt comparison when you see Foster's ability to diagnose a play and roam sideline to sideline. Foster suffered a concussion in last week's win over Arkansas, but is expected to play Saturday.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Tennessee, 3:30 p.m.

Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, junior, LB, (6-2/243)
33 total tackles

McMillan certainly has similar abilities to Foster, but is not nearly as instinctual. He may be raw, but he's a playmaker. He has 33 tackles, 2½ for a loss, two passes defended and a forced fumble in five games. It should be a fun matchup for McMillan and Ohio State's defense on the road against Wisconsin. The Eagles could certainly use one of these two stud 'backers.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 8 Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State, redshirt sophomore, CB, (6-1/192)
Three interceptions, six passes defensed

Lattimore is a long, rangy corner with good ball skills. Playing in a defense with such a strong front seven, it's hard to know the full extent of Lattimore's skills, but from what we've seen so far, Lattimore will be in the first-round conversation. As a redshirt sophomore, he could choose to return to the Buckeyes.

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 8 Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

Getting over gut-punch loss of Chris Maragos no easy task for Eagles

USA Today Images

Getting over gut-punch loss of Chris Maragos no easy task for Eagles

It was late last Thursday night in Charlotte, well after the celebrating in the locker room subsided and well after most of his teammates had already gotten on the bus to take them to the airport. 

Eagles special teams captain Chris Maragos, with a heavy brace on his right leg, emerged from the visitors' locker room and limped through the cement bowels of Bank of America Stadium. The pissed off look plastered on his face as he left the field after injuring his right knee in the fourth quarter had given way to a look of resignation. He knew. 

Maragos was officially placed on injured reserve on Thursday, which means the Eagles will have to continue what they hope will be a magical season without one of their unquestioned leaders. 

"It was rough, man," said fellow special teamer Najee Goode, who collided with Maragos on the play that injured him. "That's my dawg. Chris is a beast. He brings a lot of energy to special teams. But we're going to replace him. He's still going to be there, making sure we do what we need to do." 

If any team is prepared to get over the loss of a player like Maragos it might be these Eagles. They've already survived — thrived, really — after losing Darren Sproles, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks, Lane Johnson and Wendell Smallwood for varying lengths of time. 

But like when they lost Sproles for the season, the Eagles are going to miss more than just Maragos' on-field play. He's also the captain of Dave Fipp's excellent special teams group. Maragos, one of five captains on the team, said at the time he was voted a captain that it meant more to him than any other accomplishment in his career. 

And that's saying a lot. Maragos' story is pretty amazing. He was originally a wide receiver in college until then-Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema saw Maragos track down a DB after an interception and moved him to defense on the spot. Eventually, Maragos worked his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent and eventually won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks before coming to Philly. 

Early in his time with the Birds, Maragos actually played a significant role on defense. But when the new coaching staff arrived, it was clear his role would be on special teams, so he threw himself back into it. And he's been incredible. 

Last November, Maragos signed a three-year, $6 million extension that goes through the 2019 season and was already off to a good start in 2017. He led the Eagles in special teams snaps with 126 (74 percent) and was tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with six. 

How the heck do you replace that? 

"I don't think you'll ever be able to fill Chris' role," tight end and special teamer Trey Burton said. "He plays such a big role on special teams. He was able to do so much, but we're going to have to do something. Everybody's going to have to step up."

Head coach Doug Pederson said it will be "tough" to replace Maragos, but the team will probably do it with a committee approach at first. That means more Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins. Even recently signed draft pick Nate Gerry will have a role if he's active. 

Perhaps the bigger loss will be Maragos' leadership. He's one of just five players on the team who has won a Super Bowl, and he's always happy to answer any questions his teammates have — about football or life. 

In his absence, Goode said he and Burton will attempt to fulfill that leadership void as much as possible. 

"It's really tough," Burton said. "That's my best friend. Him not being here, being around as much. It's tough for him too because he's out of the loop on things and doesn't really know. He would love to be here and in meetings and stuff but he's not going to be able to."

While Maragos won't be around for a while, Burton expects him to visit more once he's healed more. And he'll certainly be watching. 

"Heart's heavy, but I lift my eyes," Maragos tweeted on Thursday. "I'll miss being out there with my brothers but I promise you this, I'll be back stronger!"

That's good news for 2018, but the Eagles will have to go the rest of the season without him. Maragos apparently had a message for his teammates. 

"He knows injuries happen," Goode said. "We play full speed and that's something that comes with the game. His whole thing — Chris is a great team dude — was that we keep propelling and keep getting better for the future." 

Eagles Injury Report: Ronald Darby practices again, but Mychal Kendricks limited

AP Images

Eagles Injury Report: Ronald Darby practices again, but Mychal Kendricks limited

Updated: 3:16 p.m.

Ronald Darby is practicing for the second straight day. 

The Eagles' cornerback, who missed the last five games with a right ankle dislocation he suffered in the opener, was back on the field on Friday afternoon after being a limited participant in (and a focus of) Thursday's practice. He was again a limited participant on Friday. 

During the portion of practice open to reporters, Darby went through warmups and individual drills. He also spent some 1-on-1 time working on technique with defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. Darby was listed as a limited participant on Friday afternoon on the official report. Earlier in the week, head coach Doug Pederson said the "stars have to align" for Darby to play on Monday night. 

In addition to Darby, it looked like every other member of the Eagles' 53-man roster was on the practice field Friday. While the Eagles have dealt with plenty of injuries this season, they seem pretty healthy heading into Monday's game against Washington. 

The only new addition to the report is linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was a limited participant with a hamstring injury.

Jordan Hicks (calf) was the only other limited participant. He was also limited Thursday.

Beau Allen (foot) and Tim Jernigan (ankle) were both full participants after being limited Thursday. 

The other full participants listed on Friday's update: Fletcher Cox (calf), Brandon Graham (shoulder), Lane Johnson (concussion), Wendell Smallwood (knee) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist). 

Pederson said on Thursday that the plan for Smallwood was to start him off slow this week and ramp it up, so it was a little bit of a surprise that he was a full participant to begin the week. The Eagles will throw him back into the mix immediately on Monday. Expect him to be their third-down back.