Eagles

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Plenty of RBs, OTs that can help Eagles next season

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Plenty of RBs, OTs that can help Eagles next season

It's just Week 2, but the debate over the Eagles' running game is already in midseason form.

With two veterans in Darren Sproles and LeGarrette Blount and a lot of uncertainty behind them, it's worth taking a look at some of the running back prospects that could be available in 2018.

And while we're on the subject of the running game and aging veterans, it's never too early for the Eagles to start looking for their right tackle of the future. They'll be in luck with this year's class.

Let's take a look at how those prospects fared.

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State, senior (5-11/220)
If this kid wasn't on the national radar already, he's clearly put himself on there now. Donnel Pumphrey's replacement shined once again, this time in the Aztecs' 20-17 upset over Stanford. Penny rushed for 175 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown. Amazingly, this game knocked his yards per carry below 10. Penny now has 588 yards total in the first three games of the season. And it's not just his numbers that are impressive. He has great size, speed and vision. He's a sleeper... for now.

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford, junior (5-10/196)
Stanford's loss can't be pinned on Love who ran the ball 13 times for 184 yards and both Cardinal touchdowns. Unlike Penny, Love's yards per carry is still over 10 at a ridiculous 12.2. He's undersized but he's crazy explosive. He hasn't done much from a production standpoint in the passing game but this guy is a nightmare to tackle in space.

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama, junior (6-2/235)
Scarbrough is a bruising back with unbelievable size and surprising speed. He wasn't needed much in Alabama's 41-23 win over Colorado State, but the junior back ran for 66 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Scarbrough has just 33 carries in the Crimson Tide's first three games. I imagine that number goes up as Alabama's schedule gets tougher.

Damien Harris, RB, Alabama, junior (5-11/221)
Harris isn't as highly touted as Scarbrough but may be more intriguing. Harris carried the ball 11 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. He actually carried the load for most of the season last year, rushing for 1,040 yards and 7.2 yards a carry. Harris is more versatile and offers more in the passing game.

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan, senior (6-6/330)
Okorafor is what you'd call a road grader. He's big, strong and nasty. He's spent the last two seasons as Western Michigan's left tackle. For now, Okorafor is kind of a sleeper but could sneak up draft boards as the season goes on. Especially now that Texas tackle Connor Williams, arguably the best OT in college football, appears to be out for the season.

Trey Adams, OT, Washington, junior (6-8/327)
Luckily for a team like the Eagles that may be looking for a young tackle, there will plenty of them in this draft. The initial thing that stands out about Adams is his size, but he's surprisingly nimble for such a large human. He does an excellent job getting to the second level and sealing off blocks. The only concern I'd have is the system Adams currently plays in. The Huskies' offense is not a pro style and focuses on screens and creative ways to get the ball in the hands of some of their explosive playmakers.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of them, it's his job to convince his team they can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz. 

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."

How will Eagles' offense change with Nick Foles?

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How will Eagles' offense change with Nick Foles?

There aren't many teams that have a backup quarterback who's been a Pro Bowl MVP, tied an NFL record for touchdowns in a game and has his cleats in a display case at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Doug Pederson's message Monday after announcing that Wentz will miss the season was that his loss is a devastating blow to Wentz, but that the Eagles are in terrific shape with Nick Foles taking over for the second-year pro.

"The reason we went out and got Nick Foles was reasons like this, situations like this," Pederson said after learning that there's no hope for Wentz's return to action this year.

"I'm excited for Nick. I hate it for Carson, I hate it for the season that he's been having, but at the same time it's the next-man-up mentality, and that's how we approach it this week."

Wentz suffered a torn ACL in his left knee Sunday night against the Rams and will need surgery.

Pederson wouldn't speculate on when Wentz would return to football activities, but for Foles, it's a chance to start for the Eagles for the first time since the first eight weeks of 2014.

"Nick has played a ton of football," Pederson said. "I was here when we drafted him (in 2012). We drafted him for a reason. Then we went out and got him again this offseason for a reason.

"You never want it to be under these circumstances but at the same time, my confidence is extremely high in Nick. You saw what he did in the game last night. The big 3rd-and-8 (conversion) to Nelson (Agholor).

"People ask me, 'Why did you throw the ball?' Because I've got confidence in Nick, I've got confidence in the guys, and that's what I'm going to continue to do. I'm going to be aggressive."

Of the nine current backup quarterbacks who've started at least 30 games in the NFL, Foles' .556 career winning percentage is highest.

"It's huge, it's huge," Pederson said. "I love to be 11-2 and everything is great but at the same time I know and I think everybody in this room knows and everybody out there knows if you don't have a backup quarterback who's played and had snaps in this league, it's tough to continue the things that you've done, the things you've built this season. Nick is very capable of getting the job done."

Pederson said he won't have to change the offense very much to accommodate Foles, who is now in his fifth year under Pederson in the last six years.

The only year they weren't together was 2015, when Foles had his worst year ever with the Rams.

Pederson said he'll take input from Foles during preparation just like he took input from Wentz.

"He's a veteran player who's played and he's won a lot of games, not only here but in other places he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player, he's smart … and he and I will continue to dialogue like Carson and I did during the week.

"I want to make sure there are plays in the plan that he likes and I want him to speak his mind like Carson would, and we keep going. This is a veteran player we're talking about, so I feel comfortable doing that.

"I've known him for a lot of years and we're going to continue to have the same communication that Carson and I had during the weeks, and Carson is going to play a bit part of helping Nick get ready too. Not much going forward is going to have to change."