2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Six seniors to keep an eye on

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Six seniors to keep an eye on

It wasn't the intention of the author to profile all seniors, but here we are.

On Saturday, there will be six seniors in action during three of college football's biggest games. All six are worthy of NFL draft consideration. And all of them could possibly help the Eagles in 2018 and beyond.

Let's take a look at a few players to keep your eye on Saturday.

No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

►No. 28 James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, senior (6-1/205)

Washington could've skipped his senior year after two extremely productive seasons for the Cowboys, but opted to return. And so far the results have been prolific. Through three games, Washington has 13 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns. He's averaging 28.5 yards per catch, good for fifth in the country. Washington isn't a polished route runner, but his quick feet indicate he could become one. He has a second gear when the ball is in the air and is excellent at tracking it.

►No. 32 Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard is a tackling machine. The senior 'backer is coming off back-to-back 100-tackle seasons. His disruptive plays were down a bit from his sophomore to junior year, but he's already notched 2½ tackles for a loss and a pick six in three games this season. He's undersized, though he looks bigger than his listed weight. Still, the NFL is trending toward small, quicker linebackers. With Nigel Bradham on the final year of his deal and Mychal Kendricks perpetually on the trade block, linebacker is a sneaky need for the Eagles.

No. 4 Penn State at Iowa, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)

►No. 2 Marcus Allen, S, Penn State, senior (6-2/207)

Hey, Eagles fans. Can we talk for a second? Cool. I know you all think Saquon Barkley would look fantastic in midnight green, but here's the thing: unless, the Eagles win four games or less, they likely have no shot at landing Barkley. 

Moving on, Allen is a safety prospect that would seem to fit Philly quite well. He's coming off a strong junior campaign where he recorded 110 tackles, including six for a loss. He's built more like a corner, but Allen is physical and plays with an edge. He recorded his first career interception last week against Georgia Southern, so you'd like to see more production there. With that said, the Eagles could use a developmental safety to learn under Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. While he's learning, Allen could be a special teams maven with his speed and physical nature.

►No. 25 Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa, senior (5-11/195)
Wadley isn't the biggest back, but boy is he fun to watch. He's coming off a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season. He also snagged 36 passes in 2016. Wadley is an ankle breaker. Some of the cuts he makes are LeSean McCoy-esque. He's been slowed by an ankle injury but is expected to play today. And the Hawkeyes will need him against the Nittany Lions.

No. 7 Washington at Colorado, 10 p.m. (FS1)

►No. 36 Azeem Victor, LB, Washington, senior (6-3/231)

Even after losing a bunch of extremely talented players to the NFL (including two to the Eagles) the Huskies' defense is still a force. Part of that is Victor. Before suffering a broken leg late season, Victor recorded 68 tackles in nine games. Even with the injury, Victor was named All Pac-12 first team. You have to love what head coach Chris Petersen is doing up in Washington. His players play a fast and physical brand of football. It's worth mentioning that Victor was suspended for the team's opener for violating team rules, but hasn't had any off-the-field issues.

►No. 23 Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado, senior (5-8/190)
Another undersized back, Lindsay had a big junior season, rushing for 1,252 yards and 16 scores. He was also impressive as a receiver out of the backfield, with 53 receptions for 493 yards and a TD. He's off to another strong start, notching two games of 140-plus yards and finding pay dirt in all three games. He's more of a north-south runner for a smaller back, but if he finds daylight, he has the speed to run by defensive backs. Every once in a while, he'll break off one of those Darren Sproles-like-pinball runs as well.

10 random Mike Wallace stats

10 random Mike Wallace stats

In Mike Wallace, the Eagles are getting a veteran wide receiver who’s now playing for his fifth team in the last seven years.
Wallace has put up fairly consistent numbers since the Steelers drafted him out of Mississippi in the third round in 2009.
And we all know what a veteran wide receiver means. Lots of stats!
So let’s get to know Mike Wallace with 10 Random Mike Wallace Stats That You Didn’t Know (And I Didn’t Either Until I Looked them Up!):
• Since entering the NFL in 2009, Wallace ranks ninth in the NFL with 8,072 receiving yards, behind only former teammate Antonio Brown (9,910), Larry Fitzgerald (9,570), Calvin Johnson (9,532), Brandon Marshall (9,316), Julio Jones (9,054), Demaryius Thomas (8,653), DeSean Jackson (8,575) and A.J. Green (8,213).
• Wallace’s 57 touchdown catches since 2009 are seventh-most in the NFL during that span by a wide receiver.

• With a 95-yard touchdown catch from Ben Roethlisberger against the Cardinals in 2011 and a 95-yarder from Joe Flacco against the Steelers in 2016, Wallace is one of just three players in NFL history with two career TD receptions of 95 or more yards.

The others are Gaynell Tinsley of the Chicago Cardinals, who caught a 97-yarder from Pat Coffee in 1937 and a 98-yarder from Doug Russell in 1938, and Pennsauken’s John Taylor, who caught a 95-yarder from Joe Montana in 1989 and a 97-yarder from Steve Young in 1991.
• Similarly, Wallace’s four career TDs of 80 yards or more — the two listed above plus catches of 81 and 82 from Roethlisberger in 2011 and 2012 — are fifth-most in NFL history behind Derrick Alexander, Lance Alworth, Bobby Hayes and Jerry Rice, who all have five.
• Wallace has had at least 725 receiving yards in eight of his nine seasons in the NFL. Since 2009, only Fitzgerald has had 725 or more yards more often than Wallace.
• Wallace’s career rushing average of 7.1 yards per carry is fifth-highest among active players (with 32 or more attempts), behind Cordarrelle Patterson (10.3), Tyreek Hill (8.0), Deshaun Watson (7.5) and Ted Ginn (7.1).
• Wallace had nine catches for the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV against the Packers after the 2010 season. That’s tied with several players (including Nelson Agholor) for eighth-most in Super Bowl history by a wide receiver.
• Since he entered the league in 2009, Wallace has 43 receptions of 40 yards or more, second-most in the NFL during that span behind only former Eagle DeSean Jackson, who has 56. Those 43 passes were thrown by five quarterbacks (Roethlisberger 23, Flacco 9, Ryan Tannehill 7, Charlie Batch 3 and former Eagle Dennis Dixon 1).
• During the same span, Wallace has 19 TD catches of 40 yards or more, again second-most in the league during that span to Jackson’s 26.
• In 2010, Wallace caught 60 passes for 1,257 yards, and his 20.95 average was sixth-highest in NFL history and highest in the last 33 years by a player with 60 or more receptions. Since 1965, only Hall of Famer and one-time Eagle James Lofton has had a higher average (21.95 in 1984).

2017 film shows Mike Wallace is still a burner

2017 film shows Mike Wallace is still a burner

Remember the offseason before the 2016 season?

Howie Roseman was making major moves, among them moving up to pick Carson Wentz, but he was also trying to find some cheap speed at the receiver position. The Eagles drafted Nelson Agholor the year before, but Agholor had a disappointing rookie season and the Eagles simply needed to get faster at the position. They really missed DeSean Jackson after Chip Kelly released him. 

So Roseman went out that offseason and signed T.J. Graham and Chris Givens. Two cheap and fast veterans. But neither had anything to give. Neither made the team. Then Roseman traded for Dorial Green-Beckham and claimed Bryce Treggs. Both spent the 2016 season on the roster but never really gave the Eagles that deep threat. It appeared the Eagles would have to pay a little more for their speed. 

Last offseason, Roseman did that, when he signed Torrey Smith to a little heftier contract (the Eagles also signed Alshon Jeffery, who offered more than speed). Smith was just alright and certainly wasn’t worth a $5 million cap hit in 2018, so he’s gone. The good news for the Eagles is that Agholor has grown into an important player who offers speed from the slot, but they still wanted some more outside, which explains the signing of Mike Wallace. Wallace is 31 but might still have something left in the tank. 

Since he entered the NFL, Wallace has 26 catches of 50-plus yards, second during that span to the 36 put up by DeSean, whose absence sent the Eagles looking for speed this whole time (see 10 random Wallace stats).

And if you’re worried that Wallace will be 32 by the start of the season, it’s a valid fear. But in 2017 with the Ravens, he still had the burners working. Wallace had three catches of 50-plus yards; the Eagles as a team had seven. 

Here’s a look at Wallace’s speed with Baltimore last year. We’ll look at all three 50-yard catches: 

There really isn’t much to this. This is the first play of the game from the Ravens-Raiders game in Oakland on Oct. 8. This is the first play from scrimmage; Doug Pederson isn’t the only coach who likes to take his shots. 

Just after the snap, Wallace uses a little stutter step. All he needs is for the corner to hesitate for a split second or get off balance and then he has him where he wants him. Now it’s off to the races. 

After 12 yards, Wallace has more than a step on the DB and Joe Flacco is letting it rip. The safety notices this, but he’s going to be too late getting over. This one goes for a gain of 52 yards down the sideline. 

-- -- --  

This next play actually happens later in the Raiders game. Wallace is circled. He’s not going to do anything fancy on this; just gonna turn on the burners. 

At this point, the Raiders’ DB picks up Wallace after he bursts off the line. But the corner gets turned sideways and Wallace goes right past him. The defender thought he had help, but the safety gets caught looking upfield, ready to drive on a short play. Not much help. 

By the time the safety realizes he needs to help, he's caught flat-footed and looking upfield. Wallace burns both defensive backs on this play for a 54-yarder. 

If Flacco hits Wallace in stride, this is an easy touchdown. But the ball is a tad underthrown and Wallace has to wait for it. 

This next play came in early December against the Lions. It’s a little different from the other two because Wallace is lined up in the slot. The Eagles probably won’t ask him to go in the slot a ton because that’s Nelson Agholor’s spot, but Pederson isn’t averse to moving his receivers around. So if Wallace ever finds himself in the slot, we know what he can do. 


The Ravens use a play action, which freezes the linebacker nearest Wallace. The safety doesn't seem to bite, but it doesn’t matter. Wallace simply splits the center of the field, which leaves the deep safety as the only man to beat. He doesn’t have much trouble. 

This play doesn’t finish in the end zone, but it is a 66-yard gain that gets the Ravens down to the 1-yard line. They punch it in on the next play. 

Wallace might have been 31 last year, but he still had his speed. He averaged 14.4 yards per catch and still was a threat to catch the deep ball. This signing works if he can still do that in 2018.