Travin Howard

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

This is one of the best weeks of college football as several conferences hold their championship games.

The Eagles are sitting pretty at 10-1, but will certainly have an eye on a bunch of NFL draft prospects in action today.

Here are six players to watch in the early games.

No. 20 Memphis at No. 14 UCF - 12 p.m., ABC
No. 3 - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis, senior (5-11/190)

Size obviously isn't Miller's strong point, but he is mighty explosive. After recording 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, Miller has 1,212 yards and another 14 TDs so far this season. He's also been dangerous as a runner and as a punt returner. He's a pure playmaker. Just get the ball in his hands and clear a path. 

No. 18 - Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF, senior (6-1/223)
Griffin is by far the coolest story in all of college football. A birth defect forced Griffin to have his left hand amputated at 4 years old. He hasn't let that stand in his way, winning AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season. He's stood out yet again this season, recording 56 total tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and an interception. If you haven't watched Griffin yet, make sure you tune in.
 

No. 11 TCU at No. 3 Oklahoma - 12:30 p.m., FOX
No. 78 - Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma, junior (6-8/345)

Brown is an enormous human, but don't be fooled by his appearance. He's actually an outstanding athlete. Brown weighed 415 pounds in high school, but has dropped the weight and was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season. He's likely a late first-round pick. He's an obvious mauler in the run game but has really improved as a pass protector.

No. 32 - Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard has been a tackling machine for TCU. While playing mostly safety as a sophomore, Howard recorded 107 tackles, then amassed 130 last year while transitioning to linebacker. He's missed the last two games with an injury (he's expected to play today), but still has 83 tackles on the season, including a 13-tackle game in the Hornfrog's lost to the Sooners a few weeks ago. He has a nose for the football and outstanding instincts.


No. 6 Georgia at No. 2 Auburn - 4 p.m., CBS
No. 3 - Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia, junior (6-1/225)
While the Bulldogs' running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are certainly worth keeping an eye on, Smith is the prospect that should most intrigue the Eagles. Smith has wreaked havoc this season, recording 100 tackles (8 1/2 for loss), and 4 1/2 sacks. He's a sideline-to-sideline ‘backer that always seems to be around the ball. He could certainly be an option late in the first round.

No. 71 - Braden Smith, OL, Auburn, senior (6-6/303)
Smith has a ton of experience playing in the loaded SEC. He's built like a tackle but has spent the majority of his collegiate career at guard. He made the All-SEC freshman team and was named to the All-SEC first team as a junior. Smith was part of an impressive effort by the Tigers' in their upset of Alabama last week. He'll face another stiff test against the Bulldogs this week.

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.