Eagles

2020 NFL Scouting Combine: 10 players with something to prove

2020 NFL Scouting Combine: 10 players with something to prove

INDIANAPOLIS — For the second straight season, a total of 337 college players were invited to the NFL’s annual scouting combine in 2020. 

Sure just about every single player wants to prove they belong in the NFL. But there are a few of those players who have even more to prove. 

Here are 10 of them: 

QB Jordan Love, Utah State 

While the top three quarterbacks in this class are expected to be Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, a good showing from Love at the combine can propel him into the first round. As a subdivision player, of course Love has something to prove. Love (6-4, 224) had a solid showing at Senior Bowl and will have an opportunity for a big week in Indy.  

WR KJ Hamler, Penn State 

Hamler measured in at 5-8 5/8 and 178 pounds. That size might scare some teams away but Hamler can do a ton to relieve those fears by running a blazing-fast time in the 40-yard dash later in the week. And while 178 is light, he’s 12 pounds heavier than Marquise Brown was at the combine in 2019. And as long as Hamler proves that he can be a deep threat, teams will be very interested. 

DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa 

At 6-6, 280, Epenesa piled up over 20 sacks in the last couple seasons but he might not be a top-tier athlete. His performance in on-field drills could go a long way in locking up a first-round grade from many teams. 

WR Laviska Shenault, Colorado 

There are a few reasons to be intrigued by Shenault’s combine. First, he’s coming off a groin injury so he’ll need to show he’s healthy. And his measurements (6-0, 227) make Shenault an interesting body type. He has a very similar body to Tennessee's A.J. Brown (6-0, 226) from last year’s combine, which certainly isn’t a bad thing after Brown’s rookie season. But the most important thing is probably what NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah brought up on a conference call last week. We all expect Shenault to show up big from a physical standpoint but Jeremiah said he wanted to see if Shenault can run a full route tree. At Colorado, they really utilized Shenault’s athleticism and got the ball in his hands but we can see how polished he is this week. 

WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

At 6-3, 216, Higgins is definitely a long-strider. But this week I’m really curious to see his 40 time and his agility for being such a tall receiver. He will likely be one of six or possibly even seven first-round receivers. 

OL Mekhi Becton, Louisville

He’s a giant. At 6-7, 369 pounds, it’ll be fascinating to see how Becton performs in the on-field tests. With a good showing, it’s very possible he’ll become the first offensive lineman taken this spring. With a bad showing, I think he’ll scare some teams away if there are already concerns about his weight. 

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

The concerns with Tua are really from a medical perspective, so we won’t be able to see those results with our own eyes. But you can bet any team that is seriously thinking about drafting him this spring will be giving him a very close look medically. 

WR Jalen Reagor, TCU

It seems like Reagor has been hitting the weight room. He measured in at 5-10, 206 pounds for the combine, about 10 pounds heavier than expected. He’s a versatile player but NFL coaches will need to figure out how they’d use him in their offenses. He should put up some impressive numbers and if he does, he could be a riser on draft boards. He has some explosion that should show up in tests. 

DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State 

At Boise, Weaver had an incredibly productive college career with 34 sacks in three seasons, but will it translate? Basically, he was productive in college but will he show enough athleticism and explosion to prove to teams that he can be an elite player at the next level? I’d also want to see him go through drills with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 defensive end. That would increase his value league-wide. 

CB Kristian Fulton, LSU 

A few key questions about Fulton heading into the combine. One is about his year-long suspension in 2017 when he provided someone else’s urine for a drug test. He’ll be asked about that a few dozen times this week. And then there’s the question of his speed. Fulton is a potential first-round pick but his deep speed is a question mark, so watch his 40. He’s one of several potential first-round cornerbacks. 

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Eagles choose to sit tight, watch as Brandin Cooks is traded to the Texans

Eagles choose to sit tight, watch as Brandin Cooks is traded to the Texans

Another week, another starting wide receiver changing teams - and the Eagles still remain on the sidelines.

The Rams traded Brandin Cooks and a future fourth-round pick to the Texans on Thursday for the No. 57 pick in this month's NFL Draft, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

Cooks, 26, is headed to his fourth team since being drafted by the Saints in 2014, and his third team since 2017.

The Texans' move, of course, comes a little more than three weeks after Houston traded DeAndre Hopkins, a superior wide receiver, to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for basically a second-round pick and running back David Johnson.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman implied in late March that the Eagles were involved in the Hopkins discussions, but couldn't - or didn't want to - match the Cardinals' offer. It was an interesting argument, considering the Birds' absolutely dire need for wide receiver help, but Roseman isn't one to overpay when he draws a line in the sand. 

It's unclear whether the Eagles were in the mix for Cooks, a player who they've been linked to in previous trade talks.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro broke down the pros and cons of a potential Cooks-to-Eagles deal, and concluded that while Roseman should've at least been talking to the Rams about Cooks, trading a second-round pick for a player with concussion history who isn't getting any younger wouldn't be a smart use of capital:

Should they trade away the No. 53 pick for him? No way! Especially not in a draft that’s this deep at receiver. And not for a high-priced player coming off his worst NFL season and who might be one concussion away from the end of his career.

The fact that the Texans' Bill O'Brien, not exactly one of football's most revered decision-makers at the moment, traded the No. 57 pick for Cooks tells that Dave was on the money.

Of course, this leaves the Eagles with one fewer way to fix their wide receiver woes. They are clearly eyeing the draft, where a historically deep wide receiver class should net at least one contributor.

Will it be in the first round? Players like Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs seem like game-changers, but they might not be available without the Eagles trading up. If they don't, guys like Brandon Aiyuk could be available with the second-round pick Roseman just decided to not trade.

And if they wait past the first wave of top-tier wideout talent, there are plenty of names to watch in the later rounds.

One thing's for certain: things are starting to heat up, and that's normally when Roseman starts making moves.

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Sidney Jones: 'You haven't seen nothing yet'

Sidney Jones: 'You haven't seen nothing yet'

“There’s a whole lot left. That’s all I can tell you. You haven’t seen nothing yet," Sidney Jones said Thursday afternoon in an interview. 

Jones is going into his third real season in the NFL. He has gone through injuries. He’s been a healthy scratch.

Howie Roseman said, “It’s time for him to prove it," and Jones agrees.

“Adversity builds character," he said. "I feel like I have weathered the storm. I am ready to show what I can do and prove it."

Jones is working out in Texas with noted defensive backs trainer Ronnie Braxton. They are working on physical and mental techniques. I asked Jones if his confidence has been affected through his ups and downs.

“It probably could have," he said. "I’m not going to lie. But you’ve got to keep pushing through it and that’s where I’m at right now, working with everybody in my circle that’s getting me back right." 

Jones is also working with veteran cornerback Chris Harris, who was just named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team. Jones wishes Harris would’ve signed with the Eagles, but Harris chose the Chargers in free agency. 

“Just to be around guys like that and to watch him and watch his moves and see how they go about their business, I can just follow him and pick up tips," Jones said.

Jones is thrilled the Eagles traded for his “boy” Darius Slay. Jones says having Slay with the cornerback will help him, and he says the two have a similar body type.

“Veteran leadership," he said. "He’s been around the game and has experience. I think it’s going to be really good for us."

Jones said the Eagles did not say anything to him after they traded for Slay. The word is Jones and Avonte Maddox will compete for the other outside cornerback spot, and Jones is ready to compete. 

“I am ready," he said. "I don’t think anybody is working as hard as me right now”

How motivated is he?

“I can’t even describe," he said. "It’s not even on the radar. It’s 1,000 times above that. I’m excited, man.”

Jones and his fiancée donated $25,000 to The Philly Pledge, following Rodney McLeod’s lead. Jones wants to help people in Philly, and wants to stay in Philly.  

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