The NFL draft is in two weeks, marking the yearly tradition of putting all my hopes and dreams upon the shoulders of people who aren’t even old enough to rent a car. While you’ve been bombarded with mock drafts and big boards since February, I’m here to offer an alternative approach to the draft season. I will evaluate draft prospects who have ties to the greater Philadelphia area based on how Philly they are (From Here Rating).
This is not a ranking of how good each player will be in the pros. I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about scouting FCS football players. There’s nothing a Philadelphian loves more, however, than an athlete from Philly because they can live vicariously through those players. Taking into some biographical and background info, here are my cheesesteak-based grades on a few prospects from the region and how they could find their way to the Eagles:
Nasir Adderley, safety, Delaware
High school: Great Valley High School
Nasir Adderley may be the prospect from the area that people are most familiar with. He played his high school ball in Malvern, starred at UDel and has been a popular choice for the Birds’ own first round among fans and media members alike.
A hallmark of Eagles fandom for the last two decades has been an obsession with the safety position. That’s entirely due to the invigorating play of Brian Dawkins. The franchise fumbled the plan of succession at safety after him though, stumbling through the Nate Allens and Jaiquawn Jarretts of the football world while the Philadelphia faithful cried out for the next Dawkins. Malcolm Jenkins ultimately fit that role perfectly, but it’s become time for the team to find its own next Jenkins.
A versatile safety from Philly who can be the next in a great line of safeties to wear midnight green? He gives me The Prince That Was Promised vibes.
From Here Rating: 4 cheesesteaks out of 4
Olamide Zaccheaus, wide receiver, Virginia
Hometown: Plainfield, New Jersey
High school: Saint Joseph’s Prep
While I may seem like a super serious journalist, I’m going to pull back the veil a little bit and show my bias: I am a graduate of The Prep. Zaccheaus was a freshman when I was a senior and I almost assuredly never even walked past him in the hallway at 17th and Girard, but I’m going to pretend that we’re good friends anyway like every other alum does. He was a star running back during his high school days, but has since switched to receiver at UVA. What if he switched back though?
Howie Roseman has been reluctant to put big resources into the running back position. Just look at Corey Clement and Josh Adams, both local guys, who made the team as undrafted rookies in each of the last two years. Zaccheaus would be another UDFA, but in the scatback mold (he couldn’t be worse than Donnel Pumphrey in that regard). Why not take a flyer on him, move him to the backfield and make another half-measured attempt at finding a Darren Sproles replacement?
An otherwise stellar Philly-area guy is hurt marginally in my methodology for playing college football outside the tri-state region down in Virginia.
From Here Rating: 3.5 cheesesteaks out of 4
Ryquell Armstead, running back, Temple
Hometown: Millville, New Jersey
High school: Millville High School
If the Birds do actually want to grab a running back on Day 3 instead of going diving into the UDFA bargain bin, Ryquell Armstead and his bruising running style should be in the conversation. He gets bonus points for playing his college ball at the Linc as a Temple Owl and in turn repping North Philly for four years. In light of Mike Trout’s record-breaking extension with the Angels though, I have since concluded that Millville is not as close to Philadelphia as everyone liked to pretend because we wanted Trout to be a Phillie, so Armstead’s hometown will ultimately dock his rating slightly.
From Here Rating: 3 cheesesteaks out of 4
Vinny Papale, wide receiver, Delaware
Hometown: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
High school: Bishop Eustace
Vinny Papale's father, Vince, came out swinging from a South Philly basement and made the Eagles’ roster during an open tryout before the 1976 season. He was then immortalized in the utterly mediocre Mark Wahlberg film "Invincible."
I can already imagine the fanfare if Papale, who will be at the Eagles’ local Pro Day next Tuesday, if he somehow found his way onto the roster for training camp and the preseason. It would be like 2006 Hank Baskett fever on steroids. Every middle-aged man from Grays Ferry that I tailgate with would buy his jersey because they like to believe that if their coach had just put them in during the fourth quarter back in the day, they would’ve won states.
If things could’ve just broken a tad bit differently, Philadelphians could’ve been been Vince or Vinny Papale in their own minds. There’s nothing more Philly than believing that.
From Here Rating: A seismic 5 cheesesteaks out of 4 that has broken my highly scientific scale.
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