Eagles

Get to know some NFL draft prospects from the Philadelphia area

Get to know some NFL draft prospects from the Philadelphia area

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

Hometown: Philadelphia

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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10 Eagles who might appeal to new Jets’ GM Joe Douglas

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10 Eagles who might appeal to new Jets’ GM Joe Douglas

The fingerprints of Joe Douglas were all over the Eagles’ roster the last couple of seasons. That’s why we saw so many former Bears and Ravens players land in Philly. 

Now, we’re probably going to see a lot of former Eagles end up with the Jets now that Douglas is the GM. 

And because the Eagles are generally considered to have a deep roster — and the Jets perhaps not so much — there’s a good chance the Jets will be interested in players who either won’t make the Eagles' roster or who won’t have a big role. 

With that in mind, here are 10 Eagles who might intrigue Douglas: 

CB Cre’Von LeBlanc

The Eagles brought LeBlanc in off waivers last November and he quickly established himself as the team’s nickel cornerback and solidified a secondary that had been decimated by injuries. But this spring, LeBlanc had been relegated to second team nickel CB and appears to be sixth overall on the cornerback depth chart. LeBlanc ended up in Chicago a few months after Douglas was gone, but Douglas would have been involved in scouting him out of Florida Atlantic. I think LeBlanc is going to make the Eagles' roster, but maybe Douglas could get him with a late-round pick. 

CB Josh Hawkins

I started this list with two cornerbacks because that’s a position the Jets could clearly use some help. If LeBlanc is sixth on the CB depth chart, then Hawkins is seventh and the Eagles aren’t going to keep seven corners. Douglas was a part of the front office that brought Hawkins in mid-season last year and kept him around for this offseason. Once Hawkins is cut free, he could be a depth player for the Jets. 

S Deiondre’ Hall 

Hall is another player that overlapped with Douglas in Chicago. The Bears took Hall in the fourth round of the 2016 draft just before Douglas left town. Then, the Eagles thought enough of Hall to trade for him despite a suspension in Week 1 of the 2018 season. But even with injuries to the secondary, Hall played just six defensive snaps last year with a more significant role on special teams. Is this a case of the front office liking a player more than the coaching staff? If so, maybe Douglas tries to bring him in again. 

C Anthony Fabiano 

Maybe this one is a bit of a stretch, but as I understand it, the Jets are light at center. Fabiano is the top Eagles center who will likely be cut free. Undrafted out of Harvard in 2016, Fabiano has been with a bunch of teams and has played in nine career games with two starts. He joined the Eagles’ practice squad in November. 

EDGE Daeshon Hall 

A former third-round pick, Hall joined the Eagles last season and actually played in three games. He has a shot to make the roster this year, but if he doesn’t, he could be intriguing to Douglas and the Jets, who could use some extra pass-rush talent. 

DT Treyvon Hester 

The guy who tipped the double-doink is likely competing for a roster spot with Hassan Ridgeway, whom the Eagles brought in via trade at the draft. If Hester gets cut, he could provide a little interior depth for the Jets. 

RB Donnel Pumphrey 

When the Eagles traded up to draft Pump in the fourth round a couple years ago, Douglas praised him, saying Pump was a little dog who plays like a big dog. Pumphrey has never been on an active roster, but having Douglas in another city could possibly give the undersized back one more landing spot, perhaps as a practice squad player. 

ILB T.J. Edwards 

Edwards still has a chance to make the Eagles’ roster or perhaps stick around on the practice squad, but he’s a productive college player who many thought was going to be drafted. Douglas loves players who were productive in college and Edwards certainly fits that requirement. 

WR Greg Ward Jr. 

The Eagles brought in the former Houston quarterback as a project in 2017 and he has yet to make the roster, but is making another push this offseason. There are a few guys fighting for those last couple of receiver roster spots and if Ward is cut loose, he could be a deep roster addition for the Jets. 

EDGE Joe Ostman 

The Eagles seem to love Ostman, but I’m not sure there’s room for him on their roster. Howie Roseman seems to be a huge Ostman fan, but Douglas likes hardworking players and Ostman is definitely one. 

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at wide receiver?

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at wide receiver?

The Eagles’ top three additions at wide receiver from a year ago are all gone, yet there’s a lot of enthusiasm surrounding a returning star and a fresh face. Is this group of pass catchers poised for a better or worse season in 2019?

Key additions: DeSean Jackson (trade, Buccaneers), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (draft, second round) 

Key departures: Golden Tate (free agent, Giants), Jordan Matthews (free agent, 49ers), Mike Wallace (free agent) 

Why they could be better: DeSean Jackson

The Eagles had the right idea attempting to pair Alshon Jeffery with a speed receiver on the outside the last two years, though it hasn’t worked entirely to plan. Torrey Smith was a serviceable deep threat in 2017, but a bit of a one-trick pony who would vanish from the offense for weeks at a time, and Mike Wallace wound up injured after two games and zero catches in 2018.

Jackson represents an upgrade over both players. Even at 32, he remains one of the NFL’s preeminent vertical threats. No receiver with at least 40 catches finished with a higher yards per reception (18.9) last season, and the three-time Pro Bowler is tied with Josh Gordon for the highest average among active players – their 17.4 more than a full yard better than Smith. Jackson can be a weapon in the intermediate passing game as well, something the Eagles experimented with a lot during OTAs. This is precisely the type of dynamic skill set that can elevate an offense.

Why they could be worse: Health concerns

Jeffery has played 16 games just once in the last four seasons, and he somehow did that with a torn rotator cuff in ’17. (It should be noted his four-game absence in 2016 was a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which can still be construed as a “health concern” of sorts.) Jackson has missed at least one game every year dating back to 2014. They’re 29 and 32 respectively, so the likelihood of more injuries has only increased with the passage of time.

Great as this duo looks on paper, the Eagles are a couple of mishaps away from fielding a receiving corps of Nelson Agholor, rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins, who has injury issues of his own after sitting out all of ’18 with a sports hernia. In fact, this was an issue early on last season when Jeffery, Wallace and Hollins were out, forcing the club to sign Jordan Matthews off the street. The offense looks a little better prepared were similarly bad luck to strike again, though there may not be an available replacement who can step in so seamlessly next time around if necessary.

The X-factor: What can Arcega-Whiteside bring to the table?

This is essentially a more interesting way of asking who will serve as the Eagles’ fourth receiver — not an unimportant job. Last season, Matthews caught 21 passes in that role. A year earlier, Hollins reeled in 17 as a rookie. And there are always injuries, so we’re also talking about the next man off the bench here.

Arcega-Whiteside has the inside track, and at 6-foot-2, 223 pounds with a 34-inch vertical, it’s not difficult to envision him becoming an instant weapon in the red zone. The Stanford product grabbed 14 touchdowns as a senior and 28 in a three-year college career. However, Hollins showed promise started practicing at the end of OTAs, so the Eagles could have another option if Arcega-Whiteside is slow to develop. Perennial camp favorite Greg Ward is in the mix for a role as well. So it becomes a matter of how much the new guy can pick up in a short amount of time.

Are the Eagles’ wide receivers better or worse?

On paper, there’s no question this is a better group with Jackson taking the place of Wallace or Golden Tate. And in Arcega-Whiteside, there appears to have a prospect who can potentially step into Jackson’s or Jeffery’s shoes in the event of an injury. The Eagles felt inclined to make mid-season moves at receiver in ’18, signing Matthews and trading for Golden Tate. If the absences mount again this year, the offense should be able to get by.

BETTER

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