With Josh Jacobs’ reported visit to Philly, a look at Eagles’ RB draft history

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With Josh Jacobs’ reported visit to Philly, a look at Eagles’ RB draft history

The Eagles haven’t drafted a running back in the first round since Keith Byars out of Ohio State way back in 1986, but that isn’t stopping them from bringing in the near-consensus top running back in this year’s draft. 

According to NFL reporter Adam Caplan, Josh Jacobs is expected to be in Philadelphia for a visit next week. 

While this certainly doesn’t mean the Eagles are going to draft Jacobs, they do get just 30 official pre-draft visits and they’re using one on the one running back who might be a first-round pick later this month. Jacobs is considered to be the top running back in this class by most and has been a trendy mock draft selection for the Eagles at No. 25. 

But would the Eagles really take him in the first round? 

It’s not completely out of the question. While the franchise hasn’t traditionally valued the running back position this highly, it’s not like they have a top-15 pick this season. And Jacobs is really good. If Doug Pederson ever really wants a true three-down, never-leave-the-field running back, Jacobs is his guy. Still, it seems more likely the Eagles use their 25th overall pick on a different position and add a running back later. My money, based on recent history, would be on the Eagles’ taking a defensive lineman. 

But with the Jacobs’ visit on the schedule, it’s a good time to look back at the Eagles’ history with running backs in the draft since they took Byars with the No. 10 pick in 1986. Because even if the Eagles don’t use their first-round pick on a running back, they’re likely going to take one at some point this year. 

It’s also worth noting they took four (!) running backs in that 1986 draft. Times have certainly changed since then. 

From 1987 through 2018, the Eagles took 27 running backs from the second to the 12th round. Yes, drafts used to be longer than seven rounds. 

Here’s a breakdown: 

2nd round: 3
3rd round: 5
4th round: 3
5th round: 2
6th round: 3
7th or later: 11

And here’s the complete list and the round in which they were selected: 

2017: Donnel Pumphrey (4th round) 
2016: Wendell Smallwood (5th round) 
2012: Bryce Brown (7th round) 
2011: Dion Lewis (5th round) 
2011: Stanley Havili (7th round) 
2010: Charles Scott (6th round) 
2009: LeSean McCoy (2nd round) 
2007: Tony Hunt (3rd round) 
2007: Nate Ilaoa (7th round) 
2005: Ryan Moats (3rd round) 
2004: Bruce Perry (7th round) 
2002: Brian Westbrook (3rd round) 
2001: Correll Buckhalter (4th round
2000: Thomas Hamner (6th round) 
1997: Duce Staley (3rd round) 
1995: Kevin Bouie (7th round) 
1994: Charlie Garner (2nd round) 
1994: Mark Montgomery (7th round) 
1992: Siran Stacy (2nd round) 
1992: Tony Brooks (4th round) 
1991: Jame Joseph (7th round) 
1991: Chuck Weatherspoon (9th round) 
1990: Judd Garrett (12th round) 
1989: Robert Drummond (3rd round)
1989: Heath Sherman (6th round) 
1988: David Smith (8th round) 
1987: Bobby Morse (12th round) 

There are some hits there and some misses. Of the 27, seven have never played a snap in the NFL. The highest pick among those seven is Pumphrey, whom the Eagles actually moved up to take in the fourth round in 2017. There’s still an outside chance Pumphrey could one day play in the league; he’s still just 24, but things haven’t gone well. 

The five players who got over 3,000 rushing yards in their careers were all drafted in the third round or higher: 

McCoy: 10,606 (and counting)
Garner: 7,097
Westbrook: 6,335
Staley: 5,785
Byars: 3,109

But drafting a player in the top three rounds, certainly doesn’t guarantee success either. The Eagles have had some notable third-round mistakes like Tony Hunt, Robert Drummond and Ryan Moats. 

The most productive players (rushing yards) drafted in the fourth round or later: 

Buckhalter: 2,944
Sherman: 2,130
Lewis: 2,101 (and counting) 
Brown: 1,076
Smallwood: 850 (and counting)

This is all obviously an inexact science, but the Eagles have found differing levels of value throughout the draft. It’s certainly no coincidence that they haven’t drafted a running back in the first round for decades. But if the Eagles think Jacobs is the best player available at 25, maybe they take him. I wouldn’t bet on it, but crazier things have happened. Or maybe they’re preparing for a trade-back scenario; if they want Jacobs and think they could take him somewhere in the second round, that could be on the table too. Or a trade up from 53 if Jacobs makes it into the second round. 

At least they’re taking a closer look and keeping themselves open to the possibility. 

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Eagles announce several new jersey numbers for 2020 season 

Eagles announce several new jersey numbers for 2020 season 

We have a long way to go before the start of the 2020 season but we have some jersey number updates from the Eagles. 

Most of these new numbers are for new players, but Jalen Mills is also switching out of the number he’s worn for the first four years of his career. 

Here they are in numerical order: 

Jalen Mills: 21

Mills spent the first four years of his career in No. 31. But his rookie contract is over and he’s returning as a safety in 2020. So new position, new number. 

“It’s just recreating myself,” Mills said this week. “Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.”

Mills said he admires guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who each changed their jersey numbers throughout their NBA careers. 

The No. 21 became available after Ronald Darby left in free agency to head to Washington. Darby wore 41 back in 2017 when he arrived in a training camp trade; Patrick Robinson had the 21 on his one-year deal.

Complete Eagles history at 21: James Zyntell, Les Maynard, Paul Cuba, John Kusko, Herschel Stockton, Allison White, Chuck Cherundolo, William Boedeker, Al Pollard, Jim Carr, Joe Scarpati, Ray Jones, Jackie Allen, Wes Chesson, Al Clark, John Sciarra, Evan Cooper, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Matt Ware, William James, Joselio Hanson, David Sims, Roc Carmichael, Jerome Couplin, Leodis McKelvin, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby

Darius Slay: 24 

In Detroit, Slay wore No. 30 during his rookie season back in 2013 but had the No. 23 in the next six years. But in Philly, Rodney McLeod has 23, so Slay is happily changing to 24 to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

“I’m going Kobe mode,” Slay said. “Black mamba. Rest in peace to the  One of my favorite players. I will look good in 24.”

Last season, Jordan Howard wore the No. 24 during his one-year stint with the Eagles. 

Complete Eagles history at 24: Howard Auer, Joe Carpe, Dick Lachman, Jack Knapper, Herman Bassman, Joe Pilconis, Rabbit Keen, Bill Schneller, Dom Moselle, George Taliaferro, Don Schaefer, Nate Ramsey, Artimus Parker, Henry Monroe, Zac Henderson, Ray Ellis, Russell Gary, Reggie Brown, Alan Reid, Alan Dial, Corey Barlow, Tim McTyer, Darnell Autry, Rod Smart, Blaine Bishop, Sheldon Brown, Joique Bell, Brandon Hughes, Nnadmi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Ryan Mathews, Corey Graham, Jordan Howard

Will Parks: 28 

During the first four years of his NFL career, Parks wore No. 34 in Denver as a sixth-round pick. But that number is owned by Cre’Von LeBlanc in Philly. 

So Parks will hop into the No. 28 that was vacant for most of last year until Jay Ajayi was signed during the season. 

Complete Eagles history at 28: Dick Thornton, Guy Turnbow, Algy Clark, Joe Pilconis, Max Padlow, J. “Stumpy” Thomason, Harry Klopenburg, Ray Keeling, Bob Jackson, Paul Dudley, Jim Gray, Bill Bradley, Lou Rash, Greg Harding, Don Griffin, Mel Gray, Clarence Love, Amp Lee, Correll Buckhalter, Ramzee Robinson, Marlin Jackson, Dion Lewis, Earl Wolff, Wendell Smallwood, Jay Ajayi

Nickell Robey-Coleman: 31

As an undrafted player, Robey-Coleman came into the league and wore No. 37 for his first three seasons in Buffalo before he got a big-time improvement and took over 21 in 2015. For the last three seasons, he wore 23 with the Rams but that’s taken by McLeod here. 

So he’ll be in the 31 that Mills wore for the last four years. 

Complete Eagles history at 31: Joe Carter, Tom Graham, Irv Kupcinet, William Brian, Bob Masters, Emmett Mortell, Jerry Ginney, Phil Ragazzo, Jim Castiglia, Ted Williams, Art Macioszczyk, Dan Sandifer, Ebert Van Buren, Ron Goodwin, Tom Bailey, Wilbert Montgomery, Troy West, Tyrone Jones, Brian O’Neal, Derrick Witherspoon, Al Harris, Daryon Brutley, Dexter Wynn, Ellis Hobbs, Curtis Marsh, Shaun Prater, Byron Maxwell, Jalen Mills

Trevor Williams: 41

You might have forgotten the Eagles signed Williams back in January, but the cornerback and Penn State product has 39 NFL games and 27 starts to his name with the Chargers and Cardinals. 

He has previously worn 42, 24 and 22. 

Complete Eagles history at 41: Ted Schmitt, Foster Watkins, Buist Warren, Gil Steinke, Frank Ziegler, Jerry Norton, Bob Freeman, Howard Cassady, Harry Wilson, Richard Harvey, Randy Logan, Earnest Jackson, Keith Byars, Alvin Ross, Fred McCrary, Johnny Thomas, William Hampton, Thomas Tapeh, Stephen Spach, Tanard Davis, Antoine Harris, Jarrad Page, Emil Igwenagu, Randall Evans, Ronald Darby, De’Vante Bausby

Jatavis Brown: 53

Everyone pretty much understood that Nigel Bradham wasn’t going to return to the Eagles in 2020 but now they went ahead and gave his number away. Bradham wore 53 for the last four seasons in Philly. 

During his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers, Brown was No. 57 but that’s occupied in Philly by second-year linebacker T.J. Edwards. 

Complete Eagles history at 53: Walt Masters, Alex Wojciechowicz, Ken Farragut, Bob Pellegrini, John Simerson, Bob Butler, Harold Wells, Fred Whittingham, Dick Absher, Dennis Franks, Fred Smalls, Jody Schulz, Dwayne Jiles, Maurice Henry, Ivan Caesar, John Roper, Bill Romanowski, N.D. Kalu, Hugh Douglas, Mark Simoneau, Moise Fokou, Ryan Rau, Najee Goode, Nigel Bradham

Javon Hargrave: 93

Not long after news broke that Tim Jernigan was heading to Houston, Hargrave got his jersey number. 

A switch was necessary for Hargrave, who wore 79 during his first four seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. The Eagles already have a No. 79 who is pretty good in right guard Brandon Brooks. And Hargrave wore 97 in college but that number in Philly is owned by Malik Jackson. 

Complete Eagles history at 93: Tom Strauthers, John Dumbauld, Ray Phillips, David Bailey, Greg Townsend, Daniel Stubbs, Darion Conner, Pernell Davis, Levon Kirkland, Marco Coleman, Jevon Kearse, Trevor Laws, Jason Babin, Brandon Bair, Tim Jernigan

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NFL Draft Betting: Take this under on running back D'Andre Swift

NFL Draft Betting: Take this under on running back D'Andre Swift

With the 2020 NFL Draft just weeks away, now is the time to start scouting your first round bets - if you haven't already.

NBC Sports Philadelphia betting expert Brad Feinberg has identified one over/under he likes quite a bit: local product and Georgia running back D'Andre Swift's draft slot at 31.5.

Feinberg said he likes the under on Swift going before the 31st overall pick this year.

"There is a separate bet you can make, will there be a running back taken in round one of the NFL draft, where the yes is minus-300," Feinberg explained.

In this year's draft, Swift is largely considered the best running back prospect available, so Feinberg sees the likelihood of Swift earning a first-round nod as fairly high.

Plus, history is on Swift's side. 

Despite the supposed league-wide devaluation of the running back position, at least one running back has been selected in the first round in each of the last five NFL drafts, with three in 2018, and two in both 2017 and 2015.

While NFL general managers aren't eager to spend big money on running backs, but when they can be had on rookie contracts and with fresh legs, they feel like good investments.

And Swift seems to be a good first-round investment.

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