Speculation has been mounting about what the Eagles will do Thursday night. We know their history of selecting the best offensive/defensive lineman they can, but there will be plenty of skill position players at 25, if they choose to stay put. Here are some names to watch (who will most likely be available at 25)
Josh Jacobs RB, Alabama- I would have zero issue with taking Jacobs in the first, but the Eagles have yet to show us that they put a priority on high-round halfbacks. The Alabama backfield is annually crowded and competitive, therefore Jacobs has low mileage. Josh Jacobs has the physical tools and the attitude to become a major safety-valve for Carson Wentz.
Deebo Samuel WR, South Carolina- Cool name. Good hands. Plays hard. What’s not to like?
A.J. Brown WR, Ole Miss- Just a hunch, I have a feeling the Eagles take a receiver earlier than people expect. A.J. Brown already has been to the NovaCare center on a pre-draft visit. Brown is an unorthodox slot receiver. He’s the opposite of a burner, straight-line traditional slot-guy. Brown has strong hands and a big-body. Nelson Agholor’s future with the team is murky, and it may not be at 25, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles made an effort to add Brown.
Parris Campbell WR, Ohio State- The two most common comparisons for Parris Campbell are; Percy Harvin and Cordarrelle Patterson. The Eagles need another receiving running back, so why not put a real pass catcher in the backfield from time to time?
Chase Winovich DE, Michigan- There’s something about Winovich that just feels like an Eagle. He has a high football IQ, great technique, and a relentless hustle. Winovich would be a fantastic second round pick, but I can’t imagine he lasts to 53. I wouldn’t be shocked if he winds up as the Eagles’ first round selection.
5. Christian Wilkins DT, Clemson
Out of the several players I’ll list, Christian Wilkins is the one I have the toughest time imagining will be available at 25. He checks too many boxes too fall into the mid-20s; athletic, high-character, productive, national champion. It’s not impossible he falls into the Eagles’ lap, but I think the Birds will need some lucky bounces.
Wilkins would be a welcomed addition to the Eagles prolific defensive front. He would challenge Malik Jackson for starting snaps immediately. Wilkins has the intelligence and intensity to thrive in the Eagles system. Christian Wilkins isn’t your average rookie in terms of pedigree and maturity.
The Eagles’ defensive tackles currently on the roster aside from Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson are; Bruce Hector and Trayvon Hester. There’s no way this position isn’t addressed during the draft. Wilkins racked up 192 tackles and 16 sacks during his Clemson career. In addition to his four-year tour de force, Wilkins athletic testing was great for someone standing six-foot-three, 315 lbs. He ran the forty in 5.04, put up 28 bench reps, recorded an 8’11 broad jump with a 29-inch vertical, and to top it off his short-shuttle was 4.55.
I would bet the house the Eagles have Christian Wilkins on their short list.
4. Chris Lindstrom OG, Boston College
In the past five drafts, there have been five guards selected in the first round. Taking interior lineman is the least sexy thing you can possibly do. Punt returns and one-handed snags make SportsCenter, not backside seals and blitz pickups. If it wasn’t for Quenton Nelson putting people in the morgue on a weekly basis, most people would barely pay attention to the interior of the line.
But if you’re one of those people that can’t appreciate good offensive line play, I suggest you read something else.
During Jason Kelce’s latest media appearance, he was asked a question about being a dropped pass away from the NFC title game. He responded with; “I’d argue a right guard away from an NFC Championship game.”
It’s hard to argue with Kelce’s sentiment. Brandon Brooks is one of the top guards in the NFL. Not having another strong lineman to add in case of emergency, can be the difference between wins and losses. Brandon Brooks suffered a torn achilles tendon and may not be 100-percent by September. Beefing up the offensive line is a must for the Eagles and I would expect it to happen within their first three or four draft picks.
Chris Lindstrom could be an intriguing addition for the Eagles at 25. He could challenge Isaac Seumalo for first-string snaps at guard. In the event Brandon Brooks isn’t ready for opening day, Lindstrom could join Seumalo starting on both sides of Jason Kelce.
There’s a lot of question about tackle prospects possibly making the move to guard, but Lindstrom is widely regarded as the best true offensive guard in the draft. He has the brains and athleticism that the Eagles covet in their offensive line. Lindstrom is a lock to be selected within the top 32 picks.
3. Jerry Tillery DT, Notre Dame
If the Eagles are dead-set on adding a defensive tackle, Jerry Tillery will probably be available at 25. Tillery passes the eye test. He stands six-foot-six and weighs nearly 300 pounds. He has long arms and moves well for being one of the largest defensive lineman in the class. Tillery had a monster senior season that established his draft status. He played like his hair was on fire.
The most rampant complaint about Tillery’s career in South Bend is how he underachieved. In addition to concerns about his work ethic, The Draft Network’s red flag paragraph on Tillery could be cause for concern.
“Suspended for Fiesta Bowl as a freshman due to unspecified violation of team rules. In 2016 went on a Twitter rampage in which he indirectly suggested fired LSU coach Les Miles should replace Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. In 2016 vs USC kicked one Trojan player in the head and stomped on another’s leg.”
Even with impressive physical gifts, Jerry Tillery panning out in the NFL may be dependent on his dedication to discipline.
Tillery presents the potential to be an every down force in the middle, but the amount of risk going into selecting Tillery in the first round may make teams weary of taking him in the first round.
2. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson S, Florida
There isn’t a spot on the field where Chauncey Gardner-Johnson can’t make a play. He’s an explosive playmaker from all over the field. CGJ can line up all over, and can do so due to his range and excellent breaks on the ball.
In his three seasons at Florida, CGJ made 161 tackles and caught 9 interceptions. His range is at the top of the class. CGJ has sideline-to-sideline speed and has top-notch coverage on short/intermediate routes.
The Eagles added Andrew Sendejo for depth, behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McCleod. Malcolm Jenkins has been the ironman for the Eagles defense over the past several seasons, and isn’t getting any younger. McCleod is coming off a season-ending injury and may not be the same player. Safety is a position that needs immediate depth, while also preparing for life without their starting Super Bowl duo. CGJ is the best of both worlds.
At five-foot-ten and 210 lbs., CGJ looks the part of a traditional safety, but his athleticism helps him standout. He posted a 4.48 forty-yard dash, recorded 17 bench reps, and has a vertical jump of 36 inches. CGJ is a plug-and-play defender that could boost the Eagles defense immediately.
1. Nassir Adderley S, Delaware
Nassir Adderley most important skill is that he’s “From Here.”
Adderley plays like he was shot out of a cannon. He’s a hitter with a nonstop motor. His ball skills are outstanding. Adderley is a human highlight reel. His big-play ability would fit right at home on a team that lacked turnovers for much of the year.
Adderley’s reckless abandon pays dividends but it will need to be kept in check if he wants to maintain his impact in the NFL. It’s much easier to get away with being over zealous at the FCS-level, than it will be against the best in the world.
Much like CGJ, Adderley is an easy addition all over the field. He can play centerfield, line up in the box, cover kicks, you name it. Adderley can even return kicks.
The Eagles are notorious for taking offensive and defensive linemen in the higher rounds, but the chances of a genuine first round talent at either position getting to 25 aren’t favorable. The back end of the Eagles defense needs to be addressed. I expect safety to be a primary option if the targets in the trenches are no longer available.
If Nasir Adderley played in a power-five conference he would be a can’t miss prospect. He has everything you need to be a fan favorite in Philly. Adderley is electric and plays with an edge. If he can play with discipline while maintaining intensity, Adderley playing for his hometown team could be a match made in heaven.