The Eagles made a smart move yesterday in drafting Andre Dillard, an offensive tackle from Washington State, to help solidify their offensive line. With two more picks tonight (53 & 57 overall) Howie and the rest of the group can go in a number of directions to further improve the roster. While a few positions make more sense than others (Safety, WR, DL) nothing is off the table.
Here are six players who would make sense tonight:
A.J. Brown*trade up*
WR, Ole Miss
A receiver who would make sense is AJ Brown. While D.J. Metcalf is the slightly better known pass catcher from Ole Miss, Brown has been more productive throughout his career, and figures to have a smoother transition to the NFL.
Brown is a 6’0’’ slot receiver with impressive quickness and physicality. Scouts compare him to Golden Tate (only better)—160 catches, 2,582 yards, 17 TDs over the past two seasons—and we know Doug and Howie aren’t done surrounding Carson Wentz with weapons.
The team would almost certainly need to trade up for Brown (he won’t be around at 53) but if they have plans to trade Agholor at some point this weekend, Brown is worth moving up for to solidify the slot for years to come.
WR, Iowa State
Butler has impressive size (6’5’’ 225) and speed (4.48 40-time) to go along with great leaping ability and physicality after the catch. All of those things make Butler a “first round talent” but the concern that’s keeping him on the board until day two is his poor hands. He’s battled drops throughout his career—despite having a highlight reel of circus catches—and his route running could also stand to be more refined.
Nonetheless, Butler has all the talent in the world and could quickly turn into a big-play threat if the Birds develop him right. Over 2,000 yards at 19.5 YPC and 16 TDs over two years is no joke.
I listed Thornhill in my mock draft, and I believe he’s the type of player who could step in on day one and contribute in the secondary. He has experience at both corner and safety, and while he’s not a freak athlete, he did test well at the combine and was extremely productive throughout his college career.
He’s considered a high-IQ player with great instincts and a nose for the football (13 picks over three years, 6 from the safety spot as a senior). The safety position is one that has been mocked to the Eagles quite a bit, and I think Thornhill would be a perfect fit on the back end for Jim Schwartz.
Where Thornhill is more of a deep safety, Taylor Rapp is the type of safety who would be able to fill Malcolm Jenkins role as the defensive swiss-army-knife. Rapp has experience playing big nickel, linebacker, deep safety, and even as a pass rusher (more like Dawkins than Jenkins in this regard).
He played a lot of football over his three seasons in a Washington secondary that has become a pipeline for the NFL in recent years (“DBU-West”). Rapp is smart and plays with good instincts, which should make him a candidate to see the field early. If Howie decides to draft a safety in the Jenkins’ mold (as opposed to McLeod) then Rapp makes a ton of sense.
I’ve talked about Henderson a lot this offseason, and you would likely hear his name connected to the Birds more if the position didn’t fall off everyone’s radar after the Jordan Howard trade, but if the team does decide to add to their running back room tonight (which is possible) then Henderson makes the most sense.
He’s a smooth runner with a low center of gravity and impressive balance. He ran a 4.49 at the combine and has the lower body flexibility and acceleration to make a cut and fire out of a hole at full speed. His lower half absorbs contact well, and once he gets going he’s surprisingly hard to bring down.
Such an impressive athletic profile is what allows him to be the home run hitter that he is—he averaged 8.9 yards per carry on 344 carries over two seasons; good for 3,063 yards 31 TDs. On top of that, he can be used in the screen game where he’s predictably lethal.
All in all Henderson makes for the perfect change-of-pace back to Jordan Howard. A home run hitter like him is exactly what you need off the bench after you’ve hit the defense with a few runs from your lead back.
WR, South Carolina
This is another player that I mocked to the Birds on Wednesday. Samuel is a physical receiver with impressive start-stop ability, both of which make him extremely dangerous after the catch and in the open field. He’s versatile enough to play on the outside, in the slot, and return kickoffs. He’d be a good weapon to add to Wentz’s arsenal, and if the team decides to trade Agholor, Samuel would be a solid replacement in the slot.