Most Eagles fans are concerned about what the Eagles will do in the first round. Will they take a corner? Will they take an offensive lineman? Will move up or down from the 23rd overall selection?
The early rounds of the NFL draft are important. There’s really no denying that. Teams are looking for players that can make an impact early on and fill big holes they have.
However, the later rounds are just as important. These rounds are all about not wasting picks. You want to find players who fit into your system. Maybe they’re not going to increase your sports betting odds for the team, start on opening day, or even all season, but maybe they’re guys who fit into the equation down the line.
Plenty of late round selections are able to make impacts for their teams. You just have to be able to find the right ones.
Note: These players aren’t ranked in a specific order. They’re simply a group of 10 players I believe will be available in the later rounds and could be a good fit for the Eagles.
Mark Herzlich, Linebacker, Boston College
If you don’t know this name, you should. After Herzlich’s junior season at Boston College where he recorded 110 tackles, he announced that he had a rare form of bone cancer. This caused him to miss the 2009 season, but Herzlich came back in 2010 cancer free.
In his senior season, Herzlich recorded 65 tackles, forced two fumbles, and registered four interceptions.
This guy is clearly a warrior on and off the field, and has an amazing story. He’s devoted to the game, and impressed everyone when he returned to the football field in 2010.
Herzlich stands at 6’4” and 244 pounds, and is thought to be slipping down the draft board after an unimpressive Senior Bowl.
He played outside linebacker in college and is known to be good in coverage. During his battle against cancer, he seemed to lose a step or two, but progressed throughout his senior season.
As an Eagle, I think he’d be helpful against the inside rush as well as in coverage against tight ends, something the Eagles have struggled with in years past.
Casey Matthews, Linebacker, Oregon
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Casey Matthews is not his brother, and his draft projection shows it. However, there have been rumors that Matthews is a player the Eagles are high on and may have higher on their draft boards than other teams in the league.
At 6’1” and 231 pounds, he could afford to bulk up a bit when he comes into the league, but he made a big impact on a very underrated Oregon defense.
At Oregon, Matthews played as one of those high-motor type players that could fly around the field. The high-motor label is something you’ll hear Andy Reid use repeatedly, and their draft history shows them going after this type of player.
I’m not sure Matthews is a guy who would fit into the Eagles starting lineup immediately, but I think he’s a guy who could contribute and eventually compete for a starting spot.
He’s a hard working player, and I believe he has the right mentality to become a successful player in the league. The Eagles have generally been high on finding smart football players with a passion for the game, and I think this is why the Eagles like Matthews so much.
Chris Carter, Linebacker, Fresno State
Carter is the type of player that could be a hit or miss in the NFL. He’s more of a speed rushing outside linebacker, and spent a lot of his career at Fresno State chasing down quarterbacks.
At 6’1” and 248 pounds, Carter has pretty good size for a guy on the outside but needs to work on his technique. His pass rushing technique is often viewed as one dimensional, and he hasn’t been known to be a consistent tackler, often over pursuing plays.
Most draft expert think that Carter projects best as a 3-4 linebacker, but I think he could be effective in a 4-3 under the right coaching.
The Eagles seem to like linebackers with speed that can make plays all over the field. This is something Carter has, so I believe he’s a player the Eagles will have an eye on as it gets into the later rounds of the draft.
Cortez Allen, Cornerback, Citadel
Although I’m hoping to see the Eagles take a corner early, I still think they might look to add one in the later rounds. Allen is a guy they may very well look into.
At 6’1” and 197 pounds, he has good size for a corner. He ran a 4.50 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, but seems to play more in the 4.4 range.
During his time at the Citadel, he didn’t have an immediate impact his first two seasons. However, he blossomed as a junior and wasn’t targeted as often as a senior because of it. He only recorded two interceptions that year, but he led his team in passes defended.
Allen’s combination of speed and size are what make him desirable to NFL scouts, but he’s not guaranteed to be an impact player.
If drafted by the Eagles, he’d be a player that would have to battle to make the team by playing well on special teams. Once on the roster, he would have to work on his technique as a corner if he ever wanted to see playing time.
Deunta Williams, Safety, North Carolina
Williams is an interesting player for a number of reasons. First, he came to North Carolina as a receiver, but was converted to safety. Also, he broke his leg in the Music City Bowl as a senior, and his recovery since that time will have a large impact on his draft stock.
However, one thing that Williams proved during his time in college is that he has a knack for finding the football. He had 12 interceptions in his first three seasons, but failed to record any in his senior year. This was disappointing, but he did miss some playing time in the beginning of the season due to suspension.
At 6’2” and 205 pounds, Williams could afford to bulk up a bit if he wants to round out his abilities as a run stopper to go along with his play making ability in the passing game. He was fairly successful against the run in college, but will be dealing with a whole new level of running backs in the NFL.
Although the Eagles drafted two young safeties last year, I believe they will still look for a safety in the later rounds to compete for a backup role.
I expect the Eagles to have a veteran safety on the team next year whether it’s Quintin Mikell or someone else they bring in. However, they need to keep working to find those young players who will step up and play at a consistently high level.
Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Jenkins is a big player who thrived as a run stopper during his time at Clemson. He’s not known to be very effective against the pass, but the Eagles have typically relied on their ends and blitzing linebackers to be their sacking force.
At 6’4” and 310 pounds, Jenkins clearly has the frame to clog up the middle of the line. His play at Clemson was very good, but many draft experts think he’ll fall down the board on draft day after an unimpressive NFL Combine.
The Eagles have some solid options at the defensive tackle position, but they need to find some young players that can start to develop and eventually crack the starting lineup.
If Jenkins slips far enough down the draft board, I think he’s a guy the Eagles will be seriously interested in. He had a talented college career and could become a very talented player in the NFL under the wings of Jim Washburn.
Stephen Schilling, Offensive Guard, Michigan
Out of the Big Ten, a conference that has produced a lot of solid offensive lineman, Schilling started all but one game during his four seasons at Michigan.
At 6’4” and 308 pounds, Schilling has experience playing both guard and tackle, but he clearly projects as an offensive guard in the NFL.
His run blocking is something that draft experts have been very critical of. Despite his already large frame, most think he could afford to bulk up and add some strength.
On the other hand, Schilling has received a lot of praise for his ability as a pass rusher. For a team like the Eagles, this is probably something they value more due to the frequency of passes they throw.
I think this is a guy the Eagles will be high on because of both his skill set and the amount of time he spent on the field at Michigan. They need help on their interior line and Schilling could be just the guy for the job.
James Carpenter, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Carpenter transferred to Alabama after two years of junior college, but started every game with the Crimson Tide while he was there.
Carpenter stands 6’4” and 321 pounds and played the left tackle position at Alabama. He was known to be a very big piece to the success of the running attack while there.
Keeping that in mind, many draft experts don’t think he projects well as an offensive tackle in the NFL because of his footwork in pass protection.
If the Eagles were to draft Carpenter, I believe they would move him inside to the guard position. He could be used in emergency situations as a tackle, but his primary role would be inside.
I believe he could be a very solid player at the right guard position and help the Eagles running attack on that side, a side they were more hesitant to run on in 2010.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Oklahoma
Murray had a very strong career at Oklahoma but is projecting as a mid-round pick at best in a weak running back class.
As a runner, Murray posseses a very quick side step that he uses to quickly dodge defenders and get up the field. He is dodgy, but doesn’t use it to the degree where he’s going east to west more than north and south.
At 6’0” and 213 pounds, people are skeptical about him being able to physically handle a full workload in the NFL. However, with more and more teams using a backfield tandem, Murray should flourish if paired with another back.
If drafted by the Eagles, he’d join LeSean McCoy in the backfield and be another player in the Eagles offense who can score whenever he touches the football.
The thing that impresses me the most about Murray is his talent as a receiver out of the backfield, something the Eagles emphasis heavily in their offense.
The Eagles clearly have more important needs than the running back position, but they have worked out a number of them this offseason, including Murray.
He’s a player I believe could have an immediate impact for the Eagles and contribute to an already highly explosive offense.
Pat Devlin, Quarterback, Delaware
The Eagles have held workouts for a number of different quarterbacks this season, indicating that they very well may intend on taking one in the 2011 NFL Draft. Devlin was one of the prospects the Eagles took a closer look at.
After attending high school in the area, Devlin began his college career at Penn State University. However, after being unhappy in his backup role, he transferred to Delaware.
Devlin’s first year at Delaware showed us that he could play, but he had some things he needed to work on. In 11 games, he completed 64% of his passes for 2,664 yards. However, his touchdown to interception ratio wasn’t superb, coming in at 16-9.
After working to improve his game, he came in much better as a senior. He led the Blue Hens to a 12-3 record, completing 68% of his passes for 3,032 yards, accumulating 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Devlin stands at 6’3” and 225 pounds, a prototypical size for a pocket quarterback. He’s shown that he possesses the arm to make all the throws at the NFL level, but will still need to hone his technique.
He’s not the quarterback teams will look to draft as an immediate starter. He’ll need the proper coaching for a few years before he’s ready to make an impact, but seems to have the skill set necessary to do so.
This is perfect for the Eagles as they’re looking for a guy to come in and compete with Mike Kafka as a potential starter down the road.