The Eagles have the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft and most of the focus has been on what the team will do with that selection. Focusing on the early pick is understandable since the Eagles rarely have such a high pick. If you get the right player, it can significantly impact the organization for the next five years or more.
Still, the draft is seven rounds for a reason. You can find good players all over the place. Just think about running back
With that in mind, let's talk about some draft targets outside of the first two rounds.
Matt Scott is the obvious name to talk about. He could go in the third or fourth round. Scott only started for one season at Arizona, succeeding
Zac Dysert had a good career at Miami (Ohio). The team didn't win much, but Dysert did everything in his power to keep them in games. Watch him against Ohio State from the 2012 season and you'll see Dysert at his best and worst. He made some “wow” throws, but also took some questionable chances. Dysert has NFL talent. You just need to feel comfortable that you can coach the mistakes out of him. He has more mobility than he's given credit for. Dysert ran for 108 yards against Akron. He finished his career with 12 rushing touchdowns. Chip Kelly just might like him. Dysert could go as early as the second round, but I think he's more realistic in the third or fourth.
Tulane's Ryan Griffin had a rough time in college, much like Dysert. Griffin played great in the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game and was the MVP. He showed the ability to be a good passer. Griffin is a limited athlete so I don't know that he'll be a guy the Eagles love, but in the late rounds of the draft you can't expect to find a complete player.
Texas speedster Marquise Goodwin never posted great numbers for the Longhorns, but he sure opened some eyes at the Senior Bowl. You could see his speed at Texas. The problem is that the Longhorns didn't have an explosive passing attack and that limited Goodwin's effectiveness. In Mobile, Goodwin got to show off his skills. He was fast, but also quick. He showed the ability to get open short and deep. Goodwin looked terrific. Kelly has to be interested in a dynamic receiver who can line up outside or in the slot, and who also can run the ball on trick plays or be used as a returner. Goodwin could be a third-round target.
Ryan Swope was a rival of Goodwin's, playing at Texas A&M. Swope has better size, but isn't quite as explosive. Swope did run well at the Combine. His speed just didn't show up on gamedays as much. We are still trying to figure out what kind of players Kelly wants. If he would like a slot receiver with some size and speed, Swope could be the guy.
Kelly may prefer a big receiver. If so, Mark Harrison of Rutgers could be a mid-round target. Harrison is 6-3, 231 pounds. He had a great workout at the Combine. Put on the game tape and you see a big guy who plays up to his size. He has good hands. He fights through tacklers after the catch. He can make tough catches. Harrison would give the quarterbacks a big target to find. He's equally effective on short throws and downfield.
The Eagles have a good starter in Brent Celek, but there is a need for depth. The Eagles have looked at several guys who could go in the first couple of rounds, but if that doesn't work out, Dion Sims could be a player to watch. Sims is big at 6-5, 262 pounds. He had a good workout at the Combine and showed that he's got NFL athleticism. Sims didn't put up great numbers at Michigan State and that could make him a steal in the third or fourth round.
Nick Kasa of Colorado would be a good mid-round possibility. He is a converted defensive end who is still adjusting to playing on offense. Kasa shows excellent potential. He is huge at 6-6, 269 pounds. He runs well. He can block and catch. Kasa is comfortable in-line or out in the slot. He needs work, but is another guy who could be a steal.
Kelly will also look for smaller tight ends, or H-backs as some teams call them. These players are usually in the 6-3, 245-pound range. They are better at blocking on the move than taking on defensive ends. They can line up all over and have the athletic ability to be dangerous after the catch.
Florida's Jordan Reed is a name that not many casual fans know, but put on the tape and you'll see one heck of a player. He's only 6-2, 236 pounds. Reed is someone you move around to create matchup problems. He can play in the slot or the backfield. He's more quick than fast, but is dangerous after the catch. I think he'll be a third-round target for teams.
Mychal Rivera is another player who is smaller for a tight end, but he will block. He's not going to overpower many defenders. The effort won't be a concern, though. Rivera is also a gifted receiver. He's comfortable in the slot or downfield. He didn't run well at the Combine, but Rivera showed NFL ability during his career at Tennessee.
Arkansas's Chris Gragg did have a great workout at the Combine. That was important since he missed a lot of time in 2012 to injuries. Gragg weighed in at 244 pounds and ran 4.50 in the 40-yard dash. He posted excellent numbers in all the tests. Gragg looked like the kind of athlete an offensive coach like Chip Kelly would want so that he can create big-play opportunities. Gragg is a late-round prospect, but could develop into a good NFL role player.
The Eagles are loaded at running back, but Kelly is a coach that believes in running the ball so he just might want to add another runner to the mix if the right player is available. The most interesting name is Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina star who suffered the gruesome injury last season. When healthy, Lattimore looked like a special prospect. The problem is that he suffered a couple of major leg injuries in college. I won't be shocked if he goes in the third round ... or in the seventh. Injury concerns are a huge factor with running backs. If the Eagles give Lattimore a passing medical grade, they might have interest in him if he falls in the draft.
While Lattimore is a big back at 5-11, 221 pounds, Utah State's Kerwynn Williams is a smaller runner. He is only 5-9, 195 pounds. I think Kelly likes smaller backs, as they can hide in traffic and it is hard for defenders to locate them. Williams is an impressive player. He runs north-south and is deceptively strong. He has good burst and averaged almost 6.6 yards per carry for his career. He's likely a late-round target.
Another back with injury concerns is Christian Thompson from Florida State. I remember watching him against Clemson and there were some “wow” moments. He ran for 197 yards against Wake Forest, all in the first half. Thompson showed the kind of explosiveness that Kelly would love in a runner. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL at midseason. He missed time in 2011 with a broken back. Thompson overcame that, which shows you how tough and dedicated he is. Thompson might go undrafted. The doctors will dictate what his grade is. If they think Thompson can be OK, maybe he's a late-round target. If there are long-term concerns, his career could be over. I sure hope he's able to get a chance in the NFL.
There are quite a few good blockers to target in the first couple of rounds, but the Eagles could go another direction. If that happens, they'll still need to find line help. Dallas Thomas played left guard for Tennessee in 2012. He was the starting left tackle the previous two seasons. That versatility could make him a target, since the Eagles have some options with their line. I do think Thomas can play left tackle in the NFL.
David Bakhtiari is another former Colorado Buffalo the Eagles could have interest in. He started at left tackle the last two years, but played right tackle in 2010. He isn't massive at just 6-4, 299 pounds, but Bakhtiari is a good athlete. He could play either tackle spot and probably would be able to handle a move to guard if that was needed. I expect him to be a third- or fourth-round pick.
David Quessenberry is a tough player to figure. He started 37 consecutive games at left tackle for San Jose State. I studied his tape and didn't come away convinced he was good enough to pass block on the edge in the NFL. Others think he can. I do feel that he could slide inside to guard and play well. Quessenberry had a very good showing at the Senior Bowl. If the Eagles think he can play tackle, Quessenberry might be worth a third round pick. As a guard and emergency tackle, he's more of a fourth- or fifth-round prospect. I do think he can start in the NFL and have a good career.
Offensive tackle Brennan Williams started on the right side for North Carolina the past two seasons. The 6-6, 318-pound Williams got hurt late in the 2012 season and missed the final four games, but will be fine for the upcoming season. Williams is a very good run blocker and solid pass protector. He doesn't have the footwork to play on the left side, but has long arms, big hands and a nasty streak. That's every thing you want in a right tackle. Should go in the fourth or fifth round.
The Eagles won't look just for tackles. They might love a versatile player on the inside. Barrett Jones of Alabama started all over the place. He spent 2012 at center. Jones would probably love to be reunited with his offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland in Philly. The Eagles could make Jones the top backup at center and guard. I think he'll be a third-round pick.
USC's Khaled Holmes could be another player of interest. He played both center and guard for the Trojans. There isn't anything special about Holmes. He is just a good, solid interior offensive lineman. I think he could go as early as the third round, but will probably last a bit longer than that.