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Lawlor: Running Back Now In Spotlight

Posted Apr 9, 2017

The NFL Draft is still a few weeks away. Teams have a pretty good idea of which players they want. Let's talk about some prospects who make sense for the Eagles, outside of the first round.

Wide Receiver

Wide receiver was a critical need before the signings of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The Eagles now have a good group for 2016. As Howie Roseman pointed out at the Senior Bowl, receiver is a position where it can take a year or two for players to develop. With that in mind, the Eagles could draft a receiver now to help them in 2018 or even 2019. We have to see if there are any players they are really high on.

Penn State star Chris Godwin would be an excellent addition for the Eagles. Doug Pederson wants the offense to become more vertical and deliver big plays. Godwin put on a terrific showing at the Combine, clocking in at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. He jumped well and showed excellent agility. Put on the game tape and you can see how he would help the passing game. Godwin has outstanding hands. He can make some absolutely spectacular catches. Beyond that, he has great body control. He can adjust to balls that are off-target. Godwin can contort his body to fit tight spaces while trying to get his feet in-bounds. The Eagles could use someone with deep speed, sure hands, and great body control. I think Godwin will be a second-round pick.

If the Eagles want someone in the mid-to-late rounds, Ryan Switzer from North Carolina could be of interest. He is a slot receiver. The Eagles currently use Jordan Matthews in that role, but they also might like a smaller, quicker player with better run-after-catch skills. Switzer is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. He also would make sense because he is a dynamic punt returner. Darren Sproles can't play forever. The Eagles might like to have someone ready to take over for him in the future.

Running Back

The Eagles are almost certain to take a running back at some point in the draft. This is a really deep group. Teams are going to find good running backs early, middle, and even in late rounds. I think Dalvin Cook is the best overall back, but his issues both on the field (injury, fumbling) and off (multiple incidents) mean he could go as high as the top 10 or as low as the second round. My favorite back in the draft is Kareem Hunt from Toledo. I think he would make an excellent mid-round target for the Eagles. Hunt has a good combination of size and athleticism. I also love the fact he's tough and smart. He seems like the kind of player Joe Douglas is looking for.

Clemson star Wayne Gallman feels like a player who is getting overlooked. He ran for 30 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Gallman has solid size and is an effective receiver. He wasn't the star of the show at Clemson, but could be a good starter in the NFL. UTEP's Aaron Jones is a late-round player with potential. He ran for 17 touchdowns and averaged 8 yards a carry in 2016. That's one heck of a season. There will be good running backs who aren't even drafted. This really is a deep group.

Offensive Line

My favorite offensive lineman is Dan Feeney of Indiana. He played guard and right tackle for the Hoosiers, but projects as an interior player in the NFL. Most analysts think he will line up at guard. Some teams are looking at him as a potential center. Feeney had a strong career and stood out to me at the Senior Bowl. He is a smart, skilled blocker. He is also tough and physical. I think he could come in and challenge for a starting role right away. The Eagles are loaded with linemen right now, but Feeney is a player I would love to see them go after if they should trade away any veterans.

Dion Dawkins from Temple is an interesting player. He was a left tackle for the Owls, but most analysts think he will move inside to guard in the NFL. I think he could thrive there, but it wouldn't shock me if he got a shot at tackle first. This isn't a deep group of tackles so you either get someone early or you wait until next year.

Tight End

This is an outstanding tight end class. There are players of all kinds of sizes and skill sets. My favorite prospect is George Kittle from Iowa. Most tight ends stand out as receivers or athletes. Kittle is good in both areas, but he really catches your eye as a blocker. He is a tenacious. Kittle will engage a defender and stick on that block until after the whistle blows. He is only 247 pounds, but plays bigger than his size. With Brent Celek's career winding down, it would be good to have another blocker on the roster. Kittle didn't post gaudy reception totals, but he is a solid receiver.

Michael Roberts from Toledo is more of a late-round target. He is a better receiver than blocker, but has good size and could develop into an all-around tight end. He had 16 touchdown catches last season. The Eagles could use another red zone weapon.

Quarterback

I don't know if the Eagles will take a quarterback. This isn't a good class so it is a good thing the team made the bold play last year to go get Carson Wentz. He and Nick Foles give the Eagles an outstanding pair of quarterbacks, but the team might want a young guy to develop as a future backup. There isn't anyone I find really compelling. C.J. Beathard from Iowa would be an interesting late-round target. He has a solid arm and played in a pro-style offense in college.


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