One of the first players who could hear his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 25 is Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. One of the top quarterback prospects in this year's draft class is Syracuse's Ryan Nassib.
These two draft hopefuls are two of the Philly-area prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine, including Florida State linebacker Nick Moody, Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh and James Madison guard Earl Watford. And the thought of coming back home to play for the Eagles certainly has crossed their minds.
"Going home to Philly would be awesome. I’ve been (an Eagles) season ticket holder for a long time," said Nassib. "It would be a dream come true. They were my team growing up. Being able to play for the team you saw all the time would be great."
Nassib hails from West Chester, Pa. which is the same hometown as Texans Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub. Nassib was a star at Malvern Prep, which was the rival school of Penn Charter where Falcons Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan was an all-star. Nassib noticed that the Philadelphia area was referred to on Twitter as QB country recently and looks forward to keeping the moniker alive at the next level.
Floyd, meanwhile, wasn't a big fan of the NFL growing up. The first game he ever watched was the Colts' Super Bowl win over the Bears in 2007. Instead, Floyd preferred to check out what was on the Disney Channel. The junior defensive tackle had 13 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks last season for the Gators. The Philadelphia native was recognized for his play at George Washington High School when the Maxwell Club named him the High School Player of the Year in 2009.
"Back to the City of Brotherly Love it is," said Floyd of the thought of being drafted by the Eagles. "It would be good to go back home and see a lot of familiar faces and do something good for the city."
The 6-3, 297-pound Floyd has been projected as a potential top-five selection and helped his draft stock with a 4.92 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Floyd is aware of the reports that he could be selected high and wants to keep himself relevant in the discussion.
"Honestly, (draft experts) feel I’m at the top and I’m trying not to lose that right now," Floyd said. "If they’re talking about me, let’s keep them talking about me."
Watford has to wait and see if he'll be drafted by the Eagles, but he's already worked with one of the best offensive tackles in franchise history. Watford was trained before the East-West Shrine Game in January by Tra Thomas.
"It was amazing. I learned so much from him. He learned from a great coach in Coach (Juan) Castillo," said Watford, a former star at Simon Gratz High School. "It was hard to describe what it was like to work with someone whom I watched growing up."
Watford explained that Thomas taught him not only about the X's and O's, but how to be a true professional on and off the field. Having lived all over the city from Cedar Street to Erie Avenue and Market Street, among other places, Watford understands what it would mean for someone from the inner city to make it to the NFL.
"One day, I hope I can get back there and help make a change, a difference in the community," said Watford, who called James Madison the SEC of the FCS. "Going back not a lot of people have done it. Among the players who did, it's wonderful. I worked hard. I worked as hard as I could to get to this point."
And these prospects hope the hard work pays off at the end of April.
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