UDFAs

Posted: April 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 40 Comments »

I don’t like to get too much into the UDFAs early on because you have so much confusion.  Case in point, there was a ton of chatter today about whether Syracuse FS Phillip Thomas was an Eagle or Redskin.  Even after Howie Roseman assured reporters that Thomas had signed here, people on Twitter continued to press the notion he was headed to D.C.  One person pointed out that some confusion may have been caused by a Facebook page that contained faulty info or was outright fake.  There were reports about CB Cliff Harris signing with the Eagles and Titans on Sunday.  He is in fact an Eagle.

I like to wait for the dust to settle so that we don’t waste time talking about players who sign elsewhere.  What happens is that players and agents are talking to teams and looking for the best deal.  That causes guys to renege on commitments from time to time so that they can go elsewhere for a bigger signing bonus (still not much).  Very confusing system that needs to be fixed.

Anyway, we do now know the Eagles players.  Let’s talk about them.

RB Chris Polk
WR Damaris Johnson
FS Phillip Thomas
FB Emil Igwenagu
TE Chase Ford
CB Cliff Harris

LS Matt Camilli
WR Aaron Pflugrad
WR McKay Jacobson
P Ryan Tydlacka
WR Elvis Akpla
WR Darnell Williams
FB Jeremy Stewart

The first group has a legit chance to make the team based on what I’ve seen and how the roster shapes up. The next group is here for competition. Several are small school guys. You never know how they’ll handle the NFL. Some jump right in and play like they belong. Others are in over their head. Heck, it is somewhat like that with all rookies.

RB CHRIS POLK – WASHINGTON – 5-11, 215

Here is the SNB profile.

NCAA Stats page.

Reports say he dropped due to medical concerns (hip and/or shoulder).  Tony Pauline said on Eagles Live that there were also character concerns.  Per his reports, Polk did not interview well at the Combine.  He must have really turned off some teams.  Andy Reid said the Eagles had a 4th round grade on him.  For Polk to slide that far after having a terrific college career and good Pro Day…something was definitely up.

If he has his act together and comes in focused, Polk could be the backup RB.  If he’s all over the place, he’ll get cut.  The Eagles have no investment in him so Polk’s future is all up to him.  The one area where he must show serious improvement is pass protection.  He really struggled at this in Mobile.  As a runner, he’s the real deal.  He isn’t a great athlete, but has NFL running skills.  I’ve been a big fan of his since 2009.  Polk first got my attention vs Notre Dame that year.  He dragged tacklers all over the field.  He pushed the pile.  He had 22 carries for 136 yards as UW lost to ND 37-30 in a very entertaining game.

WR/RS DAMARIS JOHNSON – TULSA – 5-7, 171

NCAA Stats page.

I never got around to writing a profile for SNB on Johnson.  He got in legal trouble and basically missed the entire 2011 season.  Johnson was used as a runner, receiver, and returner at Tulsa.  He had almost 500 touches in 3 years.  Stephen Hill would need a decade to match that.

Let’s start with the obvious…Johnson is small.  He is a natural fit for the slot.  He can use his quickness and body control to run in traffic and get separation from the DB covering him.  He has okay speed, but only runs in the 4.5 range.  He is more quick than fast.  Johnson might not have the right size/speed combo to make it in the NFL.  He was very good as a RS, running back 2 punts and 2 KOs in college for TDs.

Johnson is not here to challenge Jason Avant.  He is here to challenge Chad Hall.  Johnson would be the guy to line up in the backfield and then go in motion.  He would play the slot.  He would get the ball on end arounds.  He averaged 8.7 ypc in his career (122 carries).  Johnson has excellent RAC ability.  He is very quick and elusive.

I think he’s got a legit shot to make the roster, but he must come up big in the return game and show that he can be functional in the offense. Johnson did come to the NovaCare for a pre-draft visit.

FS PHILLIP THOMAS – SYRACUSE – 5-11, 198

SNB Draft Profile.

NCAA Stats page.

One night my good buddy Fran Duffy was talking about draft prospects on Twitter.  He told me to go watch the Syracuse/USF game if I had it.  Of course I did.  Who doesn’t.  The first play of the game was a WR screen.  Thomas flew up and leveled the WR.  Very hard, but clean hit.  I was intrigued immediately.  I watched some Thomas tape and was mostly impressed.  Like many young players he has a bad habit of going for the hit instead of the tackle.  So dangerous.  If you miss, the guy is off to the races.  Wrap up.

Thomas ran much slower than I would have guessed.  The fastest handheld time at the Combine was 4.68.  Electronically he was 4.74.  Thomas does have good quickness.  Solid athlete overall, but not special.  He finished 3rd in the nation with 6 INTs in 2011.  He has good hands and can play the ball.

I think he comes to Philly to fight for the backup FS job.  This will let Kurt Coleman and Jaiquawn Jarrett battle for the SS job.  Thomas has a legit shot to make the team.  He does come to the NFL with character concerns.  Thomas headed to the NFL after Syracuse suspended him for the 2012 season.  I’ve heard that positive drug tests were the issue, but have not had that confirmed by a good source.

The Eagles did go work Thomas out so I’m sure they talked with him about the situation and know exactly what they’re getting into.

FB EMIL IGWENAGU – UMASS – 6-1, 249

Played mostly TE in college, but does have some FB experience.  Projects to FB in the NFL due to lack of height and top athletic ability.  Played in both the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl.  You could see that he’s a good football player, but also has his limitations.  Has a TE skill set, but FB body.  Struggled as a lead blocker in Mobile.  Needs a lot of work.  Is a good pass catcher.

Igwenagu is supposed to be here to push Stanley Havili for the FB job, but I think Igwenagu is a longshot.  He isn’t a polished lead blocker.  He isn’t as athletic as Fletcher Cox, despite being 50 pounds lighter.  Iggie is a nice receiver, but that’s not enough to make it in the NFL.  He will need to show serious improvement.  That said, he’s a hard working player that could get much better with pro coaching and a focus on football.  Will need to stand out on STs.

TE CHASE FORD – MIAMI – 6-7, 255

Limited SNB profile.

He’s only got 16 career catches so there is no reason to link to his stats page.  Has the size you want in a TE.  Okay athlete.  I need to go back and really study more tape to find out if he can really push for an NFL roster.  Miami has been a TE factory over the years so that bodes well for him.

Ford is the biggest Eagles TE, but least athletic.  I need to really study his blocking to see just how good he is in that area.  He has some potential as a receiver.  Could turn out to be a really good signing.  I expected him to be drafted.

CB CLIFF HARRIS – OREGON – 5-11, 175

Odd player.  Got in trouble for speeding prior to the 2011 season.  That cost him time.  Then got in trouble again and that ended his season.  Dumb.  Only played in 6 games.  Go back to 2010 and he had an amazing year.  Harris had 6 INTs, 17 pass breakups, and averaged 19 yards per PR (4 TDs).  Those are insane numbers.  That is what makes it such a shame that Harris played so little in 2011.  What a waste.

Watch him and you can’t help but think a bit of Asante Samuel.  Both guys play the ball exceptionally well and are playmakers.  There are some key differences.  Asante has much better instincts.  Harris is more physical and also will play press coverage.  Harris isn’t a good tackler, but shows okay effort.  Harris only runs in the 4.6 range so he’s not an ideal outside CB.  I hope the Eagles want to mix him in the slot at times.  Harris is quick.  He is a smart player so it is possible that he could get by outside without top speed, but I think it is unlikely.

Harris is at his best with the ball in his hands.  He is a very instinctive runner.  He is elusive and has good vision.  He was very dangerous on punts and after INTs.  He can deliver a big play any time he gets the ball in space.  I’m sure the Eagles love that part of his game.

* * * * *

I will watch tape of the other UDFAs before writing about them.  I did watch WR Aaron Pflugrad some back in October and he was impressive, but I didn’t take serious notes.  He was a good college player, but didn’t shot top athleticism (speed or quickness).

PE.com has some stats up for the UDFAs.

For those who haven’t seen it, WR Elvis Akpla may have made the catch of the 2011 season.  This is must see TV.

* * * * *

This post is plenty long already so I’ll cover previous questions on Tuesday.


  • CTIggle

    Tommy- you alluded during Rd2 that the Eagles would be taking another DT. You may have mentioned this in a comment already and I missed it, but what was going on there? Howie made it seem like Curry was the target all along, but were we going to go Worthy or Still?

    • TommyLawlor

      I’m still doing some checking on the situation. Might have been a genius smokescreen by Roseman.

      • iskar36

        I’m not asking you to reveal sources by any means and maybe this may not be a question you can answer, but logistically, how do rumors come out during the draft. I understand things get leaked prior to the draft, but during the draft, I got the sense the people who know what’s going on are behind closed doors and reporters wouldn’t have access to them. I just don’t see how a rumor would start once the draft is underway.

        • TommyLawlor

          Can’t address this at all. Sorry about that.

          • iskar36

            That’s fair. I wasn’t sure if you would have been able to anyway.

          • Davesbeard

            It would involve revealing Tommy’s network of Eagles bobblehead spy cameras, there are quite a few in spuds’ office!

          • D3Keith

            Way to go. Now Spuds knows about them.

  • JuniorT

    With the new CBs on board (Boykin, Harris), any chance Lindley gets tried at safety? How does he profile there?

    • TommyLawlor

      Nah. I think he’s a CB.

      Harris would be interesting FS if he was bigger. Great ball skills.

      • deg0ey

        Does he not have the frame to bulk up? At 5-11, he seems tall enough to play safety (taller than Polamalu and Q, for example) but I guess bulking up 30lbs is not a trivial matter.

        • TommyLawlor

          Wouldn’t need that much weight. Would need to get up to 190 or so. Problem is, Cliff runs 4.6 at 175. What does he run at 190? Is he still fast enough for S? He’s not a big guy so he would need speed to be an asset.

          • JRO91

            Tommy – Do you think Harris/Boykin have a legit shot to push Hanson off the roster? I think they picture Harris as a backup to boykin at 1/10 the price of hanson….do you forsee another 30y/o being pushed off the roster? I do like the idea or Harris/Boykin/Johnson all working on KR….MUCH better than lasts years tamdem.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AHVR5EZERRCZSD77DMKWAEEPLA Steve H

    Off topic, but this was one of the sidebar links at deadspin when I was watching the Elvis Akpla catch:

    http://deadspin.com/5906462/brett-favre-will-have-to-answer-questions-under-oath-about-those-other-ladies-he-allegedly-sexted?popular=true

    Posted mostly because I can’t stand the deification of Brett Favre. Madden will be heartbroken.

    • TommyLawlor

      Not good.

    • D3Keith

      That catch was so great it was dumb. At first I was like, ho-hum, another over-the-DB catch … but the end when he one-hands it behind his back to keep it off the turf. Aw hell yes.

      He looks like he’s trying really hard when he runs.

  • PK_NZ

    I do like the chances of either Boykin or Harris panning out as a slot CB and possibly long term CB as well… As for Polk, we really don’t have a good track record with ‘talented but injured’ players, maybe he’s a trend breaker…

  • Ben Hessel

    Pflugrad is a small guy. He’s quicker than fast IMO, supposedly has great hands but I’ve seen him drop a few. Maybe I’m just being picky. Not elite in speed or quickness, but good route runner and real hard worker. He was Brock’s favorite target at the beginning of the year. Towards the end, Gerrell Robinson took that over. I believe his dad coaches at Montana, or some other small school.

    I’ll be interested to hear your take on him Tommy – not all of that review was witnessed without Beer Goggles on.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/UEB7SLJZ3V5QNWPYVP6WGQYSTM David H

      he’s definitely an inside receiver. Moved the chains on third downs a lot (think Avant), and sometimes came up with big plays, but all were middle of the field seam type of plays. This is my analysis from the live games on TV, and from the stands (ASU fan here). He was a very good college possession WR, but I never saw him as an NFL talent type of guy. Hands and route running are his game, but he doesn’t have the strength of Avant. I wonder how he’d do against an NFL press slot corner? I’m not optimistic.

  • Kammich

    Good friend of mine is a die hard Illini fan and he had me watching some Thomas tape shortly after his dismissal. Hard not to get excited watching him play. I had him ranked fairly high in this weak group of safeties. He’s my second-favorite UDFA signing behind Polk. I think both of those guys can–and perhaps WILL–make the team.

  • Cliff

    If there’s anything this team needs more of, it’s guys named Cliff.

    Is Harris a Cliffton or Clifford? That’ll tell us all we need to know.

    • Baloophi

      How about Heathcliff?

      • Cliff

        This is worse than I thought… he was born “Cliff Jamaal Harris.”

        He’s just “Cliff.” He gets none of the special powers that go along with Heath, or ord, or ton. He’s just Cliff!!!

        • deg0ey

          Which are you? And what powers did it grant you?

          • TommyLawlor

            Yes, inquiring minds want to know.

  • Kmac318

    Wow, lots of high potential undrafted guys for us this year. You gotta think at least 1 or 2 of them work out, right?

    • TommyLawlor

      This is our best UDFA class in a while. Should find at lest one player, if not 2.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HYBAPYINPVP6FEYUW4VUVMCC3Q K.Y.

    Good read on the UDFAs. Noticed that not a single LB among them. We added Kendrick in the draft and signed Ryans as FA. These are great additions. Does it mean that the coaches are content with what we have now in LB?

    • mheil

      no OL or DL either; it seems every yr in training camp the DL gets dinged and runs out of bodies; I would have thought OL would be anxious to come here and work with Mudd

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/HYBAPYINPVP6FEYUW4VUVMCC3Q K.Y.

        True about DL and OL. We do have a good stable of players in those areas, with new additions in the draft. LB is a relative weak group in our roster. Guess they are content with the new additions and see no need to bring in more competitions to challenge the LBs already with the team.

    • TommyLawlor

      Might add a DL right before Lehigh to eat up reps. For now, we’re going to have lots of passing camps. That means CBs and WRs.

      I think we’re good at LB. Eagles might have tried for one, but with all the young guys in place, I don’t know that a UDFA LB would want to come here.

      • D3Keith

        There are nine LBs in the fold already.

        Ryans, Kendricks, Rolle, Chaney, Matthews, Clayton, Fokou, Jordan and Simmons.

    • LiamGarrett

      As far as linebacker goes, this might seem like wishful thinking, but by playing such a terrible group last year, a lot of sub-par players, who would have been on the bench on other teams, got a lot of reps. They even played pretty well as a unit towards the end of the season. We may not love the idea of Chaney, Matthews, or Clayton being our starters, but all the experience they got last year improved them and made them serviceable backups. (And that may be about the only possible silver living from last year’s linebacking corps.)

  • Eric Weaver

    I’m actually shocked the Eagles stayed pat and ended up drafting as many guys as they did. It seemed less likely when they drafted 20+ guys the last two years and cut a lot of potential role players earlier than normal; plus, UDFAs may have been less inclined to sign here the past few seasons.

  • Razz_A_Matazz

    Yeah, this offseason just keeps getting better. Potentially, a few diamonds in the rough in this group of UDFAs. For so many reasons, I’ve been anxiously awaiting this season, more than any I can remember since 2004, or maybe even the “Let Me Be Me” season of 91. (Thanks an F’n lot, Bryce Paup…) This is just the icing on the cake. Now we can all look forward to some knock down, drag out battles in camp, too. I feel like there is actually a little intrigue, this year. It’s rare, when the chance for a couple of UDFA’s to make significant contributions, has more to do w/ their talent, than a weak overall roster. Was surprised the Birds didn’t add a late DB in the draft, but I guess they knew all along, they’d be landing Harris and Thomas. Both a couple of ball hawks! Thomas=the antithesis of Harris, once he gets his hands on the ball, though. Harris immediately goes on the offensive and shows uncommonly good field vision. Thomas runs like a moth in a lampshade. It’s as if he’s navigating by sonar.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5gHqy_K4as

    At the 2:53 mark, he does demonstrate a pretty impressive spin move. Unfortunately, it goes unnoticed, as their are no defenders within 6 yards of him. Classic. It looks like that time I let my Dad, play me in Madden 03. Totally enamored w/ the O button.

    • TommyLawlor

      “Thomas runs like a moth in a lampshade. It’s as if he’s navigating by sonar.”

      That’s a mixture of brilliance and insanity. Kudos to you, sir.

      • D3Keith

        That was great.

        Also if I ever see Bryce Paup in the streets … Oh I guess by now he’s forgiven. But if I ever see that Chicago fog in the streets, it’s over!

    • LiamGarrett

      Also love the Madden reference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.leighty.9 Matthew Leighty

    Tommy,
    I asked this during draft but I sure you were busy and sorry if you already saw it but what is the differece between the WLB in this scheme and when we had JJ? Seems like Kendricks would have been a perfect WLB in old system, fast playmaker, what is different about this scheme where he would make a better SLB than WLB. thanks

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ll get into this when I do a full write-up on Kendricks.

  • poetx99

    1st comment, but i’ve been reading for a while. you do a FANTASTIC job. much respect for all the time you put in and props for the invaluable insights (had to differentiate the two, as it’s perfectly possible to spend a lot of time on it and still suck).

    regarding the UDFAs, aside from the fact that it would be cool to have a WR named Elvis, dude’s highlight clip on youtube was pretty impressive.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJNEPtncr4Y

    now, at 12 minutes long, maybe that’s the ALLlights. first 3 to 4 min or so are him just zooming past defenders. any idea what his speed is? either dude has wheels or every defender in the Big Sky is just mad slow.

    that catch that they posted on BGN was not an outlier. he has an abundance of sick catches on here, and my favorite is at 6:21 or so. the qb (maybe it was a backup) looked like he shot putted the ball on a drag/shallow cross and he had to get up AND reach all the way behind himself while running full speed to snag the ball with one hand.

    on a number of his deep catches he easily gets behind the secondary and then has to wait for the ball.

    can’t tell how much of the route tree he has from these clips. i haven’t seen any Digs or outs, just posts, fades and an occasional 7. but for the comp he’s playing he eats up the cushion and makes some nice subtle moves to get guys’ hips turned.

    at 6’1″ 190 with (apparent) speed, great hands, etc., i’m hoping he can at least make the PS.