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.
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
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
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
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.
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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).
For those who haven’t seen it, WR Elvis Akpla may have made the catch of the 2011 season. This is must see TV.
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This post is plenty long already so I’ll cover previous questions on Tuesday.