Let’s take an updated look at the UDFAs. Some of these notes will be based on practice with the Eagles. For others, I watched some more college tape.
WR Russell Shepard – LSU – 6-1, 196
* OLD NOTES - Really interesting addition. Shepard went to LSU as a big time football star. He was going to be a 2-way QB for them and make the Tiger offense explosive. Didn’t exactly pan out as hoped. Shepard never came close to living up to the hype, but I was impressed by the fact he stuck it out there and carved out a role for himself as a WR/RB/STer. You see some star QBs get to a school and then leave to chase their dreams elsewhere, but most fail at the new school just like the old one. Shepard made something of himself. Finished his LSU career 104-716-5 as runner. 58-570-5 as receiver. He even helped on STs. Shepard covered KOs and punts.
Shepard is a good fit for the Chip Kelly offense. If he can develop his receiver skills, he could be a slot receiver and offensive weapon. Shepard is very good on end arounds and gadget running plays. Kelly loves to do that type of stuff with receivers. I assume Shepard will bust his butt on STs in the NFL since he did that in college. If he can become a backup RS as well, that could help. Shepard is ideal for the practice squad. I don’t think it is likely he makes a strong run at the roster this year, but never say never. The guy has NFL athleticism (4.46 in the 40 and a 38.5 inch VJ).
UPDATE – Shepard had an up and down spring. He struggled with catching the ball consistently. Shepard then started working with Jason Avant and caught extra passes every day after practice. PE.com videos showed him making impressive catches in the last few practices. Shepard is showing the right attitude. He has the raw talent to play in the NFL, but must work his butt off to develop the polished WR skills that it takes to make it in the league.
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P Brad Wing – LSU – 6-2, 205
* OLD NOTES -Let’s start with the punting first. Wing is a gifted Punter. He finished 11th in the nation with 44.8 yards per punt this year. LSU was 8th in net punting, and consider that Wing was 2nd in the nation with 11 touchbacks. Returners averaged just over 3 yards per return. Wing has a very strong leg. He can boom the ball. He has the 2 longest punts in the history of the SEC Championship Game. The longest was 67 yards and he had a total of 6 punts go more than 50 yards in that game. Wing easily could have been worth a mid-round pick based on his punting ability.
But Wing isn’t a typical Punter. Rather than tell you the story, go read this great piece from Bob McGinn and you’ll understand that Wing is a handful, on and off the field. If Wing can get his act together, he is talented enough to be the Eagles Punter for the next decade.
UPDATE – Wing had a good showing in the spring. He displayed a strong leg and impressed the coaches. The bad news for him is that Donnie Jones was even better. Wing will need to out-kick Jones this summer to steal the job away.
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ILB Jake Knott – Iowa State – 6-2, 243
* OLD NOTES – Knott is sorta like the Iowa State version of Dan Connor. He’s the guy who was a star LB in college and did all kinds of amazing things and then the NFL picked apart his game and said “you really weren’t that good”. I see Knott as the ultimate tweener LB. He isn’t physical enough to be the thumper inside. He’s not fast/athletic enough to be the playmaker. Make him just a tad faster and he’d have a chance. I think he could make it in the NFL, but only if he adjusts his game. In college Knott didn’t use good form in dealing with blockers. He would go around them. Or he’s use his shoulder to try and scrape off them. Some players can get away with that, but he lacks the athleticism to be that guy in the NFL. Knott must learn to use his hands. He must stay square and aggressively engage blockers. No more trying to get by. Take them on, defeat the block, and go get the ball.
Knott was a big time playmaker at ISU. He picked off 8 passes and had 10 career FFs. He broke up 15 passes. He had 224 solo tackles and 18 TFLs. Knott has good instincts. He is a wrap-up tackler. He has moments where he is a very impressive player. I just don’t know how he’ll adjust to the NFL game.
UPDATE – Knott is a player the Eagles have real interest in. The scouts love him. The coaches like what they’ve seen so far, but they need to see him in practices with live hitting. The big concern with Knott is his shoulder. He’s had multiple injuries and that is a tough spot for an ILB. He must use his arms to engage blockers and that puts a lot of stress on the shoulder. Knott developed some bad habits at ISU. He tried to slip blocks or use his body to hit OL. That won’t fly in the NFL. You must stay square to the LOS and use your hands/arms to engage and shed blockers.
Knott got some reps with the #2 defense in the spring. He’ll be given a serious chance to win a backup role this summer. Knott would be a good fit behind Mychal Kendricks. That ILB will be shielded by DL and will spend less time dealing with blockers.
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RB Matthew Tucker – TCU – 6-0, 221
* OLD NOTES - Tucker is bigger than Maysonet. He is faster, stronger, and more athletic. I don’t think Tucker has as good a feel for being a RB as Maysonet. I didn’t see anything special in terms of vision or instincts. Tucker is a N-S runner with good burst. Runs with good strength. He’s definitely not going down on first contact. TCU believes in using a group of RBs and that was true in Tucker’s time there. Only twice in his 4-year career did he have 20 or more carries in a game. Tucker finished with 2,602 yards and 33 TDs. He caught 29 passes. I’ve seen a couple of grabs from him and he looked okay.
Tucker could be a good #3 RB for an NFL team. He has NFL size and speed (4.50). He isn’t a guy that was used to tons of carries in college so being part of a group of RBs isn’t an adjustment for him. He will need to show that he can be good at covering kicks/punts. Tucker has the size and physicality to do that.
UPDATE – There was a buzz around Tucker. He certainly passed the eye test in minicamps. Tucker is big and runs well. His impressive play had to impact the unexpected release of fellow UDFA Miguel Maysonet. Tucker is going to push Chris Polk and Felix Jones for a spot with the RBs. Tucker could also prove to be good practice squad material.
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C Kyle Quinn – Arizona – 6-4, 297
* OLD NOTES - 2-year starter for the Wildcats. Not a flashy player in any way, but a good, solid C. Put on the Utah game and watch Quinn vs Star Lotulelei and you’ll be impressed. There were a few times when Star body-slammed Quinn to the ground, but Arizona ran for 320 yards that day, much of it up the middle. Quinn was a big part of that. He would handle a DT on his own at times. He double-teamed on others. Quinn was able to get to the second level and take on LBs. Good game. Quinn is quick off the ball. He uses his hands well and has pretty good agility. He isn’t going to overpower anyone. He shows good awareness and always seems to be in the right spot to block the right guy. Quinn is very good with shotgun snaps.
That last point helps his cause with trying to make the Eagles. Dallas Reynolds is the backup C for now, but he had some real troubles with shotgun snaps last year, especially down the stretch. I’m sure he’s worked on that religiously since, but he can’t afford to have any problems in practice. Quinn has a chance to challenge for the backup C spot. If not, he could be an excellent practice squad candidate. Quinn only started at C in college, but did play some G early on. Teams want backup OL to be versatile.
UPDATE – We have heard almost nothing about Quinn this spring. I don’t think that is a bad thing. He’s a UDFA on an OL where the focus is on a LT returning from injury, a C returning from injury, a RG trying to save his career and the #4 overall pick trying to win the RT job. Quinn is an afterthought to the media. I did go back and watch more college tape. I really like him and it surprises me that Quinn was undrafted.
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DL Isaac Remington – Oregon – 6-6, 298
* OLD NOTES - Classic camp body. Has good size and has played for Chip Kelly for 2 years. Racked up 25 solo tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 3 batted passes. Didn’t stand out when I watched tape on him. Think of him as the DL version of Evan Mathis. Remington is a DL with long hair and a good personality. If only he had the athleticism and talent that Mathis does. Longshot even for the practice squad.
UPDATE - Remington fails to shed blocks the way you need him to. He has a terrific frame, but needs to either be a good athlete or a brawler. Remington is a try-hard guy, but I don’t think that will be enough to keep him around. We’ll see what happens when the pads go on.
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OL Matt Tobin – Iowa – 6-6, 300
* OLD NOTES - Played LG in 2011. Started off at LG in 2012 and then shifted to LT. Didn’t particularly stand out at either spot. Has a good build, but isn’t all that athletic. Didn’t get much movement in the run game. Good interior pass blocker. Excellent effort. Lacks the footwork to handle edge rushers in the NFL. Must get stronger. Can get moved back in pass pro at times. Limited upside, but is an experienced blocker coming from an NFL system. Longshot.
UPDATE - Watched more of him at LG. I do not think he could play OT in the NFL. Excellent effort when blocking in space. Doesn’t have the agility to make difficult blocks on the move, but he will get upfield and bust his butt to go get a target. What you see is what you get with Tobin. Not worth developing a player who isn’t likely to get much better.
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DL Damion Square – Alabama – 6-2, 293
* OLD NOTES - Square is an interesting prospect. He started 31 games for Alabama. That tells you that Nick Saban thinks he can play and trusts him on the field. Square has average size and is maybe an average athlete. He has short arms for a DL. Those factors won’t help his transition to the NFL. If you watch his 2012 tape, Square isn’t all that impressive. I need to go back and study 2010 & 2011. Square racked up 7 TFLs in each of those years, showing him to be more of a playmaker. What changed (only 4 as a Senior)?
Square is more than a camp body, but he has an uphill battle. He uses his hands pretty well. He’s got some quickness off the ball, but nothing special. You just don’t see anything special from him on tape. Solid college player, but limited pro prospect. The Eagles want guys that are versatile and Square can play 5-tech, 1-tech, or 3-tech. He’s got experience in a hybrid defense from his time at Bama.
UPDATE - Really stands out when you see the Eagles DL on the field. Unfortunately, it is for a bad reason. Square is short and square. He doesn’t look like a Chip Kelly player because of that. The other DEs are taller, sleeker and/or more athletic. Square isn’t going to impress you at casual glance. He needs to stand out when the pads go on and the hitting is live. Could be practice squad material.
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OL Nic Purcell – Golden West Community College - 6-6, 305
Purcell is 26-years old and from New Zealand. He tried to go to Oregon after playing junior college football, but was denied by the NCAA for a highly questionable reason. Here is the full story on things.
Purcell lists at 6-6, 300 and is reportedly a good athlete. He played LT in JC. Purcell is a feisty run blocker who likes to put guys on the ground. It is impossible to get a good reading on his pass protection skills due to the level of competition. In the tape I watched (which was from 2011), Purcell had some strength issues. He has bulked up and gotten stronger since then.
We didn’t hear much about Purcell this spring. I am looking forward to seeing him in action to find out if he is a legit prospect or just a camp body with a great backstory.
DE Daryell Walker – Hampton – 6-6, 285
Walker got a tryout with the team during rookie camp and impressed enough to get a roster spot. I’m sure they love his frame. That’s ideal for Kelly. Long and sleek. Walker played the 3-tech DT in a 4-3 system in college. He had 6 TFLs as a Senior and just wasn’t much of a playmaker. He can push the pocket. You see flashes of good ability. He can play too high at times and also will get stuck on blocks.
Walker could be a good 3-4 DE. He has the size and just enough athleticism. I also think he’d be more comfortable playing in space. Developmental project, but does have some potential.
WR Will Murphy – Oregon – 6-2, 193
Role player at Oregon. Finished his career 24-240-1. Knows the Kelly system. Has some size. Longshot.
TE Will Shaw – Youngstown State – 6-2, 245
Like Walker, got a tryout at rookie camp. Like Walker, Shaw impressed and got a roster spot. I’ve seen some practice clips of his and I am very impressed. Shaw catches the ball naturally. He has good agility and makes fluid cuts.
Shaw played collegiately at Youngstown State. He began at a junior college and then played 3 years at YSU. He was a Safety in 2010 and then moved to TE in 2011. This season he led the team in receiving, going 35-429-5. Shaw has found a home at TE and his best football could be ahead of him. That is a very crowded position on the Eagles. If Shaw plays lights out, they’ll find a way to keep him. If he’s up and down, maybe he heads to the practice squad. Shaw has the right build to be the “F” TE or move guy (like James Casey).
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Back in early May I put the UDFAs in order of who I thought was most likely to make the roster.
1 – Brad Wing
2 – Kyle Quinn
3 – Matt Tucker
4 – Miguel Maysonet
5 – Russell Shepard
6 – Jake Knott
7 – Damion Square
8 – Matt Tobin
9 – Isaac Remington
Here are my updated thoughts.
1 – Jake Knott
2 – Kyle Quinn
3 – Will Shaw
4 – Russell Shepard
5 – Brad Wing
6 – Matt Tucker
7 – Damion Square
8 – Matt Tobin
9 - Daryell Walker
10 – Nic Purcell
11 - Isaac Remington
12 - Will Murphy
This isn’t just a list of how much I like the players. This list also takes into account how many spots they are fighting for and what the competition is.
Wing only has one guy to battle with, but he’s only got one spot to earn. Good and bad.
Shepard is really intriguing, but think of all the guys in front of him.
I’m rating Quinn high, but don’t know that for a fact. No news on him this spring. This is me using my gut to make a calculated guess.
Purcell is the real wild card to me. He could jump much higher, but I’ve only seen him in action against community college competition. I’m really looking forward to seeing how good/bad he is in camp. Interesting guy.