Inked

Posted: May 9th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Man, the days of rookie holdouts are lone gone.

All of the rookies signed deals on Thursday. No drama, just business. These guys can now concentrate on football. That’s enough of a challenge for young players trying to adjust to pro football.

We also got the official list of UDFAs.

We had talked about 14 signees earlier, but we don’t know if some of those guys are tryouts or if they just went elsewhere. And RB Nico Evans is new to me. I somehow missed him from the earlier reports.

This is a good class. All of these players have a legit shot to push for a roster or practice squad spot. Only a couple will pan out, but there aren’t any pure camp bodies in this group.

I’ll re-post my UDFA notes at the bottom for anyone who missed them earlier.

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Let’s talk about Nico Evans. He was a 5-9, 211 standout RB for Wyoming this season. He ran for 1,325 yards and 8 TDs. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry.

From his Pro Day:

Evans kept pace with Epps’ numbers, clocking in the mid-to-low 4.5s in the 40 while turning in a 37.5-inch vertical. He also had a 10-1 broad jump and recorded 22 reps on the bench press.

“I thought I did a really good job today,” Evans said. “I hit my expectations, which is really hard to do because I usually have high expectations for myself.”

Evans led the Mountain West in rushing last season despite missing nearly three full games because of injury and ranked fourth nationally in yards per game (132.5), but he wasn’t invited to the NFL scouting combine. Neither was Epps, though both of them put up numbers that compared favorably to players at their respective positions who did work out in Indianapolis.

Evans’ bench and broad jump would’ve ranked in the top 10 among running backs who participated in the combine while his vertical would’ve been the fourth-highest.

I think Evans is the kind of guy the Eagles are looking for. He was highly productive in 2018 and showed he can be a workhorse RB. Put on the tape and you also see someone with big play ability.

The Eagles have a terrific 1-2 punch in Jordan Howard and Myles Sanders. Corey Clement is an outstanding role player. Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams have both had some really good moments. Boston Scott is a small, but explosive athlete who we’re all somewhat curious about since this is his first offseason in Philly.

Evans has a major uphill battle.

But…he’s a good scheme fit and RB is one of those positions where anyone can win a job.

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My apologies to Donnel Pumphrey for omitting him.

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LB T.J. Edwards – Wisconsin – 6-0, 230 – Redshirted in 2014 and then started 52 games over the next four years. Played ILB in Wisconsin’s 3-4. Freshman All-American in 2015. All-American in 2017 and 2nd team All-American in 2018. Highly productive.  Finished his career with 366 tackles, 37.5 TFLs and 10 INTs. So how does this guy go undrafted? Lacks ideal size and he’s a limited athlete. Pro Day numbers weren’t bad (4.77 in the 40 and 3-cone time of 6.99), but you don’t see that on tape. Shows poor change-of-direction ability. Edwards is instinctive and tough. Fights through blocks to get to the ball. Physical player. Maximum effort guy. Will do everything he can to make a play. At his best when things are in front of him and he can attack. Not a sideline-to-sideline guy. Wrap-up tackler. Takes good angles to the ball. Works hard to get off blocks. Active player who wants to get in on every tackle. Not explosive, but has some pop when he hits. Aggressively takes on blockers. Does a good job of using his hands to keep blockers from getting to his body. Good eyes. Does a great job of playing the passing lanes. Might remind you of Jordan Hicks in that regard. Doesn’t have Hicks ability in man coverage, but that’s not critical for a MLB. Does have good hands and catches the ball when it comes his way.

There is a reason Edwards went undrafted, but he can succeed in the NFL. Has a good chance to be role player and STer. Could develop into a starting LB. Will his knack of finding the ball follow him to the NFL? If so, you want him on the field. The Eagles are a good fit. The Wide-9 front tries to funnel runners to the middle. Edwards is good when playing in traffic and working to the ball. If Edwards doesn’t pan out, it won’t be due to lack of effort or passion.

I had a fifth round grade on Edwards so getting him as a UDFA is a steal for the Eagles.

OL Ryan Bates – Penn State – 6-4, 306 – Redshirted in 2015 and then started the next three years. Played RT, LT and LG. Graduated in December of 2018. Freshman All-American in 2016. Made some All-Big Ten teams the next two years. Athletic O-lineman. Has good feet. Plays with a wide base. Quick off the ball. Moves well laterally. Looked most comfortable playing LT. Versatility is a good selling point for NFL teams, but hurt his development. Never settled in at one spot. There are times when you think he could play LT in the NFL because of his athleticism and footwork. Doesn’t have ideal length at 6-4 and with 32.5 inch arms. I think OG is his best spot, but he will need some time to develop. Did 28 reps at the Combine, but you don’t always see that strength on the tape.

I think Bates can push for a roster spot this year. The Eagles love versatile OL. Bates has OG/OT experience. He might even get some snaps at C.

OG Nate Herbig – Stanford – 6-3, 335 – Started for two and a half years. Played LG, RG and even some RT. Pure OG prospect. Doesn’t have the frame or athleticism for OT. While not athletic, he can pull and block in space. Has a nasty streak and will destroy DBs if he gets the chance. Powerful player. Did 29 reps on the bench at the Combine. Put on the Notre Dame game and you’ll see a mixed bag. Really struggled with an athletic DT like Jerry Tillery. Still had some good moments in the game. Watch Herbig against USC and he plays much better. Smart OL. Tough to handle when he gets his hands cleanly on defender. Problem is that Herbig is sloppy with his hands.

Ideal candidate for the practice squad. Has NFL size and strength, but he must work on technique.

OC Keegan Render – 6-3, 305 – Iowa – 3-year starter who played both G and C for the Hawkeyes. Quick off the ball. Excellent lateral agility. Uses his hands well and does a good job of sustaining blocks on the LOS. Able to move his feet and stay engaged. Ideal for zone scheme. Needs to play with more power. Doesn’t always anchor well in pass pro. Agile blocker who can get to the second level, but needs to improve his blocking in space. Has some really good moments on tape.

The Eagles need someone who can play G and C. Render has experience at both and is a good scheme fit. I don’t think he’s ready for the NFL just yet, but it wouldn’t shock me. He played at Iowa, where OL get good coaching. He understands the nuances of the game better than some of his peers. I do think Render is an excellent candidate for the practice squad. He needs to get in the weight room so he can handle powerful DTs better. His movements skills give him a shot to impress the coaches.

Iosua Opeta – 6-4, 301 – Weber State – 3-year starter. Played LT and made various I-AA All-American teams. Went to the Combine. Ran well (5.02) and lifted great (39 reps), but fared poorly in the agility drills. That shows up on his game tape. Doesn’t have the footwork or agility to play OT. Has to move to OG in the NFL. Got to play LG in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and was impressive. Anchored well in pass pro. Those 39 reps showed as he got some movement in the run game. Looked good on short pulls.

Because he is changing positions and taking a big step up in level of competition, feels like the practice squad is his best bet.

DT Anthony Rush – 6-4, 352 – UAB – Played two years at a JUCO and then went to UAB. Helped them to have the #9 defense in the country in 2018. You might think Rush is just the human version of Hadrian’s Wall with his size, but he moves pretty well. Totaled 20 TFLs over the past two years. Watch the Texas A&M game and you’ll see him dominate C Erik McCoy at times. The Saints traded up in the second round to take McCoy. Rush has a great frame, but must lose 20 to 30 pounds to make it in the NFL. He’s powerful and more agile than you expect, but he’s too heavy right now.

You might wonder why the Eagles signed such a big DT, but Rush is more than just a 2-gapping NT. He could be a really interesting 4-3 DT. No cheesesteaks for him. Or Funyons. Or Pudding.

WR Deandre Thompkins – 5-11, 192 – Penn State – WR and RS for the Nittany Lions. 83-1245-6 as a receiver. Has inconsistent hands. Will make some tough catches, but then drop catchable passes. Has potential as a route runner, but needs work. Reportedly ran 4.33 at his Pro Day. That speed does show up on tape. Not a refined receiver. Does have good RAC ability. Could carve out a role as a backup WR. Real value is as a RS. Thompkins averaged 10.2 yards per punt return in his career and had 2 TDs. Catches punts really smoothly. Elusive. Speed shows up when he has the ball in his hands.

Thompkins has a legit shot to make the Eagles roster as a RS. This area is wide open. He will need to show he can contribute as a WR, gunner on the cover teams and as a RS.

DT Kevin Wilkins – 6-2, 301 – Rutgers – 2-year starter who played both NT and DE in a 3-4 scheme. Has athletic ability and totaled 20 TFLs in his career. Good fit for a 1-gap scheme so he makes sense for the Eagles. Camp body who could push for a practice squad spot.

LB Joey Alfieri – 6-2, 235 – Stanford – 3.5-year starter, playing both OLB and DE. Likely to play SAM in the NFL due to his size. Solid athlete who ran 4.53 at his Pro Day. Racked up 25.5 TFLs in his career. Can set the edge. Can rush the passer. Big question is whether he can cover. Has the potential, but must show he can do it. In recent years, the Eagles have converted safeties to LBs. Interesting to see them going for a DE/OLB to SAM with this signing.

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