Rookie Comparisons With a Twist

Posted: May 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

We love to compare rookies to NFL players. It is useful for imagining what the rookie can become. It is also fun to try and figure out who a young player reminds you of. Rather than use the whole NFL, I’m going to compare current rookies to former Eagles.

1 – WR Jalen Reagor – Fred Barnett

Arkansas Fred, as Buddy Ryan liked to call him, was an outstanding deep threat. He averaged 15 yards per catch in his time with the Eagles. Fred didn’t just go deep. He had the ability to go up and get the ball.

When I first watched Reagor, the guy he reminded me of was Steve Smith. Both lacked ideal size, but played big because of athleticism and willingness to attack the ball in the air. Barnett is the Eagle who best fits that description (not being undersized, but going up for the ball).

The Eagles talked at length about valuing Reagor’s speed and ball skills. Hopefully he’ll deliver some of the highlight plays that Barnett did.

2 – QB Jalen Hurts – Donovan McNabb

Both players were outstanding dual threat QBs in college. They posted big numbers and led their teams to a lot of success. They have similar builds (Hurts is 6-1, 222 and McNabb was 6-2, 225). McNabb was the more polished passer, while Hurts played in a more explosive offense.

Each player came to the Eagles with some controversy. McNabb was a player that most people wanted, but there was a vocal minority that wanted the team to take RB Ricky Williams (how insane does that seem now?). McNabb was booed by the fans who came to the draft and he never let go of that fact. Hurts didn’t have to deal with in-person booing, but he did have social media, which might be worse.

Hurts was tested by his benching in college and that should give him the mental and emotional toughness to handle any negative stuff that fans may throw his way.

McNabb was an elite prospect and franchise QB. Hurts is more of a project so please don’t see this as me saying he’ll turn into a borderline HOF player like McNabb was. They do have similar builds, skill sets and backgrounds.

3 – LB Davion Taylor – Keenan Clayton

Younger fans will say…who? Clayton was a mid-round pick back in 2010. He was S/LB tweener with outstandng athleticism. He flashed big ability at times, but never could develop into a consistent player. Taylor played a hybrid role in college, but the Eagles think he can be a starting LB in the NFL. They love his speed and explosive ability.

Taylor will have an advantage in that the game seems to be played more in space now than ever. That gives athletes a leg up.

4 – S K’Von Wallace – Quintin Mikell

Mikell was a UDFA who played his way onto the team back in 2003. He focused on special teams at first and became a core STer. Mikell then developed into a role player on defense. He eventually became the starting SS and was a good starter for several years. Mikell wasn’t great at anything, but was pretty good at everything.

Wallace comes in as a mid-round pick, but is similar. Mikell was 5-10, 204, Wallace is 5-11, 206. Both have good man cover skills. Both are good in the box. Both are physical tacklers.

Mikell took several years to develop. Wallace will have a chance to earn playing time right away.

Please don’t compare Wallace to Brian Dawkins. That’s not fair to either of them.

4 – OL Jack Driscoll – John Welbourn

The Eagles spent a fourth round pick on Welbourn in 1999 and plugged him in at RT. He tore his ACL in the season opener. Welbourn moved to LG in 2000 and became a Pro Bowl type of player. A contract dispute sent him to KC in the spring of 2004.

Driscoll played RT at Auburn, but we don’t know the Eagles plan for him. It was mentioned that he could be the team’s swing tackle, replacing Big V. He could end up at OG or even C depending on how things go. Driscoll has a good combination of size, athleticism and experience.

5 – WR John Hightower – Todd Pinkston

Some will cringe at the mention of Pinkston. I get that, but all joking aside, he was a productive receiver in the NFL for several years (184 career catches). Pinkston averaged 18 yards per reception and had 18 TD catches over his final two years in college. Hightower averaged 18 yards per catch and had 14 TD catches in his two years at Boise State.

They are similar in the fact that they are lean receivers who win with speed. There are some key differences. Hightower is 15 pounds heavier and more of a versatile player. He was a KOR and also was 24-317-2 as a runner. Pinkston was a pure WR. One other difference…I was furious when the Eagles drafted Pinkston. He was not my cup of tea. I was quite happy with the Hightower pick. Good fit and good value at that point.

6 – LB Shaun Bradley – Jamar Chaney

Chaney was a sixth round pick out of Mississippi State. He was productive and highly athletic. He fell in the draft due to injury concerns and also not being the most physical player.

Bradley is a productive and highly athletic LB. He lasted until the sixth round for different reasons. I didn’t think he was very instinctive. He also struggles at shedding blocks, like Chaney.

Chaney played in the league for five years, starting 23 games. It will be interesting to see if Bradley can ever develop into a starter.

6 – WR Quez Watkins – DeSean Jackson

Jackson used explosive speed to make a name for himself in college. Watkins did the same thing at Southern Miss. Both guys were productive and averaged 15 yards per catch for their careers. Both were good returners as well. The difference is that Jackson was a eliter returner (6 punt return TDs at Cal), while Watkins was a level (or two) below that.

Both guys ran 4.35 at the NFL Combine. Jackson was 169 pounds at the time. Watkins ran his at 185. Neither player is big by any stretch of the imagination.

Jackson won a starting role very quickly in the NFL. Watkins has to make the team first and then carve out a role for himself. They are similar in build and athleticism, but Jackson was a special talent. Watkins is nowhere close in that regard.

6 – OT Prince Tea Wanogho – King Dunlap 

Both guys were starting LTs at Auburn. Each came to the NFL with issues. Dunlap was benched as a senior and that raised red flags. What did he do to make the coaches pull a move like that? That led to some character questions.

Wanogho is considered a high-character guy. His issue is injuries. Wanogho started 32 games at OT for the Tigers and played at a high level, but there are injury conerns with him. He played through a knee injury during the season, but a medical check at the Senior Bowl knocked him out of the game and got the NFL’s attention.

Dunlap slid all the way to the seventh round, but ended up starting 65 games in the NFL and proved to be an effective OT. Wanogho could play LT, RT or even OG. Without the injury, he had a serious chance to be a Top 100 pick.

7 – DE Casey Toohill – Steve White

Way back in 1996, White was a sixth round pick by the Eagles. He was 6-2, 260 and a LB/DE tweener. The Eagles drafted him to be a backup to DE Mike Mamula. White had been a productive player at Tennessee. He had a terrific showing at his Pro Day. He was the kind of small, athletic player you wanted at RDE.

Toohill is 6-4, 247. He was productive at Stanford, but caught people off-guard with a strong showing at the NFL Combine. I liked him as a LB, but the Eagles want to try him at DE first.

Ray Rhodes wasn’t a huge fan of rookies and White never played for the Eagles. He went to Tampa and played their for six years, as a role player on some great defenses. Toohill joins a crowded group of DEs, but he has the kind of athleticism the Eagles like in their pass rushers.


2 Comments on “Rookie Comparisons With a Twist”

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