Senior Bowl week is upon us. This year, this event may be the most important of the pre-Draft process. With no scouting combine, private workouts, or facility visits, this event is the only opportunity for draft prospects to get up close and personal with the brass of NFL teams.
For the Philadelphia Eagles this draft process will be a bit of an uphill battle considering they will have a new Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator. Given what we currently know about both the offensive and defensive systems that will be installed, here are 9 players the Eagles brass should be watching this week:
Honorable Mentions: WR DeVonta Smith (not practicing this week), WR Trevon Grimes, S Divine Deablo, G Deonte Brown, CB Thomas Graham, and CB DJ Daniel
1) WR Kadarius Toney, Florida
One word comes to mind when watching Toney: Explosiveness.
The 5’11 193 pound wide receiver is a refined route runner, who is absolutely electric with the ball in his hands in space. He matches the mold for what Nick Sirianni likes in his offensive skill position players: quick twitch athletes who can excel after the catch. Toney is a player that can move all over the field, in the slot, in the backfield, and outside at the Z wide receiver position. Toney caught 70 balls for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior year at Florida. If the Eagles can somehow trade back into the 1st round or Toney slides to them in the 2nd, he’s a no brainer.
2) EDGE Carlos Basham Jr, Wake Forest
Racking up 20.5 sacks in 3 seasons, Carlos Basham Jr is a very powerful pass rusher that could excel in the Philadelphia Eagles 4-3 base system. With Brandon Graham not getting any younger and Derek Barnett with just one-year remaining on his rookie contract, Basham Jr could step into a rotational role in his first season, produce early, and ease into a starting role in his 2nd year.
3) CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse
The Size-Length-Physicality combination with Melifonwu is what sticks out about him. The 6’2 212 pound corner is disruptive in coverage, extremely physical as a tackler, and he possesses a sneaky quickness about him. As the Eagles move into a Cover 2 based system under Jonathan Gannon, long and physical corners will become the norm for the secondary group. Melifonwu also has the versatility and size to play both corner and safety. Melifonwu in 19 career starts at Syracuse racked up 88 tackles along with 26 passes defended (3 INT, 23 breakups).
4) LB Jabril Cox, LSU
Jabril Cox may be a perfect fit for the Eagles new defensive system, which requires a linebacker who can drop into deep zones. Cox has been outstanding in coverage in his four seasons at the collegiate level racking up 9 interceptions (3 of which were returned for touchdowns). Cox has excelled in coverage, flashing his athletic ability in man or zone coverage in multiple occasions at LSU this past season.
Cox’s ability to transfer to a new school with new coaches and new defensive terminology and still remain productive after playing 3 seasons at North Dakota State is very promising. Cox has the skillset to excel in a 4-3 (scheme he played in at LSU in 2020).
5) WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
D’Wayne Eskridge is a flat out separation creator. With blazing speed and special teams ability, Eskridge could be an intriguing option for the Eagles in the 3rd round. Eskridge is another offensive player that fits the mold of what Nick Sirianni likes in his wide receivers. Eskridge is a twitched up route runner on in breaking concepts, who has blazing speed, superb footwork, and amazing RAC ability. Although his size is somewhat of a concern, at 5’9 190 pounds, you can’t teach the separation he has the ability to create.
6) CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan
Ambry Thomas is a 6’0 190 cornerback. Thomas is a physical bump and run type of corner. A prototype for Jonathan Gannon’s type of cornerback. Thomas is the type of player who will excel at the next level, in my opinion, because of the skillset he possesses: Loose and fluid hips, adequate ball skills, and consistency in press coverage. He’d be a hand in glove fit in Jonathan Gannon’s system.
7) G Royce Newman, Mississippi
Royce Newman is VERSATILE.
In his college career Newman played 768 snaps at left guard, 141 at right guard and started every game at right tackle during the 2020 season. As a junior, Newman allowed just one sack in 416 pass blocking reps. In watching Newman against Alabama this past season, he did a good job of attacking and not being attacked as a pass blocker, consistently getting his hands into the defender first. Newman struggled a bit with defenders that had good bend as pass rushers.
The Eagles value versatility in offensive linemen and with Jeff Stoutland returning and an aging OL, this unit could use some more versatility. Coming from the Colts, Nick Sirianni has been around some dominant pass blocking offensive lines, Newman would help to establish that in Philadelphia as a depth piece.
8) CB Camryn Bynum, California
Camryn Bynum is aggressive. He plays a physical and instictive style of football. Bynum is a very willing tackler who excels in run support. What he lacks in deep speed, he makes up for with sound technique. Bynum could thrive as a number 2 corner in a Cover 2 system with a safety over the top. Having started 38 consecutive games at California, durability is likely not a concern. Think Josh Norman lite.
9) WR Austin Watkins, UAB
One of my favorite players in the draft, Austin Watkins is another quick and twitched up receiver who thrives with the ball in his hands. The difference with Watkins from the other two players listed, is his length. Standing at about 6’2/6’3 and weighing over 200 pounds, Watkins has the potential to be a monster at the next level.
He can beat you underneath or over the top. As a nuanced route runner and legit deep threat, Watkins has all the pieces. He has the requisite frame on paper, but there are questions. Questions about the level of competition he faced in the C-USA conference and questions about whether his production is legit (Watkins went over 1,000 yards receiving just once in his 3 year playing career, although he is just the third receiver in UAB history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, joining a group that included four-time Pro Bowler Roddy White). Watkins would fit well with the Eagles as a tall Z or quicker X, opposite an early round pick at the Z or Jalen Reagor.