The 2016 NFL Draft has come to a close and after eight picks, the Eagles have taken some significant steps forward when it comes to filling some of the more prominent holes on the roster and building for the future. Here’s everything you need to know about the eight players joining the Eagles nest ahead of the 2016 season.
Before we learn more about the players themselves, here’s a positional breakdown:
1- Running back
2- Offensive Linemen
2- Defensive Backs (1 Safety who will likely play corner)
1- Defensive End
Carson Wentz, QB
The 6’5 Quarterback has the prototypical frame of a modern day NFL Quarterback and dominated during his time at North Dakota, completing 62.5% of his passes for 1,651 yards, 17TD’s and 4INT’s in 2015. He may not be as “NFL ready” as Goff, but to many he has a much higher upside and could well develop into a franchise Quarterback over time.
Moments after being drafted, Carson Wentz sent a message to the Eagles fanbase through an interview with the NFL Network, saying “They’re getting a passionate player themselves, it’s gonna be fun.”
With a very QB friendly coaching tree in Philadelphia, Wentz will be in a perfect situation to refine his craft as he learns behind Chase Daniel and Sam Bradford.
The Rams took Jared Goff with the first overall pick, leaving the Eagles with a very easy decision to take Wentz.
Isaac Seumalo, OL
Versatile 300 pound lineman Isaac Seumalo out of Oregon State was the second name off the board for the Eagles. Despite some big additions in free agency, the Offensive Line was still an area that lacked depth. A technically sound guard with experience at every line position but had previous injury concerns will likely be in a position to compete for a starting job in Training Camp..especially if this is anything to go by:
Here’s new Eagles OL Isaac Seumalo moving DeForest Buckner out of the way yet again. https://t.co/ofDcc7IxvI
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) April 30, 2016
Wendell Smallwood, RB:
The Big-12’s rushing leader in 2015, Wendell Smallwood broke out in his senior year. In 13 games he racked up 1,519 yards and nine touchdowns. In seven of his nine games against Big-12 opponents, he scored more than 100 rushing yards including a career-high 165 against Texas.
Smallwood ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds and plays exactly how that time suggests…fast. His slim frame makes him very elusive and agile meaning he can punch through holes with rapid acceleration or bounce to the outside with ease if needed.
Smallwood is more of a complimentary back and his style is almost a perfect hybrid of Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. At 5’10 and 208 pounds, he also ticks the boxes for a back that would seemingly succeed under Doug Pederson.
There are some “red flag” character concerns but it appears as though the Eagles are willing to overlook them.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LT:
Another lineman for the Eagles as they continue to fortify the Offensive Line following the arrival of Carson Wentz. Pronounced “HAL-AH-POO-LIV-ARTY VY-TY”, (simple enough, right?) Vaitai started in 10 games out of his 13 appearances in 2015 for TCU. Here’s some more information on him courtesy of Lance Zierlein of NFL.com:
“Vaitai has been a full-time starter over the last two seasons for a successful TCU squad, but doesnt have the plus athleticism to play left tackle or the hand strength and core power to start on the right side. Despite decent technique and football intelligence, may be too lacking in physical qualities to make the NFL leap.”
Vaitai also continues a trend for the Eagles, having started on the right hand side in 2014 and the left in 2015. Versatility continues to be the theme on the line and the 6’6 320 pounder certainly brings it, even if he lacks the quickness and athleticism of some of the more notable tackle prospects.
Blake Countess, CB:
The Eagles approached this draft looking to develop a starting slot-corner and Countess ticked all the boxes. During 2015 the Auburn corner made 70 tackles, 2 interceptions and had 10 passes defensed. Oh, and these very promising stats:
Blake Countess had the fourth-fewest yards/coverage snap allowed (0.88) among SEC CBs in the NFL Draft
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2016
New Eagles CB Blake Countess allowed just 1 TD on 71 targets for Auburn in 2015: https://t.co/BHSrr4lXnL
— PFF (@PFF) April 30, 2016
One of the tougher corners in the class, Countess will likely be competing with JaCorey Shepherd for a roster spot and if he sticks to his man as well as his stats and footwork suggest then it’s going to be hard to overlook him.
Jalen Mills, S:
A common theme began to present itself when the Eagles picked LSU Safety Jalen Mills in the seventh round. A Safety who transitioned from corner this past season, Mills ended his Tigers career with 6 picks, 216 tackles, 4 sacks and 11 passes defensed.
But if he’s so talented, why is he still on the board in the seventh? After being arrested in 2014 for second-degree battery of a woman before having his charges reduced, Mills suffered huge injury blows.
He may not be as physical when it comes to run support, but the versatility (another key theme) and ability to blitz efficiently partnered with his ceiling at such a low cost was too good to pass on for the Eagles.
Alex McCalister, DE:
At 6’6, 239 pounds, the former Florida Defensive End brings plenty of promise to the table. After picking up 48 tackles in two seasons to go with 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss, McCalister went on to perform exceedingly well at the combine..showing just how athletic he is and how that could translate into rushing off the edge effectively in the NFL.
He’s long, can move quickly and brings plenty of explosiveness off the edge. But again the character issues continue to mount up for this years Eagles draft class. McCalister was dismissed from his team at the end of last year which spurred his decision to declare for the Draft a year earlier than he debatably should have.
A project player all the way, McCalister will be an intriguing player to watch during Training Camp as the Eagles tick another depth need off of their list.
Joe Walker, LB:
Walker began playing for the Oregon Ducks in 2013 so never played under Chip (sorry to those who got excited at the idea of a continued Oregon love affair), but that didn’t stop the linebacker from making an impact. He ended his 2015 campaign leading the team in tackles with 87 and recorded 6 for a loss as well as 2 sacks.
A 40-yard dash time of 4.56 and a 6’2, 236 pound frame make him incredibly elusive. However his frame also works against him in the middle as he struggles to beat blocks at times.
The Eagles definitely need some reinforcements at the linebacker position and it’s likely that Walker will be looking to compete for a depth spot during training camp.