Everything you need to know about the sixteen rookie free agents to sign with Eagles

The Eagles have finally unveiled the 16 undrafted rookie free agents to have signed with the team after the 2016 NFL Draft. Here’s a handy all-in-one guide containing everything you need to know about the sixteen newest Eagles aiming to compete for roster spots in the coming months.

 

Dillon Gordon TE, LSU:
Gordon Played in 42 games during his time at LSU and started 28. The 6’5, 308 pound tight end had his 2015 campaign cut short after rupturing his achilles in a game against Florida. However he also comes with some off the field concerns having been involved in a bar altercation after sustaining his injury that ended up in a hospital visit.

The run blocking tight end was a large part of LSU’s continued run heavy offensive success and it’s easy to see why the Eagles decided to take a chance on him. With the committee backfield set to be reignited under Doug Pederson, the Offensive Line could use some extra help in creating holes for the backs to burst through. Gordon can contribute greatly in that area as a rotational player.

 

Quentin Gause LB, Rutgers:
Playing at strong side linebacker during 2015, Gause amassed a total of 96 tackles which saw him rank second in the team whilst he led the Rutgers with 12 tackles for a loss. He also had back to back 15 tackle games against Ohio State and Wisconsin.  At 6’1 and 235 pounds, Gause has a well rounded figure that was supported by an emphatic pro day in which he outperformed every other Rutgers prospect in the following categories:

Vertical jump: 36 inches

3-cone drill: 7:00 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds

60-yard shuttle 11.53 seconds.

A captain on the field, Gause has all the physical attributes to develop into a dominant force in the league and with the Eagles needing depth at linebacker..his athletic ability could prove invaluable to the birds.

 

Hunter Sharp WR, Utah State
The 6’0, 200 pound Palmdale, California native made 22 starts during his career with Utah State and ranked ninth in school history for both catches (137) and career touchdowns (16). He also set a school Bowl record with 11 receptions against Akron for 89 yards in the Idaho Potato Bowl.

During 2015 he ranked first in the conference and ninth in the country when it came to touchdowns..averaging 0.8 per game whilst ranking eighth in the Mountain West conference in all-purpose yards, averaging 106.5 per game. His senior season was no fluke, as a Junior Sharp  his team in receiving yards with 835, Sharp had four straight games of receiving for 100 yards or more.

An undersized yet explosive receiver, Sharp may not have the frame of Megatron, but when watching tape it’s easy to see he has the playmaking ability of Sidney Rice. His work ethic is questionable and he has served a previous two game suspension..but if it’s a deep threat the Eagles are after, Hunter Sharp could be a steal as an undrafted rookie.

 

Connor Wujciak DE, Boston College
Wujciak started 39 of his 49 games for Boston College and despite not being the most impressive athlete, a 4.91 40-yard dash, 34.5 inch verticle and a broad jump of 9’9 certainly raises a few eyebrows.

The 6’2 lineman had his best season as a senior, registering 12 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks.

A Nose tackle who may lack the size to prevent running holes opening in the NFL but never backs down from a challenge, Wujciak will have a chance to develop behind the likes of Bennie Logan and utilize his frame in an aggressive scheme that evidently suits his talents of rushing the passer in smaller spaces.

 

C.J. Smith CB, North Dakota State
Following in the footsteps of Carson Wentz, Smith had never played Defense at High School and learned the fundamentals of playing corner from Marcus Williams of the New York Jets. In his Sophomore season, Smith broke up 17 passes and recorded one interception.

At 5’11 and 183 pounds, Smith is more of a ballhawk than he is a hard hitting corner. Whilst it may not be a perfect fit, he displayed a similar  glue-like coverage style to Blake Countess in 2015. When matched up against four of the top five ranked receivers in the conference, Smith let up an average of just 2.75 catches and 40 yards per game.

Smith appeared in 58 games during his career at NDSU and finished with the fourth most passes defensed (57) since 2000. He was second in NDSU history, finishing behind only..you guessed it, Marcus Williams.

His eight interceptions earned hum a reputation as one of the FCS’s most notorious shutdown corners. But can he transition to the NFL where the level of competition is much higher?

 

Aziz Shittu DL, Stanford
CBS Sports compared the Defensive lineman to Vinny Curry which should tell you all you need to know. The 6’2, 288 pounder ended his season with a bang, racking up 3.5 tackles for a loss, eight overall and 1.5 sacks in the Rose Bowl en route to earning Defensive MVP.

After suffering a torn ACL in 2014, Shittu bounced back with 56 combined tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks.

His leaner frame will likely see him compete for a backup spot and learn behind the player he’s been compared to. His technique is solid but with some chiseling and refinement, Shittu could well become a great complimentary piece to the Eagles Defense.

 

Destiny Vaeao DT, Washington State
Vaeao was a man in hot demand when it came to pre-draft visits and for good reason. 83 tackles and 19 for a loss, 7 sacks, 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles during his time at Washington State make the 6’3, 298 pound Defensive Tackle and interesting prospect.

During the Collegiate Bowl, Vaeao recorded a 35.5 vertical leap which at the combine would have tied him for second among defensive linemen.

He has the versatility to be efficient in a 4-3 scheme but his technique needs a lot of work to iron out the inconsistencies when it comes to shedding blocks but is a proven run stopper who will likely compete for depth at what will be a vital position for the Eagles.

 

Byron Marshall WR/RB, Oregon Ducks
I would use the saying jack of all trades here..but that implies he’s a master of none. Marshall is the ONLY player in Pac-12 history to rush for 1,000 yards and then receive for 1,000 in the following season.

At 5’10, 210 pounds, the explosive hybrid player was almost certain to turn heads in 2015 had his season cut short during a game against Utah.

He bounced back in time for the Combine..but was limited to the bench press and nothing else..further lowering his stock. At Oregon’s Pro-Day however, Marshall exploded back onto the scene..posting the best time in the 40-yard dash (4.57) and impressing in each of the drills.

The Eagles need to solidify their committee backfield and add more explosive weapons on the outside. Marshall ticks all the boxes and when it comes to versatility, there may be none more adequately prepared for a training camp roster spot battle.

 

Cedric O’Neal, RB Valdosta State
Named as an All-Gulf South Conference running back in 2015, O’Neal led his conference with 17 touchdowns. If that didn’t impress you, he also holds Valdosta State records for career rushing TD’s and career rushing yards (49 TD’s and 4,145 yards).

At 5’11 and 204 pounds, O’Neal is a slightly smaller back that packs a punch. A powerful running style is partnered with spurts of acceleration and an ability to make defenders miss their tackles. He can bounce to the outside with ease and has no problems making swift cuts to lose his man.

After running the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, he attracted attention from the Eagles, the Panthers and funnily enough the Chiefs towards the closing stages of the Draft.

According to the Valdosta Daily Times, the Eagles were hot on O’Neal throughout the process and called him on the morning before the Draft started to the effect of a pre-draft visit.

The birds obviously like what they saw as a true running back competition looks set to unfold.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWVICFrYxsE

 

Myke Tavarres LB, Incarnate Word
A Three-Time All-American who previously worked out with the Eagles, Tavarres led his team with 110 tackles in 2015 and led the conference in both sacks and tackles for a loss (8.5 and 22.5).

Registering a 4.6 40-yard dash time and a 10’7 broad jump at his pro day that was attended by 21 teams make the 6’2, 230 pound linebacker an interesting prospect to keep an eye on.

A dominant force when charging through the trenches, the athletic linebacker is a true pass rusher who would fly in such an aggressive defensive scheme so long as he can work on his timing and technique. Whether it’s a depth addition or a physical linebacker who can bring a “Braman” level of dominance to special teams, Tavarres is going to be a name to keep an eye on.

Oh, and he can do this…

 

John DePalma LS, West Virginia
Long snapper for WVU, DePalma was regarded as one of the most reliable players on his team. He’s handled all snapping duties for WVU during his career and was even called the Special Teams Most Valuable Player in 2013 before going on to be named WVU Special Teams Champion a year later. If it’s consistency the Eagles are after to ensure that the kickers have the best chance of success in what is now becoming an extremely important aspect of the game, there may be none better than DePalma.

 

Bruce Johnson C, Maine
Named the best Center in the FCS in 2015, the 6’0, 300-pound lineman  played every snap during his three year career and it’s easy to see why. After allowing 41 sacks in 2014, the team allowed just 18 in 2015 and as the lone senior on the line, Johnson was the leader of the group.

Depth is always good to have, especially on an offensive line that struggled so much in 2015.

 

Cayleb Jones WR, Arizona
Jones is an interesting acquisition. His stock plummeted in the build up to the Draft without much of a reason. At 6’3 and 209 pounds, Jones has great size and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds.

The answer? Character concerns. Jones was charged with aggravated assault following an altercation in which he punched a Longhorns Tennis player, breaking his jaw. This is what led to Jones transferring from the University of Texas to Arizona.

Averaging 16.2 yards per catch as a junior, Jones went on to pick up All-Pac-12 honors before leading the team in receiving in 2015 with 55 receptions for 904 yards and 5 touchdowns.

With doubts about his ability to gain separation and some inconsistent route running, Jones fell down the draft boards despite the big numbers. A relatively slow receiver who would likely fare better as a red-zone target than a deep threat, Jones is an intriguing name to keep an eye on during OTA’s and training camp as competition continues to build at the WR position.

Marcus Johnson WR, Texas
He may have missed the closing games of his senior season due to injury, but that still didn’t stop Johnson from ending 2015 as the team’s third ranked receiver with 130 yards and 1 touchdown on 12 receptions.

His stats may not impress you, but his pro day performance certainly will. The 6’1, 204 pounder ran a 4.38 40-yard dash time and recorded a 37 inch vertical leap.

Johnson started 18 times in his 42 appearances and ended his career with an average of 13.0 yards per catch. A speedster with a huge vertical reach? Sounds like a plug ’n’ play receiver who could really compete for a roster spot in Philadelphia.

 

Darrell Greene G, San Diego State
Greene started 25 straight games for San Diego State en route to being part of an Offensive Line that helped the team dominate the running game with two 1000-yard rushers.

The 6’3 guard tested positive for Marijuana however and served a six game suspension in the year that was supposed to propel him to the NFL. He returned to start in every remaining game but it wasn’t enough to fix his reputation or the time he lost suspended.

The Eagles have taken a chance on the guard who displays fantastic amounts of power and plays very aggressively. He doesn’t have the most intimidating arm span but Greene’s dominance when stopping pass rushers and timing his blocks more than make up for it.

Character issues seem to be the new theme for the Eagles as they look to bring in low-risk, high-reward players..and Greene is no exception in either category.

 

 

Paul Turner WR, Louisiana Tech
Turner is a name you simply have to watch out for in training camp. After transferring from LSU in 2012, Turner sat out the 2013 season and was expected to be one of Louisiana Tech’s most explosive weapons a year later. However a lingering groin injury meant he missed even more action as he ended the year with 4 TD’s, 514 yards and 42 receptions…still good enough to finish second on the team.

Injuries persisted in 2015 but that didn’t stop him from posting three scores on 45 receptions for 657 yards. The Pro-Day was his time to shine and he did just enough to impress the Eagles, posting a 4.53 second 40-yard dash time and showing off a 39 inch vertical jump.

Turner may have been hampered with injuries throughout his career, but when he’s been on the field he has been great to watch. Turner is also a prominent special teams performer and has also tried his hand at kick returns, returning one for a score in 2015.

 

 

Photo credit: AP/Ryan Kang

One thought on “Everything you need to know about the sixteen rookie free agents to sign with Eagles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *