It’s that time of year again. Where mock drafts and free agent columns flood the sports world. For those of us sitting at home watching other teams play in January, these articles serve as glimmer’s of hope, of what could be.
Every year there are a handful of pending free agents that have teams salivating. There isn’t a bar in the country that isn’t filled with debates, of this player and that and it seems like every time you open another link to an article, the same five or six players are brought up.
“One or two players away” is arguably one of the most used phrases in football when it comes to addressing free agency. Every team has holes and no roster has a star at every position. Depth is the only way that teams can find consistency over the years and it’s something that the Eagles are striving for.
So with this piece, I have decided to focus on players who may not be the most sought after stars during the offseason, yet have had better than promising starts to their young careers, and just may fit perfectly into the Eagles game plan.
WR Corey Brown:
Known amongst family, friends and the media alike as Philly Brown, this undrafted free agent out of Ohio state burst on the scene in 2014, almost immediately becoming a true deep-threat for Cam Newton. The Philadelphia, PA native stands 5’11 and weighs a solid 200 lbs. Since breaking into the NFL, he’s proven to be very quick in and out of breaks and uses his hands well at the catch point.
Brown accumulated 1,019 yards and 7 touchdowns on 79 receptions, in three seasons, averaging 14.3 yards per catch. That’s not too bad for a guy considered the fourth option in his offense. Add 139 rushing yards, 1 punt return touchdown and the highlight of his career, a 4 reception day for 80 yards in a Super bowl loss to the Denver Broncos.
These may seem like modest number’s to most, but for a guy playing behind three first round picks. Philly has carved out a nice spot in the NFL for himself. Needless to say, He would instantly add depth too a core in need of playmakers.
LB Manti Te’o:
Mostly known for his off the field issues, Te’o has quietly become a better then average inside linebacker for the Chargers. He was known for his playmaking ability nd knack for always being around the ball in college. Manti was expected to be a top pick in the 2013 draft, but a bad combine and off the field issues saw his name being called in the 2nd round. This left some to believe that he wasn’t as good as the Heisman hype seemed.
Despite dealing with injury issues, including being put on injured reserve this year for a torn Achilles, Te’o still managed to capture 222 total tackles ,1.5 sacks, 2 int. 1 forced fumble, and 9 passes defended. A far cry from the play maker he was primed to be, but his production when on the field is impressive. Excelling in pass coverage, some refer to him as a “poor man’s” Sean lee. While his run defense leaves a little to be desired, Te’o has all the tools and is still young enough to become the player so many thought him to be while at Notre Dame.
The Charger’s are loaded at linebacker so the chances of him being free to pursue look good. His aggressiveness would be a fit under Jim Schwartz and with Tulloch unlikely return, would add a lot of talented depth should an injury occur.
CB Kayvon Webster:
A former 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft, the South Florida alum has become the fourth wheel of a dangerous Denver defense. The Miami native has a nasty streak to him, something missing in Philadelphia as of late. At 5’11 and 198 pounds, he good size and has produced when given the opportunity.
Top end speed has been a concern. But when you watch the tape, you see a player that just hasn’t gotten enough playing time. At no fault of his own, Webster sits behind three pro-bowl caliber corners. This has led to a lack of numbers with only 83 tackles, 1 forced fumble and a single interception. But what stands out the most is that he has 14 pass deflections, making it clear that the skill set is there.
Adding to his potential, Webster is a stand out special teamer. Philadelphia emphasizes special teams as much as they do offense or defense. So this prospect would have an impact one way or another and could slide under the free agency radar, beneath the likes of Trumaine Johnson.
TE Mychal Rivera:
He might not be as famous as his Sister, Naya Rivera (Glee), but Mychal deserves recognition. Standing at 6’3 and 245 lbs, this former 6th round pick out of Tennessee has had an uneven career so far. Slated as the starter coming into the 2014 season, Rivera slowly lost reps to newly acquired tight end Lee Smith, and rookie Clive Walford.
Having the skill set to be a true star, some would say Rivera has disappointed. But when you look at the film you see a player with plenty of potential, that in the right system could be the player expected when drafted.
The Eagles currently sit with Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, and Trey Burton. Rivera could be the fourth Tight-end Doug Pederson tried so hard to find in the 2016 offseason. With 146 receptions, 1,413 yards and 10 touchdowns to his resume, it is easy to see how he would fit in.
WR Robert Woods:
The 2013 2nd round pick hasn’t disappointed in his career so far, which may demand a bigger price tag. Woods mirrors the skill set of Kenny Stills, a player who has been linked with the Eagles countless times already this offseason. He isn’t as fast, but he arguably makes up for it with better hands. Woods has the speed to get separation which is something that the Eagles crave from their current corps.
To date, he has caught 203 receptions for 2,451 yards and 12 touchdowns. What stands out about the USC alum is his aggression. He plays with no fear and by doing so is able to make difficult catches. Something Eagle fans didn’t see a lot of last season.
It’s yet to be seen if newly hired Sean McDermott will allow such a talent to walk. But if he does, it would behoove Philadelphia to make the call. With Woods being so young at just 25-years old, this is the type of talent Howie Roseman has been said to covet.
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports