Senior Bowl standouts who could interest the Eagles

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The Senior Bowl ended in exciting fashion in Mobile yesterday, with the South edging to a 16-15 win over the North. While the score may not carry much weight, the performances of individuals certainly will..especially for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Birds have drafted five Senior Bowl standouts with their first round pick since 2010, could this year follow the same pattern? Here are players who stood out yesterday that could really interest the Eagles.

 

Running back:

Donnel Pumphrey:
The most prolific rusher in NCAA history, Pumphrey drew a lot of interest due to his size. At just 5’8 and 169 pounds, comparisons can naturally be made with Eagles running back, Darren Sproles..and rightly so.

With 82 special teams yards on Saturday, Pumphrey followed up with 4 rushes for 28 yards..averaging 5.8 yards per carry. The burst of Pumphrey, who rushed for 17 touchdowns in his senior year is what really stood out. His acceleration and ability to hit the hole assertively, despite his small frame would have resonated well with the Eagles..who are well aware of the intentions of Darren Sproles, to retire after next season.

The draft is loaded with running backs this year, which could see Pumphrey fall into the Eagles lap if lady luck is on their side.

 

Matt Dayes:
The North Carolina State star led the South in rushing, with 66 yards on 7 attempts. He burst through a hole for a huge 24 yard gain, turning heads in the process as he shrugged off tackles. He was also the only running back in the game to score a touchdown.

Dayes amassed 1,166 yards in his senior year to go with 10 touchdowns, including a 106 yard game against the Clemson Tigers. At 5’9 and 203 pounds, he also fits the mold of a smaller running back, who also received for 271 yards in 2016. Dayes and Pumphrey could be two backs who find themselves in plenty of conversations for the Eagles as we head towards the combine.

 

 

Wide receiver:

Zay Jones:
This is a no brainer, but if there’s anyone who improved his draft stock yesterday, it’s this East Carolina wideout. Catching two disallowed touchdowns in stunning fashion wasn’t enough for Jones, who went on to catch 6 passes for 68-yards and that elusive first touchdown.

Two words to describe Jones adequately would be catch radius. Whether it’s leaping in the style of OBJ or diving at full extension, Jones was simply spectacular yesterday, following up a season in which he led the FBS in receptions (158).

Jones is going to soar up draft boards in the coming weeks and he should absolutely be paid very close attention to by the Eagles, who crave a playmaker on the outside.

 

Josh Reynolds:
The Texas A&M wideout had a relatively strong outing, catching a beautiful touchdown pass and receiving for 96 yards. But a drop may be what sticks in the mind of many. Reynolds battled with drops earlier in the week as well, which could weigh his stock down. However, the Aggie showed all the tools of a very crisp route runner who is able to utilize his 6’4, 193 pound, frame as he did in his senior year. A strong week of practice placed a lot of attention on Reynolds but on the day, he wasn’t the receiver stealing the spotlight.

 

Trent Taylor:
This is a receiver who won’t see a lot of hype over the coming weeks, but he’s included here for good reason. An undersized wide receiver out of Louisiana Tech? Where have we seen this before….*cough* Paul Turner *cough*.

Taylor caught an impressive 20-yard pass that may have been enough to at least push his name into the mix. He won’t be soaring up boards anytime soon, but the Eagles love finding hidden gems..and chemistry with Paul Turner could be a great thing to have.

 

Fred Ross:
After a huge week of practice, the former Mississippi State Bulldog followed through perfectly. Ross caught 5 passes for 66 yards and showed great hands throughout the game, as well as an ability to run concise routes and break cleanly. Ross could be a name sneaking into the very top few prospects at WR over the coming weeks..and understandably so.

 

Cooper Kupp:
The name on everyone’s lips this week has been Cooper Kupp. Whether it was affiliation with the now infamous “AO1” sentiment, or shattering the competition in practices leading up to the game, the Eastern Washington star did nothing but build excitement after breaking countless college records. The 6’2, 198 pounder ended his college career with 428 receptions for 6,464 yards and 73 touchdowns and showed the same level of brilliance throughout this weeks practices.

However in the game, Kupp spent most of his time under the radar. Kupp had two receptions for 14 yards, flashing his athleticism and catch radius with a huge one handed grab in traffic..but many were expecting a game of sheer dominance after such a stunning week of practice.

The 6’2, 215 pound receiver showed a great ability to create separation and win the battle at the line of scrimmage, something craved by the Eagles. His stunning numbers and versatility speak for themselves and the depth of the WR class could only benefit the Eagles.

Kupp is currently projected to go in the middle rounds of the draft and a slightly quieter performance could actually help the Eagles here. With such a deep WR class, hitting on Kupp in the middle of the Draft could be considered one of the biggest steals of the event.

 

Cornerbacks:

Brendan Langley:
The Lamar Cardinals DB had an interesting day, showing great recovery after being burned early on and catching an underthrown pass for an interception later in the day. With 3 tackles to his name, Langley did all he could to separate himself from the crowd..but a tough touchdown to stomach might have dented his hopes of rising up boards.

 

Lorenzo Jerome:
A forced fumble and two interceptions isn’t a bad day at all for the Safety who also racked up three tackles on the day. While strictly a Safety, it’s important to remember that the Eagles drafted Eric Rowe with very little CB experience and then Safety Blake Countess, before moving him to CB and eventually releasing him.

The St. Francis PA star shone just as brightly as he did in the NFLPA game, in which he picked off another two passes. The Eagles need a playmaker and if they do part ways with pending free agent Jaylen Watkins, they will need a third safety anyway..and Jerome would be a great schematic fit.

 

 

Pass rush:

Eddie Vanderdoes:
It would be easier to find things that Eddie Vanderdoesn’t do well..(sorry I had to). Three tackles may not scream a huge performance, but Vanderdoes proved to be an extremely efficient run stopper and plugged holes extremely well.

The UCLA DT weighs in at 6’3, 340 pounds and could slip through the cracks due to a very deep injury history. Missing the entire 2015 season due to an ACL-tear and facing even more injuries this season, Vanderdoes needed a big moment to put his name on the map. A near QB hit and an assisted force fumble saw him fly into the spotlight, but whether or not his injuries will continue to hold him back remains to be seen.

 

Tanoh Kpassagnon:
Standing just under 6’7, 290 LB’s, Kpassagnon is a monster. The Villanova product was featured in our Small School Sleeper Profiles series earlier this week, but shined even brighter at the Senior Bowl.

A sack, a forced fumble and 1.5 tackles for a loss rounded out a dominant performance for the DT followed up an extremely impressive senior year with a powerful week of practice and an explosive game.

The Eagles need depth behind Fletcher Cox, especially given Logan’s uncertain future. Drafting someone as physically dominant as Kpassagnon could be their best long-term, developmental option, while Allen and Vaeao take the reins for now.

 

Jordan Willis:
The Eagles held an interview with the Kansas State Wildcat earlier this week, with Willis reportedly saying he would be comfortable in a wide-nine scheme. It will be music to the Eagles’ ears then, that the 6’4, 225 pound edge rusher has 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a pass breakup on Saturday.

With 11.5 sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles in his senior year, the speed and power implied by that stat line was represented perfectly on Saturday. The Eagles need some explosiveness below Brandon Graham and the long-term contract of Vinny Curry. Willis is ticking every box to be that guy.

 

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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