After taking a look at five first round targets for the Eagles, it’s time to turn our attention to round 2. The Eagles will be drafting with the 43rd overall pick, meaning that their options are incredibly open in the heart of the second round. So, who are some of the realistic targets that Eagles fans should be aware of int he run up to the big day?
Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
There’s arguably no better fit for the Jim Schwartz Defense in the second round than this Colorado corner. Awuzie wins at the start of his routes and while he has the speed to keep up with receivers, but his specialty lies in tackling and knocking balls loose.
As a freshman, he made 59 tackles and broke up 4 passes. One year later, he led the team with 64 tackles before suffering an injury in practice. One year later, he amassed 90 tackles from the nickel spot, as well as four sacks, 10 pass breakups and two picks. A sterling 2016 went hand in hand with his career to date and if he plays alongside a dinner cornerback, he could be the perfect weapon to combat multi-dimensional offenses.
With an ability to play in the slot or hold his own outside, the versatility of Awuzie would be a huge asset to a team that is looking to build a young corps that can help unleash the pass rush.
Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State
If the Eagles opt against selecting Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in the first round, Curtis Samuel may be the perfect alternative. Leading the conference with an average of 128.8 all-purpose yards per game, Samuel amassed 771 yards and 8 scores in his final year, but would go on to receive for 865 yards and seven more touchdowns. The perfect Swiss army knife, Samuel could in some ways feature more heavily in the offense than McCaffrey would.
At 5’11, 196 lbs, Samuel is built like a wide receiver who has the burst and speed (4.31 40-yard dash) of a running back. Because of this, he could be used in the same vain as Darren Sproles, only far more unpredictably. With the Eagles receiving corps already clustered in the short-term, a true wideout may not see much playing time in year one..but the former Buckeye would due to his ability to explode at all three levels.
His acceleration is second to none and he’s able to run some impressively crisp routes as a wide receiver. McCaffrey may be the more attractive option when it comes to building the backfield of the future, but Samuel would be the perfect player for the Eagles to add depth, explosiveness and elusiveness to both the WR and RB positions with the same pick.
Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Davis is extremely reminiscent of Jordan Hicks. A linebacker with sky-high potential that has seen his draft stock thwarted due to injury setbacks that teams are more than wary of. However, the Eagles have already hit one home run in the former Texas Longhorn..and with their sport science program continuing to maintain a reputation as one of the healthiest teams in the league, taking a chance on Davis is a lot more appealing than it is risky.
With 60 tackles and 4 pass breakups in a shortened year, Davis showed plenty of potential in his final year as a Gator..and we all know Howie loves Florida standouts. Named the team’s Special Teams MVP as a true freshman, the work ethic also fits exactly what the Eagles are looking for. But what really makes this pick appealing is his style of play.
Davis is a true coverage linebacker. Able to quickly dissect plays, he’s a firm tackler..(something that is craved by the Eagles) and a linebacker who has plenty of gas in the tank to get from sideline to sideline. When you factor in his burst off the line of scrimmage, he could also be a perfect blitzing weapon.
At 6’1, 238 lbs, Davis has great size for an outside linebacker in a 4-3..convenient, right? The Eagles often relied on Nickel looks due to the lack of coverage skills portrayed by Mychal Kendricks in his limited 2016 snaps..and adding a linebacker who could grow with Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham, adding depth in the process has to be a priority.
ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama:
I’m going to have a full article focusing on why I believe Stewart to be the perfect WR option for the Eagles, so don’t want to give too much of that way. But what I will say is that he is easily one of the most underrated prospects in the Draft..and one who wouldn’t be a direct threat to Alshon Jeffery, instead providing long-term security at a WR2 spot that severely lacks it.
Stewart was able to contribute hugely to the Crimson Tide last season, catching passes out of the backfield and making huge plays by taking the top off opposing defenses, Stewart is a complete wide receiver option. Standing at 5’11 and 204 lbs, Stewart caught 54 passes for 864 yards and 8 touchdowns last year, being named first-team ALL-SEC. Averaging 15 yards from scrimmage per play in the process, Stewart is a tough receiver who will fight his way through the route and push for those tough passes. While drops have been a mild issue, they shouldn’t detract from the physical skill set the word itself sends shivers down the spines of Eagles fans.
The reasons he has been overlooked so far often fall to injury setbacks and a suspension where the details behind which are scarce. Injuries shouldn’t be a concern to begin with, as he started every game in the year beforehand where he received for 700 yards. Another more justifiable reason has been his disappearing acts in games against corners projected to go in the opening rounds of the draft. Playing against zonal coverage most of the time, he’s rarely been fought at the line of scrimmage..and if he isn’t used to it, we’ve already seen the impact it can have.
Overall, Stewart is a receiver who isn’t flashy..but may be the complete package labelled with a developmental tag..and that’s quite frankly, all the Eagles need right now. There are going to be more appealing options available, but Stewart would be the perfect WR2 security blanket option.
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
One of the most controversial names in the NFL Draft right now, there’s plenty of speculation over whether McDowell is a first or second round pick. After Daniel Jeremiah fired shots regarding his effort just yesterday, that stock seems to have slipped a little more..and if the trend continues, the 6’6, 295 lbs DT could fall into the Eagles lap at number 43.
The 20-year old has a rare combination of a dominant frame and speed just as impressive. The problem was that 34 tackles, 7 for a loss and 1.5 sacks didn’t scream an elite DT. Character concerns have long shrouded the career of McDowell, but they haven’t stopped the Eagles from meeting with him.
The fact he has experience all over the Defensive line could hold a lot of weight for the Eagles, but it also means he hasn’t really emerged as a solid starter at any particular spot..which could be a blessing or a curse. McDowell is freakishly athletic and has all the physical skills to dominate at the next level..but with character concerns doing anything but dying down, the question becomes is he a fit for the Eagles at 43?
Given their need for long-term solutions at DE and DT, it’s a risk worth taking. Fletcher Cox and Chris Long could be great mentors for McDowell and with Beau Allen’s recent injury, the thrill of competition might just spark a chip on the shoulder of the Spartan who has so much untapped potential.
Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports