After taking a closer look at some of the most realistic targets for the Eagles in the opening rounds of the NFL Draft, we now turn to a very interesting round 3. The Eagles traded back to the 99th pick as part of the deal to bring in dominant DT, Timmy Jernigan. The landscape of the third round has now completely changed for the Birds, but with the talent pool so deep..there are certainly some names who could slip through the cracks and onto their lap.
DE, Tarrell Basham, Ohio State
The Eagles still need consistency and long-term options at defensive end. At 6’4, 269 lbs, Basham would not only fit the Jim Schwartz prototype, but could act as a rotational piece in his rookie season, helping keep the trenches fresh during the depths of the 2017 season.
His size is also met with impressive athleticism. A 4.70 40-yard dash presents an image of an intimidating athlete..but he is so much more than that. Basham ended his collegiate career at Ohio with 24.5 sacks. If that’s not impressive, earning Mid-American Conference Defensive Player Of The Year certainly should be. 11.5 of those career sacks came in 2016..along with 16 tackles for a loss. On 257 run-stop snaps, Basham had 15 total stops.
Basham can contribute in just about every avenue that the Eagles ask..and with so many questions over what lies beyond the 2017, his skill set would be a welcome addition to a corps that needs to take on a developmental focus.
WR, Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
It’s still unknown whether Kupp will go in the second or the third round, but with the landscape constantly changing..there’s still a slim chance he falls a little deeper as the butterfly effect begins to unravel.
Already expressing his admiration for Carson Wentz and of the same agency, Kupp’s physical nature saw him reign supreme in the FCS this season before dazzling at the Senior Bowl. The 6’2, 200 lbs, receiver reeled in 428 receptions for 6,464 yards, in addition to adding 73 touchdowns to his resume. Kupp can be lethal from both the slot and outside positions..opening up the game massively for the Eagles.
His biggest strength besides his ability to separate and use his frame to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, is catching the ball cleanly. Kupp may have some of the most reliable hands in this year’s draft and after a 1,700 yard senior season..it’s easy to see why. For a more complete profile of this small school giant, check out our “Small School Sleepers” article here.
The Eagles have poached plenty of players who have shined at the Senior Bowl in recent season’s..and this year could be no exception to the rule. Kupp ticks all the boxes for the Eagles. Versatile, durable, reliable and able to take the top off of a defense regardless of where he’s lined up, adding such a strong receiver to the roster would act as the perfect compliment to Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery.
James Conner, RB, Pitt
After working out with Carson Wentz due to having the same agent, Conner approached the combine with a clean bill of health, something crucial for his draft stock. The Pitt rusher amassed 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016, as well as receiving for 302 yards and four more scores. The Eagles have plenty of questions to answer before even thinking of drafting a running back, but drafting one in the third round would at least silence a few..giving them options and leverage.
Conner could be a great fit for Pederson’s offense, if it’s a power back he wants. A dominant runner who has exceptional vision and burst through the trenches, bringing Conner down appears to be a task very few are able to do successfully. His 6’1, 233 lbs frame means he can also be a weapon in pass protection looks, as well as punching the ball up the gut with an aggressive style of rushing.
He may not be a running back who can take on 20 carries a game out of the box, but he’s certainly a player who has plenty of potential and natural athleticism. His physical style of rushing would give the Eagles a new sense of optionality when combined with the dual-threat and zonal natures of backs already on the roster..and in the third round, would be a perfect compliment to Pederson’s offense.
CB, Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
At 6’3, 205 LBs, Witherspoon has the frame that Schwartz appears to covet in his cornerbacks. The team also desparately need guys who are comfortable on an island and can hold their own in press coverage. Witherspoon ticks all of the boxes and more..and if the Eagles do end up trading back and acquiring another third round pick, would be much more attainable. However..there’s always the possibility that with such a stacked cornerback class, he does fall all the way to number 99.
After allowing 37 receptions on 60 targets and giving up 526 yards in addition to three touchdowns in 2015, Witherspoon bounced back in 2016 only allowing 28 receptions on 88 targets for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
The strongest part of Witherspoon’s game is his ability to jump up and bat passes down. A true dinner cornerback, he was able to swat away 17 in his two seasons as a starter with 14 coming alone in 2016. The jump Witherspoon made in 2016 only shines a light on his overall potential and commitment to improving each season. A willing tackler and a corner who isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in the run game, Witherspoon could end up being the steal of this historic cornerback class here in the third-round.
C, Pat Elfein, Ohio State
Some are mocking the former Buckeye standout in the second round, while others are doing so in the third. Seen as a fit for the Ravens and Jets..he could also be a dream fit for an Eagles team still intent on fortifying the Castle for Carson Wentz.
At 6’3, 308 lbs, the thick base of Elfein helps him run rampant after making contact. He may not have the athleticism of Jason Kelce, nor the pass protection grades of Brandon Brooks..but a dominant run blocker and some impressive technique make him the perfect project lineman for Jeff Stoutland.
A three-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree, Elfein defines versatility. With three starts at left guard as a sophomore and 12 at right guard, he then went on to become a Center in his senior season, earning All-American labels from the media.
With Vaitai and Seumalo already flashing their potential, the Eagles would be right to plan for life after a center who continues to regress. Be it Plantar Fasciitis or just some simple mistakes, Kelce has taken some steps back over the last 12-months. Wisniewski may be a solid option for now..but with some time to develop, Elfein could be the future center the Eagles seek.
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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