With the opening four rounds of the NFL Draft scoured from top to bottom for realistic targets, it’s time to turn our attention to some of the prospects projected to go in round five of next weeks Draft. The Eagles fifth round pick 155th overall. The stance on value is more prominent than ever when it comes to day 3 of the draft..and the fifth round is littered with picks who have tremendous upside.
CB, Channing Stribling, Michigan
The Eagles crave a longer cornerback who plays with a lot of confidence and won’t get overwhelmed by some of the more physically dominant wideouts in the league. At 6’2 and 175 pounds, the first of two Michigan Wolverines on this list has the length to blanket bigger receivers and the build to hit like a Safety.
Stribling flew under the radar in 2016, largely due to names such as Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers stripping him of the spotlight. But that’s not to say that he was any less impressive. 11 pass defenses and 4 interceptions in 2016 topped a year which showed his versatility. Partner those stats with a sack, 3 tackles for a loss and 28 tackles, and what you have is a corner who can contribute in numerous facets of the game.
Stribling was a crucial part of the Woverlines defense that held opposing offenses to a stunningly low 135.9 yards per game. Stribling’s long frame often sees him draped over wideouts at the line, a trait that would be a welcome addition to the Eagles defensive backfield.
He uses the sideline to his advantage, forcing wideouts onto a tight rope and ensuring he has the inside line. The only downside in his game is his lack of upper body strength that can hurt on big plays. If he is beaten, he will often panic and use his hands, drawing penalties in the process. His mirroring isn’t as crisp as Patrick Robinson (who is beyond crisp), but these are coachable concerns and if he adds a little bulk to his frame, Stribling would be the perfect developmental corner to grow alongside Jalen Mills.
A willing tackler, hard hitter and confident press corner, Stribling would be of extreme value to the Eagles in the later rounds of the Draft.
LB, Alex Anzalone, Florida
With the future of Mychal Kendricks uncertain and depth thin at linebacker, the Eagles would be wise to invest in the position. Florida’s Alex Anzalone could be an absolute steal in the fifth round as a coverage linebacker with tremendous upside.
An injury to his arm plagued a promising year in 2016, but the 6’3, 241 lbs, Eagles fan still put together an impressive resume, including a 12 tackle game against Tennessee and 3 total sacks on the year. The worrying part is that he only played in 18 games for the Gators throughout his four season career, so to still be projected as a mid-round pick until recently exemplifies his talent level.
It’s not the first time that the Eagles have gambled on a linebacker with injury history, you only have to look as far as Jordan Hicks to see a player who had similar concerns coming out of college. The Eagles are among the healthiest teams in the NFL..and IF Anzalone wasn’t able to play heavily, he would only have to play in 30% of snaps to succeed what Kendricks was able to do in 2016. If the Birds are comfortable in Nickel formations, it works even better for Anzalone..but if they want to run 3-LB sets, Joe Walker could be the hidden gem to rotate in, as Destiny Vaeao was at DT one year ago.
The move seems all too obvious for the Eagles..and with good reason. If Anzalone is still on the board by the time the Eagles are on the clock, it’s a no brainer.
TE, Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech
The Eagles have asked Brent Celek to take a $1M pay cut in 2017, one which he gracefully accepted. However at the tail end of his career and with Trey Burton signed to a tender, long-term options beyond Zach Ertz are uncertain. Enter Bucky Hodges. A tight end who is built like House as opposed to a football player.
At 6’7, 245 lbs, Hodges had a career year in 2016, amassing 48 receptions for 691 yards and seven scores for Virginia Tech. His height alone obviously gives him tremendous redzone value, but his versatility playing outside and seeing 28% of his receptions go for more than 20-yards, show just how lethal he can be in the passing game.
He isn’t a tremendous route-runner and he can at times see his frame used against him with lower or contested catches becoming true 50-50 balls. Despite his height, his frame also doesn’t give him the most appealing blocking skill set. But as a project tight end who could bring the same type of game to the table as Brent Celek, a fifth round pick on a developmental TE could be a pick well spent.
WR, Ryan Switzer, North Carolina:
At 5’8, 181 lbs, Switzer may not have the size to be a true outside receiver at the next level..but when you look at his stunning stats, that saw him rank tenth in the country with 96 receptions for 1,117 yards and 6 scores, it’s easy to develop a Paul Turner esque’ admiration for one of Trubisky’s go-to targets last year.
Able to gain separation with relative ease from the line of scrimmage, Switzer is able to burst to the second level with explosive footwork. Breaks in and out of routes are fluid and he’s able to snap on curls so quickly that even the most instinctive corners end up giving up yardage.
While his size and limited catch radius will work against him, Switzer caught 81% of his passes coming out of the slot..and we all know that long-term future at the WR3 spot is going to be one of the key focal points moving forward. In a scenario where the team lose Jordan Matthews to free agency, having guys like Switzer and Turner as insurance policy certainly makes sense.
A fifth round pick being used on the North Carolina standout not only gives the Eagles a Willie Snead/ Julian Edelman/Chris Hogan type weapon, but also adds an extra insurance policy to a WR corps that could lack continuity.
FB, Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech
The second Virginia Tech alumni that could be a great fit in Philadelphia could also prove to be one of the draft’s biggest sleeper picks. After working his way up the ladder, Rogers was utilized plentifully in his senior year, amassing 284 yards and 2 touchdowns, receiving for 301 more yards in the process. From an occasional fullback who would gain 140 yards rushing in his second year, to a player that looks like Darren Sproles in a bulky suit of armor in 2016, Rogers brings much more to the table than being able to carve open holes.
A player of his 5’10, 222 lbs, frame could at the very least be a contributor on special teams. At best, he could finally provide a solution to the Eagles ongoing and overlooked fullback enigma at a cheap price.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Do YOU want to advertise on Philly Sports Network?
Here at Philly Sports Network, we want to help local businesses grow. We have various ways of promoting YOUR company to a target demographic of die hard sports fans within Philadelphia, and a viewership of over 50,000 per week. If you want to learn more about potential sponsorship, ad placement or any other ideas, simply email [email protected]