Yesterday evening, the Eagles finally announced the signings of ten undrafted free agents, all but completing their roster. After four UDFA’s from last year’s class played NFL snaps, it’s clear that the Eagles have been able to find value with these additions in the past. There are certainly some interesting prospects among the ten who slipped through the cracks of a talent crammed 2017 NFL Draft, so here’s everything you need to know about the ten newest Eagles.
RB, Corey Clement, Wisconsin:
Perhaps the most notable signing on this list, running back Corey Clement could well provide the Eagles with the workhorse back they failed to sign during the Draft. Rushing for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016, Clement was a member of the winningest senior class in school history. With a career 3,092 yards, 36 touchdowns to his name, while adding 29 receptions for 279 yards and 2 scores in 43 games, the 5’10, 220 lbs, back may be considered a downhill runner by many..but his versatility shined through on several occasions.
For our feature on Clement last week, we spoke to an NFL scout to find out why exactly it was that such a dominant talent slipped through the cracks.
“Clement could be a legit back in this league. He could be a star. He has all the tools and the skill set to succeed at this level, but he could squander it as well. If any of the things are true about his attitude problems, which I haven’t been able to confirm, he could ruin this opportunity. I am personally routing of for him and would like to see where his career goes. Like I said, I think he has all the tools to really be a star, I guess we will see.
As far as why he went without being drafted? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone will have that answer. I personally had him as one of the better prospects, and there were players that got drafted, at the same position that made me sit back, and wonder why? Maybe it was the rumors about him, maybe it was the talent level this year, it really was impressive. Honestly, when you look at some of these players that went undrafted, there are teams that are getting prospects with high draft grades, including the Eagles, with Clement. The whole thing isn’t a science.”
Clement provides the one style that the Eagles lack, someone who can break tackles and bully his way through the trenches, carrying the workload and allowing the likes of Sproles, Smallwood, and Pumphrey, to really use their versatility to its fullest potential, creating one of the most dynamic backfields in the NFL. Can he overcome the character concerns to stick onto the Eagles roster? Time will tell, but backfield competition is ripe this year..and preseason is going to provide a lot of insight as to which direction the Eagles are swaying.
DT, Winston Craig, Richmond
This 6’4, 290 lbs, pass rusher simply exploded in 2016. With 8 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in his final season alone, leading the team in those categories as well as QB hurries, Craig even added a pick and 3 passes defensed to his tally. A team captain for the Spiders, Craig ended his four-year career at Richmond with a total of 166 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks and 2 picks.
After taking over the starting reins, Craig would go on to start in 43 consecutive games as a Spider, showing both his durability and reliability.
It’s interesting that Craig completely contrasts the style of Elijah Qualls, the Eagles sixth round pick. Craig is a tenacious pass rusher, who carries his weight well and is extremely agile, using his long wingspan to his advantage. While the bigger bodied Qualls thrives in plugging holes and run Defense..although he may have a niche under Jim Schwartz.
Considering that Beau Allen’s injury may keep him sidelined during the opening stages of the 2017 season, competition on the defensive line will be rampant..and Craig could well be the Destiny Vaeao of 2017. The irony is, it’s Vaeao that he will be competing with.
QB, Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech
Falling third only to Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson in touchdown passes last year, Evans made the most of his lone season at Virginia Tech. Completing 63.5% of his passes, Evans would go on to throw for 3,546 yards, 29 touchdowns and 8 picks, rushing for 846 yards and 12 touchdowns.
A career high average of 46 yards per punt saw Cameron Johnston end his Ohio State career in style, as he now heads to the nest to compete alongside Donnie Jones. While it’s unlikely that Jones will lose his spot as the long-term Eagles starter, the Eagles need an extra punter for camp and of course, competition makes everyone better.
A native of Geelong, Australia, Johnston actually worked out ProKickAustralia to prepare himself for the transition to the USA and for what the game of Football may have in store for him.
As far as skill set, Orlosky has everything you are looking for in a center, or guard for that matter. His throw back style of play, is only rivaled by his almost perfect technique in the middle of the line. He uses his great size well, and is a better than average athlete, when being asked to pull, or get out in front of a runner. What stands out the most when watching the tape on Orlosky, is his football knowledge. He always seems to know what the defense is calling and is capable of making all the line calls..something that could be critical in Pederson’s Offense.
A 2-time All-Big 12 player, as a junior and senior, he comes with a lot of game experience as he was a 3 year starter, and was thought of as a true leader by his team, earning captaincy votes in the process.
His thick base is helpful in the run game, and his strong arms help keep defenders off of his body in the pass game. Considered a true draft diamond, Orlosky has the skill set to be a contributor on this team and would serve as great depth as he learns the NFL game. In many cases, there are UDFA prospects, that need tons of work, to even be considered a practice squad player, in this case, Orlosky, is a prospect who has all the tools, to slot straight in and compete for a spot on the team during Training Camp.
S, Tre Sullivan, Shepherd
After compiling a team best 74 tackles, 2 interceptions, 9 passes defensed and blocking 3 kicks, Shepherd was named first team All-Mountain East Conference in 2016. The 6’0, 200 lbs Safety didn’t miss a game in his last two seasons and became renowned for his effort and physicality, two traits that Jim Schwartz covets in his defensive backs. Sullivan faces a large Mountain in the way of making the roster, but with the long-term future depth at Safety beyond the starting tandem still uncertain, there is every chance that this willing tackler can make an impact during the offseason and earn a spot on the roster.
DT, Charles Walker, Oklahoma
Walker has sparked plenty of debate over the last few months..and we will have an EXCLUSIVE interview coming soon to learn a little more about the last 12 month of the dominant defensive tackle’s life.
In 2015, Walker amassed career highs in sacks (6.0), tackles for a loss (10.0) and tackles (36). His breakout year did not go unnoticed, as he was named Second-team All-Big 12.
The 6’2, 310 lbs, pass rusher racked up 53 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble and 5 passes defensed during his time as a Sooner..a career that ultimately ended in controversy.
Walker decided to cut his career short at Oklahoma in order to prepare for the Draft. Although he was one of the top defensive tackle talents coming into 2016, he went undrafted due to a combination of this, some character concerns, and numerous concussions. Having also suffered with depression, Walker looks set to bounce back at the next level with a chip on his shoulder and earn his stripes in the City of Brotherly Love.
WR, Greg Ward, Houston
Like David Watford and G.J Kinne before him, Greg Ward comes to the Eagles with the hopes of making the team as a wide receiver, despite playing his entire career at quarterback. However unlike the names before him, Ward showed plenty of electricity as a ball carrier during his collegiate career.
Ward registered the most rushing yards by a QB in school history, tying the record for most rushing touchdowns. In fact, during the 2015 season, Ward was the only quarterback not named Deshaun Watson to rush for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000. At 5’11, 186 lbs, Ward has the perfect frame for a wide receiver..but can he make the transition? Ward will be in hot water, with an abundance of wideout talent, varying from Torrey Smith, to Paul Turner and Shelton Gibson, all looking to lock up roster spots..but nonetheless, it will be exciting to see how well Ward fares at a new position as he enters the NFL.
CB, Jomal Wiltz, Iowa State
The following is our EXCLUSIVE interview with newly signed Eagles CB, Jomal Wiltz. In fact, it’s his first interview as an Eagle, shedding light on everything you need to know about the exciting Cyclones prospect.
The find of CB Jomal Wiltz, out of Iowa State University, may prove to be a great find for the team, as he possesses the skill set, speed, and football knowledge to be a difference maker. We spoke with Wiltz to ask him about the draft process, how he felt about not being drafted, and what went behind the decision to chose Philadelphia.
“Going into the whole draft process, I did what I do with everything, I put it in gods hands.” Wiltz told us. “I only tried to control and worry about the things I had any say in. I knew going into it, I had about a 50/50 chance of being drafted, some scouts and some folks said they thought I should be, and some said they weren’t sure. All I know is I wanted a chance to compete, and that’s what I have.
Up until now, the draft, and all of this, I just worked my butt off, kept working on my speed..that is my strength, my speed. So I kept working on things I need work on, and the things I do great, I keep working to make better. I think that is the only way to be successful, to make it out here or do anything for a long time.
With 60 tackles in 24 career games as a Cyclone, Wiltz showed just how dangerous he can be..and his speed was a large part of that. Add to that 17 pass deflections and 271 kick return yards..and what you see is a player who can help the Eagles in more than one facet of the game. But with such a strong cornerback class, there is always a chance that such a strong talent could slip through the cracks. Something that worked out well for the Philadelphia Eagles.
When I wasn’t drafted, I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t waste my time soaking about it..I went right back to work. I trust my team, I trust in God, I trust my talents, and when me and my agent (Brandon Smart), spoke, he felt I had a great chance to make a team.. to get signed..and I trust his opinion, so I continue to work on my craft.
As far as why I chose Philadelphia, well I looked at their roster, and saw that they play with guys my height (5’10), but they also love aggressive players, guys who are willing to hit, willing to make a play and that fits me perfectly. I had other chances for other teams, during the pre-draft process there were a few teams interested in me, but when it was all said and done, I felt like this is the best spot for me. I wanted to go somewhere I could really compete, and be who I am as a player, I think the coaches like my style of play, so it was really a no-brainer.”
He continued on, talking about the Philadelphia fans.
“I hear about how tough the city is, the fans can be crazy on players, and the media can be a bit tough as well. But honestly that fits me perfectly, I feel like I fit that style, I want my fans I play for, be loud and tough, and let us know when we aren’t playing up to par. I love it, I think when we are playing well, and in the playoffs, or whatever, the fans will be amazing then as well. The one thing that stands out about the fans, is they are loyal, they might mess with you but no one else can, and it was a part of what sold me to come here.”
The addition of Wiltz could prove to be one of the biggest steals of this years draft. With his great combination of football knowledge, and blue-chip talent, he could be a true fixture for years to come. He adds real value in his versatile play, being able to line up inside, outside, and at both safety spots. Most importantly, he isn’t afraid to get physical in the run, and blitz package.
Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas hit when they drafted Rasul and Sidney, but what will go under the radar, until it just cant anymore, will be the signing of an UDFA, with the talent of a potential starter in the NFL.
What are the Eagles getting? what can the fans expect?
“I am a hard worker, they are getting the same type of guy, the city is. Hardworking, loyal, tough and passionate, and a guy who will never skip on a chance to get better. I understand what people expect out of an undrafted guy, but I don’t pay that any attention, all I need is a chance, I got this one ,now its time to shut up and show.”
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports