The NFL Combine is underway and the Eagles interviewed 13 prospects on Thursday afternoon. Here’s everything you need to know about those prospects and why this process is so, so important to the defending Super Bowl champions.
Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan
At 6’5, 332 lbs, Okorafor carries his weight well and could be one of the prospects set to soar up draft boards after the combine. Surprisingly athletic, Okorafor is a powerhouse with a strong core who always pushes for inside leverage. Though his technique is a little raw and he has limited experience in a 3-point stance, the WMU standout is one of the sleepers at the position.
Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
This Pennsylvania native who is the first cousin of Matt Ryan also happens to be one of the highest touted tackles in this year’s draft class. At 6’8, 312 lbs, McGlinchey is a beast with incredible athleticism. Having manned both sides of the trenches during his time with the Fighting Irish, McGlinchey is familiar with zonal schemes and could be a perfect fit in Philadelphia, a team he even went on to say that being drafted by would be ‘a dream scenario’.
“As strong as my ties are in the city of Philadelphia and around the area, that would be a dream-come-true situation.” More on Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey, a Philly native and one of the top offensive linemen in the draft: https://t.co/JOeXIY2FC8 via @phillysport
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) March 2, 2018
McGlinchey may be the most technically well-rounded offensive lineman in the draft and has all the tools in the box needed to succeed at the next level, but he also has a great presence away from the hashmarks.
Talking to Mike McGlinchey is like talking to a coach. Carries himself that way.
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) March 1, 2018
McGlinchey should definitely be on the radar for the Eagles, who seek to bolster the best offensive line in football with even more depth and stability.
Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
If there’s one thing we know about Oregon, it’s that they love to run the ball and get creative in the backfield. Shades of that very offense can be seen in the current Eagles playbook and the offensive linemen are crucial for those sneaky plays and big runs to work consistently.
Crosby missed all but three games in his junior year, but started 12 of 13 in 2015 at right tackle. He’s lined up on both bookends and at 6’5, 325 lbs, has a wide-frame and dominant upper-body strength that sees him very rarely thrown off his mark. He may not be in the same athletic realm as Lane Johnson, but Crosby’s power alone is what makes him so special in the run. A projected day-two pick, there is a chance Crosby slips down into the 4th where the Eagles would more than likely be viable candidates to nurture the talents of this powerhouse.
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
The 6’8, 345 lbs tackle with a stunning 85 1/8′ wingspan was the first casualty of the NFL Combine, struggling in the benchpress by benching 225 just 14 times, the third lowest amount of reps in 20 years. Now, the bench press isn’t exactly the be-all, end-all of the NFL Combine, especially for offensive tackles. As for his play on the field, it’s easy to see how he’s so dominant. Taller than any other OL prospect in Indianapolis, Brown mauled defenders during his time as a Sooner and kept Baker Mayfield’s blindside relatively clean.
The Eagles are now a run-heavy team and a first-team AP All-American with this level of size of sheer power would be a huge asset. If his combine performance sees him slip down boards, you can bank on the Eagles at least considering taking a shot.
Jamarco Jones, Ohio State
Jones won’t dazzle you like some of the more talented offensive line prospects this year, nor will he wow you with versatility. He will, however, give enough power and patience to become an efficient pass-protector at the next level. The first-team all-conference honoree started all 14 games for the Buckeyes at left tackle as a senior.
A technically sound tackle to sit in behind Peters and Vaitai would be a welcome addition and the Eagles don’t have much draft capital. Jones would be a late-round snag, like Vaitai, who can learn under Jeff Stoutland and the league’s best offensive front.
Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Much has been said of the second-team AP All American, but the bottom line is this. Wynn helped pave the way for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to gain the most career tandem rushing yards in FBS history, passing SMU’s Eric Dickerson and Craig James. The 6’2, 300 lbs guard has played both outside and inside, showing great balance and patience when it comes to sustaining blocks.
Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
Having played at all five spots along the offensive front, many regard Rankin to be naturally suited to center. For the Eagles, this would mean an insurance policy behind Jason Kelce, knowing that Isaac Seumalo has a little way to go and Stefen Wisniewski both has other duties.
The 6’5, 305 lbs, lineman is one of the more patient in the class. He lets the play come to him and almost allows opposing defenders to get their array of fancy moves off first before initiating a punch and maintaining balance. A projected day two pick, the Birds’ currently don’t have a pick that could scoop up his services, but they’re doing their due diligence on the first-team All-SEC pick.
Mason Cole, Michigan
There may be no offensive lineman more versatile or ‘pro-ready’ than Mason Cole. He may have started and finished his career at LT, but played at center during his junior year. Partner that with the nature of Harbaugh’s offense and what you have is a versatile lineman who would be quick to pick up the intricacies of a pro-style scheme.
With 51 consecutive starts (a school record), Cole’s 6’5, 297 lbs, frame lends his durability to a center position, although he could well be plugged in at any spot when asked.
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
A human wrecking-ball built in the same vein as LeGarrette Blount, Scarbrough is just punishing between the tackles and can turn any smothering into a 15-yard breakout. A short-yardage specialist who carved out 549 yards and 8 scores when sharing the load with Damien Harris, the 6’1, 235 lbs, powerhouse is more than just a battering ram.
A willing pass protector, Bo comes with a lot of upside. Largely due to the fact he carried the ball less than 300 times during his career with the Crimson Tide, leaving NFL teams with a completely fresh set of legs. While he does have a worrying injury history, Scarbrough’s ability to always fall forwards and push through blocks and tackles will be of big use in the NFL.
Ronald Jones II, USC
Penn State darling, Saquon Barkley, may well steal all the spotlight at running back, but this 6’0, 200 lbs supercar slasher is a deceptive back. The USC product is extremely patient but has plenty of burst in his game, allowing him to turn on the turbo and fly through the trenches at any given moment. A throwback to some of the best slashers to come out of college, Jones has shades of LeSean McCoy in his game that flourish under the bright lights.
With 5.9 yards per carry to his name last year, Jones had NINE 100-yard games, including a streak of five consecutive outings. 3,619 yards and 39 touchdowns are the numbers he ends his USC career on and he stunningly only had two fumbles in 591 carries, protecting the rock at all costs.
Jones may not have the glitz and glamour of Barkley, but he can hit the hole hard and become incredibly elusive with the flick of a switch.
Royce Freeman, Oregon
With 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, Royce Freeman became a powerhouse for the Ducks. His 5’11, 231 lbs base makes him a terror to bring down and while he may not be as versatile as Barner before him, Freeman runs angrily and would be a perfect fit in a West-Coast scheme…which brings us to…
Losing LeGarrette Blount is a likely possibility and Freeman would provide that same workhorse ability if needed, should Jay Ajayi not be able to take on the wear and tear of 16+ carries per game. It certainly looks as though the Brit will be the guy that the Eagles are leaning on, but Freeman would inject that same tenacious style of running in short-yardage situations that they could lose in Blount.
John Kelly, Tennessee
Kelly adds almost a perfect blend of everything the Eagles try to do with their running backs. At 5’9, 212 lbs, Kelly plays far outside of his build and while his numbers (1,573 yards in 3 years) may not scream an elite talent, being drafted into the right system, like his former teammate Alvin Kamara, could be all he needs. Nine of his fifteen scores came last season, along with 778 yards on 189 carries and 299 receiving yards.
Kelly runs hard and never shies away from contact. His aggressive style sees him push through blocks, give violent stiff-arms and be a key factor in pass-protection. Kelly does come with some character concerns, but for a 4th round pick to be so agile yet so physically imposing, it’s worth taking a punt for a Head Coach who can get every last bit of talent out of him.
Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State
A potential day-three pick, this 5’9, 197 lbs, sleeper is a home-run hitter. With 197 carries for 1,112 yards and 12 scores, Hines also caught 26 passes, showcasing his versatility, notching 11 against FSU. Hines should shine at the combine as a former All-ACC athlete in the 4×100 as he has against opposing defenses throughout his career so far. A potential return specialist who ranks fifth in school history with 1,702 return yards, Hines is almost the running back equivalent of Mack Hollins. A special-teams ace who can bring so much more to the table than advertised.
He may be undersized as Donnell Pumphrey was one year ago, but Hines runs angrily and doesn’t have a heavy workload due to transitioning from wide receiver and spending times as a returner. His lone season as a lead back could be a foreshadowing of things to come.
So, what did we learn?
The Eagles have interviewed 13 offensive prospects so far, 5 offensive tackles, 3 offensive guards and 5 running backs. The Eagles seem intent on building from the ball out as they have for the last three years now and they aren’t wasting time seeking talent above their capital. All of the prospects interviewed are realistically attainable.
Why does this matter?
What do they all have in common besides being drafted/signing with the Eagles last year? Combine interviews with the team. With the new regime of Joe Douglas and Howie Roseman, there is a new focus on the players as people and the personality they bring to the locker room.
“You’re really trying to gauge how much does this guy love Football?” Joe Douglas said at the draft last year. “When you get to this level, everybody is talented. There’s a prerequisite of talent that’s required for every position. We’re trying to find the things you can’t really measure; Mind, Spirit, Soul, their will to win.”
The one thing that stood out in Philadelphia this year was the character of the team. Their resiliency, passion and unified brotherhood. There were no distractions. No off-field incidents, nothing that would hurt or hold the team back. This is why interviews at the combine are so, so important and why the prospects the Eagles have meticulously chosen to speak to really do matter.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports