Following in Clement’s footsteps: Get to know the undrafted free agents vying to make Eagles roster

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Training Camp is almost upon us. It was at this stage one year ago that one particular player began to attract attention. That man was Corey Clement. The former Wisconsin running back enjoyed an emphatic OTA period and was set to build on it as Camp drew closer. Of course, the rest was history. The question now however, is who’s next?

Here’s a break down of every undrafted free agent vying to follow in Clement’s footsteps.

 

Jeremy Reaves | DB

The Eagles bought Reaves in on a pre-draft visit and it’s not difficult to see why. One of the most physical defensive backs in this year’s class, Reaves is another gem out of the Sun Belt conference. In fact, he was named the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2017, amassing 104 tackles, 3 picks and forcing 4 fumbles.

At 5’11, 190 lbs, Reaves uses his frame as a remote-controlled missile. Moving from corner to safety, Reaves is intriguing for the Eagles because he could fit either the nickel or depth safety spot perfectly. There are willing run defenders and then there are human rockets who fly into tackles and enjoy doing it. Reaves is the latter. Not only that, but his grounded mindset and massive chip on the shoulder slots him in perfectly into Undlin’s DB room.

How years of adversity helped Eagles Safety Jeremy Reaves fall in love with ‘trusting the process’

We all know by now that the Eagles love the Senior Bowl and Reaves flashed there too, racking up more tackles than anyone else and even picking off Tanner Lee.

Training Camp outlook:
Reaves will be one of the bigger names to watch during Training Camp because if there’s anybody who’s going to fly in and cause everybody to turn around, it’s this hard-hitting thunderbolt who despite some covering fundamentals and a lack of great length, has 20.5 tackles for a loss and a ruthless mentality. The Eagles need to find a third safety to replace the void left by both Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham. Reaves looks primed to make that role his own as Training Camp nears, with the hard-hitting safety looking set to make some big hits along the way.

 

Joe Ostman | DE

The Eagles already added Josh Sweat, but they’ve been known to become besotted with undrafted pass rushers. At 6’3, 255 lbs, this Central Michigan standout is among the best from this year’s pool. With 21 sacks in his last two years and 69 tackles in his senior season to go with 20.5 for a loss in just 11 games, Ostman did more than just attract attention. In fact, he ranked in the top 5 in the nation in tackles for a loss and sacks per game.

The problem is he has a small base and stout legs, meaning that all of his momentum comes from his upper body. While he sets the edge consistently and has a great get-off, the competition will be bigger and badder in the NFL and could overwhelm his size. When asked to counter a move or come up with something else after his initial play doesn’t work, he can often seem disorientated.

Entering a strong locker room of talent and leaders, Ostman would be wise to learn from those such as Brandon Graham and Chris Long and clearly has some great fundamentals for the position, he just needs a lot of polish.

Training Camp Outlook:
Ostman has the potential to become one of this year’s Training Camp darlings. Depth along the trenches has long been a priority for Jim Schwartz and that won’t change anytime soon. Ostman has the initial burst and domineering nature to develop into a real weapon in this 4-3 scheme, but he will need an explosive training camp in order to be granted those opportunities to shine in the preseason.

 

Chandon Sullivan | CB

A breakfast cornerback in every sense of the word, this 5’11, 194 lbs corner out of Georgia State delivers a furious punch at the line of scrimmage. He’s also the school’s record-holder in interceptions and pass break ups. As a Sun Belt sleeper, Sullivan posted 46 tackles. 4.5 for a loss, 2 picks and 8 PBU’s in 13 games in his final season at Georgia State.

He has the size and willingness needed to succeed at the NFL, showing great click-and-close instincts as well as a knack for finding the ball. He doesn’t have speed on his side however and without an overall physical presence to his game, he will struggle on deeper routes against rapid wideouts. However, he has all the fundamentals to at least throw his hat into the mix for a spot on the practice squad this year.

Training Camp outlook:
Sullivan enters a very tightly packed cornerback room, but it’s also one of open competition. The nickel role is up for grabs and the Eagles do need some extra special teams bulk. His size and ball-hawking ability are very reminiscent of what we see in Rasul Douglas and if he can make a few big plays, there is a chance he can assert himself into the mix.

 

Bruce Hector | DT

As aforementioned, the Eagles love finding value in undrafted pass rushers. Last year saw the roster battle involving two UDFA’s in Destiny Vaeao and Winston Craig at defensive tackle and this year could see a competition even more intense. Hector’s 6’2, 296 lbs, frame may not be the most prototypical for his position, but he led or tied his team in sacks in each of his last three seasons, showing that size doesn’t mean everything. 7 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss in his senior year capped off an impressive career.

In terms of technique, Hector has all the moves and mental prowess to succeed at the position, maintaining an even base and sustaining leverage on his rushes, Hector is able to re-direct blockers with ease. The main knock on him is unfortunately his size and that will be something that will be emphasized even further at the next level.

Training Camp Outlook:
Without Timmy Jernigan, the Eagles are very light at defensive tackle, even with Ngata and Bennett added into the fold. If hector can take the fight to the likes of Destiny Vaeao, there’s no reason why this underdog can’t continue to prove people wrong and show that the best things often come in small packages. Hector has proven himself against some notable offensive fronts at USF and if he can emulate that during camp, he is one of the best positioned UDFA’s to make the cut.

 

Josh Adams | RB

A Pennsylvania native, Adams was a day 3 back on the draft boards of many. A long injury history is what drove him off of those boards and into the pool of undrafted free agents.

At 6’2, 213 lbs, he is easily the biggest running back on the team and packs quite a punch as a result. With 3,201 total rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns (41 receptions, 336 yards) during his time with Notre Dame, Adams tore through the trenches with his thick base and unique sense of power.

Adams is a one-cut back who is fairly one dimensional. A willing pass protector, Adams runs with power but his danger relies on building momentum, which will be a lot harder to do at the NFL level.

Training Camp Outlook:
Missing the OTA period due to injury hasn’t exactly helped Adams’ chances of making the cut. With so much competition in a backfield of uncertainty, including the likes of Wendell Smallwood who faces durability concerns of his own, it’s going to take a ‘Clement’ like Training Camp performance if he’s going to force his way into the rotation.

What Adams does have going for him is that the Eagles are still missing that they lost in LeGarrette Blount. His style fits that mold perfectly, but the road ahead will be a long one.

 

Ian Park | OL
Injuries have plagued the career of this 6’4, 315 lbs, offensive guard, who spent one season at Slippery Rock after graduating from Northwestern. He may have only played in six games but was still named first-team all-PSAC last year and started 18 games for his former school. An athletic zone-blocking prospect (perfect for the Eagles), Park lacks the strength desired by coaches at the next level but will be hoping his quick feet and specialty in pulling blocks will translate to a much higher level of competition.

Training Camp outlook:
Park’s technique could be what swings him into the eye of Jeff Stoutland, but his lack of size against such a ruthless defense could be problematic in 11-on-11 drills. His back will be against the wall, but Park does have a hidden talent up his sleeve.

Anthony Mahoungou | WR

At 6’3, 205 lbs, the former Purdue playmaker has enjoyed a very unique path to the NFL. The frenchman started playing football in Paris at the age of 13, he became a member of the French national team before signing with the Boilermakers. It was clear that he had the size and vertical reach to become a dominant threat and that’s exactly what Jeff Brohm saw.

He led the team last season with 688 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging 17.2 yards per catch. Athletically, he has every trait  an offensive coordinator could wish for, but with football still being so new to him, he’s clearly a developmental prospect who will be scrapping with some of the more experienced Eagles wideouts to prove he can make the cut.

Training camp outlook:
Mahoungou has a unique skillset and the Eagles are still in search of that dominant WR2 who could go up for 50/50 balls consistently and prove hazardous to defenses. While he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, the French wideout ticks all the boxes needed to be successful at the next level. It will be interesting to see how Gunter Brewer takes to Mahoungou during Training Camp and if he’s able to throw the Cat among the Pigeons and steal some reps away from the bigger names. His fate will likely come down to preseason performances, but don’t be surprised to see some explosive plays from the huge receiver.

 

 

Ryan Neal | S

At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Neal has the perfect size to play Safety at the next level, but his stunning 4.44 40-yard dash time recorded at Northwestern’s pro-day is what really drew attention to his game. Teams reportedly see Neal as a hybrid player who could play both corner and safety and it will be interesting to see how the Eagles use him over the Summer.

With 226 tackles (ranking 27th all-time in school history), 6.5 for a loss, 5 picks and 19 pass breakups in his career, his rangy frame made for some impressive plays at Southern Illinois. He also led the school with 84 tackles in 2017 and tied with his running-mate Jeremy Chinn when it came to interceptions.

The level of competition will be a dramatic step ups or Neal, the younger brother of former Packer, Mike Neal. From an intangible basis however, he appears to have all the boxes ticked.

Training Camp Outlook:
Like Reaves, Neal has a great chance to make the final roster. It’s clear that competition runs in his veins and a Training Camp of consistency and ball-swatting plays could bring the perfect balance to the table. Reaves packs the punch and Neal enforces the No-Fly-Zone.

 

Asantay Brown | dB

Having played both linebacker and safety spots during his career at WMU, Brown signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. This 6’0, 215 lbs DB didn’t receive a combine invitation, but he did wow at his pro day.

With a 38″ vertical, 10’6 broad jump, 4.15 20-yard shuttle and 6.86 3-cone drill, Brown did more than just raise a few eyebrows. Brown played as a linebacker in both of his final two seasons, having played as a Safety prior to that. For his career, Brown has 307 tackles, 14 passes defensed, 6.5 sacks and 4 interceptions.

A strong tackler who certainly flashed that against one Kareem Hunt in 2016, Brown plays physically and with paste. His ability to burst onto the ball or quickly dissect a play is impressive, weaving through traffic to find the ball and always be around the pigskin.

Training Camp outlook: 
This isn’t the first time that the Eagles have sought out a ‘hybrid’ defensive player and it won’t be the last. Brown brings plenty of athleticism to the table along with plenty of firepower. With a lack of real depth across the board at linebacker, Brown could be one of the best positioned undrafted free agents to cling onto the roster. If things don’t pan out at linebacker, there’s a hefty battle at Safety (as aforementioned) that could be calling for his skillset in the box and ability to swat passes away over the top. Brown could be one of the big names to watch when Training Camp opens.

 

Danny Ezechukwu | DE

At 6’2, 250 lbs, this Purdue linebacker has enjoyed some success rushing the passer, hence his move to the front line as a Philadelphia Eagle. With 50 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and five sacks to his name in 2017, Ezechukwu posted his best season yet playing the hybrid defensive end position.

Ezechukwu flashed plenty of potential during his time as a Boilermaker and ensures his feet drive through every play. If knocked off balance, his lower-body strength and lateral movement are impressive enough to put the defensive end in a position to still make a play and power through the block. A disciplined run defender, he may lack the overall speed to dominate at the NFL level to begin with, but with the never-ending rotation of DE’s still a priority for Schwartz, Ezechukwu could still carve a niche.

Training Camp outlook:
A situational pass-rusher may be his ceiling, but the Eagles also love versatility. If Ezechukwu can flash during camp and perform at numerous spots in this defense, special teams could be one way to start chomping at situational roles scattered around the outside linebacker and defensive end spots. He may be an underdog now, but one strong summer is all it takes.

 

Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

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