The East-West Shrine Game takes place this weekend out in Florida, marking the first ‘all-star showcase’ for budding NFL prospects. Brandon Brooks and Avonte Maddox are two of the more prominent faces currently wearing midnight green to have strutted their stuff in a game designed to give those ‘under the radar talents’ a platform to shine.
The Eagles have a flurry of draft picks this year and there is definitely some value to be found in the later rounds. With that in mind, here are ten players who should absolutely be on their shopping list this weekend.
WR Jonathon Johnson – Missouri
There’s a strong chance that the Eagles will draft a wide receiver this year, but they’ll have to fit a certain mold. Alshon Jeffery and Arcega-Whiteside fill the ‘WR1’ prototype, but a probably vacated slot position and some depth behind DeSean Jackson will be of high priority.
Johnson stands at 5’10, 180 lbs, so will likely be a candidate to take over from Nelson Agholor, or battle with Greg Ward for that spot. Johnson ticks every box the Eagles need. He’s rapid, is stunningly quick in-and-out of his breaks, and has incredibly precise route-running. He can sell vertical routes so well with his head and shoulders, before stopping in an instant and breaking over the middle.
He had a great junior campaign but was hampered by injury this year. The Shrine Game is the perfect place to show he’s back to his best.
CB Luq Barcoo – SDSU
When I evaluate cornerbacks, I’m a sucker for two things:
1) Aggressiveness at the catch-point
2) Physicality at the line and sustaining it throughout the route.
Barcoo has both of those in buckets and its echoed by a whopping 16 pass breakups and 9 picks in 2019. You can see the wide receiver background shine through when he’s out-leaping wideouts and snagging balls down. At 6’1, 175 lbs, he has the makeup and arm-length to hold his own as an outside corner, along with the speed to recover if he’s beaten at the line, and a willingness to get involved in the run-game.
He’s definitely more of a developmental prospect, but given that the Eagles already have a flurry of young corners, I think that’s all they’ll be looking for with free agency prefacing the Draft.
Linebacker Shaq Quarterman – Miami
Quarterman looks every bit of his 6’1, 241 lbs frame and is a scary young man. He earned All-ACC honors for the second year in a row, garnering a 77.8 PFF grade and leading the defense in snaps. He’s also set the school record for consecutive starts, so he ticks the durability box.
Quarterman against the run is just salivating to watch. He’s like a sniffer-dog and will come barrelling down into phase the second he reads where the ball is going, wrapping up in a smothering fashion. He’s hard to wash out of plays and defines the term ‘having a nose for the football’.
The downside is, zone coverage is worrying. There were a few too many times where he’d ‘Nate Gerry’ his way down to the line only to see the ball tossed over his head for a big gain.
The upside is high here and the Eagles are yet to find their long-term Jordan Hicks replacement. This will be a good chance to see if Quarterman is more than just a blitzing behemoth and a run-defense monster.
DT Garrett Marino – UAB
Marino stands at 6’2, 290 lbs, but he moves like a defensive end. I really could see him developing into a player like Malik Jackson who can play both the 3-tech and 5-tech positions, thus making him valuable to the Eagles.
Marino has a real burst to his first step and has fantastic hands to leverage his way past opposing linemen. His swim move is vicious and has exceptional bend to power his way through blocks he’s unable to shed.
He tallied 6.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL in 2019 and a breakout this weekend could see him sneak onto draft boards across the league.
DE Alex Highsmith – Charlotte
Highsmith became the first Niner to earn all-America honors and when you see the numbers, it’s easy to see why. He ranked 4th in the nation in sacks (14.0) and 5th in TFL (21.5).
At 6’4, 242 lbs, Highsmith flies out of the gate when attacking the outside, but has a beautiful rip move. He reminds me of a soccer player doing stepovers when cutting back inside move, showing efficient swipes and the occasional spin-move to roll across the body of bigger tackles. The motor doesn’t fade out deep into drives and his play-recognition is top-notch.
However, he does lack the desired length for the position and if his initial move is countered, that can often shut the doors on his efforts that play. This will be an opportunity to demonstrate some improvement and an ability to keep his core level as opposed to being knocked back if engulfing a punch from a lineman. Either way, he has a nice upside, and is a very fun player to watch.
Take a look at our sleepers on the page below.
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
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