The Eagles are coming off of a rollercoaster Draft weekend that saw plenty of scintillating highs and a couple of controversial decisions. All in all, 10 new rookies were added to the roster, providing a sense of excitement and an infusion of youth.
Howie didn’t stop there though as he went on to add a further 13 new faces to the Eagles as undrafted free agents. In this series, we’ll take a deep dive into what each brings to the table.
Grayland Arnold, DB, Baylor
Arnold has an interesting background in football. He started out as a defensive back while also playing quarterback, wide receiver and kick/punt returner. Arnold is mainly a nickel corner who excels through his great instincts and understanding of his role. The Baylor prospect’s footwork is really good. He keeps on his toes so he’s ready to react to what his great vision of the field is telling him. His ball skills are certainly a positive of his play and he showed that with his production in 2019, coming away with 6 interceptions.
One trait that I love in Arnold’s play is the fact he constantly has his eyes on the quarterback, allowing him to be precise with his timings. He has also never lost his punt returning skills as he had multiple returns for 149 yards and 1 touchdown.
However, Arnold really struggles with his tackling. The technique is very raw and it allows for receivers to slip by. Another question about Arnold is his durability. He’s broken his arm before and suffered an ankle injury back in 2018 that forced him to take a medical redshirt and miss 9 games.
A lack of long-speed also hurts him and that won’t exactly make for a smooth fit right out of the gate.
Overall, I really like Arnold as a developmental nickel corner who has extensive experience in the position in a quality college conference. Arnold can definitely add depth to the Eagles corner room and the upside of him as a punt returner will help him massively when it comes to securing a future.
Dante Olson, LB, Montana
Dante was a real standout for Montana in the Big Sky Conference. He has countless awards to his name and was deemed one of the best prospects to come out of the conference in some time. Olson is a real monster at tackling and he has the stats to prove this claim, chalking up 179 tackles in 2019 alone, which is absolutely astonishing.
The Montana prospect’s football IQ is brilliant and it shows when you watch him at work. He understands his role perfectly and his play recognition is pretty much always on point. Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 237 pounds, Dante does a really good job of moving around blocks when he has the space to do so. Overall, he’s patient in his style of play, waiting for the play to develop before pulling the trigger. But when he does, he’s almost certain to have an impact on the play.
Unfortunately for Olson, he’s a true inside linebacker and will struggle to track guys sideline to sideline. He will lose a lot of foot races with good athletes and due to a lack of speed and his range on coverage is limited.
The main question surrounding Olson will be whether he can step up to thislevel of competition.
He certainly has the ability to and well, I’ll let the stats tell you the story by themselves.
His 2019 statline reads like this: 179 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles in just 14 games. Dante has some real upside to him and could be an exciting prospect to follow.
Manasseh Bailey, WR, Morgan State
Bailey was a tough one for me to evaluate, like some in this series will be, due to the fact that he went to a small school and tape is hard to come by. He started off as a linebacker before making the move to wide receiver in 2017. He was deemed one of, if not, the best wideout in his college conference, and the stats are there to prove it.
This kid can fly. He’s extremely quick and the tape I saw was wild to watch, he was constantly burning DB’s for fun and really fits the theme of this entire draft class for the Eagles. In the open field, I really like Manasseh’s agility and has some nice juke moves in his locker. He has the upside of returning the ball too and with his skillset and could make a really nice returner. Also, from the limited amount of tape I’ve managed to watch, he seems a smooth route runner.
Once again, the question surrounding Bailey is if he can develop and take a liking to the massive step-up in level of competition. The quality he played at was pretty low and you have to question if that’s the reason he stood out. Another thing I noticed whilst watching him was the fact it seemed like he doesn’t have much to his game other than being a deep threat, I’d have loved to see shorter routes and get a gauge for his ability there. If Bailey can take the step up to the NFL level, then he could be a really nice weapon to have, especially with the class of rookies we have from this draft.
Elijah Riley, DB, Army
Whenever I’ve seen comments surrounding Riley, it’s always been positive and people can’t stop singing his praises. He was a team captain for Army in 2019. One thing I noticed was his versatility as a defender and he took on a serious number of roles for the defense. Riley has really good ball skills and his blitzing ability is brilliant for a player his size. Elijah is known for his tackling and has some seriously hard hits on his resume.
He had 21 pass breakups in his Army career, a number that broke the programs previous record of 20. He also had 6.5 sacks over his career and 7 interceptions.
Although he’s very versatile in terms of role, he does have his limitations in both man coverage and in space, He hasn’t got brilliant speed and will struggle if asked to turn and run with guys, especially given he hasn’t got much experience doing that. Other than that, I really like Riley as a prospect for the Eagles and he fits that versatile defender that the Eagles and Jim Schwartz seem to be targeting in 2020.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports