After a long, tiring process during the chaotic 2020, we will finally have a full college football weekend, and two teams making their season debuts tonight are Michigan and Minnesota. Per Jordan Reid of The Draft Network, the Eagles are among a number of teams who will have representatives at the game watching the potential next set of NFL stars in action.
The key question is, who are the Eagles eyeing up, and here are my top 4 candidates.
Kwity Paye – Defensive End – Michigan
We know how much the Eagles, and specifically Howie Roseman, loves to invest in the defensive line, and would it really surprise us if the Eagles used yet another 1st round pick on a lineman? Derek Barnett is in the final year of his rookie deal with the Eagles and it’s safe to say he’s yet to really show the potential everyone thought he had. That’s why Kwity Paye could be in for a chance to be the next young DE to arrive in Philly.
Paye is an athletic monster, a freak that should scare any player at any level. Listed on the Michigan website at 6 foot 4 and 272 pounds, he certainly has the body for the position and he knows how to use that body to record sacks, tackles, and hits. He recorded a 6.37 second three-cone time which was 2nd best on the team and a time that would have beat everyone at the 2020 combine. His 40 yard dash time is at 4.57, with a 34 inch vertical and 30 reps on the bench press.
Kwity returned to Michigan for his senior season after recording 50 tackles, 12.5 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks. He is a decorated track and field athlete going back to his high school days and he also played both ways during his high school career. It’s safe to say Kwity Paye is defying everything about a big defensive end and will definitely be one to note for the game tonight.
Rashod Bateman – Wide Receiver – Minnesota
Whilst the top end of this years’ wide receiver draft class is pretty damn good, Rashod Bateman has everything he needs to really challenge as the top receiver alongside the huge names like Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith. He was set to opt-out of this season but changed his mind later on and is set to be fed a huge workload now Minnesota lost Tyler Johnson to the NFL in the 2020 draft.
Bateman isn’t a receiver who will burn secondaries on deep speed routes. Standing at 6 foot 2 and weighing in at 210 pounds, his hands are incredibly strong and secure, he consistently runs his routes to perfection and his contested catch ability is out of this world. His body build also helps him massively down the field when opposition players are trying to take him down which leads to him being a fantastic playmaker after the catch.
In his sophomore year, with Tyler Johnson still on the team, Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns, a stat line that he was set to blow up this season before the season was cut short. Either way, with the workload he has, Bateman will shine.
The Eagles would be stupid to pass up on Bateman if he was still there when they’re picking in the 1st round. He is exactly what the Eagles are missing, with Alshon looking more and more likely out of the door no matter what method Philly use, JJAW just not being used at all never mind in the right way and Zach Ertz on the way out, the Eagles have never needed a big body, talented receiver more. Bateman, Fulgham, Reagor, Ward, Hightower and Watkins is one serious wide receiver core to have.
Aidan Hutchinson – Defensive End – Michigan
Now I mentioned Michigan’s other defensive end as a player to watch out for but Michigan actually has an absolutely insane defensive line this year and it would have been wrong of me to not mention Kwity Paye’s teammate Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson is just as good as an athlete as his partner Paye but finds himself in an even bigger body, standing at 6 foot 6 and weighing in at 270 pounds.
Hutchinson will be looking to have a phenomenal season off the back of being a very vocal advocate for the return of college football in the summer. In his sophomore year, Hutchinson recorded 68 tackles, 10 for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Hutchinson also offers some versatility, which the Eagles will love given their injury issues. Even though he’s been converted to a full-time defensive end, Hutchinson was used all across the defensive line and in multiple roles during his first season with Michigan. The storyline of where and when those Michigan defensive linemen will go in the Draft will be a great one to follow and hopefully the Eagles get to play a part in their narrative.
Daniel Faalele – Offensive Tackle – Minnesota
Now onto my final and favorite prospect the Eagles could be looking at this year and it’s a personal weakness for me, huge, Aussie rugby players. I completely fell in love with Jordan Mailata and right now, he’s looking like a strong left tackle replacement for the injured Jason Peters and Andre Dillard. So, why not add a bigger, better version of Jordan on the other side of the offensive line?
Daniel Faalele is bigger than Mailata, yes I just said that, he stands at a stunning 6 foot 9 and currently weighs in at 400 pounds and the kid is athletic as hell, its truly frightening. His mobility is phenomenal, he does a great job at constantly moving his hips and just battering oncoming defensive lineman in the run game, if he gets his hands on you, its game over, try again next snap. I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw the sheer power Faalele possess ever, in any sport.
Whilst he is extremely athletic, he still has his struggles due to his monstrous body build. If an oncoming defensive end tries to bull rush him with power, they have no chance at getting past him, however, if the team you’re going up against has a speed rusher then Faalele has issues ahead of him, he simply can’t keep up with guys who can counter with hands, gain the slightest bit of a push and then speed away from him. However, if he sorts that out, he and Mailata would lockdown pretty much every defensive end in the league with ease, Wentz would finally be protected, from the edge at least.
Faalele also has a lot of versatility, something you know the Eagles love as he’s played a fair few snaps at left tackle before being moved to the right full-time last year. Oh, I almost forgot, he’s also got a rushing touchdown to his name during his time in Minnesota.
It’s safe to say, there’s a lot of talent out there tonight for the Eagles representatives to feast their eyes on and some I haven’t even mentioned like Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim and Michigan’s offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield. So, if you have nothing better to do with your Saturday evening, sit down, watch the game, and fall in love with Daniel Faalele alongside me.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire