Senior Bowl week is upon us. Last year it was one of the most important events in the pre-draft process. There was no scouting combine, and there were no private workouts or facility visits.
While things are, for the most part, back to normal for the pre-draft process, this event still holds a high amount of merit. It presents an opportunity for teams to get an up-close and personal look at draft prospects.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, they are well-positioned to add a ton of talent in the upcoming draft. The team currently possesses five picks in the top 100 and will make ten selections in total. Here are ten players the Eagles brass should be watching this week.
1) WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
The 6-foot-four, 211-pound wide receiver is an explosive play waiting to happen. The size-speed combination that he possesses is sure to have scouts and NFL execs salivating at the prospect of adding him to their wide receiver room. Watson’s versatility is another plus in his book, as he’s lined up outside, in the slot, and out of the backfield. He’s also effective on jet sweeps/end arounds.
Watson is a three-level threat. He’s able to use his length on intermediate routes, run after the catch and acceleration on short routes and deep speed, and elite ball tracking ability on deep passes. But, his speed isn’t the only way he creates separation. His route running isn’t his best trait, but it isn’t his worst either. He tends to rely on his physical gifts, a lot of the time. For his size, Watson offers surprisingly good elusiveness.
With the Eagles, the athletic Watson would compliment the cerebral-like DeVonta Smith well.
2) DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
I’ve considered Jermaine Johnson the ‘safest’ defensive end prospect in this draft outside of the consensus top 4 EDGE rushers (Thibodeaux, Hutchison & Karlaftis). I think his game translates very well to the next level due to the advanced skill set he has in his arsenal. He offers a bevy of pass-rushing moves and counters. Johnson’s length and power combination are what make him intriguing to me.
At 6’5 with an 82 7/8” wingspan, Johnson is able to win with leverage and not be driven off the ball. His hands are extremely powerful at the point of attack. He’s able to shed blocks, rip up and under, or chop/stab to get off blocks. Johnson also offers great pursuit and range in the run game. Versatility is also another plus in his basket, as he can play as a stand-up rusher or with his hand in the dirt. The guy is one of the more physical defensive linemen in this class. It isn’t natural to be this polished against both the run and pass.
Johnson would slot in as the third defensive end on the Eagles depth chart, behind Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham. The opportunity to learn from a veteran like Graham would only help to refine Johnson’s skillset even more than it already is. The Florida State products in Sweat and Johnson would be the base defensive ends in Philadelphia for years to come.
3) RB James Cook, Georgia
The University of Georgia product boasts an intriguing array of skills. He can catch out of the backfield (and out of the slot), pass block, and he’s a tough runner of the football. There’s some Alvin Kamara-ness to his game.
Cook is the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings running back, Dalvin Cook. And you can see it in James’ running style. He’s a patient back, who has good burst on his runs. Cook is patient in letting his blockers do their job, and once the hole opens up, he put his foot in the ground and goes. He’s a take what the defense gives you type of back. Cook only accumulated 218 carries over his four-year career, so there is ample room for growth and development.
The Eagles are likely going to want to add a running back to the room, due to the durability struggles Miles Sanders has experienced since being drafted. Sanders is also entering the final year of his deal.
4) DE Logan Hall, Houston
The big thing Logan Hall offers is his versatility as he can serve as a DT or DE (predominantly played as a 5 Tech and base end). He plays with really strong and violent hands and is very physical at the point of attack. He’s explosive out of his stance and plays with immense power as both a run defender and pass rusher to get off blocks.
Hall is 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, and he knows how to use his length. He leans into offensive linemen and is able to get pressure consistently.
The Eagles will be looking to add to their defensive line room, as Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan will hit free agency. Fletcher Cox was also the subject of many trade rumors during this past season. Selecting a versatile player like Hall and pairing him with last year’s third-round pick Milton Williams to give the Eagles a one-two punch heading into the future would be an exceptional move.
5) CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA
Tariq Woolen is a smaller school corner from UTSA. Woolen is a converted wide receiver which offers him an advanced understanding of space and leverage when in coverage. However, it does come with some drawbacks. Woolen is incredibly raw. However, the traits are there. He excels in bump-and-run coverage and off-man coverage when he’s allowed to run. Woolen is an exceptional athlete who (in addition to football) played basketball and ran track in high school. At 6-foot-3 (3/8) with a 79-inch wingspan, Woolen possesses intriguing length, which helps him in zone coverage as well.
The Eagles will be in the market for a number two corner with the impending free agency of Steven Nelson. Bringing in another stop-gap type corner like free agents Ahkello Witherspoon, Desmond King, or Anthony Averett could prove to be a practical move.
6) LB Terrel Bernard, Baylor
Bernard is the captain of the Baylor defense. He’s an athletic, twitchy, and sort of omnipresent linebacker (he flies around the field). He’s a quick processor but, he’s a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. but he makes up for what he lacks in size, in sheer competitiveness.
He primarily, seems like a WILL linebacker at the next level that could also be a core special teams player. He’s a very fluid mover around the field who displays sufficient closing speed. He kind of struggles sometimes at the tackle point and getting off blocks due to his lack of size and mass.
In his senior season, Bernard notched 103 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, and 4 pass breakups. This production earned him first-team All-Big 12 honors.
7) OG Cole Strange, Chattanooga
With Brandon Brooks’ retirement, the Eagles have lost a body in the offensive line room and could stand to lose another depending on Jason Kelce’s decision on whether or not to return for a 12th season. A player who could potentially play center or guard is Chattanooga left guard, Cole Strange.
Strange is a sixth-year player and five-year starter. He started 44 games during his time at Chattanooga, with 41 of those starts at left guard, two at left tackle, and one at center. When watching Strange, the two things that stand out to me is his hand strength and the level of IQ he plays with. He decisively detaches off blocks and picks up late blitzers, as well as, plays with his head on a swivel when on the move.
His anchor is firm and strong, if he gets his hands on you, he’s going to hold his ground. He plays with nice awareness and finishing ability. In the running game, he’s a pretty good mover and he excels on zone runs.
8) CB Alontae Taylor
Taylor is another WR-CB convert and it’s evident when watching him play. He plays fast and downhill. He’s dynamic at the point of attack. Taylor is a fiery competitor who seems to love tackling.
He’s a very physical defensive back who is sufficient in either man or zone (more so zone), press or off coverage. He struggles with receivers who are crafty route runners (in terms of their footwork and getting into their breaks fast), but when he’s in press and able to create contact at the line is when he’s at his best.
Taylor accumulated 162 tackles, 19 pass breakups, and four interceptions across his four years at Tennessee.
9) S Jalen Pitre, Baylor
For lack of a better term, Pitre plays like a bat out of hell. The do-it-all safety for the Baylor Bears is an aggressive football player. He shoots gaps with conviction and plays every snap like it’s his last. Pitre is a big hitter too. Across his time at Baylor, Pitre played in the slot, both safety spots, inside linebacker, and outside linebacker. He’s a lively player who jumps off the screen when you watch him.
He’s a passionate run defender who notched 195 total tackles, 36 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks in his career at Baylor. He operates as a swiss army knife on defense. Give him a job to do and he simply goes out and gets it done.
10) QB Carson Strong, Nevada
Howie Roseman has said the Eagles are committed to surrounding Jalen Hurts with pieces. However, if the opportunity arises and the organization falls in love with one of the quarterbacks in this draft, I am of the opinion that they should do everything in their power to get their guy. At the quarterback position, I’m a person who is huge on traits. What can this player bring to a specific team’s offense? And with Strong, the traits are there.
He has a compact delivery and a very lively arm that can make all the throws at every level of the field. He possesses a strong arm that can get the ball where it needs to be on-time and on target. He checks every box as a pure passing quarterback. Of course, in the current age of the NFL where dual-threat quarterbacks are all the rage, a pure pocket passer may not be the apple of Eagles’ fans eyes. However, Strong can absolutely sling it.
No one knows what Howie Roseman and the Eagles are thinking about the quarterback position, but we do know that the Roseman and co. are going to exhaust all options when it comes to the quarterback position, and Strong should be high up on their list of guys down in Mobile this week.
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire