Eagles Scouting Handbook: Senior Bowl Standouts

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 02 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice
MOBILE, AL – FEBRUARY 02: National wide receiver Christian Watson of North Dakota State (1) during the Reese’s Senior Bowl practice session on February 2, 2002 at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)

Known for targeting players that participate, the Senior Bowl is an integral part to the Eagles’ draft process. In fact, approximately 1/3rd of every player drafted under Howie Roseman’s watch has been a Senior Bowl alum. In years past, we would hear tales of the countless informal visits entertained by Eagles’ brass. Although this year the rumors have been noticeably quieter, there are certainly some draft candidates that will have caught Howie Roseman’s eye this past weekend.

WR | Christian Watson – North Dakota

The offensive darling of the Senior Bowl, the Eagles won’t be alone collecting tabs on the NDSU receiver. With his athletic profile and daunting measurables, it’s no secret why he is such an enticing prospect. As an FCS receiver, his ability to separate will always come into question during the draft process. I believe he dispelled most of those concerns this past week.

A mountain of a man, Watson’s catch radius and jump-ball ability make him a target on almost every play. Plus, he has the rare ability at 6’5″ to simply run past corners who underestimate his speed. At this point in his career, he wins his routes by out-athlete’ing his competition, but his unique tangibles suggest he could grow as a route runner. If nothing else, his ability to dominate his opposition at the line of scrimmage will make him a fantastic red-zone target for years to come.

The fundamental question is, will he still be available when the Eagles are picking in the second round? As prime trade-down candidates, Philadelphia may be able to scoop him up later in the first round, if they don’t feel comfortable waiting until day two. However, with such a deep class of receivers, I imagine they will be content with whomever falls to them.

WR | Romeo Doubs – Nevada

In my opinion, Doubs had the best performance of any receiver at the Senior Bowl. It helped that he was on the field with his college quarterback Carson Strong, but Doubs’ route running and ability to use his leverage to get open was on full display.

Coming into the draft process, Doubs was certainly known as a legitimate playmaker, but mostly heralded as a deep threat — evidenced by his 17.2 yards per catch this past season. He’s really impressive off the line, with a deep bag of releases and a good understanding of how to set the defender up. So, it only makes sense that his route running would improve, I just didn’t anticipate it looking so good so early.

The biggest problem for Doubs, and I could probably copy and paste this for almost every single receiver in the 2022 draft, is concentration drops. I’d like to say this is an issue that goes away, but as an Eagles fan, I’m really not sure anymore.

If you can overlook the occasional frustrating drop, Doubs may be the most well-rounded prospects in this draft. He’s big, fast and has really solid route running and IQ. With so much talent at the receiver position, one of these guys is bound to be available for the Eagles in the second round.

WR | Jalen Tolbert – South Alabama

The last receiver in this article, but certainly not the least, Jalen Tolbert is yet another exciting prospect at the position that could fall to the Eagles in the second round. I likened him to Bryan Edwards in my FlippinTheBirds graphic:


I think what’s most impressive about Tolbert is his functional strength. At 6’3″, 190 lbs he’s already a load to handle. He understands his leverage and how to use it to gain advantage. Yet, he still has the capacity to add weight at the NFL level. It’s a scary premise.

Although he didn’t get the chance to display it at the Senior Bowl, he’s really impressive after the catch. He’s got very fluid hips which he showcases after the catch and while running his routes.

Again, there’s some concentration drop issues. Still, if any of the three receivers mentioned fall to the Eagles in the second round, they should jump at the opportunity.

OG | Marquis Hayes – Oklahoma

While Boston College’s Zion Johnson got most of the attention from scouts, Marquis Hayes was quietly dominant all game. The massive guard was a force in run blocking, terrorizing the interior defensive line of the American team. There is no doubting Hayes’ physical acumen. As a run blocker, he would be an immediate impact player. He’s just a nasty fella at the point of attack — fun to watch.

There is some work to do in his pass protection. He plays a little high and his footwork needs some cleaning up — both of which seem small tasks for the best offensive line coach in football, Jeff Stoutland. His technique is sound, it’s just that there’s some stiffness to his game. There are also some questions about his athleticism, but some of those concerns are overstated in my opinion. He certainly moved well this weekend. Still, at the very least, Hayes’ football IQ would suggest that he would take well to coaching, and won’t make many mistakes if thrust into a starting role.

With Kelce appearing to want to return to the team, the Eagles may be able to hold off on drafting a center in 2022. Instead, they could take a guard and move Landon Dickerson to center in a pinch. Drafting Hayes would also give the team a solid option should Isaac Seumalo miss more time due to injury.

The Eagles develop lineman as well as anyone else in the league and Hayes seems like a perfect addition to the machine that keeps churning out productive NFL linemen. Likely available in the third round, Hayes could be a fantastic option as a developmental guard that could step in if called upon in his rookie season.

RB | Rachaad White – Arizona State

Watching White decisively maneuver his way through the American team defense was reminiscent of Jordan Howard, a back who’s addition to the active rotation was a breath of fresh air for the Eagles. White adds more athleticism at the cost of size and power, but could also be a welcome addition as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

With Miles Sanders’ future in flux, the team’s commitment to a running back by committee approach would suggest they’ll need more than just Sanders and last year’s rookie Kenny Gainwell on the roster. The Arizona State back would be a welcome addition as a change of pace back — with his patient, methodical approach a stark contrast from Sanders and Gainwell’s burst.

The major issue is White’s pass-blocking, which is a common flag for many smaller backs coming out of college. If he can develop that skill, just as Miles Sanders has, he would be a perfect complimentary back, with talent in all areas.

It’s difficult to gauge where running backs will start to come off the board this year. There’s not that many needy teams after a fairly stacked class last season. So, White could easily fall into the Eagles hands late on day two, if not later.

Edge | Boye Mafe – Minnesota

Although he didn’t win the MVP, Mafe was easily the best player on the field at the Senior Bowl. He was able to showcase just about everything in his wheelhouse as a pass rusher. He won with speed, he won with power and he even showed off some impressive technique and counter moves. His motor runs hot, and his combination of a quick first step, hand placement and bend make him a nightmare to deal with as a pass rusher.

There are some question marks about his ability to anchor down against the run and get off blocks. However, at 6’3″, 255 lbs, it seems like it is just a matter of development. Some tutelage from Brandon Graham would do wonders.

As of now, Mafe is tagged as a day three prospect, but his Senior Bowl performance may have upped the anti. Howie loves to build through the lines and the Minnesota prospect would be a fantastic addition to the pass rush rotation for now, with promise of developing into a devastating starter down the road.

LB | Jesse Luketa – Penn State

Everything said about Boye Mafe’s performance could be echoed about Canadian Jesse Luketa — and yes I do have to mention it. He was consistently out of his stance and on his way to the quarterback before opposing tackles could react. What I really liked about the Penn State product was his pursuit. He was relentless getting to the QB and never gave up on a play.

As a pass rusher, he’s twitched up, with a lightning quick first step and bend to round the edge and get underneath taller tackles. He is stout against the run and sheds blocks with relative ease.

I think a lot of teams won’t really know how to use Luketa to harness his potential. He has a long way to go as a cover backer, and probably projects best as an outside LB in a 3-4. However, he would be a perfect fit in the Eagles’ hybrid linebacker/pass rusher role that Genard Avery occupied at times last season.

In spite of the potentially awkward initial fit, Luketa’s potential and athletic profile present a perfect opportunity to develop a special hybrid player that would fit seamlessly into Jonathan Gannon’s vision for a more position-less defensive scheme.

CB | Derion Kendrick – Georgia

There was a massive difference in coverage based on which side the National team was targeting. Simply put, that’s how good Kendrick was. If the Eagles aren’t able to secure one of the “top” corners in the draft, this Georgia corner could easily be the diamond in the rough. At 5’11”, 202 lbs Kenrick isn’t the longest of corners, but he has a surprising catch radius and is big enough that none of the massive National team receivers were able to bully him.

Kendrick is a scheme versatile corner with ball skills stemming from his early career as a receiver. In a word, he’s perfect for what Jonathan Gannon’s scheme. The one question mark is his lack of long speed, but with ample safety help over top, this shouldn’t be an issue in Philly.

With a sizeable list of first round talent at corner, the Eagles might get lucky and be able to snag Kendrick — who certainly has first-round upside — at the top of the second round, if they aren’t able to snag one with their first three picks.

S | Jalen Pitre – Baylor

Labelled as a box safety, Jalen put on a coverage showcase at the Senior Bowl. Towards the end of the game, there was a period that he simply took over. Long and rangy, Pitre was disruptive at the catch point, sticky in man coverage and incredibly reactionary in zone. He was also a boon filling in against the run. Even at just under 200 pounds, there’s a nasty edge to his game that would seem to imply a much bigger athlete.

Pitre is certainly an intriguing fit for the Eagles defense as Gannon attempt to break the mold on traditional scheme. He played in multiple positions close to the line of scrimmage for Baylor and could fit well as an undersized cover linebacker — something the Eagles desperately need more of. However, he would also be an enticing fit as a strong safety, although his coverage skill drop off noticeably the further away from the line of scrimmage he is.

It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the potential of the Baylor product. Something that should certainly garner a second or third look from Howie. With safety being a glaring need of the Philly defense, the Eagles may opt for a more traditional player to man the deep thirds. Although, many of the better options will either be gone by the time the Eagles select in the first, or feel like a reach. The biggest need for Gannon’s side is playmakers, regardless of position, and Pitre certainly fits the ticket. If the front office agrees on the upside, they may be able to snag Pitre in the third.

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire