Eagles Draft Strategy: Stay Away from the PAC-12

NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combline
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 02: USC wide receiver Drake London answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 2, 2022, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Not every college football conference is made equal. And in the case of the Philadelphia Eagles, the draft has provided some excellent prospects in certain conferences and disasters in others.

The PAC-12 certainly has some interesting prospects coming into the NFL Draft this year, highlighted by DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Drake London, and Trent McDuffie. But while many analysts may argue about the placement of these three players, they all come with their red flags as well,

For the Philadelphia Eagles, no conference has been tougher to draft from than the PAC-12 over the last eight years. Compare that to other conferences like the SEC, BIG-10, and even ACC, the path forward for the team is simple. Stay away from ANY prospect out of the PAC-12.

Past Experiences

Since 2014, the Eagles have drafted eight players from the PAC-12 in the first four rounds of the draft. Only four are currently still with the team, and none of them are penciled in starters for the 2022 season.

And when it comes to those that have left, the results for each in Philadelphia were beyond disappointing for a vast majority of them.

2014 – Round Three: WR, Josh Huff

2015 – Round One and Two: WR Nelson Agholor, CB Eric Rowe

2016 – Round Three: OG, Isaac Suemalo

2017 – Round Two: CB, Sidney Jones

2019 – Round One and Two: LT, Andre Dillard, WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside

2020 – Round Three: LB Davion Taylor

Just a truly awe-inspiring list. Josh Huff was arrested and cut by his third season with the team. Eric Rowe ended up helping the Eagles in the long run because of his poor performance in Super Bowl LII. Nelson Agholor had some good moments, but for every good play he made, there were five disaster plays committed afterward. He’s on his third team now. Isaac Suemalo was benched for Stefan Wisnewski in 2017 and, while a serviceable guard, is by far the best on this list.

Sidney Jones is on his third different team. Andre Dillard, as a first-round pick, was beaten out for the starting LT spot for a 7th round phenom and can’t play any other position on the line. JJ Arcega-Whiteside has been a no-show but blocks well (lol). And Davion Taylor has shown flashes for the Eagles but was also run over by Leonard Fournette in a game against the Bucs and hasn’t been healthy his whole career.

It’s a list in which the best player, Suemalo, has played in one full season since being drafted. While we can argue about Nelson Agholor and other players currently on the roster, it’s clear that the Eagles haven’t had the same success with PAC-12 prospects that they’ve had in conferences like the SEC, Big 10, or even ACC.

The London Conundrum

One thing I have heard a lot is in regards to Drake London and how the Eagles should certainly consider drafting the USC standout wide receiver.

There’s just one problem. His RAS Comp is more to JJ Arcega-Whiteside than people care to admit, as the two share a major weakness heading into the Pro-Game. London has a major issue with separation. It was evident in PAC-12 games on tape.

As if Eagles fans need more of a reminder, Arcega-Whiteside hasn’t been able to do much on an NFL field over his brief career. Now used primarily as a blocker, the issues previously had with JJAW should only compound the team’s weariness on jumping the gun for another PAC-12 wide receiver.

PAC-12 Tape Doesn’t hold up with Others

One main theme out of every draft is that scouts and coaches say, “if you can perform, it won’t matter where you end up playing… teams will find you”.

While true for many schools and conferences, that isn’t always the case.

If a player in the PAC-12 is playing well on tape and a player in the SEC is putting up a similar tape, team’s should rightly be judging the SEC player better due to the overall talent they are going up against. As good as the PAC-12 once was, the talent level is no longer on the same level as those in other Power Five programs. And any teams judging prospects solely based on tape usually are in for a surprise when a PAC-12 player isn’t able to perform to the same level as he did in college against better competition.

A great example is at the CB position to compare. Washington CB Trent McDuffie is a good prospect out of the PAC-12 and does a lot of good things on tape.

LSU CB Derek Stingley‘s tape isn’t as good over the last few years but has shown ability, especially early in his college career, to be a top-ranked corner if he puts it all together.

If you were an NFL scout, which prospect’s tape would weigh more? McDuffie or Stingley?

Of course, it’s not even close. Almost every analyst sees Stingley going before McDuffie due to the talent Stingley has ALREADY gone up against and the issues McDuffie has with his frame. But the same could be said for the WRs too.

Drake London put up very good numbers at USC. As did WRs Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson of Ohio State. Which tape would merit more consideration? Of course, it’s the Ohio St. kids because they played against much better talent than London did.

It’s no contest. The talent in the PAC-12 has taken a deep dive over the last few years. And it’s not easy to judge players based on their tape and say they’d be great NFL Pros.

That’s never how it works.

Eagles should stay away from Drake London and PAC-12

When you look at a prospect like London, many scouts see a younger Mike Williams or Mike Evans.

They tend to ignore the downside of that, though. At worst, London is another JJAW, and in a very important draft, the Eagles cannot afford to roll the dice on another red zone WR out of the PAC-12.

The Eagles’ recent and past success with SEC, ACC, and even Big 10 athletes show that there’s a blueprint for how this team can gain continued success.

And it’s by ignoring the entire PAC-12 as a whole in this upcoming draft.

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