NFL Scouting Combine Day One: 5 players the Eagles should keep an eye on

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Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter watches as players warm up on the field before the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine has officially begun and the first day of workouts will see the top defensive line and linebacker prospects trying to make a great impression for the 32 organizations across the league. For the Philadelphia Eagles, their large cast of free agents leaves the team in need of both position groups participating on Thursday afternoon.

Throughout the week we will be going over five names of each group to look at in the afternoon. So let’s start today with five names to watch for Philadelphia as the workouts begin.

Calijah Kancey

Kancey might be my favorite prospect in this draft that will be available at both 10, and possibly 30 going into the NFL Draft. Considered a smaller Aaron Donald, the Pittsburgh product possesses freakish speed and technical pass-rushing skills that someone like Jordan Davis lacked coming out of Georgia last season. In short, pairing Kancey with Davis and Milton Williams and the Eagles could have a young but exciting trio of defensive tackles.

Luke Van Ness

Van Ness is a pass-rushing project. He has raw tools to be a top pass rusher, but needs to gain size against the run and isn’t ready to play inside just yet. That being said, if Van Ness has a strong combine, the Eagles could very well try and get the athletic freak from Iowa to help their pass-rushing depth.

Henry To’oTo’o

Not every player participating today is a pass rusher. To’oTo’o is a technical linebacker who wasn’t flashy at Alabama but wasn’t shy about being around the football and making key plays at big moments. With Sean Desai as the defensive coordinator, having an experienced and physical linebacker at the position will come in handy and To’oTo’o could very well be the perfect fit there with TJ Edwards and Kyzir White both free agents.

Nolan Smith

Nolan Smith is currently a late first-round pick and an early second-round pick. A strong Combine could help him improve his stock into the teens while every team has been looking for major pass rushers. Smith has the physicality needed for the position but needs to get bigger and stronger to produce as a top pass rusher. This could be an intriguing option for the Eagles at 30.

Jalen Carter

Carter has been charged with a misdemeanor charge on Wednesday night in connection with a car crash in January that killed two people. So what happens now? The Georgia defensive tackle could fall in the draft due to off-the-field concerns. It’s easy to say the Eagles should take a flier if Carter falls to 10, but the Eagles will need to do a lot of research within this case, and behind the scenes to see if Carter is worth the gamble. His tape shows someone who can change the entire complexion of the team, but will it be worth it?

AP Photo/Darron Cummings