East-West Shrine Game: 10 prospects Eagles fans should keep an eye on

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Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

While a lot of eyes are understandably focused on the Super Bowl, the East-West Shrine Bowl takes place on Thursday February 1st, and will feature plenty of potential draft targets for the Philadelphia Eagles to take a closer look at. Howie Roseman is bound to have his binoculars at the ready, and if you fancy yourself as a future GM, or maybe just want to get a head start on learning some potential draft targets, we’ve found 10 names the Eagles should be honing in on.

Running back

Jaden Shirden, Monmouth

A lot of people will see Jaden Shirden 5’9, 195 lbs, frame and be turned off. But look at some of the most impactful Eagles running backs over the last 5 years or so. Boston Scott has been a mainstay on the roster, Darren Sproles is an all-time great, and D’Andre Swift was given All-Pro honors this year, also standing at 5’9.

Eagles vs buccaneers
Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift (0) runs with the ball as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie (22) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Shirden ended 2023 with 1,478 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 227 carries, leading the entire FCS. That’s a lot of usage for a back of his size, but it also shows that he can withstand a heavy workload. He somehow put up 1,722 yards just one year beforehand too!

Shirden’s strength is his speed. He is absolutely lethal in the open field and has the ability to make rapid cuts and burst through seemingly non-existent holes. He can change gear quickly and possesses great vision too.

According to Scott Stump of Shore Sports Network, 14 of Shirden’s 26 career scores have been at least 50+ yards.

The Eagles don’t like paying running backs and there is a chance both Swift and Scott test open waters this year. Shirden could be a great developmental name to add to the backfield.

Carson Steele, UCLA

Carson Steele could be perfect for Brotherly Shoves. At 6’1, 225 lbs, the big hype surrounding Steele is that he can bench close to 700 lbs. I’m sure he and Jalen Hurts would get on great.

He’s got a thick base and uses it well. He’s tough to bring down but still has the ability to use his thicker lower half to drive through tackles and explode out of cuts, something some bigger backs struggle with.

Steele is likely to be a day-3 or UDFA candidate, but the Eagles love finding value and a running back who put up 847 yards and 8 touchdowns for UCLA last year with those traits is bound to catch some attention.

Frank Gore Jr, Southern Mississippi

Son of Eagles legend, Frank Gore, FGJ is a smaller back at 5’8, 195 lbs, but plays much bigger than his size. He’s surprisingly efficient in pass protection and was utilized as a receiver during his time in the Sun Belt, which included a dominant 329-yard outing against Rice in 2022.

A do-it-all back who could have some developmental upside, Gore will be looking to prove his worth at the East-West Shrine Bowl and show that size concerns are irrelevant.

Wide Receiver

Malik Washington, Virginia

The Eagles would be wise to move on from Quez Watkins this offseason, which means they’ll be looking for someone with some downfield speed and hands that aren’t made of concrete.

Washington appears to fit that mold very well. He’s only 5’8, 194 lbs, but his stout base makes him tricky to bring down in the open field. He reminds me a little of Devin Duvernay, who has carved out a nice career for himself in Baltimore, and like Washington potentially will, started making his paydirt as a returner.

Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Washington transferred to Virginia this past offseason and it proved to be a great decision as he went on to catch 110 passes for 1,426 yards. According to PFF, 1,127 of those yards came from the slot.

He could be a prime day 2 target for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tayvion Robinson, Kentucky

If the Eagles want to find more freak athletes to develop, Robinson certainly fits the mold. After spending a few years with the Virginia Tech Hokies, he transferred to Kentucky in 2022 and would record 497 yards and 3 scores in 2022, before surpassing the 500-yard mark one year later.

Speed is the name of Robinson’s game and he’s a very viable downfield wideout who can take the top off the defense with sharp cuts and great instincts He’s a little taller than Washington, standing at 5’11, 194 lbs, but was not a star of his offense in the way the Virginia wideout was.

Defensive tackle

Leonard Taylor III, Miami

At 6’3, 305 lbs, Taylor is a big boy who possesses great explosiveness and lateral quickness. He’s not the most refined pass-rusher, but in Fangio’s scheme, he could easily be tasked with a nose role in support of Jordan Davis while he develops.

In terms of raw traits, he’s clearly got the requisite power and burst needed to win against opposing linemen. He just doesn’t have a full bag of pass-rushing moves at his disposal yet and his technique is very much built around his power, making it easy for opposing linemen to lower their pads and gain leverage.

A big day here could put him on the map, however.

Linebacker

Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

The Eagles appear to have hung their hat on Nakobe Dean, but the rest of the position is currently in total limbo, which should open the door for a player like Edgerrin Cooper to show his value.

He’s a strong athlete and is highly instinctive when playing downhill against the run. The Aggies really squeezed the most out of Cooper this past season, with the linebacker rallying to a stunning 39 tackles, 8 sacks and 12 QB hurries as well as a pair of forced fumbles. Vic Fangio loves generating pressure without blitzing and Cooper’s explosiveness should afford him that opportunity.

Cooper could well be a pick in the early rounds of the Draft and a strong performance this week will only help his draft stock.

Eagles Nakobe dean
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 02: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) enters the field during training camp on August 2, 2022 at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Cornerback

M.J Devonshire, Pitt

The Eagles already have a former Pitt DB on their roster in the way of Avonte Maddox, and M.J Devonshire could well be next up. He’s a lot longer than Maddox but doesn’t lack any of the athleticism.

Devonshire has been used as a punt returner throughout his collegiate career and displays great ball-hawking capabilities. He rallied to 4 interceptions and PBU’s in his final season with the Panthers. He should be a target for the Eagles in the heart of the NFL draft given how badly James Bradberry played at times this year.

Renardo Green, FSU

If the Eagles are planning for life after Avonte Maddox, then Renardo Green would be a brilliant target. At 6’0 and 186 lbs, he’s got the versatility to play both inside and out, although the Eagles have typically struggled in trusting shorter corners on the boundary.

Green ended 2023 with 32 solo tackles, 2.5 for a loss, an interception and a whopping 13 passes defensed.

He has also hit the ground running at the East-West Shrine game this week, drawing praise from people like Trevor Sikkema.

I’ll have my eye on how he’s deployed during the game itself. It is viewed as a Nickel guy, or maybe even a safety? The Eagles love versatility and Green has it in buckets.

Safety

Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Texas Tech

DTD is another player with versatility as a real strength of his. 53 solo tackles, 4 picks and 7 passes defensed in 2023 only tell some of an exciting story. Taylor-Demerson stands at 5’11, 195 lbs and garnered a reputation as a real playmaker for Texas Tech over the last couple of years.

The Eagles are fairly limited depth-wise at safety, and a player like Dadrion Taylor-Demerson could be a great developmental name who is feisty around the ball, embraces solid tackling, and isn’t afraid to lower his pads into contact.

He’s got game-breaking speed and could be a real Swiss-army knife in years to come if he can develop the way he has over the last few seasons.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire