Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles are doing some serious due diligence this week and they are bringing or planning on bringing in several big name first round prospects. Each year before the draft every NFL team is alloted 30 draft visits in which they can bring in prospects for an interview, physical examination and any type of written test. They are not allowed to do any type of workout testing like the ones conducted at the combine or various pro days.
It’s a good chance for teams to get a closer look at a prospect they may be unsure about medically or character wise or they may just want to make sure their potential first round investment is rock solid.
This week the Eagles are reportedly bringing in running backs Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook, wide receivers Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Chris Godwin and John Ross, linebackers Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. These are all big time prospects and all outside of Ryan Anderson have a very good shot at being selected in the first round.
Here is a quick breakdown on each upcoming prospect visit:
Leonard Fournette RB/LSU- Fournette doesn’t fit what I believe the Eagles are looking for at running back, but my god can this 230+ pound back burst through the hole. At LSU he was asked to do one thing, run straight ahead and destroy any defender that gets in your way. That made for a ton of great highlight runs, but he’s very untested as a receiver and in pass protection. That Eagles value both from their back in their versatile west coast offense.
I’m very torn on Fournette, which is why I am glad the Eagles are bringing him in. Prospects you are unsure about are the best guys you can bring in because those are the players you need the most information on.
Fournette showed very little explosiveness at the combine(28.5 inch vertical, among the lowest in his group) and showed up about 10 pounds heavier than his reported playing weight. Still, his potential is far too great to ignore. He’s a stronger Adrian Peterson with more speed. I get why fans would love to see him in Eagles green. I don’t see the value at 14, but I get why others do.
We also have to consider that this is somescreen season and sometimes a team brings in a prospect for a visit just to throw other teams off. Maybe the Eagles want other teams to think they might take a running back at 14 just to scare a running back needy team into trading ahead of them or maybe I’m just insane.
Dalvin Cook RB/Florida State- The tape of Cook by itself is enough to justify a top 15 selection. He’s comparable to Ezekiel Elliot in that he has a great burst, makes you miss in the open field, is an outstanding reciever, elite athlete(though he didn’t test like one at the combine) and is solid in pass protection.
The issues with Cook are mainly outside of his tape. There are conerns about his shoulder injuries holding up at the next level, he does have some off the field issues in his past(accused, but found not guilty of assault) and ball security is also an issue. Cook had 6 fumbles this past season and 7 in the two seasons prior to 2016. That’s a lot of fumbles for a back a team may spend a first round pick on.
Now ball security isn’t the end of the world with a running back prospect and is usually something that can be fixed by coaching, but the GM who spends a first round pick on Cook will lose a lot of sleep because of this issue.
Okay, so the positives with Cook are pretty great and enough to get excited about him joining this Eagles offense. I don’t care about his combine numbers, he is an elite athlete with a quick burst and breakaway speed. He has great hands and can line up all over the field as a receiver and is a complete nightmare for any linebacker to cover.
What really sets Cook apart as what I believe is the top running back in this draft class is his vision and patience. He does a great job of reading the defense and letting his blocks set up before he finds that extra gear. For that reason I would love him in Philly running behind a pretty physical but also very athletic offensive line.
Corey Davis WR/Western Michigan- Davis announced that he will not be healthy enough to workout at Western Michigan’s pro day later in March. Because of this, bringing him in for a visit is very smart. The Eagles medical staff gets a chance to medically clear him and get a better idea of how soon until he will be back to 100%.
Davis is my favorite wide receiver prospect in this class and it isn’t even close. He’s a rare player with elite separation ability, a nasty blocker in the run game and the size and athleticism to win a ton of 50/50 balls. He gets compared to Greg Jennings a lot(lazy comp because they went to the same school) but I think he is much closer to Julio Jones.
People are concerned because he played against lesser competition, but the MAC sends plenty of talent to the NFL and he made them all look bad. With the Eagles not locked into any wide receiver beyond the 2017 season, Davis could absolutely be the pick at 14 if he impresses in interviews.
John Ross WR/Washington- Think DeSean Jackson, but somehow fast and a little bit stronger. He broke Chris Johnson’s 40 yard dash record at the combine by running a scary fast 4.22. He’s just as quick as he is fast and it’s pretty evident on tape. He’s a smaller wide out(5’10, 188) but his separation ability will dominate an entire defense’s gameplan.
The big concern with Ross is his injury history, and it’s a long one. Among his many injuries are a torn ACL in 2015 and a torn labrum in 2016. For a player under 190 pounds, durability is going to be a big concern going forward. I believe he would be a lock for the top 10 without that injury history, but because it does make him a risk in the first round, where he falls is anyone’s guess.
Mike Williams WR/Clemson- If you follow me on twitter than you know I am really down on Williams as a top 15 draft pick. He is one of the best wide receivers you will ever see at dominating the catch point and winning contested catches, but he has to be because he does not separate on tape.
I was very interested to see this kid run at the combine, but he only elected to do the vertical leap and save his runs for his pro day. His vertical leap was a pretty meh 32.5 inches and his 40 yard dash at his pro day was somewhere between 4.55-4.59 depending on which scout’s stopwatch you trust.
What you are getting with Williams is an Anquan Boldin type receiver, which isn’t awful. He is a very physical receiver who will need to earn his quarterback’s trust against tight coverage because he will never separate enough consistently. I assume by bringing Williams in that this is about Howie and company doing their homework on as many first round guys as possible more than it is about them seriously considering Williams as their first round pick.
Chris Godwin WR/Penn State- Godwin was the talk of the wide receiver group during the combine. On tape he is an outstanding possession receiver who locates the ball quickly and wins most contested battles. The question with him was about his separation ability.
Godwin had a 36 inch vertical, a 4.4 40 and a 7 second 3-cone at the combine. He’s no John Ross, but at 6’1, 210 he’s a possession receiver with deep speed.
Ryan Anderson OLB/Alabama- This one really puzzles me. Anderson is a pure 3-4 base outside linebacker with not much fit in a 4-3 defense, if at all, and isn’t an ideal sub-package player either.
Anderson’s role with Alabama was really the clean up guy. He didn’t disrupt plays, but he was always around the ball and helped finish a lot of plays in the backfield. He’s a smart player with good length and consistently stays on his feet. To me he’s a poor man’s Connor Barwin. The problem here is I can’t see much value for him in a 4-3 defense.
Reuben Foster LB/Alabama- Another great guy to bring in for a visit. On the field he is a top 10 prospect, a rare linebacker who has the range to cover and chase down a player but also contains the nasty mentality you want in a linebacker. He plays with an attitude like the ball belongs to him and anyone who has it must pay, running backs and quarterbacks be damned.
The issue with Foster was the combine incident. He was kicked out of the combine while waiting for medical testing. Reports out there state that he was tired of waiting, threw a fit and played the “do you know who I am” card. The Eagles will get a chance to hear his side and do some medical testing of their own.
If he impresses in the interview process and comes off as a good dude I can definitely see the Eagles spending a first round pick on Foster. If he doesn’t, expect him to be taken off their draft board altogether.
Marlon Humphrey CB/Alabama- The lone corner the Eagles have brought in for a visit to this point, though I’m sure that will change. Humphrey ran well at the combine(4.41 40, 6.75 3-cone) and his physicality on tape is among the best of all the corners in this class. He makes sense in a Jim Schwartz defense because of how physical he is.
My concern with Humphrey is how stiff he is and how vulnerable he is in man coverage. For a corner with 4.4 speed, he sure did get beat deep a lot. The Alabama scheme protected him for the most part, but when he was exposed he did not fair well.
I think he is a little too similar to Jalen Mills. Both are physical and fearless corners, that don’t have the ability to recover when they don’t win at the line of scrimmage.