The departure of DeSean Jackson from the Eagles has brought plenty of controversy and created a major role in the team's offense. With several possession receivers on offense, the Eagles could use a big threat pass catcher to keep the ball moving downfield. Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders may be the closest player to Jackson in this draft class and he could develop into a suitable replacement in the coming years.
A native of Elk Grove, California, Saunders picked Fresno State over the likes of Washington State, California and UNLV in 2010. As a true freshman, Saunders had 27 catches for 441 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He also had 14 carries for 109 rushing yards and averaged 23.2 yard per return on kickoffs. A first team All-WAC selection as a sophomore, Saunders had 50 receptions for 1,065 receiving yard and 12 touchdowns in 2011. He averaged 21.4 yards per catch.
Saunders transferred to Oklahoma as a junior. He played in nine games (eight starters) with the Sooners in 2012. He collected 62 receptions for 829 yards and three touchdowns in those games, after sitting out the first four as a transfer. In 2013, Saunders brought in 61 receptions for 729 yards and eight touchdowns. He also returned 20 punts for 308 yards and two touchdowns.
He was invited to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl following his senior season.
Weight: 165 lbs
Arm Length: 30"
Hands: 8 7/8"
40: 4.44 seconds
Vertical Jump: 34.0 inches
Broad Jump: 122.0 inches
A fluid runner, who can run routes like a professional, Saunders is a threat to get open anywhere. He has YAC ability and has a lot of athleticism. He will jump for the ball and is feisty when facing press coverage. He has some toughness and is a willing blocker. He can score from anywhere and is a proficient punt and kickoff returner. Saunders is willing to risk his body and is elusive.
Saunders could have better hands. He tends to lose concentration at times and will hold the ball poorly while running. He left Fresno State because he didn't want to play inside all the time, which may turn off coaches. He has limited strength and can be taken out of the run game altogether. His size could suggest a lack of durability at the NFL level, despite his healthy bill in college.
The Eagles could use a deep threat and in a packed draft, Saunders could last until late into Day 3. He is a talented returner, which should appeal to the Eagles but he does have limited blocking ability, which is a must for Philadelphia. If the Eagles select a receiver early, Saunders could be a nice developmental addition.