The Philadelphia Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent Byron Marshall shortly after the 2016 NFL Draft. Marshall was one of the Eagles' most intriguing signings due to his play-making ability. In order to learn more about the new Eagles rookie, I reached out to SB Nation's Oregon Ducks blog: Addicted To Quack. Alex Rider (@AJR_425) was kind enough to answer questions about Marshall.
1) What are his strengths?
"The pure versatility has to be Marshall's biggest strong suit. Not very often do you see a 1,000 rusher transform themselves in an off season into a 1,000 receiver. He's a very unselfish player who was willing to put the team needs first over his own. Obviously this paid off as often during the championship game run, he was Marcus Mariota's go to guy.
As a receiver, Marshall has very good hands and a solid ability to make grabs with body control. As a runner he is able to use his size to shift through gaps and break in the next level. I really like him in the screen game and think that he can do a good job filling in that role."
2) What are his weaknesses?
"Injury was a question mark coming in to the draft and it's likely that it played a role in him not getting drafted. Marshall ended last year with a season ending ankle injury mid way through the year, and although he is fully healed that ankle has yet to see game action.
My next biggest concern is what position he fits in at the NFL level. College teams like Oregon love having a versatile guy, but we don't see that quite as much in the NFL. I'm not sure that he's necessarily strong enough to take a beating as a full time NFL running back, and also not sure that he's fast enough to play in the slot in the NFL, although I think his pro day 40 times of 4.56 and 4.58 seconds were solid."
3) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
"I was surprised that he went undrafted, as I had him with the highest grade for an Oregon player not named DeForest Buckner. I think the undrafted aspect clearly speaks to two things. 1) NFL teams being unsure of how to use talents like Marshall, in the past we've seen guys like Kenjon Barner, LaMike James and even De'Anthony Thomas struggle finding a niche in the league. 2) Injuries must have been more of a concern than believed. This problem was the case for three Oregon players as Marshall, Bralon Addison, and Tyler Johnstone all had leg injuries during their Ducks career and were not drafted."
4) The Eagles are listing Marshall as a RB. Do you think he’s better as a RB or a WR? Or do the Eagles need to find a way to use him at both spots?
"I'd have to go with running back. I certainly think it's worth while to find the guy reps every once in a while as a slot receiver but I see Marshall's fit being a third down running back. He's solid in the screen game and good on third down runs like draws. Although not a great punt returner, Marshall is very solid both returning kickoffs as well as being the lead blocker for the kick returner. I look for Marshall to play a lot in the kick return and third down packages in the immediate future."
For more on Marshall, check out Alex Rider's draft capsule over at ATQ.
I like a Darren Sproles / De’Anthony Thomas type comparison for Marshall. He doesn’t necessarily have the top level speed as those two but has many of the same traits. Thomas made the similar transition as Marshall moving from a more running back position to a full time wide receiver position.
Thanks again to Alex. Make sure to check out Addicted To Quack.