There are a few directions the Eagles could take to address their need at wide receiver. While Howie Roseman has, quite literally, said he would prefer not to go the band-aid route in free agency, it is a direction that makes sense for the Eagles at WR this year: a couple of solid veteran WRs would give Carson Wentz immediate upgrades to throw to and aid his development, and allow the team flexibility in the draft. If they go that route, they might opt to address another position early in the draft and take a WR (or two) that needs development and can get it playing behind stop gap starters on day two (rounds 2 and 3) or day three (4-7) of the draft. It’s also possible that even if they take a WR high they could grab another later.
Earlier this week we looked at top tier free agents and prospects, and second and third tier free agents. Today, we’ll look at draft picks from 2nd and 3rd picks to late round developmental players that might interest the Eagles.
Austin Carr, Northwestern
A highly productive slot receiver, Carr was the Big Ten’s leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns. With good size for the slot at 6’1” and with good hands and route running, he’ll be attractive to teams in the second day of the draft. A good Combine could push him to the top of it.
Stacey Coley, Miami
Coley was a deep threat in his freshman year with 7 of his 33 catches going for touchdowns on 17.9 yards per reception. He’s had trouble matching that production since, in part because of nagging hamstring injuries. Someone will probably take a flier on him on the third day of the draft.
Amara Darboh, Michigan
A good route runner, Darboh entered the year seen as a late round pick and improved his stock with 15.1 yards per reception, up from 12.5. He doesn’t have a high volume of work due to Michigan’s run heavy offense, so a good week at the Senior Bowl, where he’ll be on the North’s roster, could help him tremendously. Possible late day two pick.
Travin Dural, LSU
Dural had a breakout sophomore year, leading the Tigers in receiving after the departure of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. His junior season was a disappointment and his senior season continued the slide, after averaging 20.5 yards per catch his sophomore year, he averaged 10.0 last year, though he missed time with a shoulder injury. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl on the South’s roster, he’ll have to show teams he’s more than just a straight line speed guy. He’s likely a day three pick.
Amba Etta-Tawo, Syracuse
After two quiet seasons at Maryland, Etta-Tawo transferred to Syracuse and exploded on the scene, setting single season school records for receptions (94), receiving yards (1,492) and touchdowns (14). He won’t light it up with his 40 time, but his catch radius and and ball skills will interest teams. A good week at the Senior Bowl, where he’ll be on the North’s roster, could push him into the second day of the draft.
Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
Really good speed, good hands and good enough size that could add some weight (6’2” 195 pounds)… Ford is one of those guys you’ll probably hear about from various corners of the draft community and then when the draft rolls around everyone will be disappointed. He could go later on day two, or midway through day three.
Chris Godwin, Penn State
Pairing good hands with strong physical play, Godwin could carve out a spot as a reliable third down player. He doesn’t have the speed or athleticism you want in a top prospect, he could be the quintessential high floor/low ceiling prospect that can immediately help teams and carve out a career as a role player. A late day two/early day three projection.
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
One half of Louisiana Tech’s prolific WR duo available in the draft along with Trent Taylor, Henderson is the higher profile of the two. He has long speed and is good after the catch, averaging 19.6 yards per reception. He can also help a team out as a punt returner. At 5’11” and without elite speed he could go later in day two or early in day three.
Zay Jones, East Carolina
The single season receptions record holder in FBS with 158 this season, East Carolina’s Isaiah Jones might have the best hands of the 2017 draft class. But he might be a prototypical high floor, low ceiling prospect, as he lacks the explosion and athleticism that go with high picks. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl on the North’s roster, and good week there and a solid showing at the Combine could get him into day two of the draft.
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
Small school, big player. Kupp dominated the FCS level playing bigger than his 6’2” 205 pound frame and with good strength. He is the all time FCS leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He doesn’t have great speed or athleticism, but he can work the short to intermediate routes at the NFL level. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl on the North’s roster. A good showing there among FBS players will raise his stock, possibly to the top of day two.
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Reynolds fits the “track guy” label pretty well: he’s lanky (6’4” 190 pounds) and fast. But he’s got production too, leading TAMU in TD receptions in his sophomore and senior seasons, using his size and athletic ability to attack the ball. He’s cookie cutter late day two/early day three developmental pick. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl on the South’s roster.
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Robinette has a great set of
wheels jets. In 2015 he was second in the FBS in yards per reception with 24.7. In 2016 he was first with a laughable 27.4 yards per reception. Yes, that’s not a typo. Twenty seven point four. The guy who goes to the school for literally dropping bombs figuratively catches them. And he’s got good size too, at 6’4” and 215 pounds. Air Force’s option offense limited him to only 104 catches in his last three seasons, but was the team’s leading pass catcher in two of those seasons. He’s probably a day three pick. Watch out for him at the Combine.
Fred Ross, Mississippi State
Ross seems like one of those players who will be declared a “steal” the minute he’s drafted. Which is silly, but he’ll give you something to think about. He put up a couple of very productive seasons in the SEC, second in the conference in receptions the past two seasons and fourth in receiving yards in 2015, mostly from the slot, but at 6’2” he’s got the size to play outside. He’ll give NFL teams a good look at what he can do at the Senior Bowl on the South’s roster. He could go as high as the 2nd round.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Coaches love “football players” and Curtis Samuel should be a guy they fall in love with. He might be a running back. He might be a wide receiver. He’s definitely a punt returner. Either way he’s a guy you get the ball in space and let him do his thing, which is strong open field running. He’s a 5’11” Darren Sproles, which means he can line up anywhere on the field. His tools will get him drafted in the 2nd round.
ArDarius Stewart, Alabama
Alabama has become somewhat of a star WR machine. Julio Jones kicked it off, and then Amari Cooper inherited his throne at the college level and is on his way to stardom in the NFL. ArDarius Stewart hasn’t lived up to the extremely high bar of his predecessors (teammate Calvin Ridley has though), but few would. He has a good catch radius and hands. He’s probably an early day three pick.
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
Switzer made a name for himself in his freshman year with an incredible 5 punt returns for a touchdown. He added two more in his junior year to end his career with the second most punt return touchdowns in FBS history. In his senior year he caught 96 passes for 1112 yards from Mitch Trubinsky, who is expected to go in the 1st round. With Trubinsky only starting for one year, there should (but won’t) be the question of who made who in 2016. Switzer will have a chance to show what he’s got at the Senior Bowl, he’ll be on the South’s roster. A good week could have him into the second day of the draft.
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Another strong candidate for “steal of the draft” the minute he is selected. Taylor has excellent speed, able to take tops off of defenses. He can line up anywhere on the field, but will need to add some bulk. A small school star, he didn’t just beat up on weak competition, he had 9 catches for 121 yards against Alabama in 2016. He can further shrug off small school concerns at the Senior Bowl, he’ll be on the South’s roster.
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
The other half of Louisiana Tech’s prolific WR duo (235 receptions for 3085 yards and 21 touchdowns in his last two seasons), Taylor’s 5’8” 178 pound frame and lack of long speed will relegate him to the slot in the NFL, his tenacity could make him a good one. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl on the North’s roster. He projects as a day three pick.
DeDe Westbrook, Oklahoma
Westbrook is one of the best deep threats in the draft. He has ridiculous speed, able to run right by entire defenses. His 19.1 yards per reception was one of the best in the FBS, and he was second in touchdowns with 17. He hits mammoth home runs. But he’s also got his flaws. Westbrook is rail thin, he’ll have to add bulk to survive in the NFL. He’s 23, which is a year older than most seniors. And he has some serious off the field issues with two arrests for domestic violence. Those were early in his college career, but...
A scouting director told me Dede Westbrook "doesn't want all those questions in Mobile" about his background. He's opted out— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 18, 2017
Individually, his past, his physical stature and his age relative to his position aren’t disqualifying items, but collectively they will give teams pause. He could go as early as the 2nd round or as late as day three of the draft.
We’ll have a scouting report on him tomorrow.