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Reasons to get excited about the Eagles’ Day 3 draft picks

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Reviewing the Eagles’ 2017 NFL Draft class

Wake Forest v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Eagles had five picks on the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft. After triple dipping on defense in the first three rounds, it was unsurprising the Eagles followed up with three straight offensive picks and then finished with two defensive players. Despite them being later round picks, these players mostly have things to get excited for and more of these players than not could be role players down the line.

Mack Hollins

Position: Wide Receiver
School: UNC
Measurements: 6’4”, 221
Key Stat: On 81 career catches; Hollins had 20 career touchdowns and picked up over 20 yards per catch.

Hollins was a peculiar pick for some. After a relatively unproductive 2016 season and the fact that he will be 24 at the beginning of the season, it made a lot of people scratch their head that he was the first day three pick. Despite those question marks, it is undeniable that Hollins is talented and was held back in 2016 by an offense that did not target him as much. Hollins is a very gifted athlete with surprising speed for his size. If he can learn to catch the football away from his body more and get more consistent in his route running, he could be a deep threat down the line for the Eagles.

Donnel Pumphrey

Position: Running Back
School: SDSU
Measurements: 5’8”, 170
Key Stat: In the last three seasons, had 2843 yards after contact forced TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHT missed tackles.

The leading rusher in NCAA history was added to this team to boost the running game. Pumphrey, though diminutive, is a tough runner with incredibly good instincts, decent quickness and good long speed. Pumphrey should step in immediately as a role player who can contribute in the passing game, returning game and contribute a few touches in the running game. However, I fear that a 170 pound running back will struggle to make an impact on a consistent basis in the backfield. Despite that, Pumphrey has been proving people wrong for a long time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he kept going with it.

Shelton Gibson

Position: Wide Receiver
School: WVU
Measurements: 5’11”, 191
Key Stat: In 2016, Caught 17 of 29 targets on 20+ yard passing plays for over 720 yards.

It is smart that the Eagles took two receivers given that Alshon Jeffery is on a one year deal, Jordan Matthews has one year left, Torrey Smith is a bit of a question mark and the rest of the receivers should be shipped to a different planet. Shelton Gibson made his career at West Virginia on the deep ball and that is a much needed element for the Eagles. His 22 career yards per reception and 17 career touchdowns on only 84 catches is indicative of how prone he is for the big play. His speed off the line is effortless and overwhelming for cornerbacks and that is a dynamic Philly has been desperate for over the last two seasons. Gibson could use to expand his route tree and become more consistent catching the football in tight spaces, but he should be an important role player early on for this football team.

Nate Gerry

Position: Linebacker
School: Nebraska
Measurements: 6’2”, 218
Key Stat: Career In the last three years, Gerry allowed a 54.2 passer rating into his coverage. (Per Pro Football Focus)

The Eagles made an intriguing pick when they took a college safety in Nate Gerry and immediately deemed him a linebacker. At his size, it makes sense to move a slower safety closer to the line of scrimmage and it would not be surprising to see him add weight. Gerry is a hard-hitting, physical player who has very good instincts against the run. Even better, he is a ball hawk who picked off 13 passes and batted down 11 more in the last three seasons. Gerry is a project player given the position change, but I am optimistic about his chances of sticking around as a linebacker and early special teams contributor.

Elijah Qualls

Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Washington
Measurements: 6’1”, 313
Key Stat: 35 Quarterback disruptions (Sacks+Hits+Hurries) in 2016. (Per Pro Football Focus)

A former running back; Elijah Qualls has a short, stout frame and relatively quick feet for a defensive lineman. Despite some flashes, however, Qualls is laregely underwhelming overall. He is a good, not great pass rusher on a line where teams were planning for two other players and his run defense is mediocre given his role as a nose tackle. Qualls has very short arms and if he cannot win initially, he will get taken out of the play pretty quickly. While there is upside with Qualls and the Eagles definitely need bodies at defensive tackle, it is tough to see him immediately seeing time in the defensive rotation without some massive improvement in his first training camp.