The Monday right before the start of the NFL Combine used to mark the time of year where Mike Mayock held a conference call with media types regarding prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft. Now that Mayock is the Oakland Raiders’ general manager, his role has been replaced by draft analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah.
It was always great to hear Mayock’s analysis but DJ is pretty good at what he does as well. As an added bonus, Jeremiah can potentially offer insight as to how the Eagles’ front office might be thinking. In addition to having worked in Philly, Jeremiah also overlapped with Joe Douglas during his time as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens. It’s also worth noting that Howie Roseman previously interviewed Jeremiah for the personnel role Douglas currently occupies.
So, when Jeremiah talks about the Eagles, it’s worth listening. (Remember when he correctly said Nelson Agholor was going to replace Jordan Matthews as Philly’s slot receiver?)
Jeremiah was asked just one question about the Eagles during his Monday press availability but it was about a position near and dear to everyone’s heart: running back.
Q. I know you talked about Josh Jacobs earlier, but how does this running back class stack up to the last two years? And for the Eagles, who would be the best two or three fits given the way they look at the running back position?
DANIEL JEREMIAH: Yeah, I mean, look, to me there’s not a Saquon Barkley, who was just so rare, not a Leonard Fournette in terms of some of those guys that have been picked way high.
I love Jacobs. To me he’s the one guy I would feel great about turning in the card in the first round. After that, though, there’s a lot of depth once you get in that second-, third-round range, and when you look for some fits for Philadelphia, they’ve always placed a premium on being able to create explosive plays.
To me, I look at a guy -- you look at Darrell Henderson from Memphis, who’s just got tremendous top speed and juice. He’s somebody that can score from anywhere on the field. He’s a little bit tight, but he’d bean interesting one.
Devin Singletary to me is -- I have him as the second-best back, and actually for comparison, I wrote down he’s got a little Shady McCoy to him. So he can make you miss. He does a great job in tight quarters. He could be in a hallway and you can’t get a finger on him. Just real loose, nice little nifty jump cut that he uses. I don’t know that he really has that big time, big time top speed, but we saw some of those same comments made about LeSean when he was coming into the draft, and we know how that worked out, so those are two of the guys I think would be pretty intriguing for the Eagles.
It’s hard to see the Eagles drafting a running back in the first round, so I don’t think they’ll be getting Jacobs, but Henderson and and Singletary definitely seem like realistic targets.
Both of those runners made Michael Kist’s list of top five running backs in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here’s what Kist wrote about each player, starting with Henderson:
It’s hard to ignore Henderson when he averaged 8.2 yards per carry on 431 carries. That’s mind-blowing efficiency. As a junior he found the end zone 25 times. My personal statistician tells me that’s a lot. Henderson’s best trait is his ability to chain together hard angle cuts while maintaining speed. He’s got sweet feet and accelerates smoothly through and after changes of direction. Henderson is super elusive in the open field and gives filling safeties fits. This happened to the poor safeties at UCF multiple times. There are clear areas to develop with Henderson. Patience and decision-making on inside runs remain a weakness, but not a glaring one. I don’t believe his finishing will get much better from a pure power stand-point but he does well to slither for extra yards. There’s also room to develop as a receiver as he was mostly used on low average depth of target routes. On a positive note, after the catch he works well in space and will be exciting in the screen game.
Summary: Henderson can be an immediate contributor as a “1a” with tools to develop as a receiver.
Pro Football Focus notes that Henderson had a whopping 1,321 yards after contact in 2018. That came out to 6.17 yards after contact per attempt, which is just ridiculous. It’d sure be great for the Eagles to have a back who can actually make defenders miss and generate yardage on his own instead of everything having to always be blocked up perfectly.
Henderson’s pass-catching ability is also intriguing. Here’s your deep threat!
Memphis RB Darrell Henderson was mainly used as a checkdown/screen receiver but if you can find his vertical reps.. phew - pic.twitter.com/3fc0EoPTZV— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) February 25, 2019
For more Henderson highlights, watch below:
Here’s what Kist wrote about Singletary, his RB5:
The nation’s leader in touchdowns, with 52 trips to pay dirt in the last two years, rounds out the group. He isn’t going to wow you with a flashy athletic profile, but the more you watch his tape, the more you appreciate his game. He’s at one with contact and slips tacklers at an alarmingly high rate. From my article on Singletary back in December: “Pro Football Focus credits him with 89 broken tackles this season, which leads all other backs in the country by a comfortable 26. That’s an improvement on last year’s tally, when he broke 83 tackles. He’s been doing his thing for a while, amassing 714 carries, 4,289 yards and 66 touchdowns in his career at FAU.” It was smart for Singletary to declare early; he’s accrued 765 touches while at Florida Atlantic and needed to take advantage of a weaker running back class. Given the opportunity, Singletary is a solid complimentary piece to any backfield needing consistent production.
Summary: Singletary projects as a “1b” that can be featured in spurts and will take time to develop in the passing game.
Singletary clearly fits the play-making mold of what the Eagles need at running back. He only had 51 receptions in three years so he’s a bit of a projection as a pass catcher. Overall, though, I’m sure the Eagles might be interested in a guy who comps to their all-time franchise leading rusher. Tell me you don’t see Shady here:
Impossible to not have a good time watching FAU RB Devin Singletary. Sweet cuts and a wild looking stiff arm - pic.twitter.com/VnkpoucXg1— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) February 25, 2019
Watch his highlights below:
With Jay Ajayi set to be a free agent and Darren Sproles potentially retiring, the Eagles are certainly going to need to make some addition(s) to their running back room. Henderson or Singletary could easily end up in midnight green.