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The Draft Bag: Getting Old and Best Case/Worst Case

Plus: Seven-Round Mock, Devin Singletary Scouting Report, and more!

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Florida Atlantic Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In The News Cycle

Eagles sign old players; will probably die during a spring heat wave

As has been covered over the last few days, the Eagles have signed some older players — Andrew Sendejo, Desean Jackson, Vinny Curry are all over 30 years old, just as re-signees Brandon Graham, Jason Peters, and Jason Kelce are.

While there’s a warranted concern about player age, I think it circles less around the idea of “The Eagles are too old!” and more around the idea of “The Eagles are resigning a lot of old players...who are also old!” It can be tricky at times to make solid film evaluations on players who once played for your team; the memory of their greatest play sticks in your mind, and you fool yourself into believing you can get that level of play back.

When it comes to player age, however, I treat the measuring stick the same way I do the salary cap. Is it good to have cap space? No, not really. Sure, it’s helpful, but it’s also usually a sign that you have bad players and a bad team. It’s better to have no space and a good team.

Likewise, is it better to have young players? Not necessarily — it typically means you have a bad team. The thing about old players is that there’s a reason they’ve stuck around in the league long enough to see their 30s: it’s because they’re good. All three of the signees were once starters; two will be playing in situational roles, and the third (Jackson) will be the third-most important target on the offense. These are value signings for a team that wants to compete this year.

Age is an interesting metric, and worthy of attention — but let’s not miss the forest for the trees. The signings make the Eagles more likely to win and are not above market value — that means they’re objectively good. Everything else, while still noteworthy, is secondary.

A note on player visits

The Eagles have brought in the following players for NFL Draft visits:

What is the rhyme and reason to these invitations, you may ask? Good question.

There isn’t a publicly significant one.

Really, there isn’t. We’ve got a first round OT/OG, CB, and S; Day 2 DE, OT, and WR; Day 3 DE, iOL, and RB. There is no common thread between the players at shared positions or anything like that.

The main reason that player interviews, official visits, Top 30 visits — the whole gamut — occur is to finish evaluations. They are not always or even often indicative of team interest at the point at which they would get drafted. That is to say, the Eagles aren’t going to draft Amani Oruwariye where they would need to (25 or maybe 53) to get him on the roster.

Whey, then, are they brought in?

Because those rookie evaluations matter in trade talks two years down the road; during free agency in three, four, five years. You want to have the background, in terms of personal history, off-field incidents, and medical soundness. It helps you make decisions.

Player visits are information-gathering sessions. They certainly can help a player improve his stock with the team, but any signal of interest is really too weak to register on the radar. Take them as fun little factoids and move on.

Seven-Round Mock Draft

I opened up with what remains the most dire need on Philadelphia’s roster: a young safety. Both McLeod and Sendejo are on one-year deals and Malcolm Jenkins is on the wrong side of 30. In a league in which you want to have 3+ safeties who can play, the Eagles are locked for 2019 — everything beyond that is very up in the air. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is the best safety in this class, with true combo ability and a feisty demeanor.

With the two seconds, I took two upside players and measurable kings in the trenches: Kaleb McGary and Charles Omenihu. McGary is getting some Round 1 hype, but Round 2 is more likely for him. A multi-year starter at right tackle, McGary’s experience, power, and length are all starting-caliber in the NFL; an extra year to sit and work technique would do him good.

Omenihu was a bit of a one-year wonder, turning a promising 2017 into a dominant 2018 as he moved to more interior play. I think he’s a real tweener, which hurts his value a bit, but I love the penetration reps he gets when lined up on the interior. He becomes a key rotational rusher for a defensive tackle room that needs depth.

Running back is the Eagles’ biggest need in a vacuum, but from what I understand, it’s still unlikely that they would go RB in Round 1. I like the way the board fell in Round 4, with Devin Singletary, an elusive and creative back, still available on Day 3. Singletary, who we’ll feature in the scouting report below, can execute every concept the Eagles run with regularity, as well as contribute as a pass-catcher.

I wrapped things up with Wyatt Ray, a depth EDGE who will help round out the Eagles’ room if Chris Long moves on; Chase Hansen, a Nate-Gerry type player who will look to stick on special teams; and Penny Hart, a potential KR/PR who can see targets on offense as a designated gadget/screen player.

Scouting Report: Florida Atlantic RB Devin Singletary

Devin Singletary is a fun, frustrating player to evaluate. His tape is exciting, electric, enticing — but when you get down to brass tacks, there are major athleticism questions that seem to limit his pro projection. Those concerns were reflected in Singletary’s Combine performance, so we have to weigh them as legitimate concerns.

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Now, RB athleticism isn’t everything — the on-field instinct, feel, and product matters so much more than the testing numbers. Singletary’s ability to cut against flow and immediately get north against a fast-pursuing defense is his best trait: on wide zone concepts, he’s lethal when attacking backside contain and immediately working into space.

This play illustrates unteachable instincts, and they show up everywhere on Singletary’s tape.

Singletary isn’t a big player, but because he has such an explosive lower half and a great feel for defenders’ angles, he regularly creates contact balance by launching himself into contact and catching defenders off balance. Flexibility is a huge contributing factor to contact balance, and that’s where Singletary’s able to win: not with size, but with the bend to leverage himself into and withstand contact.

Natural leverage helps too.

Singletary is aptly nicknamed “Motor” for plays like these. He has a tremendous unwillingness to go down, which pairs nicely with his full-field vision and willingness to flip the field. That’s how he creates plays like the ones below: just an unteachable and inspiring intensity.

The film is so exciting on Singletary, even with the poor athleticism considered. He won’t be as successful creating outside of structure at the next level, but he’ll also likely get better blocking than he got at FAU. How well can Singletary stay married to and execute structure? That’s a bit of a question mark: his 55 runs of 0 or less yardage leads the class.

As it stands, Singletary is certainly an active and welcome part of a committee backfield who should generally be used on zone style concepts and in the passing game. With great open-field instincts and tackle-breaking ability, Singletary will always make the most of each touch he gets, and could earn a big workload accordingly.

Mail Bag

Thanks man!

WR: Gave the Eagles Penny Hart in my above mock, but also watch out for Olamide Zaccheaus, the jitterbug out of Virginia. He’s an ex-Philly HS player and the Eagles love to bring those guys in as UDFAs.

RB: RBs don’t do as much returning at the college level as they do in the NFL, but Kerrith Whyte, Devin Singletary’s running mate at FAU, was a productive guy. Ty Johnson out of Maryland also housed a few for the Terps in his day — dude has wheels.

DB: Ugo Amadi, the Oregon safety/nickel corner, is one of my favorite Day 3 guys in the class in part because of his returning ability. Clifton Duck, the well-named nickel out of Appy State, is also an option.

As is always the case, when your team doesn’t want a QB, you want QBs to go early so better talent falls. If 2 QBs could get into the Top 5 and force teams into trade-ups to get the guys they like, that means talent falls down the board. Four QBs in Round 1 overall is unlikely, but boy that’d be swell.

Probably looks something like this:

  1. Kyler Murray (AZ
  2. Nick Bosa (SF)
  3. Josh Allen (NYJ)
  4. Dwayne Haskins (OAK)
  5. Devin White (TB)

The further Quinnen Williams falls, the further Ed Oliver falls, and the closer he gets to the Birds.

Trade up.

I’m assuming this means every team’s worst case, so:

NYG: Montez Sweat at 6 and Daniel Jones at 17

DAL: Give a 39-year old retired TE a $5M contract (they don’t have a Round 1 pick)

WSH: N’Keal Harry at 15

PHI: Josh Jacobs at 25

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