For the list of potential 2016 Eagles draftee candidates, the first challenge was how many to list. Considering 5 was always too little and 10 seemed to be too much for one article, 7 felt like the Goldilocks sweet spot of players to analyze for this breakdown of upcoming 2016 NFL Draft prospects.
The other challenge was determining who Chip Kelly is truly looking for. While his Oregon rosters evoked 6-foot-9 defensive ends, mobile quarterbacks, and east-west running backs, his Eagles rosters have spoke otherwise.
Fletcher Cox, who has become the favorite player by all, only stands at 6-foot-4 and was originally a 3-technique defensive tackle. 4 out of the 5 quarterbacks that Kelly has worked with in Philadelphia have not been regarded as mobile, and north-south RB DeMarco Murray has been quoted as a “prototype” by running backs coach Duce Staley for this Eagle offense.
So without much more awaited suspense, let’s take a look at some of the potential players that may keen the eye of coach Kelly and the Eagles staff for this year’s draft.
Carl Nassib – DE – Penn State
The younger brother of New York Giants quarterback, Ryan Nassib, is shaping up to be a one-year wonder. Nassib was a walk-on to Penn State and had not even started a game until this season, but now has racked up a total of 11.5 sacks (the most in the country), 35 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, and five forced fumbles. He stands at a towering 6-foot-7 and 272 lbs., which is just about perfect for the Eagles defensive line requirements. In his game against Temple, Nassib dominated 1-on-1s and disrupted the backfield whilst shutting down the run. He also shows the ability to chase down loose ball carriers running east and west and has been known to drop into coverage, and yes, we are still talking about a defensive end prospect. His two-gapping abilities are still an unknown given that the Lions allow him to rush quite frequently, but against Temple, the senior had offensive linemen on roller skates for the entire 60 minutes.
Jalen Ramsey – S – Florida State
One of the few clean slates at Florida State, Ramsey – thankfully – has not been arrested for stealing crab legs, getting a DUI, being caught with weed, or been accused of raping women. So there’s a good start. The added bonus is that he is a long, tall safety that can play both safety and corner, is quite intelligent, and hilarious (check out his “Ramsay on the Mic” YouTube video). His versatility is what the Eagles will be most keen on. He was beaten a few times against Miami as a corner, but will have time to make up his performances in future games against Clemson, NC State, and Florida. Currently, Ramsay is the #1 ranked safety prospect so it will be interesting to see as to where he eventually ends up on future big boards.
Yannick Ngakoue – OLB – Maryland
One of the few prototypical outside linebackers entering the 2016 NFL Draft, the Maryland product stands at 6-foot-2 and 255 lbs. and has recorded 19 tackles, seven TFLs, seven sacks, and one pass breakup for 2015. While a little shorter than most teams would be searching for, the rest of the pass-rushing class are tweeners that may be either too underweight or too overweight for the position. Too underweight and these prospects will take years to make it passed NFL-caliber left tackles, too overweight and they won’t be able to drop and cover receivers. Ngakoue lands in that sweet spot and has even taken on – and won against – some of the best linemen in the country, including Iowa’s Brandon Scherff (2014), Michigan State’s Jack Conklin, and Ohio State’s Taylor Decker. Due to his height and competition at the position entering the draft, there is a strong chance that the Eagles could land the east-coast edge rusher if they happen to be drafting at their usual 20’s spot.
Jacoby Brissett – QB – N.C. State
Given that Paxton Lynch will probably be taken in the top five, Brissett is looking like a solid foundation to build upon behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez. The 6-foot-4 scrambling prospect has played much harder defenses than Lynch, including teams like Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Clemson, and still has to play against FSU later in the year. The biggest downside to Brissett’s tape, however, is that he has the tendency to lock his eyes onto his first option from the snap and stare until the receiver breaks open. This is something QBs can get away with in college, but in the NFL, a safety will pick his pocket every single time. If Brissett can fix this issue, he should have no problem developing into a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he cannot, the Eagles should look into how they can get Lynch.
Le’Raven Clark – T/G – Texas Tech
Considering the Eagles have not drafted an offensive lineman since Lane Johnson in 2013, it is tough to gauge who exactly the Eagles are looking for. Obviously, athleticism is the biggest factor, but is a zone-only tackle the best route or are they looking for someone that can perform just as well with speed option as they can with power run plays? Unfortunately, not many know the exactly answer to that, however, it is true that the Eagles like to have versatility as well as the best of both worlds in zone vs. power. The best tackle or guard prospect for the franchise is Texas Tech’s Le’Raven Clark, who measures in at 6-foot-6 and 313 lbs. He possesses good athleticism for his size, is productive in both the run and pass, and has the experience at being able to play either guard or tackle. He performed very well against Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah, so despite coming from a lesser-known school, his performance against big school pass rushers is enough to warrant consideration.
Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame
Since the Eagles had parted ways with both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the team has lacked the type of receiver that can take the top off of a secondary. Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Nelson Agholor were expected to help in that department in some way, shape, or form this season, but so far it has not happened. Fuller has shown that he does possess this ability, however, he will also have to complete the task of proving to the Philadelphia coaching staff that he can get physical in pressing corners in the run game, which his game tape currently shows that he is only okay at doing. At 6-foot-0 and 184 lbs., there is only so much physicality Fuller can inflict onto DBs. The Philadelphia-native has 37 receptions for 748 yards and nine touchdowns this season, and has shown on game day that he does have the makeup to do the grunt work that most wide receivers will not.
Karl Joseph – S – West Virginia
In the case that Jalen Ramsay – currently the #1 ranked safety and a top-5 corner entering the draft – is not available to the Eagles by the time they are on the clock, there is another safety well worth evaluating and one that could be picked up as an undrafted free agent. West Virginia’s Karl Joseph, who stands at 5-foot-10 and 200 lbs., suffered a knee injury in October ending his 2015 campaign. Prior to the injury, Joseph had compiled five interceptions, 20 tackles, one sack, and one pass breakup and could rotate seamlessly between a free, single-high safety and as the eighth-man in the box. Watching his game tape and Joseph just comes across as fearless. Due to his height and severity of injury, the odds that the senior does go undrafted are fairly high, however, it is well known that the Eagles will take whom they want, when they want, and have no qualms with selecting players with injury; so there is a chance that Philadelphia could use one of their later round picks on securing their man – that is, if they deem him as such.