Eagles Finish Draft With Three More Defensive Players
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — That's a wrap.
The Eagles finished their 2016 draft with three more defensive selections in the seventh round, LSU safety Jalen Mills, Florida edge rusher Alex McCalister, and Oregon inside linebacker Joe Walker (no Chip Kelly jokes please).
Mills at No. 233 overall was a really solid value as a four-year starter from the best conference in college football. His strength is coverage and some even project his home at the NFL level to be in the slot as a nickel corner.
"I think he'll be a long-time player in the league because he has pretty good feel in coverage, but I also don't think he's a safety at all. He's a slot corner," an AFC West scout told NFL.com.
The key with Mills at safety is run support, something that will likely keep him in just sub-packages, at least early on.
Seven picks later in the extra pick garnered from the Vikings, the Eagles went with Florida edge rusher Alex McCalister
The Eagles hosted McCalister on a pre-draft visit earlier this month and the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder is obviously rangy with a 36-inch arm length but he’s a one-trick pony and just doesn’t have the size to hold up on the edge in the run game.
In his 22 games in Gainesville, McCalister recorded 49 tackles, 17 1/2 of those for a loss, and 12 1/2 sacks, along with two forced fumbles.
Most scouts project McAlister as strictly a pass-rush specialist who had plenty of success as pass-rusher at Florida from both a two- and three-point stance.
However, he just doesn’t have the functional-football strength to hit the ground running at the professional level and really only possesses a fastball in that his success chasing the QB comes off the edge and he has not developed a counter move to this point.
McCalister also struggled with a foot injury last season and was suspended for Florida’s season opener before eventually being dismissed from the football program all together late last year so there are some red flags.
The Eagles needed numbers at linebacker and Walker, the 251st pick, will get every opportunity to win a backup job to starter Jordan Hicks. He's undersized at 6-2 and 232 pounds but as natural instincts for the position and a real feel for zone coverage, which is tough to find in young linebackers.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen