A ‘Fun’ Prospect for Jim Schwartz?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles have problems outside the numbers on both sides of the football, something that almost guarantees that receiver and cornerback will be positions targeted in the premium rounds of April’s NFL Draft.
Due to the presumed first-round depth at receiver and the fact that Philadelphia has too much money tied into underachieving players at receiver, the conventional wisdom is that corner will be first addressed in free agency and supplemented on Day 2 of the draft, something formes Eagles scout and lead NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah discussed on his pre-scouting combine conference call Friday.
"I think it would be more likely to get a corner in free agency which would really free them up to take big-time impact receiver in the first round," he said.
Jeremiah's take carries more weight than the average draft analyst when it comes to Philadelphia because he has a good relationship with the organization and is often plugged into the big-picture thinking.
While not as impactful as the receiver position this year, corner is also deep and Jeremiah believes that the Eagles could get an eventual starter in the second- or third-rounds in the draft, something that didn't work out in 2017 when Philadelphia rolled the dice on the injured Sidney Jones in the second round and the lengthy but speed-deficient Rasul Douglas in the third round.
One player Jeremiah has an asterisk next to in the second round when it comes to the Eagles is Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell, a lengthy, scheme-versatile prospect who could fare well in a defense where everything from press coverage to cover-2 invert is on the table.
“He’s real tall, lean, real fluid. He’s somebody who plays a variety of techniques," Jeremiah said. “He’s a really good blitzer coming off the boundary, too which would be fun for Jim Schwartz to play with a little bit. But he's a tall, long, athletic corner."
If you believe pre-combine buzz, however, it would seems unlikely that the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Terrell would make it down to the Eagles at No. 53 overall but a similar sentiment hovered around Miles Sanders last year and the dynamic running back did in fact fall to Philadelphia in the second round.
"I think he's a late [first-round pick], early [second], could end up slipping a little bit in the second round, [we will] see what happens," Jeremiah explained.
If Terrell is indeed off the board Jeremiah was ready with a number of alternates starting with Ohio State's Damon Arnette.
"I love Damon Arnette. He's twitched up from Ohio State. He can find and play the ball," Jeremiah said. "He's a little bit tight, but you can play him in press. He's somebody, I think, is going to go in the second round."
Others mentioned were TCU’s Jeff Gladney and Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, the brother of Vikings star receiver Stefon Diggs.
"Jeff Gladney from TCU, kind of he's got some similarities to a Denzel Ward. Just undersized, real feisty," Jeremiah said. "He plays off. He's real fluid, very aware. I've watched the Iowa State game, one of the games I flipped on with him, it was a war watching him go up against that wide receiver. He's another one in that range.
"And another name I would just throw in the mix would be Diggs. We'll see what happens with Diggs from Alabama who has got some Aqib Talib-type skills. But the question is just pure deep speed. But real fluid. Obviously Stefon's brother there, the wide receiver with the Vikings. Former wide receiver, kickoff returner. Really skilled athlete. The question is just how is his deep speed and he's just okay as a tackler."
A wild card would be Noah Igbinoghene, although the Auburn prospect is a little bit more of a project and the Eagles could be hesitant because of what's gone on with their young cornerbacks in recent years.
"One that I think is going to go in the second round that's fascinating to me is the corner from Auburn, Igbinoghene," Jeremiah said. "... he's one that's really explosive. A former wide receiver. He was a track guy. They moved him to corner. Really, really ultra twitched up. But he struggles to play the football. And that to me is my concern.
"He doesn't have any interceptions. He's always in phase, in the right position. And especially in the LSU and Alabama games, he just struggled to find and play the ball. So I think he'll get drafted in the second round based off traits, but there's still some development to take place there."
The options are plentiful and making the right decision could make things far easier on new secondary coach Marquand Manuel.
"It's a good group. If you want to take a corner in the second round, that's the list of names you would be choosing from," Jeremiah said. "I think there's a lot of good players in that group."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen