6 Hidden Gems Philadelphia Eagles Should Have Noticed at the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is the make-or-break point for many draft prospects. Classic workout warriors have seen their stock rise due to their ability to post a high number of repetitions in the bench press or rip off a blinding 40-yard dash.
Prospects like Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel won’t rise or fall too much due to their numbers. But for late-round players, the combine can be a saving grace for them.
For Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly, they would be wise to keep an eye on the following six players, all of whom would be a solid fit with the Eagles.
*All measurements and times are per NFL.com
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Despite Nick Foles’ unprecedented success at quarterback in 2013, the Philadelphia Eagles will likely pick another quarterback.
That’s just what Chip Kelly does. He develops young quarterbacks, and Jordan Lynch could become Kelly’s new project.
Lynch was a classic run-first, pass-second quarterback at Northern Illinois, becoming the fifth QB ever to account for at least 20 touchdowns both passing and rushing in a single season. He also holds the single-game collegiate quarterback record with 321 rushing yards in a game.
But he will need a lot of developing to learn to play the game effectively in the NFL.
Lynch is a similar player to current Philadelphia backup quarterback G.J. Kinne, and he may need to spend his rookie season on the practice squad to learn the game. If he does win a spot, the best bet is that he provides a bit of a spark as a runner, should he ever need to fill in.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Brandin Cooks is an undersized slot receiver (5’10”, 189 pounds) who posted a ridiculous 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash, solidifying himself as a game-breaking wide receiver with elite NFL speed.
Cooks was a tremendous player his final year in college, winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver. He was a First-Team All-American and led the nation with both 128 receptions and 1,730 yards. He projects as the kind of guy who can score from any spot on the field.
Dri Archer, RB, Kent State
Chip Kelly isn’t all about speed. But you bet he will notice a guy like Dri Archer, who posted a 4.26 time in the 40-yard dash. That’s close to the 4.24 time Chris Johnson posted in 2008, which still stands as the single-fastest time of any player in combine history.
Archer isn’t the ideal size for the NFL, as he’s just 5’8” and 173 pounds. His effectiveness at the pro level will depend largely on the way a head coach chooses to utilize him. The obvious way to take advantage of his talent is to put him in space so he can just make defenders miss.
Archer will be a hybrid running back/wide receiver, who may have to make a roster as a kick returner. In college, he scored 40 total touchdowns (rushing, receiving, and kick returning). He’s essentially a poor man’s version of the Rams' Tavon Austin or former Oregon product De’Anthony Thomas.
Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State
Michigan State’s Max Bullough really helped his draft stock when he led all linebackers with 30 repetitions in the bench press. Bullough is a hard-nosed, tough MIKE linebacker who could potentially anchor an NFL defense. He has a suspension in his past and he’s undersized, but he’s a physical player, a team captain and he just likes to tackle people.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a future star in Mychal Kendricks, a talented 3-4 inside linebacker who can cover both sidelines and chase down ball-carriers. DeMeco Ryans is a team captain, but he’s entering his ninth NFL season.
Drafting Bullough in one of the later rounds may give the Eagles a future replacement for Ryans.
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
The obvious connection from the Philadelphia Eagles to Colt Lyerla is the University of Oregon, but even beyond that, Lyerla would fit in well with the team's offense.
Lyerla is an athletic tight end who ran a fast 40-yard dash (4.61). He’s undersized and has enough character concerns that he could go undrafted. It doesn’t seem likely that James Casey returns to the team next season, given his $3.96 million base salary in 2014, and the fact that he barely played last year, his lone season in Philadelphia.
Lyerla could become a late-round draft pick. He is just a mediocre blocker, but he has tremendous leaping ability (39” vertical leap) and could be an asset for the Eagles offense in the red zone.
Kerry Winn, DT, Richmond
The Philadelphia Eagles could use another versatile defensive lineman, and Richmond's Kerry Wynn would be a solid addition. Wynn can play 5-technique end, although he could stand to bulk up a bit.
Wynn posted good numbers at the combine, as he benched 225 pounds 31 times. He had a vertical jump of 34 inches. He's a former third-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection who could contribute as a backup. He won't go high in the draft, but Wynn would at least compete with the rest of the Eagles ends to provide depth.