6 Late-Round NFL Draft Prospects Perfectly Suited for Philadelphia Eagles
Look no further than this year’s Super Bowl to see the value in late-round NFL draft prospects. The Seattle Seahawks’ ferocious defense was led by fifth-round corner Richard Sherman, as talented a corner as there is in this league.
Safety Kam Chancellor was a fifth-round selection as well. Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh-round pick. Michael Bennett was undrafted. And star quarterback Russell Wilson was a third-round steal.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a similarly constructed team. Their quarterback, Nick Foles, was a third-round pick. The team’s top three offensive linemen—Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Jason Kelce—were undrafted, drafted in third round and taken in the sixth round, respectively. The top pass-rusher, Trent Cole, was a fifth-round player. While they don't have the defensive prowess, the Eagles have had key contributions from late-round players.
General manager Howie Roseman has an excellent opportunity to add to the team’s collection of key late-round players. While the Eagles choose just six times in the upcoming draft (and not at all in the sixth round), it’s said to be the deepest draft class in league history. Choosing wisely in the late rounds could really benefit the Eagles in the future. The following six players are worth keeping an eye on.
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Based on sheer talent alone, Colt Lyerla is a day-two prospect. He is a tight end with freakish athletic skills, having posted a 36.5" vertical jump at the NFL Scouting Combine while running a 4.61 40-yard dash.
Lyerla is undersized at just 6’4”, 245 pounds, and he has the athleticism to line up as a slot receiver. He would be another weapon for Chip Kelly should the Philadelphia Eagles take a gamble on him. And it would definitely be a gamble, because Lyerla has certainly had his fair share of off-the-field issues, most notably an arrest for cocaine possession.
He was actually kicked off the Oregon Ducks last October, which could lead to him being undrafted come May. Lyerla would be a risk, but if the Eagles can get him in the seventh round—or even as an undrafted player—it may be worth a shot to reunite him with his old college coach.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
If the Philadelphia Eagles sign Mark Sanchez, they’ll have Nick Foles, Sanchez and Matt Barkley on their roster. No team carried more than three quarterbacks last year, which means Chip Kelly may not be able to draft a long-term developmental quarterback prospect.
But maybe Kelly will pass on Sanchez, who does have shoulder problems. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd could fall in the draft, but he’s not lacking in abilities. Boyd turned in a miserable performance at the scouting combine, and that could push him to the bottom of the day-three prospects.
Biggest takeaway from the week in Mobile: QB Tajh Boyd is not a sure-thing to be drafted #SeniorBowl— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 25, 2014
Boyd is a solid runner with success at the collegiate level. He’s a long-term project if Kelly is intrigued to grab him. Boyd would be best acquired in the seventh round.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
Just because the Philadelphia Eagles acquired Darren Sproles doesn’t mean they can’t also take Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas was seen to be a first-round prospect a year ago, but his stock has fallen in the last six months. The disappointing play of St. Louis Rams rookie Tavon Austin may hurt Thomas, as the two are seen as similar players.
Thomas is just 5’8” and 170 pounds, so it’s difficult to expect too much from him in the NFL. There just aren’t many players that small who can make an impact. Thomas would have to make his mark as a return man and a slot receiver. He may not be able to hold up as a runner, but if anyone would know how to use him, it would be Chip Kelly.
Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent State
Dri Archer is a similar player to De’Anthony Thomas, but faster and stronger. He won’t last as long in the draft, meaning the Philadelphia Eagles may need to take him with their third- or fourth-round pick if they’re interested.
Archer posted a ridiculous 4.26 time in the 40-yard dash, and he even benched 225 20 times. He peaked as a junior in college, accounting for 20 total touchdowns (including 16 on the ground and a 9.0 yards-per-carry rate).
Chip Kelly would have a lot of fun planning out offensive schemes with Archer, Darren Sproles, and LeSean McCoy on the field at the same time. It may seem like overkill to draft Archer with Sproles already on the team, but that seems to be what Kelly does.
Deandre Coleman, DT/DE, California
Chip Kelly seems to have always liked Pac-12 players, and California’s Deandre Coleman is a versatile defensive lineman who could contribute as both an end and a tackle in the Philadelphia Eagles’ three-man front.
Coleman is a 315-pound man who is a terrific run-stopper. He would begin the season as depth behind Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton, but he’s a solid enough player that he would allow Davis to use him at 3-technique tackle in four-man fronts.
Coleman is a fourth- or fifth-round prospect (I mocked him to the Eagles in the fifth round of my ideal 2014 Eagles mock draft), and he would fill a position of need.
Avery Patterson, S, Oregon
When he was with the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid never valued the position of safety. He lucked out by having Brian Dawkins on the team when Reid started, and Quintin Mikell was an undrafted free agent who developed into a star.
But Reid’s high draft picks on safeties—Nate Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett—never worked out. Neither did free-agent signings like O.J. Atogwe, Kenny Phillips or Marlin Jackson. General manager Howie Roseman signed Malcolm Jenkins from the New Orleans Saints this offseason, but Jenkins is a system fit, which is a way of saying he's a cheaper player who will have to overachieve in 2014.
The depth behind Jenkins is solid with Allen back on a one-year deal. Earl Wolff may be stretched as a starter if the team doesn’t draft a safety early, like Calvin Pryor or Jimmie Ward. What Oregon’s Avery Patterson would provide is depth and a familiar face for Chip Kelly.
Patterson was a four-year player at Oregon. He intercepted three passes in each of his last two seasons. He also played some cornerback, so he could fill in there if needed for the Eagles. Patterson would be a seventh-round flier if the Eagles are interested.