Report Card Grades for Philadelphia Eagles' Undrafted Free-Agent Signings
Every year, as soon as the draft ends, 32 teams climb all over each other to sign the best of the best talents that didn’t hear their names called on draft weekend. Often lost amid the scramble is the fact that every year, a few of these players are actually going to make it in the NFL.
Most will not, though. Quite a few will serve as “camp bodies,” players who are there to help fill out the 90-man roster.
Oftentimes, it can be hard to tell the difference, because so many of these players—almost all—were afterthoughts leading up to the draft. We’ll take a look at the prospects of intrigue, though, and try to figure out which ones may have a legitimate path to a roster spot this summer.
Josh Andrews, OG, Oregon State
A three-year starter at left guard for Oregon State, Josh Andrews can compete for a roster spot at guard, where Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans are in their 30s. It’s an area of need without any established plan for the future.
Andrews has good size at 6’3”, 304 pounds, and he played in the Pac-12, so he’s faced reasonably quality competition his whole career. He's a decent signing with a realistic shot at making the team.
Blake Annen, TE, Cincinnati
Blake Annen is easily my favorite signing of this class. He needs to bulk up from 6’4”, 247 pounds to play tight end at the next level, but that should happen naturally in an NFL conditioning program. And he’s something of an enigma, finishing his career at Cincinnati with just 19 receptions.
Annen clocked a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, though, which is obscene for his size and position. Obviously, he’s very raw, but he has the potential to flourish under Chip Kelly’s tutelage.
Karim Barton, OG, Morgan State
A three-year starter at right tackle for Morgan State, Karim Barton projects to guard in the NFL. Besides making a position change, Barton needs to prove he belongs at the next level, coming from a Division I-AA program.
The Eagles need to consider any and all options at guard, though, with Mathis and Herremans aging and no proven backup plan behind them. We really don’t know enough about Barton to make an educated guess about his ceiling, but at 6’3”, 315 pounds, he’s worth a look.
Kadron Boone, WR, LSU
Granted, LSU had three wide receivers taken in this year’s draft, including two in the first three rounds. Still, Kadron Boone was a four-year backup for the Tigers, which should make one wonder how he would ever be a viable option in the pros.
Boone presumably has special teams experience, which probably has more to do with his being brought to camp. Still, he would really have to stand out in that regard to have any shot at cracking the roster.
Trey Burton, TE, Florida
Trey Burton boasts amazing versatility, having played wide receiver, tight end, running back and even quarterback for Florida. He racked up 1,696 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns in four seasons.
That being said, he sounds like a man without a position to me. At 6’2”, 224 pounds, he sounds more like a slot receiver than a tight end, his listed position with the Eagles. With a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and other ordinary measurables, though, I’m not sure he has the all-around athleticism to succeed in that role, either.
David Fluellen, RB, Toledo
David Fluellen is a big, between-the-tackles runner in the mold of a Chris Polk, who is currently projected to serve as LeSean McCoy’s primary backup after the Bryce Brown trade. Fluellen could give Polk chase, or at least compete for a roster spot.
Fluellen rushed for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Toledo. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield a little, although he won’t burn defenses that way. If he can carve out a role on special teams like Polk has, that could pave the way to a full-time job.
John Fulton, CB, Alabama
A four-year backup at Alabama, John Fulton was presumably brought in to play special teams. He’s certainly not going to crack the depth chart at cornerback this year, not with Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll and Jaylen Watkins there.
Fulton would have to be downright special on special teams to get a serious look. Otherwise, he’s just a camp body.
Kevin Graf, OT, USC
A three-year starter at right tackle for USC, Kevin Graf could fill a highly specific slot as Lane Johnson’s backup at the next level. According to Graf’s scouting report, that’s the only position he’s able to play.
Still, it’s not an altogether useless skill. Allen Barbre is the primary backup at most spots along the offensive line as of now, which means if there were two injuries, a lot of reshuffling would have to go on. If Graf solidified himself as a competent backup on the right side at least, it would go a long way toward maintaining stability here.
Donald Hawkins, OG, Texas
A two-year starter at left tackle for Texas, Donald Hawkins is probably too light to play on the outside at the next level at 6’4”, 295 pounds. The Eagles will give him a tryout at guard.
I am a fan of the outside-the-box thinking in this case. Hawkins was named first-team All-Big 12 in 2013, which shows he’s played at the highest level against some reasonably qualified competition. If he can master the position change, Hawkins could make for a fine developmental prospect behind Mathis and Herremans.
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
One of the most explosive backs that entered the draft, Henry Josey led the nation with 8.1 yards per carry in 2011. He produced back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons for Missouri, racking up 25 touchdowns along the way.
However, Josey seems limited in several respects. At 5’8”, 194 pounds, he has adequate size for a runner but maybe not for participating on special teams. He doesn’t have much experience catching the ball out of the backfield, either, which seems important in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Josey seems like sort of a natural when the ball is in his hands, though. He’s worth a shot, but ultimately I don’t think he’s versatile enough to be a fit.
Wade Keliikipi, NT, Oregon
It’s not so much about how good Wade Keliikipi is; it's about what he represents. The Eagles are clearly trying to move away from Damion Square as the backup nose tackle to Bennie Logan. Keliikipi is more competition for Square and seventh-round pick Beau Allen.
Keliikipi is a tad underwhelming as a prospect, though. He doesn’t possess tremendous size (6’3”, 306 lbs) or production (11 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks in four seasons at Oregon). Sounds like a camp body to me.
Daytawion Lowe, S, Oklahoma State
An incredibly active defender out of Oklahoma State’s secondary, Daytawion Lowe led all Cowboys players in tackles in two of the past three seasons. He also recorded 7.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, five interceptions, 19 pass breakups and five forced fumbles.
A second-team All-Big 12 honoree in '13, Lowe has decent size for the NFL (5’11”, 205 lbs), but the Eagles’ depth chart is suddenly a tad crowded at safety. If Nate Allen loses the starting job to Earl Wolff out of training camp, though, his roster spot could become available.
Frank Mays, DE, Florida A&M
The angle here is Frank Mays is a very large man. The Eagles’ website lists Mays as 6’9”, 291 pounds, which is not irrelevant. You would think that would make him very difficult to block.
Except Mays didn’t make a huge impact even at Division I-AA Florida A&M, recording 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks in 21 games. Why would the light suddenly turn on at the next level? I suppose it’s worth kicking the tires a little bit, but barely.
Quron Pratt, WR, Rutgers
Not unlike Kadron Boone out of LSU, Quron Pratt didn’t get to showcase himself much as a wide receiver at Rutgers. Pratt recorded 87 receptions for 1,087 yards and one touchdown in his entire four-year collegiate career.
However, Pratt is known for his special teams prowess. As a senior, he took a kick return 99 yards to the house and blocked a punt, according to his new Eagles bio. If he demonstrates anywhere near that level of competence in camp, Pratt has a legitimate chance to sneak in the fifth wide receiver slot.
Carey Spear, K, Vanderbilt
Of all Philadelphia’s undrafted free-agent signings, Carey Spear is the odds-on favorite to win a job coming out of camp. Quite frankly, his path is the easiest. All Spear has to do is beat out Alex Henery for the job.
A fourth-round pick in 2011, Henery has worn out his welcome in the City of Brotherly Love. His leg strength—or lack thereof—has become an issue on kickoffs and field-goal attempts, and it’s not as if tremendous accuracy is going to save him, because he’s not exactly money, either.
Whether Spear is actually better or not remains to be seen, but it would be a challenge to do worse. At least the Eagles are bringing in competition, for which we should all be grateful.