As the month of April gets underway, NFL teams host players for private work-outs. Taking note of who the Eagles bring in is of great interest, as it could lead to some indications as to who will be the 23rd overall selection this April. Clearly, teams won’t tip their hand too much, but it’s never a bad idea to take a second look at the players the Eagles feel are worthy of a visit. So far, six players either have completed a visit with the Eagles or are scheduled to work out later in the month.
Alex Green, RB, Hawaii: I’ll admit that I’ve never seen Green play in person, and YouTube doesn’t have any good Hawaii game tapes, so I don’t have any strong opinions about Green. He’s definitely a day 3 pick (rounds 4-7) as he isn’t quite in the same class as guys like Bilal Powell, DeMarco Murray, and Delone Carter. At his pro day on Saturday, he measured in at 6’0″, 225, and stood on his combine 40 time of 4.52. Those are definitely adequate triangle numbers. While he didn’t play against top competition, he averaged over 9 yards per touch as he had 1,562 yards from scrimmage and 19 scores on only 173 touches. He seems to have pretty good vision and is hard to bring down, but his overall speed and quickness did not impress me. However, he reportedly looked fantastic in the position drills at his workout on Saturday. Still, he’s only a late-round flier at this point.
Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington: The speedster from Eastern Washington is certainly an intriguing prospect for the Eagles. He has sub-4.3 speed and absolutely tore up the Big Sky Conference. He’s a little tall and skinny for my liking, but he could certainly be a valuable change-of-pace back and kick returner. At 5’11”, 194, Jones ran the fastest 40 yard dash of all draft eligible runners at his workout and could be taken much higher than most people expect him to be. With LeSean McCoy and Jerome Harrison already on the roster, it would be a waste to spend a third or fourth round pick on him, so I would let somebody else reach for him. However, I could see how Jones may remind the Eagles of Brian Westbrook, another mid-round, small school scat-back when he came out of Villanova.
Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon: Casey Matthews is not his brother. He’s not an elite pass rusher and he’s not as good of an athlete. However, I see the same competitive drive and aggressiveness in him that I see in his brother. I’m not a fan of comparing him to Clay, but at the same time I wouldn’t bet against him becoming a very, very good player. In my mind, he’s right up there with Kelvin Sheppard, Quan Sturdivant, and Colin McCarthy for the best 4-3 linebacker after Akeem Ayers. He’s a bit limited athletically, but I’m confident he’ll develop into a tough and consistent starter in the NFL. He would be tough to pass on in the third or fourth round.
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Paea is a very powerful interior player. He’s a lot like Mike Patterson, and set a combine best 49 reps of 225 pounds in February. He’s short, squatty, and very difficult to push back. However, he doesn’t offer much in terms of pass rush and isn’t overly quick or disruptive. He’s not worthy of the Eagles’ first pick, but he should garner consideration if he’s still on the board in round two.
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Smith is one of the more polarizing prospects in this draft class. Some people compare him to Nnamdi Asomugha. Physically, they’re very similar as Smith is 6’2″, 211, and runs under a 4.4 40. Smith also rarely gives up completions in man coverage. I think Smith is the best pure cover corner in this draft class, which is saying something. He’s great in both press and off coverage. However, it’s everything besides covering receivers that frustrates scouts and myself. Off the field, Smith has some serious character concerns. On it, Smith is terrible at shedding blocks, he shows very inconsistent aggression (although when it’s there, it’s fantastic), and he seems disinterested in pursuit and tackling. If he’s motivated at the next level, he could be an all-pro, but he could also be a huge bust. The best player comparison is far and away Antonio Cromartie. Both are long, fluid athletes who excel in man coverage but don’t put forth maximum effort in less glamorous areas of the game and do some boneheaded things off the field. He would immediately be a big upgrade at right cornerback, so if he’s there at 23, I certainly could not argue with the pick.
Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple: Wilkerson may be a small school prospect, but he’s a big time player. He is a man among boys on his team, and he certainly gave the Penn State offensive line all they could handle and then some. He played the 3-4 defensive end spot in college, and has the perfect length and lateral agility to stay in a 2-gap scheme in the NFL. However, he plays a little bit too passively for my liking. Granted, he was not in an up-the-field, attacking defense, but I just didn’t see the violence and aggression you want from a defensive lineman. He’s a very good player, but not good enough for me to want to spend a first rounder on him when I have much bigger needs elsewhere.