Philadelphia Eagles Add 3 Big Names Among 8 Rookie Free Agent Signings

By Bryn Swartz

Immediately following the conclusion of the 2012 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles snatched up eight rookie free agents, including three who built up quite an impressive resume during their college career.

The eight players are as follows: running back Chris Polk from Washington, fullback/tight end Emil Igwenagu from UMass, wide receiver Damaris Johnson from Tulsa, wide receiver Darnell Williams from Louisiana College, wide receiver Elvis Akpla from Montana State, tight end Chase Ford from Miami, cornerback Cliff Harris from Oregon, and safety Phillip Thomas from Syracuse.

The biggest name is probably Chris Polk. Many speculated that he would be a mid-round draft pick, but nobody selected Polk, including the Eagles, who chose running back Bryce Brown instead of Polk in the seventh round.

Polk rushed for 1000 yards three times during his career at Washington, and ranked 11th in Division I this past year with 1488 rushing yards. He scored 12 touchdowns and averaged 5.1 yards per carry.

But he has had major injury concerns. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury as a freshman and had three separate MRIs by doctors at the NFL Scouting Combine.

He is a low-risk, high-reward guy for the Eagles, and is expected to compete for a roster spot with running backs Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown.

Another intriguing signing by the Eagles is Damaris Johnson, who holds the NCAA Division I all-time record for career all-purpose yards, as well as the NCAA all-time record for kickoff return yardage. He topped 200 all-purpose yards in 19 career college games, and scored 29 touchdowns during his college career (17 receiving, 8 rushing, 2 kick returns, 2 punt returns).

However, Johnson has had some character issues. He was kicked off the Tulsa football team and left school for pleading guilty to felony embezzlement in connection with a case in which he was charged with receiving unpaid merchandise from a Macy’s department store where his friend worked.

The final big name for the Eagles is cornerback Cliff Harris.

Harris has also had some off-the-field issues. He was kicked off the Oregon football team in 2010 for a series of off-the-field issues of his own last season, including an incident in which he was caught by police for driving 118 miles per hour with a suspended license.

He was an All-American selection that same year though, and he tied for fifth in Division I football with six interceptions. He also returned four punts for touchdowns, including two in one game against New Mexico.

It will be interesting to see if any of these undrafted rookie free agents becomes a key contributor to the Eagles in 2012.

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