5 Late-Round Sleepers the Philadelphia Eagles Should Target in 2014 NFL Draft
Philadelphia Eagles Look to Build on Success In 2014 NFL Draft
Heading into the 2013 NFL season there were genuine questions about the direction that the Philadelphia Eagles organization was heading in. Nobody knew whether or not new head coach Chip Kelly would be able to translate his fast paced offensive and defensive style to the NFL level, if Michael Vick could stay healthy for an entire season and possibly most importantly of all if the fans would be patient enough to wait for success to come. These were all genuine questions but have now been firmly answered.
After only five weeks it was clear that Vick wasn't going to make it through a 16 game schedule unscathed, and the fans didn't want to wait for success. But Kelly was able to right the ship on the way to a 10-6 record and loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card Round. Along the way things actually looked quite bright for the Eagles' future as they found a quarterback for the future in Nick Foles, figured out how to mix Kelly's wishes for a fast paced team with the different standards of the NFL and even started to play adequate defense along the way. By no means were they perfect, but Philadelphia certainly looked like a team on the rise as the season progressed.
Of course one good season in Philadelphia is not going to keep fans quiet for long, and it will be up to Kelly to bring in more offensive threats, learn how to stop the passing game and generally bring in more depth. One thing that was blatantly obvious during the 2013 season was that depth is needed for a Kelly run team on both sides of the ball as players are going to get tired no matter how in-shape they are.
The Eagles are certainly lucky to have $25.7 million in cap room to spend this offseason, but it seems apparent that Kelly wants to mold the team into his vision through the 2014 NFL Draft. This is partly because in general younger players are easier to get to adapt than veteran players but even more importantly because he simply wants the youngest and most athletic players on the field.
Keeping this in mind, I have formed a list of the five late-round sleepers that the Philadelphia Eagles should target in the 2014 NFL Draft. Each player selected has the great athletic ability that Kelly will be looking for from incoming players and would help to fill positions where depth is needed for the Eagles organization.
5. Brett Smith
The Eagles already have Nick Foles cemented as their starter for 2014, but they are expected to need a backup because Michael Vick is looking to become a starter elsewhere. In order to fill this position, the Eagles should target Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith, who has good arm strength and accuracy, is extremely tough with the ball in his hands and has a knack to create plays with his legs that has been compared to that of Johnny Manziel. Smith is not expected to go until the fifth or sixth round, though, which would set the Eagles up perfectly because they have two fifth round picks.
4. Isaiah Crowell
Alabama State running back Isaiah Crowell is the type of explosive athlete that Chip Kelly relishes having in his backfield. The 21-year-old has 4.4 40-yard dash speed and has also shown an ability to run at defender, which will only be helped out at the next level by the fact he has bulked up to 224-pounds. He will likely be available when the Eagles pick in the seventh round as a result of legal troubles he incurred while playing at Georgia, and the prospect of him forming a two-headed monster with LeSean McCoy should be too much to pass up for Kelly.
3. Ahmad Dixon
The Eagles ranked last in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game and clearly need help at the safety positions. ormer Baylor free safety Ahmad Dixon would be a perfect solution to help rectify this defensive problem as he is a ball hawk, plays with great intensity and has the 4.5 40-yard dash speed that means he can haul down almost any wide receiver. The Eagles would be wise to select him with either their fourth or fifth round pick.
2. Jeff Janis
The Eagles had a very explosive offense during the 2013 NFL season, but they could surely upgrade at the wide receiver position as DeSean Jackson is the only true top receiver they have. In order to help fill this hole they should select Jeff Janis, who played his college football at Division II
Saginaw Valley State University. Janis possesses the type of skill-set that will make Chip Kelly salivate, as he is 6-foot-3, 219-pounds, ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and has great hands. The small school prospect should be able to be had in the fifth round where the Eagles have two picks.
1. Keith McGill
The Eagles' inability to stop the passing game was very obvious in 2013, and they clearly need to bring in options at defensive back to rectify this issue. Former Utah Utes star Keith McGill could help in this area as the 6-foot-3, 205-pound cornerback has the 4.35 40-yard dash speed that Chip Kelly loves to see and the size to compete in the air with any wide receiver. McGill is expected to go in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and the Eagles should make sure to select him.