The Eagles recent favorability towards Senior Bowl players in the draft has been well documented this week, so special attention is awarded to those players they sat down for an interview. Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman, and even Jeffrey Lurie were in Mobile, AL. for the Bowl. Lurie’s presence in particular led to rumors they were scouting for either a franchise quarterback or the teams’ next personnel head.
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Wentz was making the most news at the Senior Bowl this week. For several fans, it was their first chance to see the quarterback who torched Football Championship Subdivision defenses enough during his career to snatch a first round grade in this year’s draft. The biggest question in the organization right now is whether the Eagles will re-sign Sam Bradford, draft a quarterback of the future, or both.
If they want Wentz, they may have to trade up to do it. He impressed all week at the Senior Bowl practices, and is garnering top 10 status. Listed at 6-foot-5, 223 pounds, Wentz has prototype size at the position, and set about showing scouts he had the arm strength, touch, and mindset of an NFL signal-caller. At the moment, he seems lined up as the second quarterback off the board, after California’s Jared Goff.
Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State
Whitehair is one of many offensive line prospects being linked to the Eagles, and along with Wentz, is a player they interview twice at the Senior Bowl. It’s not surprising, given the struggles the team has had along the line the past two seasons, and their decision not to select a single lineman since taking Lane Johnson fourth overall in 2013.
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People may flinch at drafting a guard at 13, but Whitehair is already being called the best guard in the draft and a player who could step in and start, and by all accounts helped himself even more at the Senior Bowl. That’s significant, since the event was largely heralded this year for its outstanding pass-rushers. The Eagles would have to take him in the first round. The position is certainly a need. Last off-season’s exodus saw Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans leave with no replacement ready, and it was visible on the field.
Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
Oakman is already famous on the internet, thanks to his 6-foot-9 frame (as reported by Baylor. Oakman was cited at 6-foot-7.5 at the Senior Bowl.) Born in Philadelphia, Oakman originally attended Penn State before being dismissed from the team by former coach Bill O’Brien. There’s no doubt that incident will be asked about by just about every team Oakman interviews with, but the player has showed an openness to discuss it and how it changed him frankly.
The more troubling issue for Oakman might really be his inconsistent play. Despite his impressive build, he had just 4.5 sacks as a senior after recording 11 as a junior. He registered two sacks in the Senior Bowl game after a week of practice (generally considered more important for evaluating players) lacking any fanfare. Oakman will probably turn in a monster combine, and his stock may rise well above what his play at Baylor warranted.
Jason Spriggs, T, Indiana
For more help on the offensive line, the Eagles could turn to Spriggs, who likely has the reach (6-foot-6, 300) to remain at tackle if drafted, and potentially slot in at right tackle when Lane Johnson inevitably replaces Jason Peters on the left side. Spriggs surrendered just two sacks in each of the past two seasons, and was part of the line that blocked for Tevin Coleman’s 2000-yard season in 2014, so his game is well rounded.
Sprigg’ grade probably tops out around the second round right now, but a strong Senior Bowl week and a combine that alleviates concerns about his strength could push him into first round consideration. If the Eagles find themselves with a second round pick, or have traded back in the first round, Spriggs could get a look.
Sean Davis, DB, Maryland
Here’s one player you can probably keep your eye on into the third day of the draft. Most felt like the Eagles secondary took a big step forward in 2015, though their play slipped at times, and are excited to see what the unit can do under new Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz. That said, Walter Thurmond and Nolan Carroll are free agents, nickel corner is an open position (or safety is, if Malcolm Jenkins is required to keep playing the nickel) and neither Byron Maxwell or Eric Rowe have yet set the world on fire.
Davis has spent seasons at Maryland at both safety and cornerback, and comes with a reputation for stuffing the run. He twice recorded 100 tackle seasons in college. At 6-foot-1 and with his history of versatility, Davis fits the exact mold of the “Chip Kelly corner” we’ve been eyeing in the draft the previous few years. Size may no longer be a requirement, but it can’t hurt. The team seems intent on adding toughness; at the cornerback spot, Davis meets that criterion.