2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Plenty of RBs, OTs that can help Eagles next season

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Plenty of RBs, OTs that can help Eagles next season

It's just Week 2, but the debate over the Eagles' running game is already in midseason form.

With two veterans in Darren Sproles and LeGarrette Blount and a lot of uncertainty behind them, it's worth taking a look at some of the running back prospects that could be available in 2018.

And while we're on the subject of the running game and aging veterans, it's never too early for the Eagles to start looking for their right tackle of the future. They'll be in luck with this year's class.

Let's take a look at how those prospects fared.

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State, senior (5-11/220)
If this kid wasn't on the national radar already, he's clearly put himself on there now. Donnel Pumphrey's replacement shined once again, this time in the Aztecs' 20-17 upset over Stanford. Penny rushed for 175 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown. Amazingly, this game knocked his yards per carry below 10. Penny now has 588 yards total in the first three games of the season. And it's not just his numbers that are impressive. He has great size, speed and vision. He's a sleeper... for now.

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford, junior (5-10/196)
Stanford's loss can't be pinned on Love who ran the ball 13 times for 184 yards and both Cardinal touchdowns. Unlike Penny, Love's yards per carry is still over 10 at a ridiculous 12.2. He's undersized but he's crazy explosive. He hasn't done much from a production standpoint in the passing game but this guy is a nightmare to tackle in space.

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama, junior (6-2/235)
Scarbrough is a bruising back with unbelievable size and surprising speed. He wasn't needed much in Alabama's 41-23 win over Colorado State, but the junior back ran for 66 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Scarbrough has just 33 carries in the Crimson Tide's first three games. I imagine that number goes up as Alabama's schedule gets tougher.

Damien Harris, RB, Alabama, junior (5-11/221)
Harris isn't as highly touted as Scarbrough but may be more intriguing. Harris carried the ball 11 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. He actually carried the load for most of the season last year, rushing for 1,040 yards and 7.2 yards a carry. Harris is more versatile and offers more in the passing game.

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan, senior (6-6/330)
Okorafor is what you'd call a road grader. He's big, strong and nasty. He's spent the last two seasons as Western Michigan's left tackle. For now, Okorafor is kind of a sleeper but could sneak up draft boards as the season goes on. Especially now that Texas tackle Connor Williams, arguably the best OT in college football, appears to be out for the season.

Trey Adams, OT, Washington, junior (6-8/327)
Luckily for a team like the Eagles that may be looking for a young tackle, there will plenty of them in this draft. The initial thing that stands out about Adams is his size, but he's surprisingly nimble for such a large human. He does an excellent job getting to the second level and sealing off blocks. The only concern I'd have is the system Adams currently plays in. The Huskies' offense is not a pro style and focuses on screens and creative ways to get the ball in the hands of some of their explosive playmakers.

Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins make impact vs. Chiefs

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Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins make impact vs. Chiefs

The second edition of our weekly rookie report is much more robust, with six first-year players taking the field in the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the Chiefs (see breakdown).

Just like last week, first-round pick Derek Barnett saw the most action. But unlike last week, he wasn't the only rookie to make an impact. CB Rasul Douglas and WR Mack Hollins also did some damage despite the loss.

We look at the most notable plays from Barnett, Douglas, Hollins, DT Elijah Qualls, RB Corey Clement and K Jake Elliott.

1st quarter, 11:31, 3rd-and-4 at PHI 16 - Eagles 0, Chiefs 0
Jim Schwartz, as he did for much of the day, did a great job disguising this look. The Eagles show blitz and Chris Long is standing up like an outside linebacker on the left. Barnett is lined up on the right against former first-overall pick Eric Fisher. Barnett beats Fisher to the end outside, showing off his outstanding bend, but he slips a little coming off the edge. Still, he helps collapse the pocket around Alex Smith who throws an incompletion to Travis Kelce.

1st quarter, 1:29, 2-and-10 at PHI 41 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt took the ball off tackle to the right while Smith fakes the option. Barnett, unblocked on the backside, stays disciplined on the option fake and keeps contain on Smith. Once he recognizes that Hunt has the ball, he busts it down the line to hold Hunt to a two-yard gain. For the second week in a row, Barnett makes a Brandon Graham-esque play (see Roob's 10 observations).

1st quarter, 0:43, 3-and-8 at PHI 39 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
On the very next play, Barnett nearly records his first NFL sack. Nigel Bradham shows blitz and comes right up the gut at Smith. Barnett again beats Fisher to the outside. As Smith is flushed out of the pocket by Bradham, Barnett gets a hand on Smith's foot but is unable to bring down the Chiefs' quarterback. 

2nd quarter, 9:27, 2nd-and-6 at KC 34 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
A rookie other than Barnett saw action and made an impact play. Douglas was inserted into the lineup when Jaylen Watkins, who surprisingly started outside at corner, left the game with a hamstring injury. On his first snap, Douglas is lined up against the super dangerous Tyreek Hill (Uh oh). But Douglas held his own and then some. The Chiefs run a quick hitch to Hill and Douglas reads the play and tackles Hill immediately after the catch (see report card). This aggressive kind of play is what Schwartz loves and what the Eagles saw out of Douglas at West Virginia.

2nd quarter, 6:36, 2nd-and-11 at KC 41 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
On this play, Mychal Kendricks comes on a delayed blitz on the right side. Barnett, lined up on that side, beats Fisher yet again. That allows Kendricks to come in untouched and take Smith down. Again, like Graham, Barnett may not always have gaudy sack numbers, but he'll certainly affect plays.

3rd quarter, 7:42, 1-and-10 at PHI 37 - Chiefs 6, Eagles 3
Yet another rookie making a play. Hollins is lined up on the outside to the right in a three-wide set. Wentz looks left and then comes back to the right to hit Hollins for an 11-yard gain. Hollins ran an excellent hitch route and beats All-Pro corner Marcus Peters. Hollins' speed and size make him such a tough cover.

This play was part of a big touchdown drive. Hollins then made a nice, special teams tackle on the ensuing kickoff.

4th quarter, 14:17, 2-and-5 at KC 38 - Chiefs 13, Eagles 10
All of the sudden it became the Mack Hollins show. Lined up in the slot this time, Hollins actually slips coming off the line of scrimmage. Hollins recovers nicely and finishes his out route. Wentz then hits him along the sideline for a 13-yard gain. It's another excellent route by Hollins, who made an eight-yard grab on the very next play.

4th quarter, 11:14, 3-and-4 at KC 40 - Chiefs 13, Eagles 13
Had the Eagles won this game, this would've been a huge turning point. The Eagles had just tied the game. With a chance to make Kansas City go three-and-out, Douglas comes up big. Lined up in the slot against Albert Wilson, Douglas gets a decent jam on Wilson, but Wilson breaks away enough on a slant for Smith to attempt a throw to him. Douglas is right on Wilson's hip and is able to get a hand on the football. If Douglas doesn't deflect the pass, Wilson might've been running for awhile. 

Analysis
For as much flak as the Eagles' draft class took before and after Week 1, the rookies made a pretty big impact against a very good team. 

Barnett couldn't quite get home, but he's shown the elite bend and relentless pursuit that made him such an attractive pick at No. 14. He was able to beat a decent left tackle in most of their matchups. It's worth noting that pass rushers have historically struggled to record big sack numbers in their rookie season, but that doesn't mean Barnett can't be a difference maker. 

Douglas was probably the guy that impressed me most. Playing against the likes of the speedy Hill and WR Chris Conley, this seemed like a tough week for Douglas' debut. But Douglas acquitted himself just fine. He wasn't beaten over the top and made a few aggressive plays on the ball. A fine debut.

When the Eagles drafted Hollins, the experts lauded his special teams' prowess. While his ability there has shown, he proved today that that's not the sole reason the team took him in the fourth round. Hollins finished with three catches on three targets for 32 yards. If he continues to polish off his route running, look out.

I didn't want to get too in depth about a rookie kicker, but it's worth mentioning that Elliott went 2 of 3 in his first NFL game. He missed a chip shot at the end of the first half after he was iced by Andy Reid but recovered nicely in nailing a 40-yarder right down the middle in the fourth quarter.

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Donnel Pumphrey's replacement running wild at San Diego State

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Donnel Pumphrey's replacement running wild at San Diego State

The Eagles are 1-0 so it seems like a waste of time doing a prospect watch in the midst of a perfect season.

But seriously, even if the Eagles are hoisting the Lombardi trophy at the end of the season, they'll need to draft players in the 2018 draft.

Here are a few players that could fit the Eagles in 2018 and beyond.

Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State, senior (5-11/220)
Donnel Pumphrey's replacement is running wild in the leading role. After going for 197 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns in Week 1, Penny carried the ball 18 times for 216 yards with a touchdown in a win over Arizona State. He also added four catches for 38 yards and a receiving touchdown. In two games, Penny is averaging a healthy 10.6 yards a carry. He has prototypical running back size with an impressive burst.

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU, junior (6-4/216)
Sutton caught eight passes for 163 yards. Pretty impressive. Oh, and half of those catches were touchdowns. Yes, it was against North Texas, but four touchdowns is four touchdowns. Sutton to me is like 2017 top-10 pick Corey Davis. Coming from a small school could hurt him, but his route running and production will be too great to ignore.

Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson, junior (6-5/305)
Hyatt helped lead No. 3 Clemson in a slugfest win over No. 13 Auburn. Hyatt doesn't necessarily fit the physical profile of an NFL tackle, but man, can he play. He's been a starter for Clemson since his freshman year in 2015 — including starting two national championship games — so he's got plenty of experience. What he lacks physically he makes up for in savvy, quick hands and toughness. Just watch his game last season against Alabama. That defense threw a variety of talented players at him and he was excellent.

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech, junior (6-5/236)
Edmunds was all over the place against Delaware, recording 14 tackles, 1½ sacks and a forced fumble. The junior is extremely aggressive and is always playing the game 100 miles an hour. That will cause him to be overaggressive at times, but he has decent instincts so his play recognition and reaction time should get only better. In the current climate of the NFL, it's good to have a 'backer like Edmunds that can run with tight ends and running backs.

Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC, senior (6-2/240)
Like Edmunds, Nwosu was everywhere in last Saturday's win over Stanford. He had four tackles, a sack and, most impressively, five passes defensed. Nwosu took over Su'a Cravens' role for the Trojans as a general wreaker of havoc. At 240, he definitely sports more of a linebacker build than Cravens and ultimately his position in the NFL could be as a 3-4 OLB.

Kyzir White, S, West Virginia, senior (6-2/216)
As a junior college transfer in 2016, White proved he could play a physical brand of football. He played a hybrid OLB/safety role for the Mountaineers. This season, White is evidently out to prove that he can do more than just deliver big hits. He collected two interceptions in West Virginia's blowout win over ECU. I'd love for the Eagles to draft a hybrid-type player — like I thought maybe Nathan Gerry could be — and White would add some physicality to the Eagles' back end.