Philadelphia Eagles

2017 NFL draft positional breakdown: Defensive tackles

2017 NFL draft positional breakdown: Defensive tackles

We continue our positional breakdown leading up to the 2017 NFL draft with a look at defensive tackles. Instead of a top five, we'll highlight players at these positions who fit the Eagles and have a chance to be available when the team picks.

We've already looked at running backs, linebackers, quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defensive ends.

At No. 14

There are no interior linemen that would make sense for the Eagles in the first round. The player with a chance to go in the mid-teens is Michigan State's Malik McDowell, but he's more of a 3-4 end.

In the middle

Jaleel Johnson, Iowa, 6-3, 316 pounds
Johnson was named first-team all-conference after recording 7 1/2 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss during a strong senior season.

Johnson is big, strong and athletic. He anticipates the snap well and has a high motor. His issue is his pad level. He'll outmuscle offensive linemen, but lose because he's too high. With proper coaching, Johnson has intriguing physical tools. He'd fit well in Jim Schwartz's attacking defense.

Elijah Qualls, Washington, 6-1, 313 pounds
Qualls was also a first-team all-conference pick in the Pac 12. His efforts don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but Qualls tallied three sacks and five tackles for a loss despite missing three games with an ankle injury.

Qualls doesn't necessarily fit the Eagles' defense. He's more of a run stuffer in the mold of Beau Allen. Qualls is a little longer and more athletic than Allen, but is also limited in his ability as a pass rusher. Still, Qualls should be extremely effective on early downs at the next level.

Tanzel Smart, Tulane, 6-1, 296 pounds
Smart put up impressive numbers while being named – you guessed it – first-team all-conference. During a strong senior season, Smart accumulated 67 tackles, 18 1/2 for a loss and 5 1/2 sacks.

Smart was a dominant player on tape. The biggest issue will be his level of competition in the AAC. He's a bit undersized but flashes the quickness and athleticism that would be an ideal fit for Schwartz and the Eagles. He's not an every down tackle, but as a rotational piece, he can be valuable.

Late-round sleeper(s)

Charles Walker, Oklahoma, 6-2, 310 pounds
Walker's career at Norman was mired by concussions and inconsistency. He played just the first four games of this season before suffering his third concussion and deciding to forego the rest of the season to prepare for the draft. Walker has cited his young daughter as the reason for leaving early.

The concussions are definitely scary, but this kid is a good football player. He recorded six sacks as a sophomore reserve. He can look explosive and disruptive at times, but is inconsistent. Apparently the coaching staff at Oklahoma was not thrilled with Walker's decision and his love of football has been questioned. If he's there in the sixth round, he's worth a flyer.

Treyvon Hester, Toledo, 6-2, 300 pounds
Hester dropped weight for his senior season and had a strong campaign. He tallied 34 tackles, eight for a loss and five sacks.

Like Smart, Hester will be evaluated with a grain of salt because of his conference. Hester shows flashes of being able to play the run and get a pass rush, but struggles with pad level at times. He's another player with physical ability that needs to be coached up.

NFL Notes: Supporters hold rally for Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters

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AP Images

NFL Notes: Supporters hold rally for Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters

NEW YORK -- Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality against blacks, showed their solidarity with him and his cause at a rally outside the headquarters of the National Football League on Wednesday.

More than 1,000 people, many wearing jerseys bearing Kaepernick's name, crowded the steps outside the NFL's midtown Manhattan offices.

Kaepernick, who once took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, opted out of his contract with the team in March and remains unsigned. Supporters say he is being blackballed for his advocacy, but some critics say he should not have sat or kneeled during the anthem or contend his lack of a job is more about his on-field talent.

Chants at the demonstration included "Boycott! Boycott!" Women's March organizer Tamika Mallory, addressing football fans, said, "I don't care how long you've been watching football, if they don't stand up for your children, turn the damn TV off."

Political commentator Symone Sanders said, "We are all standing with Kaepernick. It is time for the NFL to put up or shut up" (see full story).

Browns: Kizer to start at QB in 3rd preseason game
BEREA, Ohio -- Rookie DeShone Kizer is Cleveland's new starting quarterback.

Coach Hue Jackson has elected to go with Kizer, a second-round pick from Notre Dame, over veterans Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. Kizer has been the most consistent of the three during training camp and led the Browns to three touchdowns during his two exhibition appearances.

Jackson said Kizer will start Saturday's exhibition in Tamp Bay and "is certainly positioning himself well to earn the starting job heading into the regular season."

The Browns open the season on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh.

Unless he stumbles against the Buccaneers, Kizer will be the 27th different quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. The big-armed 21-year-old has shown no signs of being intimidated by the jump to the pros after making 23 starts in two seasons for the Fighting Irish (see full story).

Raiders: Pro Bowl LT Penn ends holdout
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn has ended his holdout with the Oakland Raiders.

Penn reported for practice on Wednesday, ending his 26-day holdout. Penn was looking for an improved contract but general manager Reggie McKenzie said earlier in training camp that he would not negotiate a new deal with Penn until he arrived at camp.

The Raiders could have fined Penn $40,000 for each day of camp he missed but the team is not expected to do that.

Penn is entering the final year of an $11.9 million, two-year contract. He is scheduled to earn $5.8 million in base salary this season with another $1.3 million in incentives and bonuses (see full recap).

Steelers: Star RB Bell hints at return date
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers star Le'Veon Bell has suggested on Twitter that he will return to the team on Sept. 1, the day after Pittsburgh's final preseason game.

Bell hasn't signed his franchise tender and has been holding out through training camp. Responding to a fan Tuesday night asking when he plans to end his holdout, Bell wrote: "9-1-17" and added a wink.

The franchise tender offered Bell will guarantee him $12.1 million for the upcoming season. The two-time Pro Bowl running back has been seeking a long-term deal.

Bell rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns last season and also caught 75 passes for 616 yards and two TDs.

Redskins: Reed makes on-field debut at practice
ASHBURN, Va. -- Jordan Reed is back at practice with the Washington Redskins.

The 27-year-old tight end made his on-field debut Wednesday after missing almost the first month of practices with a toe injury. Reed missed the team's first two preseason games and was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday.

Reed was examined by a foot specialist Aug. 1 and recently started using wider shoes and orthotics to help alleviate the soreness in the big toe on his left foot. Last week he said it felt better when running routes and walking around and doesn't expect the injury to affect him during the season.

One of quarterback Kirk Cousins' most consistent and effective targets, Reed had 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns last season despite missing four games with injury (see full story).

Giants: OL Bowie waived after domestic charges disclosed 
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have waived Michael Bowie days after finding out that the offensive lineman had been charged with assault and battery in Oklahoma.

The Giants announced the decision Wednesday along with three moves.

The team learned of the charges on Saturday and did not allow the 25-year-old free agent to make the trip to Cleveland for a preseason game against the Browns on Monday night.

Bowie is accused of grabbing his girlfriend by the neck during a fight at her home in Bixby, Oklahoma, then broke two televisions and punched a hole in the wall.

Court records don't list an attorney for Bowie, a Tulsa resident. His agent says Bowie is working to prove his innocence, saying there was no physical contact with the girlfriend.

New York also waived offensive linemen Corin Brooks, and waived/injured wideouts Darius Powe and Andrew Turzilli (see full story).

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman heading to Saints

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USA Today Images

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman heading to Saints

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman has agreed to terms to join the New Orleans Saints on a one-year deal, according to his agent Sean Stellato. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the deal. 

Braman, 30, spent the last three seasons with the Eagles and played a major role on Dave Fipp's unit, which has been considered one of the top in the NFL during that span. He had been a free agent throughout the spring and summer after his contract ran out with the Eagles. 

Braman came to Philadelphia as a free agent from the Texans before the 2014 season on a two-year deal and later restructured his contract to take a pay cut and give him an extra year in Philly. 

While Braman rarely made it on the field for the defense in those next three seasons, he played a total of 1,214 special teams snaps, the most of any player on the team. He played in all 48 games over the last three seasons. 

Even without Braman, the Eagles still have plenty of key special teams players like Chris Maragos, Najee Goode and Kamu Grugier-Hill.