Eagles free-agent targets: Dexter McCluster

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Eagles free-agent targets: Dexter McCluster

Each day from now until March 7, the day before teams can talk to agents for free agents, Geoff Mosher and Reuben Frank will profile some of the NFL’s top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Eagles.

Dexter McCluster, kick returner/running back/wide receiver

Age: 24
Height: 5-9
Weight: 165
Last team: Kansas City Chiefs

Scouting report
McCluster entered the league with so much promise, especially after clocking a 4.58 in his 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2010. He was viewed as the ultimate triple threat who could line up at receiver or running back and also return punts and kicks. Kansas City drafted him in the second round with the 36th overall pick, but McCluster never emerged into a dynamic playmaker. He hasn’t had a 100-yard game rushing or receiving in his four seasons and has just nine career touchdowns, three on special teams. His career rushing average is 4.4 yards per carry and his career receiving average is 8.7 yards per reception. His longest career reception is 49 and his longest run is 32 yards. He made the Pro Bowl this past season as a return specialist after leading the NFL in returns (58), yards (686) and TDs (two).

Geoff’s projection
If you’re tired of watching the Eagles slog through returners and only occasionally getting DeSean Jackson back on punts, you’re probably rooting for the team to sign this guy. He’d make an immediate impact, like he did last season for Andy Reid as a primary punt returner for the first time in his career, but will he try to parlay his one good year into more money than he’s worth? I suppose Chip Kelly has the ingenuity to capitalize on McCluster’s skill set, but the Eagles have enough offensive weapons. They can probably find a good returner in the draft. I’d pass on McCluster.

Reuben’s projection
I like McCluster more than Mosh does. His 11.5 punt return average since 2011 is seventh-best in the NFL during that span, and his 11.8 average last year was best in the NFL among returners with at least 50 chances. The Eagles need that kind of spark in the punt return game. Field position killed the Eagles this past year, and McCluster, even if he’s only a modest weapon on offense (and he did catch 53 passes last year), can change that. Heck, other than the occasional DeSean Jackson return, the Eagles haven’t had a quality punt returner since Brian Westbrook. Since then, it’s been slop. Dexter Wynn, Reno Mahe, Jorrick Calvin, Chad Hall, Damaris Johnson. At the very least, I’d see what kind of money McCluster is looking for. He should come fairly cheap, and if he does, I’d bring him in. He has to be better than the slop the Eagles have had returning punts the last few years.

Options for Eagles in Rounds 4-7 of NFL draft

Options for Eagles in Rounds 4-7 of NFL draft

Here is a breakdown of players that should interest the Eagles on Saturday, the final day of the NFL draft. The Eagles have five more picks left — two in the fourth and one in the fifth, sixth and seven.

Options in the fourth and fifth round

Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Perine is an old school power back. He'd be a great complement to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood although not necessarily a fit in this offense.

Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
Williams has ideal size but not breakaway speed. He also has good vision and cutback ability.

Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
The forgotten man in Clemson's star-studded offense. Gallman is tough and versatile with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Walker had a breakout sophomore season but gained too much muscle the following offseason. If the 2015 version returns, he could be a solid player.

Shelton Gipson, WR, West Virginia
Gipson is a one-trick pony but his speed is legit. The Eagles could use a young burner.

Julie'n Davenport, OT, Bucknell
Jason Peters can't play forever. Davenport dominated at Bucknell. He's still a bit of a project, but he has tools to work with.

Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Before the season, Johnson was a player to keep an eye on as a fringe first-rounder. He struggled at times this season but is still athletic and intriguing.

Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
Johnson really flashes at times. Other times, his pad level is too high and he loses to offensive linemen despite outmuscling them.

Options in the sixth and seventh rounds

Chad Wheeler, OT, USC
Wheeler has had issues on and off the field but has shown flashes of being a decent tackle. He may not have the athleticism to hang at left tackle at the next level.

Charles Walker, DT, Oklahoma
He's had concussion issues and questions about his passion. But when Walker is in the lineup and focused, he can play.

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee
Reeves-Maybin is undersized but instinctive and fast. At worst, he becomes a special team's ace.

Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
Thompson is a ball hawking safety, pulling in seven interceptions last season. It's not a position of need, but again, Thompson could help out on special teams and maybe develop into something more.

Eagles draft CB Rasul Douglas with 3rd-round pick

Eagles draft CB Rasul Douglas with 3rd-round pick

Eagles Draft Tracker

The Eagles doubled down on cornerbacks on Day 2.

The round after taking Washington's Sidney Jones in the second, the Eagles took a cornerback who can actually play this season, selecting West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas with their third-round pick (99th overall).

The Eagles had the 99th pick after the trade with the Ravens to get Timmy Jernigan. In that trade, the Eagles gave up the 74th pick and took back the 99th. They thought Douglas was a player they would miss out on because of the move.

Luckily for them, he was still available at 99.

"It was a long way to go from (second-round pick) 43 to 99 but we feel that this guy fits our system, tremendous ball skills, length, and someone who really was on our radar for a long time and had a really good process including at the Senior Bowl," Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman said.

The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, was where the Eagles really started to like Douglas. While he was on their radar before, after being scouted by East Coast scout Ryan Myers, they were very impressed in Mobile.

"The thing that really stood out at his week at the Senior Bowl, you probably hear me talk about it all the time, this guy is tough," VP of player personnel Joe Douglas said. "And very competitive. You saw it all week. Every rep was like the last rep he was playing. I love the way this guy competes."

Rasul Douglas, who ran a 4.59 time in the 40 at the combine, had eight interceptions in the 2016 season. While that 40 time is slower than ideal, Roseman praised Douglas' 10-yard split and said his length and ball skills help to make up for it.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound corner was once a junior college player who became a first-teamer on the All-Big 12 team. At 6-2, Douglas is the Eagles' tallest corner by two inches. In the past, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has used smaller CBs.

While Douglas will be able to play early this season unlike Jones, the Eagles claim that wasn't the reason they came back with another cornerback pick so quickly.

"It didn't matter the position, it was just the ability to pick the best player," head coach Doug Peterson. "And it just so happened it fit a need and we were fortunate there. This is a good player coming in here."

The last time the Eagles took two corners within the first three rounds was in 2002 when they double-dipped by taking Lito Sheppard in the first round and Sheldon Brown in the second.

This is the first time since 2012, the Eagles have picked a defensive player three times to start a draft.

The Eagles took defensive end Derek Barnett in the first round (43) and cornerback Jones in the second (43).

The draft will wrap up Saturday when the Eagles have five more picks in the fourth through seventh rounds. They have two in the fourth (118, 139) and one in the fifth (155), sixth (194) and seventh (230).

A huge need the Eagles have not addressed yet is at the running back position. Pederson said there are still one or two guys on the board who they like. A key for the Eagles is a back with three-down potential.