NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

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NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

If you're an Eagles fan looking towards the 2012 draft, here's who you should be watching this Saturday:

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio vs Utah State (5:30 p.m., ESPN)

Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State, No. 9

Wagner is a well built linebacker who looks bigger than his 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame. He played all over the field for the Aggies this season, lining up inside, outside and as a stand up pass rusher. Wagner shows really good instincts against the run and is a solid tackler. As a pass rusher he looked a bit out of his element, showing little burst off the line and few, if any, pass rushing moves. While Wagner is a rock-steady against the run, his lack of athleticism will cause him to fall to the late rounds of the draft.

Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State, No. 6

Turbin is in his fifth year of college after missing two seasons (2007 and 2010) to injuries, the last being an ACL injury during 2010's preseason conditioning program. In 2009 Turbin piled up 1,714 yards from scrimmage and 18 scores. This season, Turbin showed he was completely recovered from his knee injury, posting 1,580 yards from scrimmage and 23 TDs on his way to becoming the 2011 WAC Player of the Year. Turbin (5-10, 216) is a bowling ball of a back. Thickly muscled and powerful, Turbin also has the speed to break the long run. The redshirt junior still has another year of eligibility if he wants to come back, but all signs point to Turbin throwing his hat in the NFL ring. Turbin should be off the board somewhere before the fourth round.
LaVon Brazill, WR, Ohio, No. 7

The senior Bobcat is having a very nice season after his 2010 campaign was cut short by knee and hand injuries. Brazill isn't a burner or a physical specimen (5-11, 191), but he just seems to know how to find the gaps in coverage and makes plays. He is Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton's (Mickey of baseball fame's son) favorite target (64 catches for 1,042 yards) and has a nose for the end zone (10 TDs). Could be a late round draft pick and excel as a slot receiver.
Others to Watch
Joe Flading, OT, Ohio, No. 78

All-MAC First Team selection as voted by the MAC News Media Association. Flading (6-3, 292) has started 37 consecutive games.
Noah Keller, LB, Ohio, No. 47

Keller is a tackling machine for the Bobcats. Lacks elite athletic ability but could be a core special teamer in the NFL.

LSU vs Alabama (8 p.m., CBS)

Robert Lester, S, Alabama, No. 37

Lester gets overshadowed by his fellow safety Mark Barron, but he is by no means a lesser prospect. Lester has the size (6-2, 210) to match Barron but with better coverage skills. He always seems to be around the ball. Lester looks very aggressive against the run, but doesn't seem to take the best angles all the time. He'll be going somewhere before the end of the second round.

Best and worst Eagles draft picks ever at each defensive position

Best and worst Eagles draft picks ever at each defensive position

Live draft coverage begins Thursday at 5 p.m. with Philly Sports Talk and continues until midnight on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App.

We continue our look at the best and worst Eagles draft picks since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 with a look at the defense.
 
Click here for the best and worst Eagles draft picks on offense.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Best: Jerome Brown, 1st round, 1987
This comes down to Jerome Brown and Fletcher Cox. Their numbers are pretty similar through five years, which tragically is how long Brown played before he was killed at the age of 27 in a one-car crash in his hometown of Brooksville, Florida. As good as Cox is, Brown was as dominating as any defensive tackle I ever saw, both rushing the passer and stopping the run. In a few years, Cox might get the edge, but for now, I have to go with Brown. 
 
Worst: Leonard Renfro, 1st round, 1993
Rich Kotite was not very good at this drafting thing. In 1993, the Eagles took defensive tackle Leonard Renfro in the first round. In 1994, they took defensive tackle Bruce Walker in the second round. Those two busts go head-to-head here, and it's not an easy call. Renfro was the 24th player taken overall in 1993. How bad was he? Defensive coordinator Bud Carson refused to play him, but owner Norman Braman — upset that he was getting no return out of a first-round pick — overruled the legendary Carson and forced his hand. Renfro wound up starting two games in the middle of 1993 — against the Cowboys and Cards. Both teams ran right at Renfro, and the Cowboys amassed 271 rushing yards, including a career-high 237 from Emmitt Smith, and a week later the Cards netted 243 rushing yards, including a career-high 160 from Ron Moore. Renfro never started another game and was out of football a year later. But Walker may have been worse. He never played a snap for the Eagles, spent part of 1995 with the Patriots, and was out of football by 1996. But we'll go with Renfro because he was a first-round pick and the Eagles' opponents averaged 257 rushing yards per game that he started. One of the worst draft picks in franchise history.

DEFENSIVE END

Best: Clyde Simmons, 9th round, 1986
This is really a two-man race between Trent Cole, a fifth-round pick, and Clyde Simmons, a ninth-round pick. (Remember, Reggie White was a supplemental pick who had played in the USFL, so he's not eligible.) Cole had 85½ sacks in 10 years with the Eagles, and Simmons had 76 sacks in eight years, so those numbers are fairly close, with Simmons averaging one sack more per season. The big difference is that Simmons was as good as anyone against the run. Now, Cole, despite his lack of size, always gave a tremendous effort against the run. But Simmons was just one notch above.
 
Worst: Jon Harris, 1st round, 1997
OK, good luck sorting this one out. The Eagles have drafted no fewer than six defensive ends in the first three rounds who averaged fewer than three sacks per season while wearing an Eagles uniform: Greg Jefferson, Victor Abiamiri, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Jerome McDougle, Jon Harris and Marcus Smith. They're the only team in NFL history to draft three defensive ends in the first round, none of whom recorded more than four sacks. It really comes down to those three — McDougle, Harris and Smith. The jury is still out on Smith, and as unproductive as McDougle was, it has to be Harris, who was out of football before his 25th birthday. He had two career sacks, and only two first-round defensive ends since sacks became an official stat in 1982 have had fewer.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Best: Seth Joyner, 8th round, 1986
A no-brainer, not only because Joyner was such a brilliant player — the only player in NFL history with 50 sacks and 25 interceptions — but because the Eagles have drafted so poorly at outside linebacker over the years. William Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 1991, had a terrific Pro Bowl career, but Joyner was a unique outside linebacker who played like an inside linebacker against the run and a safety against the pass. It's a travesty he has not yet been enshrined in the Eagles Hall of Fame. Heck, you can make a pretty good case that he belongs in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
 
Worst: Alonzo Johnson, 2nd round, 1986
Same draft. Different result. Johnson, taken 160 picks before Joyner, started nine games as a rookie in 1986, played in three games in 1987, went into drug rehab and never played again. He was out of football soon after his 24th birthday.

INSIDE LINEBACKER

Best: Jeremiah Trotter, 3rd round, 1998
If we went back to 1949, it would be Chuck Bednarik, maybe the greatest Eagle of all-time. But we're starting in 1970, so it's gotta be Trott. He made four Pro Bowls as an Eagle — two in his first stint and two in his second stint, following two unremarkable seasons with the Redskins — and along with Brian Dawkins was truly the heart of the Jim Johnson defense. The only defensive players the Eagles have drafted since 1970 picked to more Pro Bowls are Dawk and Eric Allen. Pretty darn good company.
 
Worst: Barry Gardner, 2nd round, 1999
Donovan McNabb wasn't the only Chicago native the Eagles took early in the 1999 draft. Barry Gardner, who had played Pop Warner football against McNabb as a kid, was the 35th pick overall, an early second-round choice. But their careers took divergent paths. McNabb became a perennial All-Pro quarterback, but Gardner started only 18 games as an Eagle before bouncing around to the Browns, Jets and Patriots and drifting out of the league.

CORNERBACK

Best: Eric Allen, 2nd round, 1988
There've been a lot of good ones. Bobby Taylor. Lito Sheppard. Sheldon Brown. But E.A. is in a class by himself and should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Heck, if you're going to put Aeneas Williams in, you have to put Eric Allen in. During his seven years with the Eagles, he led the entire NFL with 34 interceptions, four more than Deion Sanders, who had the second most. Including playoffs, Allen had nine INT returns for touchdowns — only five players in NFL history (including Asante Samuel) had more. Only three second-round picks in NFL history had more interceptions. The best cornerback in Eagles history.
 
Worst: Curtis Marsh, 3rd round, 2011
Not a lot to choose from on this side of the ledger. The Eagles have done well for themselves over the years drafting cornerbacks. But Marsh was a huge disappointment. He was the 90th pick overall but lasted only two years plus a few games in the NFL. He's one of only 23 cornerbacks taken in the first three rounds since 1970 to never start a game in the NFL.

SAFETY

Best: Duh
Not much we can say about Dawk that hasn't already been said. The greatest safety in Eagles history and a Hall of Fame hopeful, Dawk roamed the deep secondary with class and distinction for a decade. He combined ferocious physical skills with an incredible football mind and the product was simply one of the best safeties in NFL history. Hard to imagine 60 players being drafted ahead of Dawkins in 1996, but they were. Including people such as Lawrence Phillips, Alex Molden, Cedric Jones, Reggie Brown (not that one), John Michels, Andre Johnson, Alex Van Dyke, Leeland McElroy, Bryant Mix, Israel Ifeanyi, James Manley, Dedric Mathis and Michael Cheever. See you in Canton, Dawk!
 
Worst: Jaiquawn Jarrett, 2nd round, 2011
Yes, that 2011 draft strikes again. Jarrett was the 54th player taken in the 2011 draft, and the fact that he played college ball at Temple made it a popular pick. Then he started to play, and all of a sudden it wasn't that popular a pick. Jarrett struggled from the get-go both against the run and in coverage and after starting two games as a rookie, the Eagles released him one week into his second year to make room on the roster for … yes, Mardy Gilyard. Jarrett hung on three years with the Jets and was even named AFC Defensive Player of the Week once. But he was only 26 when he played his last NFL game. 

NFL Notes: Gareon Conley claims rape allegations are 'completely false'

NFL Notes: Gareon Conley claims rape allegations are 'completely false'

CLEVELAND -- Former Ohio State football star Gareon Conley says he plans to skip attending the NFL draft in person on Thursday and decried allegations that he raped a woman as "completely false."

No charges have been filed as police investigate claims made by a 23-year-old woman that he assaulted her in a Cleveland hotel on April 9. Conley was named in a police report that details the allegations but no information has been forwarded to prosecutors.

Conley said in a statement Wednesday that he believes the allegations are an attempt to ruin the draft experience for him and his family.

The woman told police Conley raped her in the bathroom of a hotel room after they met in the elevator and she agreed to go back to his room.

Conley's attorney says the cornerback, projected to be a first-round pick, plans to speak with police about the incident after the draft.

Raiders: Marshawn Lynch comes out of retirement
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement after agreeing on a two-year deal with the Raiders that paved the way for a trade to his hometown team in Oakland.

Lynch passed a physical Wednesday and agreed to a restructured two-year contract. Those were the final steps needed before Seattle could trade his rights along with a 2018 sixth-round pick to the Raiders for a 2018 fifth-rounder.

NFL Network said Lynch would get a $3 million base deal this season, with a chance to make an additional $2 million if he rushes for at least 1,000 yards.

Lynch had been slated to make $9 million this season if he came out of retirement. With Seattle unwilling to pay that amount and Lynch only wanting to play for the Raiders, finalizing a trade was simple once Oakland was able to re-do Lynch's contract.

Lynch also must apply to the NFL for reinstatement from the retired list before he can play with the Raiders (see full story).

Packers: Veteran OL Jahri Evans signs
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have signed veteran offensive lineman Jahri Evans as they look to fill a hole up front left by the departure of free agent-right guard T.J. Lang.

Terms of the agreement were not announced Wednesday by general manager Ted Thompson.

The 33-year-old Evans joins the Packers following 11 seasons in New Orleans, where he played 169 regular-season games since being drafted in the fourth round in 2006. The 169 games are the most played by an active NFL offensive lineman in that span.

After blocking for Drew Brees in New Orleans, the durable Evans figures to be the favorite to replace Lang after the Pro Bowl guard signed with the Detroit Lions last month.

Evans has been voted to six Pro Bowls.

Jets: 5 players waived to trim roster on eve of draft
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets have waived running back Brandon Burks, wide receiver Darius Jennings, long snapper Josh Latham, linebacker Jeff Luc and defensive lineman Julien Obioha.

The team announced the moves Wednesday as it trims its roster on the eve of the NFL draft.

The Jets, who have 76 players under contract, have seven picks in the draft -- including No. 6 overall. Teams can carry up to 90 players on their rosters until training camp, when there are cuts to 75 and then 53 to start the regular season.

Burks was active for the Jets' season finale and had two carries for minus-4 yards.

Obioha spent last season on injured reserve, while Jennings was on New York's practice squad late in the season.

Luc signed a reserve-future deal in January. Latham was signed in February.

Giants: Manning attorneys say he didn't provide fake memorabilia
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- Attorneys for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning are trying to convince a judge that the dealers suing the two-time Super Bowl MVP tried to pressure him to settle a memorabilia lawsuit by releasing select notes that weren't related to the disputed goods.

Emails released by the court on Wednesday were part of a motion seeking sanctions and legal fees against one of the plaintiffs' attorneys after he released an email from Manning in 2010 that seemed to indicate he provided fake memorabilia rather than authentic game-used goods.

Manning angrily denied those allegations last week.

The lawsuit revolves around two pieces of equipment: a backup Super Bowl helmet from 2012 and another from the 2007-2008 season.

The memorabilia dealers suing Manning released a note sent by Manning to team equipment manager Joe Skiba, asking for two helmets that "can pass as game used," (see full story).