NFL Draft: Saturday's prospect watch

615374.jpg

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.

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

PHOENIX -- Barring an unforeseen obstacle, the Oakland Raiders seem certain to get approval Monday to relocate to Las Vegas .

Several team owners have said this week they don't envision a scenario where Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn't get the required 24 votes to move the team.

One owner, speaking anonymously because he is not authorized to speak for the NFL, told The Associated Press: "Not only have no hurdles been made clear to us, but there isn't any opposition to it."

Added another, also speaking anonymously for the same reasons: "It's going to happen and the sooner we do it, the better it is for the league and for the Raiders."

Yes, the NFL is about to have a third franchise move in just over a year. The Rams played last season in Los Angeles after switching from St. Louis. Earlier this year, the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A.

NFL: League hires Dr. Allen Sills as chief medical officer
PHOENIX -- The NFL has hired Dr. Allen Sills as its chief medical officer.

Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will fill a new full-time position based in New York. He comes to the league from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he serves as professor of neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation. He is the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

Sills, 52, will work with NFL team medical staffs, the NFL Players Association and its advisers, as well as experts on the league's medical committees. He will guide the NFL's health and research efforts.

"We sought a highly credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills' extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Eagles should stay away from running backs in first round

Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall pick by the Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft.

He went on to have a historic rookie season, leading the NFL in rushing behind the best offensive line in football.

But do you know who finished second in the league in rushing? That would be the Bears' Jordan Howard, another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. 

If you keep going down the list of the league's top rushers last season, nine out of the top 10 on the list were drafted after the first round. Only three backs in the top 10 were drafted in the first two rounds (Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell). 

Whether it's LSU's Leonard Fournette, Florida State's Dalvin Cook or Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, the Eagles should stay away from running backs in the first round.

We'll start with Fournette, considered by most to be the best running back in the class. He was also mocked to the Eagles in a trade-up scenario by Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke with the No. 5 overall pick. Burke is an excellent evaluator, but in this case, he's off the mark. Fournette's talent is real. His combination of size and speed is unmatched by any running back in the class and perhaps any running back in the NFL. He'll correctly be the first back off the board and go in the top 10. 

But would the Eagles give up a second-round pick to obtain Fournette? It's just hard to see as realistic. This team has too many holes and not enough draft picks to make a move like Burke suggests. Fournette looks like he'll be a special player, just not for the Eagles.

Then there's Cook, who seems to be the belle of the ball with Eagles fans. Watching the tape, it's undeniable: Cook is an extremely talented player. But evaluations aren't black and white. Cook has issues with injuries (multiple shoulder surgeries) and has had a couple issues off the field. 

He also tested poorly at the combine. In the biggest audition of his life, Cook's numbers didn't match what you saw on tape. That has to make you wonder if he was fully prepared for the combine. If the Eagles take Cook, there's no doubt he'll make their offense better. The biggest concern has to be his long-term success and the value you get taking him at 14 over another player at a more valuable position.

Lastly, there's McCaffrey. It's easy to see the fit here. McCaffrey is an explosive back who runs routes and has the ball skills of a receiver. He's also incredibly dangerous in the return game. Unlike Cook, McCaffrey tested off the charts in Indy. His strength (10 reps at 225) is the only real concern.

From a scheme perspective, McCaffrey is perfectly suited for Doug Pederson's offense. Pederson can use McCaffrey much like Andy Reid used Brian Westbrook over a decade ago. McCaffrey's struggles running between the tackles are a little overblown, but it still has to be a concern for a team that doesn't have a proven, primary back. 

This is also a strong running back class. Toledo's Kareem Hunt would fit nicely in this offense and should be available in the third round. Clemson's Wayne Gallman is a tough, versatile back that could be available in the third or fourth. There's also BYU's Jamaal Williams, Pitt's James Conner and Wyoming's Brian Hill, all of whom should be there in the middle rounds.

When you look at who else could be there at 14, it just doesn't make sense to draft a running back. If you're looking to give Carson Wentz more weapons, either Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis or Washington's John Ross should be there. Any of them could give Wentz a long-term receiving threat. 

If you're looking to improve the defense, there are plenty of options. In case you've been living under a rock this offseason, this cornerback draft class is crazy deep. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is the best of the bunch and will likely be gone by 14. His teammate, Gareon Conley, should still be around at 14. So should LSU's TreDavious White, Alabama's Marlon Humphrey, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley and Florida's Quincy Wilson. 

Don't count out Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett as an option if he's on the board. With Vinny Curry's struggles and the Eagles' lack of depth, a pass rusher is a definite need. If Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster slips for a spat he had with a hospital worker during the combine, he's worth a long look. He's a game-changing 'backer.

Elliott was as close to a sure thing as you can get. There's a reason he was taken at No. 4 overall. If Cook and McCaffrey are there at 14, there's a reason for that, too.