Good morning, Eagles fans. We are in the thick of the bye week, but the Eagles’ front office hasn’t exactly been idle. The team signed free agent wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Remember him? Of course you do! He doesn’t exactly solve the team’s issues generating big plays, but he has a rapport with Carson Wentz already and should remember at least the foundational aspects of the team’s offense since this is his third stint with the Birds.
But one of my esteemed colleagues has written about Matthews. Below, we’ll take the longest view in the room with three draft prospects Eagles fans should check out on this college football Saturday. Yes, there are wide receivers, but, no, that’s not the only position suggested.
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The Eagles aren’t playing on Sunday, so that gives fans some leeway to embark on a 12-hour binge of college football on Saturday, right? If the teams’ woes at wide receiver are consuming you, you could occupy your mind by watching some playmakers dominate college defenses. Here are three prospects, and when you can check them out.
KJ Hamler, Penn State WR
For the second draft in a row, Howie Roseman could take a trip out the turnpike for an offensive playmaker. It’s working out pretty well for Miles Sanders so far, so they may have good reason to do so. Hamler (5-foot-9, 176 pounds) is small, but he’s got elite speed. The Eagles had success drafting a receiver of similar stature when they took a chance on an undersized guy out of California. In Hamler, a redshirt sophomore this year, the Eagles could have a player almost identical in stature and speed as Jackson. Jackson is 5-10 and 175 pounds. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL scouting combine. According to media reports, Hamler’s Penn State coaches have clocked him at 4.28 in the 40.
If he declares for the draft, Hamler is projected to go in the second round, but that stock could rise. If he truly runs a 4.28 or better, I could see him climbing into the first round, but likely still late enough for the Eagles to have a chance at him.
Game: Penn State vs. Minnesota at noon on Saturday, 6ABC.
Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin C
Before you even ask, no, he can’t catch passes. I know this isn’t the sexiest pick, but it’s the type of pick the Eagles have made in the past and it’s a big part of why they’re always fielding a competitive team. Jason Kelce may not be retiring in the offseason, but the Eagles have a history of adding offensive line prospects a few years before there’s a need for one. Biadasz is a 6-2, 322-pound mauler and not exactly the agile blocker in space that Kelce is, but the team may not require that. They’re currently developing Nate Herbig as a center despite his 6-4, 334-pound frame limiting his agility.
Biadasz will likely go in the first round, although some big boards out there have him closer to the mid-second. If he is there for the Eagles in the first round, it would be a bit early for an interior lineman, but front offices that prioritize offensive line play like the Eagles likely wouldn’t shy away from making that investment.
Game: Wisconsin vs. Iowa at 4 p.m. Saturday, Fox29.
Tee Higgins, Clemson WR
This one may be too obvious. Higgins looks like a receiver the Eagles would draft at 6-4, 215 pounds, and he has shown an ability to win down the field. He’s fast enough, but isn’t exactly a burner. How does he make big plays? By making insane catches. The junior wideout has made several heavily contested catches and has scored by grabbing a deflected pass out of midair. You’ll like this, too: He only had two drops last season.
Higgins no doubt enjoys a bump in production thanks to playing with Trevor Lawrence, who will probably be a top pick in the 2021 NFL draft, but that doesn’t diminish his record of making incredibly difficult catches or his ability to beat ACC defensive backs. He’s not going to stretch the field in a conventional way, but he’s a big play waiting to happen nonetheless.
It’s hard to imagine he’ll fall out of the first round, even with a few excellent receivers currently ranked ahead of him, so the Eagles would probably be hoping he fell to them.
Game: Clemson vs. N.C. State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 6ABC
What you need to know about the Eagles
Jordan Matthews is back in midnight green for his third stint with the Eagles. Jeff McLane details what the Eagles should expect from him this time around.
While some have questioned why DeSean Jackson didn’t have surgery on his abdomen injury when he first sustained it, Bob Ford argues that he had every right to delay it if that’s what he wanted.
Troy Vincent will be inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday. Erin McCarthy caught up with the former Eagle.
Speaking of the Hall, Donovan McNabb is also being inducted. It might not be the one in Canton, but yours truly writes about him making his case for eventually ending up with a gold jacket.
The Eagles have embraced an old-school running attack recently, but it may not be as out of style as you may think. A very busy fellow wrote about one of the growing trends in the NFL.
From the mailbag
Coming into the season, the Eagles knew DeSean Jackson was effective when healthy but was also an older player with a history of injury. How could they not have a capable backup speed receiver for the when the inevitable injury occurs?. — Dan May, on Twitter (@Dannmaal)
Good question, Dan. Thanks for hanging with us during the bye week. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles were banking on Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor performing at the same level they have for the last couple of seasons. But those two have taken a step back, defenses have keyed on Zach Ertz, and the result is a stagnant offense. If Agholor was having more success tracking balls down the field and Jeffery was reeling in tough catches, the Eagles offense may not be missing DeSean Jackson quite this badly.
Plus, the team invested a significant draft pick in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who they probably thought would be contributing more by now. He’s not necessarily a deep threat, but showed an ability to make contested catches down the field in college. Drafting him in the second round probably kept them from being able to add a burner to an already crowded receiver room.