Eagles draft buzz: Phillip Hunt, more prospects

My guess is there's a healthy segment of MTC readers that don't even remember the name Phillip Hunt.

Two months ago, the Eagles signed Hunt, a pass-rusher from the CFL. As a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hunt (6-1, 248) led the CFL with 16 sacks. He turned 25 earlier this year.

In his last two college seasons at the University of Houston, Hunt had 25 sacks. He was named Conference USA Player of the Year in 2008 but never got drafted.

So why am I writing about him now?

Nathan Forester, a guest columnist at Football Outsiders, has developed a metric called SackSEER, which is used to project sack totals for pass-rushing prospects. SackSEER takes into account four different factors: vertical leap, short shuttle time, per-game sack productivity and missed games of NCAA eligibility.

In a recent article, Forester used SackSEER to evaluate prospects in the 2012 draft. But he made a point at the end of his post to mention Hunt as a possible (deep, deep) pass-rushing sleeper prospect to keep an eye on next season:

If you're looking for a deep sleeper, look no further than the Philadelphia Eagles' relatively unheralded signing of Canadian Football League edge rusher Phillip Hunt. Hunt's career arc is eerily similar to breakout star Cameron Wake's. Hunt was a standout sack artist for the Houston Cougars, notching more 30 sacks, but was not invited to the Combine. Apparently undeterred, Hunt performed admirably at his Pro Day, registering a 41.5-inch vertical leap and a 4.22-second shuttle. As was true with Wake, despite outstanding workouts, Hunt went undrafted due to lack of size.

Wake, a Penn State product, broke out last season with 14 sacks for the Dolphins after tallying 5.5 in his first NFL season in 2009. He spent two seasons in the CFL prior to landing on an NFL roster.

Forester admits that his SackSEER metric is far from perfect. While it worked in projecting success for guys like Shawne Merriman and Mario Williams, early indications are that it was off-target with prospects from last year's draft.

But, at the very least, it's something to keep an eye on with Hunt.


There are some prospects I've included on the master list that I have not yet written about, so here goes...

* UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers was scheduled to visit the Eagles last week, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Ayers (6-3, 254) is considered a first-round prospect and projects as a strong-side linebacker, according to NFL.com's scouting report. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. compared Ayers to Ravens LB/DE Terrell Suggs.

"The guy that I think is kind of a Suggs-like player in this draft is Akeem Ayers," he said, per BaltimoreRavens.com. "The thing that’s the same with those two is they’re both Pac-10 guys and they’re both suspect because of speed. Suggs didn’t have a great 40. Ayers doesn’t have the great 40. But they’re both productive, very solid football players."

* The Eagles were also scheduled to host Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown, according to Adam Caplan of FoxSports.com. Brown (6-1, 204) is considered a mid-round pick in most projections. I've written quite a bit about Brown's college teammate, cornerback Jimmy Smith, who is considered a first-round talent.

* Villanova offensive lineman Ben Ijalana was scheduled to visit with the Eagles this week, according to the Inquirer's Ray Parrillo. Follow the link for a full writeup by Parrillo from Villanova's Pro Day. Ijalana (6-4, 317) is expected to go in the first or second round and projects as a guard in the NFL.

* And finally, the Eagles were expected to host Cincinnati center/guard Jason Kelce, according to Caplan. Draft projections have Kelce (6-3, 280) as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

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