Friday, February 12, 2016

Kempski's Corner: Running backs, quarterbacks, and receivers to watch at NFL Combine

Join's Jimmy Kempski and Pat Gallen as they look ahead to this weekend's NFL Scouting Combine - specifically running backs, quarterbacks, and receivers - in a new edition of "Kempski's Corner."

Kempski's Corner: Running backs, quarterbacks, and receivers to watch at NFL Combine


On Sunday in Indianapolis, the following positional groups will work out: WR, QB, RB. To note, tight ends, offensive linemen and special teams will work out Saturday. We previously profiled those positions here.

One again, like the first positonal groups we profiled for Saturday, WR, QB, and RB are of lesser interest to the Eagles, comparatively speaking, but could certainly be addressed in the draft. We'll look at each position, one by one.

Wide receiver

Of WR, QB, and RB, the position of heaviest interest to the Eagles will be WR. Most draftniks have Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and Mike Evans (Texas A&M) as the top two WRs in this class, but this group of receivers is enormously deep and talented.

It's crazy to think that Marqise Lee of USC has become something of an afterthought, after catching 118 passes for 1721 yards and 14 TDs in 2012. However, after dealing with injuries and a QB change in 2013, his numbers dropped off considerably. But this is a stellar player, and if he were to somehow fall to the Eagles at 22, they'd have to be tempted.

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Kelvin Benjamin (6'5, 240) has become something of a fan favorite, mainly because he's huge. Benjamin would be the big target at WR Eagles fans have clamored for, but he does have some issues with drops.

Odell Beckham Jr. Is a player who has been appearing as an option for the Eagles in mock drafts. He's a big play guy with great hands who can also return kicks.

I could really go on and on about the wide receivers, but it's a group that is so deep that there will still be good ones available in the 4th and 5th rounds. We'll profile the WR position on its own soon. Since it's so deep, we'll show the top 20 (as opposed to the top 10) from Mel Kiper of ESPN (Kiper only did a top 10), CBS, and The Sideline View.

*Click here for a bigger view.


What the Eagles do at the QB position is all dependent on whether or not they think Matt Barkley can serve as a quality #2. If they don't, the Eagles could look to free agency to bring in a veteran QB (and they may do this even if they do believe in Barkley). If they're sold on Barkley, then the Eagles could look to draft a late-round prospect at QB to be the 3.

Tajh Boyd is an interesting name to watch. He had some struggles this season, and has seen his draft stock take somewhat of a tumble. The Eagles proved it was not "non-negotiable" that they wanted to have a running QB to operate Chip Kelly's offense when they drafted Matt Barkley. Then later, it was proven that a pocket passer could succeed in Kelly's offense when Nick Foles led the NFL in passer rating in 2013. Still, it is compelling to imagine a mobile QB operating in Kelly's system, and Boyd is a player who has the athletic ability to make the offense more dynamic. A late round flier on him could make some sense.

The rankings:

*Click here for a larger version.

Running back

The Eagles are set at RB, with star LeSean McCoy, and good depth with Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. It would be a major surprise if the Eagles selected a RB early.

One player who could be of interest is Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, whose position is debatable. Chip Kelly used him as a "TAZR" at Oregon. What is a TAZR? Succinctly, it’s an athlete in Oregon’s offense who can play tailback, wide receiver, or in the slot. The position is designed to create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses, who often find themselves trying to cover a dynamic athlete with a safety or a linebacker. The TAZR can also draw some attention away from the main tailback (cough, LeSean McCoy) in the running game.

“DAT” is as explosive as they come… and he returns kicks and punts, too. It will be interesting to see what he runs in the 40. The RB rankings:

*Click here for a bigger view.

A reminder of the Combine schedule:

• Saturday, Feb. 22: Tight Ends, Offensive Linemen, Special Teams

• Sunday, Feb.23: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers

• Monday, Feb. 24: Defensive Line, Linebackers

• Tuesday, Feb. 25: Defensive Backs

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