The 2014 NFL Draft is 8 months away, but it’s never too early to begin imagining newcomers in midnight green. Here are some college football players to keep an eye on today who could be on the Eagles’ radar:
Stephen Morris, QB – (12) Florida at Miami (Noon)
Morris is sort of in that “next tier” after stud QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Tajh Boyd, and he had an unspectacular performance last week against Florida Atlantic. If Morris is going to vault himself into 1st round QB consideration, it would help him immensely to have a strong performance against Florida, who might have the best trio of CBs in the nation.
If he doesn’t become a prize prospect, the Eagles would be unlikely to have interest, in my opinion, as they’ve spent mid-round picks the last two drafts on Nick Foles and Matt Barkley. They should either shoot for the penthouse at QB, or nothing at all.
Louchiez Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, and Jaylen Watkins, CBs, Florida – (12) Florida at Miami (Noon)
This would be the aforementioned trio of Florida corners. Purifoy and Roberson are juniors, Watkins is a senior. The Eagles needs at CB (and really just the secondary in general) should be fairly obvious.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – (14) Notre Dame at (17) Michigan (8pm)
Wait… didn’t the Eagles just draft an OT in the first round? They sure did, and while the Lane Johnson pick was generally met with approval, I would bet that fans would not be thrilled if the Eagles went right back to OT again. However, Jason Peters turns 32 in 4 months, and we don’t yet know what he will look like over the course of an entire season after rupturing his Achilles twice last offseason.
If Peters returns to stud form and looks like he can continue to play at a high level for a few more years, then it might make sense to put off drafting a second bookend who can eventually replace Paters, or fill in at RT whenever Lane Johnson is moved over to LT. But it’s absolutely something to begin to think about.
Lewan will be facing off against a terrific Notre Dame defensive line, which should provide a very good test for him.
Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame – (14) Notre Dame at (17) Michigan (8pm)
First and foremost, Louis Nix has a great nickname:
Call me Louis "IRISH CHOCOLATE" Nix #9
— lOUIS NIX III (@1IrishChocolate) May 20, 2011
Beyond his nickname, Nix is a great player. In the National Championship Game last year, Alabama ran all over Notre Dame behind their outstanding OL, but it wasn’t Nix’s fault. Alabama either ran away from Nix, or they tried to get him to run himself out of the play. But when Alabama tried to block Nix, they simply couldn’t. Nix defeated blocks all night, and was the only Irish defender who was able to make plays in the run game.
Nix is listed at 6’2, 352, and would be a rare, big-bodied but agile stud NT that the Eagles could plant in the middle of their DL. Isaac Sopoaga is not a good long term option, and possibly not even a good short term option for the Eagles at NT.
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame – (14) Notre Dame at (17) Michigan (8pm)
Tuitt is another immensely talented defensive lineman for Notre Dame. He has outstanding quickness for a player his size (6’5, 303), and Notre Dame used him at a variety of positions along the DL last year, so he passes the versatility test.
The Eagles, however, aren’t hurting for DE’s, so Tuitt may not be a realistic target, but he’s worth watching if you’re already going to be keeping an eye on the trenches in this game.
David Fales, QB, San Jose St. – San Jose St. at (5) Stanford (11pm)
Last season, David Fales led the nation in completion percentage:
He was 3rd in passer rating.
Fales is in the same boat as Stephen Morris above. He’s sort of in that “next tier” of QBs in this upcoming draft, but a big game against a quality opponent like Stanford would go a long way toward helping his draft stock.
Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford – San Jose St. at (5) Stanford (11pm)
As long as you’re watching Fales, you may as well also keep an eye on Murphy in this game. Murphy is a 6’6, 260 pound defender who Stanford used in a variety of ways last season. They used him as a traditional 3-4 OLB, who dropped into coverage, rushed the passer, and set the edge in the run game. They also used him as a 3-4 DE.
In taking a look at a couple of his games, Murphy appears to be a disciplined, instinctive and versatile “do your job” player with decent movement ability for his impressive size. However, he is not an elite athlete, and his motor disappeared at times. Chip Kelly will be familiar with Murphy, having faced him twice, and if his penchant for drafting players he played against in college (Ertz, Brakley, Poyer, etc.) becomes a trend, Murphy could be mid-round target.