Philadelphia Eagles Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Nelson Agholor, WR, USC – Round 1
The Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin in free agency and needed a receiver to replace the productive veteran. Many believe that Riley Cooper won’t be on the team that much longer, and after letting DeSean Jackson go last year, Chip Kelly needed to add a core piece to his passing offense. Agholor may not have the skill set to be an elite No. 1 in the NFL, but he looks like a very safe vet to turn into a solid starter.

Other teams did not have Agholor graded as high as Philadelphia. Some teams had a second-round grade on him, but they also felt that Agholor was a respectable player. The 6-foot, 198-pounder isn’t overwhelming with size or speed, but he is a very good route-runner who is skilled after the catch. Agholor is experienced in the West Coast offense and played in a pro-style system in college, so he should have a quick transition to the NFL.

Agholor doesn’t have the speed to be a burner receiver and doesn’t present a size mismatch, but he is a well-rounded player who does everything above average. Agholor also has the ability to contribute on special teams. With Jordan Matthews on the other side, the Eagles should be set with this pair as their starting duo for many years to come.

Most Likely To Bust

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas – Round 3
The only reason why I have Hicks as most likely to bust is because of durability. As a player, Hicks is very impressive and was all over the field for Texas. If he had been able to avoid injury and duplicate that performance as a junior or sophomore, Hicks could have been a high second-round pick in his draft class. However, he has suffered a massive amount of injuries, and it is hard to believe that the durability will be less of an issue when he’s taking harder collisions and going against stronger, faster NFL athletes.

2013 saw Hicks suffer a torn Achilles that limited him to four games. He missed 10 games the year before with a hip injury. There were other injuries as well. At the Senior Bowl, scouts were quizzing Hicks on his medical history, and he went through a list of things aside from the Achilles and hip.

The 6-foot-1, 236-pounder is a fast, tough linebacker who can make plays from sideline to sideline. He has plus instincts and is always around the ball. If Hicks can stay healthy, I think he will be a very good starting linebacker in the NFL, but I’m picking him as most likely to bust because I’m not convinced he can avoid injuries.

Potential Boom Pick

Eric Rowe, CB, Utah – Round 2
There were some that thought that Rowe had a shot at sneaking into the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The NFL is seeking large cornerbacks with the ability to match up against big wide receivers, and the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder certainly fits that criteria, having played safety and cornerback while at Utah. He is a gritty player who never shies away from getting physical.

Rowe showed some ball skills as a senior when he broke up 13 passes and had an interception to go with 59 tackles. Rowe had two seasons of starting experience at free safety, so he will offer the Eagles’ vulnerable secondary a few options at ways to upgrade their pass defense.

For Philadelphia, Rowe could start out at cornerback and move to safety if the team feels that is a bigger need or better fit for him. Earl Wolff could be upgraded at free safety, and Rowe would offer the ability to line up in man coverage on tight ends or slot receivers. However with his size and speed on the outside, he looks like a perfect big corner to match up against large wideouts like Dez Bryant. The Eagles’ secondary has been a real weakness in recent years, but Rowe could be a boom pick who is a cornerstone of a rebuilt unit.

Future Depth Player

JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas – Round 6
The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Shepherd was a sleeper pick who is considered to have a lot of upside as a former wide receiver who uses that experience into being a cornerback with special ball skills. Shepherd made the position change and played well as a senior, but considering his lack of experience, he will need time to develop. In the short term, Shepherd should be a quality backup while seeing if he can grow into a competitor for a starting position. Shepherd should also be a fourth-down player and special teams contributor.

Walt’s 2015 NFL Draft Grades:

20. Nelson Agholor, WR, USC: B- Grade
Meh. Chip Kelly is familiar with Nelson Agholor, but perhaps he should begin scouting outside of the Pac-12. Agholor makes sense from a needs perspective, but this is a bit of a reach; I once had Agholor going to the Eagles at No. 20, but I ultimately slotted him in the second round. Agholor doesn’t have the athleticism Kelly loves, so this selection surprises me a bit. Agholor, however, is versatile and should help on offense next season.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

47. Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah: B+ Grade
Unlike yesterday, the Eagles were able to trade up. They dealt both of their fifth-round selections, but received a sixth-rounder in return. Like yesterday, Chip Kelly obtained a Pac-12 prospect. Eric Rowe makes more sense to me than Nelson Agholor. Rowe is big and very athletic, and he can play both the cornerback and safety positions. He should help Philadelphia’s putrid secondary.

84. Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas: C+ Grade
A non-Pac-12 player for Chip Kelly!? Is this even possible!? Jordan Hicks is extremely athletic though, so this pick at least makes sense from that perspective. Hicks can be a very good player in the NFL, but only if he stays healthy. He has injury concerns, so he could be spending lots of time healing his wounds along with Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray and Kiko Alonso. Oh, and this makes it apparent that Mychal Kendricks is gone.

191. JaCorey Shepherd, CB, Kansas: B- Grade
Did Chip Kelly make this pick? JaCorey Shepherd does not have good size. He’s not athletic. He’s not from the Pac-12. So, I’m thinking someone else made this choice. It’s not a bad one though, as I had Shepherd going in the seventh round. He needs to fix his major tackling issues.

196. Randall Evans, CB, Kansas State: B Grade
Randall Evans, unlike JaCorey Shepherd, has good size at the position (6-0). He’s not a great athlete, but he fits the range as a mid-sixth-round selection and obviously fills a need in a horrible secondary.

237. Brian Mihalik, DL, Boston College: C+ Grade
Brian Mihalik is a great athlete, but not a very good football player. Still, the upside is worth taking a shot on in the seventh round. Perhaps the Eagles will be able to develop him.

2015 NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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