Philadelphia Eagles Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Isaac Seumalo, C, Oregon State – Round 3
Seumalo was on his way to being a star at Oregon State before injuries derailed his career. He missed all of the 2014 season with a foot injury and took some time getting back into the swing of things in 2015, but he is a steady blocker who is physical and has natural talent to be an interior lineman.

Seumalo returned to the field for Oregon State in 2015 and stayed healthy. He played left tackle and right guard for the Beavers, but his best position for the NFL would be center. Seumalo (6-5, 297) could stand to get stronger for the next level, but he is a versatile athlete who has a lot of quickness and athleticism.

With Seumalo having the ability to play guard, I think he will break into the lineup faster as a result. The Eagles are set at one guard position with Brandon Brooks, but Seumalo could quickly be the guard tandem to pair with Brooks. If Jason Kelce has an injury or the Eagles move on from Kelce in a year or two, Seumalo could shift to center. Philadelphia should have a solid starter reasonably quickly in Seumalo.

Most Likely To Bust

Wendall Smallwood, QB, West Virginia – Round 5
Considering that Smallwood was a fifth-round pick, this doesn’t qualify as much of a bust. The Eagles were without picks in the second and fourth round, so my options were limited. Philadelphia was in the market for a running back after trading DeMarco Murray, so Smallwood could see the field quickly for the Eagles.

The 5-foot-10, 208-pounder surprised many with a 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. However, Smallwood didn’t always play up to his times. He was a productive back for West Virginia last season as he averaged 6.4 yards per carry for 1,519 yards with nine touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 160 yards. Smallwood was a bit of a 1-year wonder as he didn’t produce anything close to those numbers as a freshman or sophomore. Plus, it is difficult to find a good defense in the Big XXI.

If Ryan Mathews gets hurt again, Smallwood could quickly compete for playing time. However, Smallwood is a bit raw for the NFL. Darren Sproles and other veterans will be tough competition for touches as well. Smallwood could be a steal, but I also think he could end up being one of the many third-day running backs who prove to be a dime a dozen.

Potential Boom Pick

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State – Round 1
The big trade-ups in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft haven’t had a great track record of working out in recent years, the Robert Griffin III trade being one example, but I think Wentz is going to become a franchise quarterback for the Eagles. With his skill set and excellent intangibles, I think Wentz is going to be a boom pick for Philadelphia and could become one of the top quarterbacks in the NFC.

There is no doubt that Wentz has an NFL arm. He can make all the throws for the pro game. Wentz has a strong arm and can really spin the football. He can load up and fire some fastballs into tight windows when he needs to. Wentz also can put air underneath it and drop in touch passes. He shows the pocket skill to stand tall, work through his progressions, and beat good coverage with well-placed passes into tight windows. Wentz’s mechanics are solid and impressive for his lack of experience at a lesser level of competition. Wentz has good athleticism to scramble in the pocket, avoid sacks, pick up yards on the feet, and throw on the run. Mobility is a nice cherry on top for Wentz’s game.

Sources from a variety of teams said that Wentz has a good arm, size and athleticism, plus they love him off the field. They like his pocket presence, field vision, experience both under center and making play calls in the huddle, and potential to grow in the NFL. They said that Wentz will fill out his frame in a NFL strength and conditioning program.

Considering the big jump in competition and the limited number of starts in college, I think the Eagles are wise to take their time and develop Wentz behind Sam Bradford or Chase Daniel. Philadelphia has a great talent in Wentz, and I believe Doug Pederson will do a good job of developing him. He could be a boom pick for the Eagles.

Future Depth Player

Alex McCalister, DE/OLB, Florida – Round 7
Many teams had a mid-round grade on McCalister, but he fell in the draft because of off-the-field concerns. Sources close to the Gator program have told me that McCalister isn’t a bad kid and those issues are overblown. McCalister (6-6, 239) was a dynamic edge rusher for the Gators as he constantly put heat on the quarterback with excellent speed and athleticism off the edge. The former basketball player can bend and has quick feet. While McCalister was a dangerous pass-rusher, he doesn’t have the size to hold up in the ground game in the NFL. Thus, I think McCalister will be a good backup as a situational edge rusher for Philadelphia.

Walt’s 2016 NFL Draft Grades:

2. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State B- Grade
As with the Rams’ grade, I’m going to have to penalize Philadelphia for its trade. I gave the Eagles a Millen on my NFL Draft Trade Grades page, as they surrendered way too much. Even if Wentz hits, Philadelphia will struggle to maintain success because of a lack of resources. Think about what happened to the Falcons in the wake of the Julio Jones deal. Matt Ryan is a solid quarterback, and Jones obviously panned out, but Atlanta hasn’t visited the playoffs in a while because of a severe lack of depth. Unless Wentz is the next Andrew Luck and can single-handedly carry the Eagles as Luck does with the Colts in a soft division, Philadelphia will have trouble consistently reaching the postseason for quite a while.

Having said that, I think Wentz is the better option, so the Eagles will be given a full letter grade higher than the Rams. Wentz is seen as the superior signal-caller by most of our NFL contacts, and it’s easy to understand why. While the rail-thin Jared Goff played in a goofy spread system and maintained a losing record in college, Wentz won and was more accurate in a pro system, and he doesn’t look like he’ll snap in half at any second.

While it would probably be better for the Eagles to wait a year or two to land a franchise quarterback – again, check the 2017 NFL Mock Draft for what appear to be two top-five signal-callers next April – it seems like Wentz is the better option of the two available in this class.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

79. Isaac Seumalo, G/C, Oregon State B Grade
Isaac Seumalo is a versatile lineman who can play both guard and center. He even saw some action at tackle in college, but he probably won’t be able to do that at the next level. Seumalo is a high second-round talent, so why the drop into the third frame? He has an extensive injury history regarding his feet. Still, he’s worth the risk here in the third round, especially considering Philadelphia’s offensive line concerns.

153. Wendell Smallwood, RB, West Virginia B Grade
The Eagles had to find a running back after losing DeMarco Murray this offseason. Ryan Mathews is now the starter, but he’ll be injured at some point. I don’t think Wendell Smallwood will be able to carry a full workload in the NFL, but he’ll at least be a solid third-down option, thanks to his receiving skills. Smallwood tested as just an average athlete, but he was very productive at West Virginia. He makes sense in th fifth round.

164. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT/G, TCU C+ Grade
Jason Peters won’t be on the Eagles much longer, and when he departs, Lane Johnson will slide over to the blind side. With Johnson moving, a new right tackle will be needed, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai has enough potential to perhaps win the job. However, Vaitai’s pass-protection skills can be called into question, as he’s pretty slow. Perhaps the Eagles will be able to develop him, but they probably should’ve obtained him a round later.

196. Blake Countess, CB, Auburn B Grade
The Eagles had a number of positions to address, but couldn’t really address much because of their lack of picks. Ideally, they would’ve found help for the secondary earlier, but they just couldn’t do so. Blake Countess fits the range here in the middle of the sixth round. He’s a sound tackler and could one day end up starting in the slot.

233. Jalen Mills, S/CB, LSU A+ Grade
This is Philadelphia’s best pick in the 2016 NFL Draft just in terms of pure value. I can’t begin to explain why Jalen Mills dropped all the way to the seventh round when he easily could’ve been a day-two pick. Mills is coming off an outstanding 2015 campaign at LSU and then showed off his excellent athleticism at the Combine. Mills can play both cornerback and safety, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually emerged as a starter at one of those two positions in Philadelphia.

240. Alex McCalister, DE/OLB, Florida A- Grade
The good news here is that Alex McCalister is one of the top edge rushers in this class in terms of pure athleticism. He was also very productive when on the field for the Gators. The bad news is that McCalister doesn’t have much experience, and he was also kicked off the team. Still, McCalister is the sort of boom-or-bust prospect worth taking a chance on in the seventh round.

251. Joe Walker, LB, Oregon B Grade
Was this done to stick it to Chip Kelly, so he couldn’t pick up yet another Oregon player as a UDFA signing? It wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case. Based on his play alone, Joe Walker wasn’t worth drafting, but he has elite athleticism that’ll give him a chance. He might latch on to Philadelphia’s final roster as the fifth linebacker.

2016 NFL Draft Team Grade: C . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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