Senior Bowl Week Recap: Four standouts that could interest the Eagles
Saturday’s 27-24 victory by the National Team over the American Team marked the end to a very important 2021 Senior Bowl Week in Mobile, Alabama. The inter-squad practices throughout the week are often overly scrutinized but they offer scouts and coaches one last chance to see how several players compare to what they’ve seen on film. With many seniors opting out of the 2020 season and the Scouting Combine canceled, practices at the Senior Bowl became even more crucial for those hoping to solidify themselves as reliable draft picks. Some players drastically raised their draft stocks in Mobile and would fit the Eagles needs on Day Two or Day Three of this year’s draft.
EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh | 6-4, 265 pounds
Out of the two Pittsburgh edger rushers attending this year’s Senior Bowl, Rashad Weaver caught my eye on more reps. Standing at 6-foot-4 with an 82.7-inch inch wingspan and 33-inch arms, Weaver is a problem to block in the running game. He controlled just about every offensive lineman assigned to him using terrific hand placement and technique to pounce down the line. He’s not the quickest edge rusher off the ball but is always the first to engage and routinely tosses 300+ pound players to the side. While he typically starts with that long arm move, he’s mixed in various counter moves during the three days of practice at Mobile.
Rashad is not the most polished pass rusher by any means. He’s more of a run-thumping defensive end who will need to work on his quick-twitch to win the edge at the next level. However, his frame, wingspan, and ability to reset the line of scrimmage make him a high floor prospect who can be a disruptive playmaker in the right scheme. Weaver is currently projected as a Day Two selection in the draft.
WR D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan | 5-9, 188 lbs
Two of the big questions for D’Wayne Eskridge coming out of Western Michigan were if he could handle the physicality of the NFL given his size and if he could expand on his route tree. He answered most of those questions by winning numerous reps fighting through contact and getting clean separation on several different route combinations. The two areas that still need improvement are his ability to make contested catches through contact as well as fixing some drop problems.
Eskridge is one of the biggest athletic freaks in the draft and would have turned heads at the combine. Before his junior season, he clocked a 4.33-second laser-timed 40-yard dash. He also posted some ridiculous weight room numbers on top of that elite speed: a 350-pound max bench, 505-pound max squat, and 37.5-inch vertical leap. Given his superior athleticism, Eskridge mostly ran straight past defenders at the collegiate level gaining over 23 yards per reception in 2020. The electric wide receiver was also PFF’s 6th highest graded kickoff returner last season with over 27 yards per return.
Eskridge has nowhere near perfected his route running ability, but his short-area quickness and aggressive hand fighting make him a nightmare matchup especially in the slot. The Western Michigan product would give the Eagles even more speed at wide receiver and a long-overdue spark in the kickoff/punt return game. Currently, D’Wayne Eskridge projects to be a late Day Two or early Day Three pick.
S Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State | 6-3, 213 lbs
This dynamic defensive back made the list of Senior Bowl participants to watch coming into the week. His versatility to lock down talented tight ends in the passing game or play up in the box to disrupt running plays make him an ideal prospect for teams lacking secondary help. After battling back from an unfortunate ACL tear at the end of his breakout 2019 campaign, Nasirildeen is using the Senior Bowl to prove he’s one of the top safeties in the 2021 Draft.
Being a jack-of-all-trades for the Seminoles’ defense somewhat hindered Nasirildeen’s draft stock as teams had to decide what role best fit his skillset. He has the size and tackling ability to play linebacker but did not play a ton of snaps there for Florida State. He makes for an exceptionally gifted safety, but many scouts question his overall speed and ability to make consistent reads as a single-high.
Nasirldeen looked very smooth playing “centerfielder” as an overhang safety and continued to perform at a high level when he lined up in the box. With Jalen Mills set to be an unrestricted free agent and Rodney McLeod coming off ACL surgery, the Eagles desperately need more depth and talent at the safety position. Hamsah Nasirildeen is slowly working his way to being an early Day Two selection.
WR/RB Demetric Felton, UCLA | 5-10, 200 lbs
Many scouts and coaches at the Senior Bowl wondered whether Demetric Felton could make the full-time switch back to wide receiver and how effective he would be. He certainly put the doubters to rest with his blazing speed and precise route running on display all week long. He burnt just about every defensive back in one-on-ones and showed little to no rust with his technique as a slot wide receiver.
Despite limited snaps at the position, Felton can crank out yards in the running game as well. He put on weight to be an every-down back for his senior season and rushed for over 100 yards in three of UCLA’s six games, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Felton’s contact balance and elusiveness stood out in the backfield as he broke 36 tackles on 132 carries last season.
Another relevant pass-catching back who could play a role similar to Nyheim Hines in Nick Sirriani’s offense is UNC’s Michael Carter. He also made the list of players to watch out for heading into the week and was praised by coaches for his work ethic throughout the week, especially in pass protection drills. Carter is more of a pure 3rd down spell back than Demetric Felton but each player provides a unique skill set that would thrive in an offense designed to exploit mismatches. To me, either one of these dynamic offensive weapons could be in play for the Eagles as a late Day Two or early Day Three selection.
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