Eagles Day Three Prospects: 4 sleepers to keep an eye on in the later rounds
As the NFL Draft resumes for its last day, Howie and company have already added some serious talent heading into Day Three.
They’ve brought in two impact starters in Jordan Davis and AJ Brown, while finding Jason Kelce’s heir apparent in Cam Jurgens and a potential steal in Nakobe Dean. As the final rounds approach, here is one last list of some of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft that would fit the Eagles’ Day Three needs.
1. TE Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland | 6-3, 238 pounds
The Eagles’ tight end room currently is devoid of talent other than Dallas Goedert. I love what Richard Rodgers did for this team when we needed it, and JJAW’s switch from wide receiver to tight end doesn’t inspire too much confidence. Luckily, the Eagles could select some Day Three prospects to improve that unit, particularly in the fifth round. The one name that jumped out on tape to me was Maryland’s Chigoziem Okonkwo.
Despite sitting out of the 2020 season, Okonkwo came into 2021 on a mission, finishing 2nd on the team with 52 catches for 447 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. His 447 yards are the second-most by a tight end in Maryland school history, trailing only Vernon Davis’ 871 yards in 2005.
The accolades don’t stop there. On a career day against Penn State, Okonkwo caught 12 passes for 85 yards and the game-tying two-point conversion. His performance ranked him 2nd all-time for single-game receptions by a tight end and the most by any Maryland player since DJ Moore in 2017.
Over the last two games of the Terrapins’ 2021 season, the athletic tight end brought in 20 passes which beat out Vernon Davis for the most catches during that span in Maryland history. There are tons of options for the Eagles’ Day Three selection in the fifth round, but AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Chigoziem Okonkwo make for a lethal passing attack.
2. LB Micah McFadden, Indiana | 6-1, 240 pounds
As a Penn State fan, I watched Indiana’s Micah McFadden fly all over the field, making a touchdown-saving tackle time and time again. He finished that particular game with eight tackles (three solos) and five defensive run stops, getting in or nearly every running play. In only 13 pass-rush snaps against the Nittany Lions, McFadden totaled five pressures on a 41.7% win rate.
The 2021 Hoosier captain excels against the run and as a blitzing linebacker with his tremendous speed and block shedding ability. His 37 TFLs during his collegiate career tie for the sixth-most in Indiana football history. However, McFadden needs to improve his game in coverage and become a more consistent tackler.
Last season, quarterbacks targeted Micah 22 times, resulting in 18 catches for 161 yards (only 8.9 yards/reception) and two touchdowns with four pass breakups. Those aren’t terrible coverage stats, but McFadden also missed 16 tackles last season, which can be concerning if he’s allowing that high of a catch percentage. Bottom line: this dude is everywhere on the field, and the Eagles can use all the help they can get at linebacker, even with the signing of Kyzir White.
3. CB Mario Goodrich, Clemson | 6-0, 176 pounds
Goodrich fell down most draft boards with a disappointing showing at the combine. He has a slender frame weighing 176 pounds, is not particularly lengthy with under 31″ arms, and only posted a 4.52 forty-yard dash. However, since the Eagles couldn’t select his running mate Andrew Booth Jr, the other Clemson cornerback makes for one of the prime Eagles Day Three prospects.
While some aspects of the NFL Combine remain essential, many elite talents have fallen into Day Three because they simply do not test well. Despite his lack of size, the first thing that pops on Goodrich’s tape is he plays way bigger than his frame suggests.
During his 2021 campaign, Goodrich was one of ten cornerbacks with over 360 coverage snaps who did not allow a single touchdown. In that same grouping, he leads the pack with the most forced incompletions (10) and pass breakups (7). Quarterbacks targeting Goodrich in coverage tallied a lowly 49.0 NFL Passer Rating, earning him Clemson’s highest coverage grade in 2021 at 83.5 via PFF.
4. P Matt Araiza, San Diego State | 6-1, 200 pounds
It’s probably strange seeing a punter on a list of draft prospects, but this kid is the real deal. Araiza has the makings to be a generational punter and might go very early on Day Three. However, if the San Diego State product falls into the late sixth or seventh round, the Eagles should seriously consider trading up for this guy.
Araiza can flip field position with his tremendous accuracy, hang time, and distance on his punts. That rare combination brings up the hypothetical scenario: if a punter could pin a team within their 10-yard line 100% of the time, where would he get drafted? No offense to Arryn Siposs but this punter is my favorite of the Eagles’ Day Three prospects.
Araiza set numerous NCAA and school records last season, averaging a mind-boggling 51.19 yards per punt with a long of 86 yards and landed 41 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. One slight criticism an NFL scout gave after watching Araiza launch balls into orbit was that he needed to increase his hang time.
The led-footed punter added over a second to his hang time, including one punt clocking in at 5.3 seconds in the air. The NFL average for punt hang time is around 4.3 seconds. I would never lie to my loyal readers, so if the Eagles decided to use their fifth-round pick on this game-changing special teamer, I am all for it.
Photo Credit: Steve Luciano, AP