NFL Draft: 4 players the Philadelphia Eagles should target on Day Two
Besides the Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles had one of the best first rounds in recent NFL draft memory.
Somehow, the NFL let arguably the best overall player slip to the ninth pick, and then the glue that held Georgia’s back-to-back championship teams together in Nolan Smith fell all the way to number 30, where Howie snatched him up.
After solidifying the defense with two plug-and-play starters, the Eagles should switch their focus to skill positions on Day Two of the NFL Draft, mainly slot wide receiver and possibly a running back.
You can still find starting-caliber talent in the second and third rounds, but with these two picks being Howie’s last selections before the seventh round, he has to make them count.
NFL Draft Day Two Targets
1. RB Kendre Miller, TCU | 5-11, 215 lbs
I know plenty of Eagles fans had their hearts broken when the Falcons selected Bijan Robinson ninth overall, especially my boss, who lost an untold fortune on t-shirt sales.
On top of that, electric Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, went to the Lions, who were drafting like it was 1985. But Howie has never been in the business of selecting backs with “tread on their tires,” and Bijan had close to 600 touches at Texas.
Kendre Miller had 390 career touches at TCU after taking over as the full-time back last season. He totaled 1,399 yards from scrimmage in 2022, the most by a Horned Frog since LaDainian Tomlinson led the nation in 2000.
The first-team All-Big 12 running back had a streak of five straight games with over 100 rushing yards and topped 100 yards in seven of his last 12 games. He also ranked first among all Power Five players averaging 6.7 yards per rushing attempt.
Despite signing Rashaad Penny and bringing back Boston Scott, Kendre Miller has the agility, speed, vision, and pass-blocking ability to be a bell-cow running back Eagles for the Eagles. The 2022 Doak Walker semifinalist only turns 21 in June, so Miller’s ceiling has yet to be reached with his instinctual skills.
2. WR Josh Downs, UNC | 5-9, 171 lbs
With the run on wide receivers in the late first round, I’m shocked that Josh Downs did not get called to the podium to join his new team. Downs is a slot god with his quick footwork and route-running, and he attacks the football like a red zone threat despite being 5-foot-9. As much as I want Quez Watkins to succeed in a pivotal year for him, the Eagles need a backup plan.
The UNC receiver just knows how to get open in the slot, whether breaking out of one of his technical routes or using his understanding of coverages to find gaps in a zone. Not only is he a slot god, playing 89% of his total offensive snaps there, but he’s also a YAC Lord.
His ability to wiggle through defenders was no more evident than his first breakout game in the 2021 Orange Bowl. Downs turned his 15 offensive snaps into four catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns in their loss to Texas A&M. The first-team All-ACC player racked up 375 yards after the catch, which ranked 3rd in the ACC and 27th among all Power Five wide receivers.
3. CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU | 5-8, 178 lbs
The Eagles have decided to replicate one of college football’s best defensive units in the past few decades, so why not double down on a team that went to the National Championship last season?
TCU’s offense powered them to most of their wins, but their secret weapon was a 5-foot-8 slot cornerback and nephew to Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.
Despite his bulldog mentality (wink, wink) to hit everything in his path, Hodges-Tomlinson is the smoothest shadow cornerback I’ve seen on tape in this draft class. Each break he makes on a route is instantaneous, and every movement seems to be at maximum efficiency. Even though he can beat receivers to the ball in off-coverage, he could have some trouble in any press situation, given his size.
I heard that too many times about DeVonta Smith, and look how that turned out. It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight; it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.
4. S Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State | 5-11, 203 lbs
Again, after loading up on plug-and-play starters on Day One of the NFL Draft, the Eagles need to focus on depth for the upcoming season. Safety is one position where the team could be in a crisis if an injury occurs.
That’s why Ji’Ayir Brown’s cerebral and ball-hawking play would benefit the secondary next season and for years to come.
Despite not testing well at the combine, Ji’Ayir is that explosive, “centerfielder-type” safety that teams expected because I watched every single one of his games. Not only can Brown cover sideline to sideline, but he’s a beast against the run and a versatile blitzer with five sacks and four QB hits in 2022.
Most analysts project him as a box safety player to help against the run, but his versatility should intrigue the Eagles the most.
Ji’Ayir Brown played alongside current Bears’ safety Jaquan Brisker who is adamant that his former teammate is the best safety in this year’s NFL draft. I, too, am biased regarding Penn State players, but that NFL Combine performance does not represent the player and high football IQ that Brown brings to the field on every down.