With only 10 picks made over the last two drafts, the Philadelphia Eagles could really benefit from an undrafted free agent stepping up, and not only earning a roster spot, but contributing in a meaningful way.
Here we’ll look at the 15 unofficial undrafted free agents that the Eagles have reportedly signed.
The graph below shows a snapshot of those players, and their grades from Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, as well as their projected round from before the draft on NFLDraftScout.com:
|T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin||5.47||5-6|
|Ryan Bates, OT/OG, Penn State||5.10||7-FA|
|Iosua Opeta, OG, Weber State||5.00||6|
|Nate Herbig, OG, Stanford||4.99||7-FA|
|Delvon Randall, S, Temple||4.98||HPFA|
|Deandre Thompkins, WR, Penn State||No grade||HPFA|
|Anthony Rush, DT, UAB||No grade||HPFA|
|Kevin Wilkins, DT, Rutgers||No grade||HPFA|
|Joey Alfieri, LB, Stanford||No grade||HPFA|
|Keegan Render, C, Iowa||No grade||PFA|
|Jamalcolm Liggins, CB, Dickinson State||No grade||Tryout|
|Mason Moe, LB, UC Davis||No grade||Tryout|
|Ajene Harris, CB, USC||No grade||Tryout|
|Johnny Gibson, OG, Arkansas||No grade||Tryout|
|Nico Evans, RB, Wyoming||No grade||Tryout|
The prize of this class is Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards, who, in my view, would have been a perfectly reasonable pick in the fifth round, had the Eagles gone that way. Instead, they were able to nab him as an undrafted free agent.
We’ll get a better look at these guys during OTAs and minicamp, but for now, let’s just look at the top six players in this class, individually:
T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin (6’0, 230)
Edwards led the Badgers in tackles as a freshman, sophomore, and senior, and was second as a junior in 2017. More importantly, over the last two seasons, Edwards has 10 interceptions. His numbers at Wisconsin:
|T.J. Edwards||Tackles (TFL)||INT||Sacks||FF-FR-PBU|
Those interceptions are of the impressive variety:
Edwards doesn’t have good athleticism, and while you don’t want him covering guys like Tarik Cohen or Alvin Kamara out of the backfield, he is good in coverage, particularly in zone assignments, which is what Jim Schwartz prioritizes in his linebackers.
Ryan Bates, OL, Penn State (6’4, 306)
Unsurprisingly, the Eagles signed five interior offensive linemen during the undrafted free agency phase of the draft, which makes sense, given their lack of depth there.
Bates started as a redshirt freshman, both at LG and LT. In his sophomore season, he started eight games at LT. In his junior year, he started nine games at LT and three at RT. I would praise that versatility, but there’s little chance Bates will be able to play OT in the pros, as he has 32½” T-Rex arms. His future in the NFL will be as an interior offensive lineman. Interestingly, his athleticism measurables most closely resemble Isaac Seumalo, on mockdraftable.com:
Bates was thought of as a draftable player.
MORE: Eagles 2019 draft grade roundup | Eagles 2019 draft grades
Iosua Opeta, OG, Weber State (6’4, 301)
This is a man. At the Combine, Opeta put up a ridiculous 39 reps on the bench press, in addition to flashing some other impressive athletic measurables:
Here he is pumping out those 39 reps:
So why didn’t this guy get drafted. Per Lance Zierlein’s scouting report on Opeta, via NFL.com:
Opeta will need to add more mass for his move inside to guard, but he does possess some natural strength if he can play with better bend to open up his leverage. His hands at feet don’t work together effectively in pass protection and he struggled badly to save his inside edge against quality competition in Utah. His footwork and balance is too uneven and will require plenty of work to get fixed for his move inside to guard on the next level. Scouts believe he has a chance to get drafted late.
Opeta has practice squad written all over him, giving Jeff Stoutland a chance to work his magic.
Nate Herbig, OG, Stanford (6’3, 335)
Herbig is a 6’3, 335 pound Hawaiian who dealt with injuries in 2018, and curiously skipped his team’s bowl game to enter the draft early. He was a decent guard in 2017, when he played a full season. That’s the player the Eagles hope they’re getting.
Here’s a highlight reel from that season. Trust me, this is fun to watch:
Of course, if he did that consistently, he’d be a first-rounder, like Quenton Nelson was a year ago. Unfortunately, as my friend Tommy Lawlor put it in a conversation, he’s like Chris Davis, where you’re either getting a home run, or a whiff.
At a minimum, Herbig should be a fun player to watch in training camp.
Delvon Randall, S, Temple (5’11, 211)
Randall had four INTs in each of the last three seasons, and many of those were very impressive catches:
He is also thought of as a good tackler, and a tough player. So why do he go undrafted? He ran a 4.71 at Temple’s pro day.
The Eagles have a history of trying to convert bigger safeties into linebackers. I wonder if they’ll give Randall a shot closer to the line of scrimmage.
Deandre Thompkins, RS, Penn State (5’11, 188)
Over the last two seasons, Thompkins had 2 TDs and an 11.8 yards per return average on 42 punt returns. That will be his appeal to the Eagles, who do not have an obvious leader in the clubhouse to return punts in 2019. He also ran a 4.33 at his pro day, a time that he felt was disappointing, according to Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call.
A highlight reel:
Thompkins is also a receiver, as you can see above, who had 83 catches for 1245 yards and 6 TDs during his college career.
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