The Philadelphia Eagles enter the 2019 NFL draft process a little more stocked with picks than they have been in recent years. They’re done paying for the move up to select Carson Wentz and have an additional second-round pick from the Ravens, who moved up into the first round to get Lamar Jackson.
Their third-round selection was already spent on Golden Tate, but with three picks between 25 and 57, the Eagles have the draft capital to be very active on the first two days of the 2019 draft.
The 2019 NFL Combine kicks off on Tuesday, and we have a brief preview of some players that could both light it up in Indianapolis and be around when the Eagles start walking to the podium in April.
1. Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State
The Eagles’ offensive line is still a strength of the team, but there needs to be a plan for the future. This is especially true at the left tackle position. While Jason Peters played in all 18 games of 2018, he dealt with injuries constantly and anyone who watched Jadeveon Clowney attack Nick Foles in his absence against the Houston Texans will want this position solidified.
But the interior offensive line isn’t free from question marks either following a report about Jason Kelce contemplating retirement and Brandon Brooks suffering a torn Achilles in the team’s playoff loss to the Saints.
While most of the top tackle prospects should be off the board by the time the Eagles pick in the first round, the volatility where teams evaluate guards and centers could leave Bradbury in the Eagles’ lap. He won the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center in 2018, leading a Wolfpack offense that averaged 35 points and 470 yards per game.
The zone blocking scheme NC State employs should make for an easy transition to the Eagles’ rushing offense, as Bradbury has the physical tools to star in such an offense. Those should be on display at the combine.
Furthermore, he is a former tight end turned offensive lineman, which should sound familiar. Ideally, Bradbury could play at either guard spot as needed before eventually stepping in at center when (hopefully a long time from now) Kelce does decide to move on from the NFL.
2. Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
There have been few predictions more fun to contemplate year in and year out, in which the Eagles finally draft Brian Dawkins’ successor. In reality, they found that successor in Malcolm Jenkins. But outside of Jenkins, the safeties in Philadelphia are one big question mark.
Rodney McLeod will be returning from knee surgery and playing on a newly restructured contract. Avonte Maddox filled in at times during 2018 but ended the season where he was drafted to play: at cornerback.
Enter Adderley, a local prospect who had 11 career interceptions at the University of Delaware. His range in the secondary is drawing tentative comparisons to Earl Thomas and Adderley can double down on his impressive game speed with an equally impressive combine.
Worries about the level of opposition, he faced at the FCS level have been offset by an impressive Senior Bowl, where, believe it or not, he met with the Eagles. Adderley is a rising prospect that would likely require the Eagles’ first-round pick to be spent on him.
3. Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
The Eagles have talent at wide receiver, but they could use a deep threat that runs away from defenders while Alshon Jeffery is busy climbing over them. Marquise Brown missing the combine will give the other receivers a chance to showcase their electrifying speed and Hardman should clock in as one of the fastest.
It’s already easy to tell Hardman is a special talent with the ball in his hands, but he came late to playing receiver so should have plenty of room to grow. When you consider his talent as a returner – he averaged 20.1 yards on 16 punt returns in 2018 – and lack of star-level production in college – 543 receiving yards this season – the obvious comparison becomes Tyreek Hill.
Hardman may not follow the same path Hill did to superstar receiver, but he could immediately spark an Eagles’ return game that is in a bit of flux. Darren Sproles may be retiring and no longer held a lock on return duties during the 2018 season.
However, his lack of impressive college statistics can be chalked up to all the options the Bulldog offense had at their disposal. The Eagles could be the team that decides to bet a mid-round pick on Hardman’s game-breaking speed and ability with the ball in his hands.