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With their first pick on the third day of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Eagles added to their depth in the backfield by adding running back Wendell Smallwood out of West Virginia with the 153rd-overall pick.
At 5-10, 208 pounds, Smallwood was among the top performers at the NFL Scouting Combine in the three-cone and 60-yard shuttle drills. With the Mountaineers, Smallwood was the Big 12’s leading rushing in 2015, racking up 1,519 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games.
The Eagles have remained very high on rookie running back Wendell Smallwood despite the fact that he has not played in the first two preseason games due to a quad injury.
Smallwood said on Saturday that he “was trying to force myself to have a good week” so that he could suit up last Thursday against the Steelers. Smallwood was limited in practice leading up to the game, and still couldn’t hit top speed so he was given more time to rest.
A few days shy of his 10th birthday, Wendell Smallwood had his eyes glued to the television on a chilly January night as his Eagles took on the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the 2003 playoffs. His face was covered in a strange brand of paint, one he now knows wasn’t intended to be used on his skin, and his mother, Nichelle, couldn’t help but voice her displeasure with that decision.
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Davis has tremendous potential. He is big (6-3, 209 pounds), athletic, and skilled. He was incredibly productive at Western Michigan. He caught 331 passes, with 52 of them going for touchdowns. Davis averaged 16 yards a catch for his career, so he wasn’t just a workhorse receiver. He was a playmaker. Davis was fast enough to be a downfield threat. I think he was at his best after the catch. You could see not only his talent, but his toughness and competitive streak as well. Davis fought for every yard he could. He was a threat to break a big play every time he got his hands on the ball.
In terms of former Eagles, you could compare him to Irving Fryar. In three seasons with the Eagles, Fryar caught 222 passes and 19 touchdowns. You could compare Davis to Texans star DeAndre Hopkins.
Marcus Johnson signed with the Eagles in the 2016 offseason as a rookie free agent after a four-year career at Texas. During his collegiate career, Johnson played in 42 games (18 starts) and totaled 61 catches for 793 yards (13.0 avg.) and four scores.
Rookie free agent running back Byron Marshall arrived to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent. After failing to make the 53-man roster out of Training Camp (thanks mainly to the depth on the Eagles roster at the position), Marshall was added to the practice squad. Since then, he’s been working hard to get his shot, and all that hard work has helped him rebound from an ankle injury he suffered during his last season at Oregon.
“It’s been – for myself especially – a long road, just with not getting to play last year and being hurt (while at Oregon),” said Marshall.
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On Monday afternoon, the Eagles announced that all 87 eligible players on the current roster reported for the start of this week’s mandatory minicamp. Three rookies – running back Byron Marshall, guard Isaac Seumalo and Philadelphia Eagles jerseys defensive end Aziz Shittu will not participate due to NCAA graduation rules that state a player can not join his NFL team full-time until his school’s academic year has come to a close.
Of course, there are two other players to keep in mind as well in Byron Marshall and Cedric O’Neal. The two rookies find themselves on the lower end of the totem pole, but it’s impossible to predict what the future could hold for them if they come out firing in Training Camp and the preseason.
Pederson said that what teams looks for in running backs have changed over the years. The Eagles would relish a running back who can run between the tackles, get to the outside, stay on the field for all three downs, pass protect, run routes, and catch the ball.
Another off-field concern that teams must weigh in the draft process in injury history. Wide receiver John Ross broke the Combine record for the fastest time in the 40-yard dash. He has, however, suffered a torn ACL, torn meniscus, and recently underwent surgery for a torn labrum. At least as far as the Eagles are concerned, Ross’ medical report won’t take him off the draft board.