The Eagles just drafted their first feature back in a decade.
They used the 53rd overall pick to draft running back Miles Sanders (5-11, 211) out of Penn State. He’s an intriguing prospect who can become a true three-down back in the NFL.
For a while now, the Eagles showed a lot of interest in Sanders. They met with him at the combine and then brought him in to the NovaCare Complex for a lengthy visit in March during the pre-draft process as a local visit. They tried to sneak him in without using a top-30 visit on him. Duce Staley really liked Sanders.
Sanders is the first running back the Eagles have taken in the first two rounds since they drafted LeSean McCoy in the second round out of Pittsburgh in 2009. Shady was also taken with the 53rd pick. The Eagles had taken a few running backs in the last decade, but the highest pick they used on one was a fourth-rounder on Donnel Pumphrey.
Here are the six running backs taken between Shady and Sanders:
2017: Donnel Pumphrey, 4th round
2016: Wendell Smallwood, 5th round
2012: Bryce Brown, 7th round
2011: Dion Lewis, 5th round
2011: Stanley Havili, 7th round
2010: Charles Scott, 6th round
The 53rd pick was acquired in last year’s trade out of the first round with the Ravens. The Eagles followed up the pick at 53 by taking Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside out of Stanford with their own second-round pick, No. 57.
Because Sanders sat behind Saquon Barkley for the first two years at Penn State, he doesn’t have a ton of mileage on him (see story).
What did Sanders learn from that time?
“Just being more patient, being more mature on and off the field,” Sanders said at the combine. “Just going through that whole process, not being too frustrated, going through that adversity.”
When Sanders finally got his chance to shine, he made it count. Sanders had 220 carries for 1,649 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 139 yards.
“I showed my ability to break tackles,” Sanders said in Indy. “That’s what Saquon did really well. I showed I can catch the ball smoothly, blocking, not making mental errors and protecting the quarterback.”
Not only did Sanders have a productive junior season, he also crushed the combine. He ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash and his 3-cone drill time of 6.89 was the best among all running backs in Indianapolis.
Coming to Philadelphia, Sanders will join a running back room that includes Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Boston Scott. Howard is a former Pro Bowler, but is under contract for just one more season. It seems like Sanders can grow into a starter and possibly even a feature back role.
The last Penn State player taken by the Eagles was RB Tony Hunt in the third round back in 2007. Hopefully, Sanders has a much better career here than him.
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