At combine, Eagles showing interest in higher-round running backs


INDIANAPOLIS — Maybe this is the year the Eagles actually use a significant draft pick on a running back. 

While at the NFL’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, the Eagles are at least showing an interest in running backs who will likely go in the top three rounds in April’s draft. 

The Birds have met — or will meet — with players like Josh Jacobs, Devin Singletary, Darrell Henderson, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Damien Harris and Bryce Love. 

Now, take that with a slight grain of salt. NFL teams at the combine are allowed 60 formal interviews that last 15 minutes. So they get to have formal meetings with nearly 18 percent of all the players who were invited to the combine. But it at least shows the Eagles might be committed to improving the running back position with a significant draft pick and it just so happens they have two second-round picks this year. 

The Eagles haven’t used a second-round pick on a running back since 2009, when they drafted LeSean McCoy, who went on to become the best running back in franchise history. Since then, they’ve drafted six running backs. One in the fourth round, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. So drafting a running back in the top three rounds would sort of go against their recent history, but it’s pretty clear the Eagles need to upgrade the position. 

“At the end of the day, we’re not going to force any particular position just because it’s a perceived need,” Howie Roseman said this week. “We’ll evaluate that position based on the value of each particular player.”

Roseman was quick to mention that there are “different ways to skin a cat” when it comes to running back. In 2017, they won the Super Bowl after picking up LeGarrette Blount in free agency and Jay Ajayi in a mid-year trade. They’ve also found success with late-round picks. 

But it looks like they’re at least taking a closer look at some of these prospects: 

Josh Jacobs, Alabama 
OK, this is a little far-fetched. The Eagles haven’t used a first-round pick on a running back since Keith Byars in 1986 and Jacobs is very likely to be the top running back selected this season. The Eagles probably aren’t going to use pick No. 25 on him, but they were scheduled to meet with him on Thursday night, so at least they’re kicking the tires. 

Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic 
Singletary is the player whom NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah actually compared to McCoy. He thinks Singletary would be a good fit in Philly. And Singletary, who already had a formal meeting with the Birds, doesn’t disagree with the comparison. “How he makes people miss in the open field,” Singletary said. The 5-9 back had an impressive three years at FAU and also showed off his ability as a receiving threat. 

Darrell Henderson, Memphis
Henderson was another player Jeremiah singled out for the Eagles. He’s an explosive player and had a dynamic 2018 season, rushing for 1,909 yards and adding 295 receiving yards. He said he likes the Eagles' offense and even got a call from his former teammate, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott, late in the 2018 season. 

David Montgomery, Iowa State
Another dual-threat option, Montgomery might lack the explosiveness some of these other guys have, but he’s actually my favorite among the group. He said he had already met with the Eagles as of Thursday afternoon. He is a really well-rounded player who has incredible balance and could be a starter as a rookie. 

Bryce Love, Stanford 
One downside to Love coming to Philly is there’s no way he’d be the most popular Bryce in town. Another downside is that Love is still recovering from a torn ACL and subsequent surgery in December. The positive is that he had a 2,000-yard junior season in 2017. 

Miles Sanders, Penn State 
With really just one year as a starter at Penn State, Sanders put up an impressive 2018 season, rushing for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes. He had to wait his turn behind Saquon Barkley, but Sanders already had a formal interview with the Eagles and could be a good fit.

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