Biggest Questions About Each of Eagles' 8 Draft Picks | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Biggest Questions About Each of Eagles' 8 Draft Picks

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    Biggest Questions About Each of Eagles' 8 Draft Picks
    CSNPhilly.com
    Biggest questions about each of Eagles' 8 draft picks

    The Eagles' three-day minicamp, which kicks off Friday, will offer everyone the first chance at seeing first-round pick Derek Barnett and the rest of the rookie class. 

    While there will be dozens of players on the field this weekend, just eight of them were draft picks a couple weeks ago. 

    Here is the biggest question about each of those draft picks. 

    DE Derek Barnett (1st round): Will his production translate to the NFL? 
    Barnett was a great college player. No question about it. This is likely the thousandth time you've heard about it, but his 33 collegiate sacks toppled a long-standing sack record at Tennessee held by Reggie White. And Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas compared Barnett to Terrell Suggs. Reggie White and Terrell Suggs ... not bad company. 

    There's no questioning Barnett's production in college, but will that translate into the NFL? The big knock against Barnett is that he's not the most athletic prospect. That's a thought that was challenged by his college position coach (see story). The things Barnett has going for him are his motor, effort and technique. Those qualities make it seem likely he'll be able to transition into the NFL, but only time will tell. 

    CB Sidney Jones (2nd round): When will he be healthy? 
    Before the Eagles took Jones with the 43rd pick, the young corner declared he'd be back from his Achilles injury this season. 

    But when he talked after the Eagles drafted him, his tone had changed considerably. He kept in line with what the Eagles said, that they weren't going to rush to get him back on the field, that they wanted him to fully heal. 

    So the big question revolves around when he'll actually be ready to play. It won't be at the start of the season, but will he be able to play at all as a rookie? 

    CB Rasul Douglas (3rd round): Is he ready to start this year? 
    The Eagles took Douglas, from West Virginia, with the 99th overall pick. And the rookie walks into a secondary room desperately needing cornerbacks. With just Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks and Patrick Robinson really blocking his way, Douglas has a chance to not just play as a rookie but play a major role. 

    Is he ready for that? It's a fair question. He had a great 2016, with eight interceptions, but his speed has been questioned. The Eagles say his length helps make up for that lack of speed, but we won't know that until he steps on the field. It's very possible Douglas is the most important draft pick for the 2016 season because the position he plays is one of need for the Birds. 

    WR Mack Hollins (4th round): Will he develop into a real receiver? 
    At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Hollins will, at the very least, be a very good special teams player. In fact, at North Carolina, he played on all four teams units. And that's something the Eagles have lacked, a receiver with the ability to play special teams. They haven't had that since Seyi Ajirotutu was on the team. Hopefully, Hollins will become that, plus a weapon as a receiver. 

    At UNC, Hollins was known for his ball-tracking and big-play ability. He set the UNC career record for yards per reception (20.6) and led the nation as a junior (24.8). But in college, he never caught more than 35 passes in a season, being used as a specialty player. He has the tools to be more, but it's all just untapped potential now. 

    RB Donnel Pumphrey (4th round): What will his role be? 
    The long-term question about Pumphrey will probably revolve around his size and whether or not his small body will hold up in the NFL. But for now, it's more intriguing to wonder how the Eagles will use him in their offense. In the college game, Pumphrey would run between the tackles, but it doesn't seem likely that will be his primary role with the Eagles. 

    With the Eagles, his big role might actually be as a receiver both out of the backfield and in the slot. The Eagles might even get him out wide on occasion. Having Pumphrey and Darren Sproles on the same team might give us a sense of Doug Pederson's creativity. 

    WR Shelton Gibson (5th round): How fast is he? 
    At the combine, Gibson ran a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash. That didn't check out with his game tape, which says Gibson is an absolute burner. His pro day 40-time was much better, with him being clocked at a 4.39. That would have been the eighth-fastest time overall at the combine this year. 

    It's probably safer to say that Gibson's speed is somewhere between that 4.39 and 4.50. It shouldn't take long to see that speed in person. 

    LB Nathan Gerry (5th round): Can he play linebacker? 
    This question was a pretty easy one. Gerry is making the switch from safety at Nebraska to linebacker with the Eagles. During his meeting with the Birds, he talked to defensive backs coach Cory Undlin and linebackers coach Ken Flajole. 

    Gerry said the biggest part of the transition will be processing information quicker from the linebacker spot, which is obviously closer to the line of scrimmage. He thinks the transition will go smoothly, but there might be some bumps along the way. He'll be a special teams player, but will he also be an adequate backup 'backer? 

    DT Elijah Qualls (6th round): Was he a steal? 
    The pick of Qualls (out of Washington) was met with a lot of praise and plenty of folks calling him a steal. Qualls (6-2, 293) wasn't known as a pass-rushing interior lineman, but he might have that ability. 

    And the Eagles need the depth at DT. After Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan, the Eagles have an injured Beau Allen (pec) and last year's undrafted rookie Destiny Vaeao. Qualls should be able to push for a backup role and maybe even playing time.