Day 2 of the 2015 NFL draft saw the Eagles move up to get a versatile defensive back in Utah’s Eric Rowe with their second-round selection, and more depth at linebacker with Texas’ Jordan Hicks in the third round.
Philadelphia moved up from 52 to the 47th pick overall, trading with the Dolphins, to get Rowe (6’1, 205). He has played both safety and corner, and what do you know–the Eagles need help at both.
His versatility is a big part of what made him worth giving up a pick to get him, said Chip Kelly.
We think he can do a lot of things. That was the thing about him. He’s got 45 career starts, I think nine at corner and 36 at safety…Versatility is one of the things that you look at and then from a height-weight-speed parameter, he’s off the charts in terms of what he can do from a physical standpoint.”
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock was also high on Rowe.
This is one of my favorite players in the draft. He played free safety for three years before kicking over to corner this year. He’s a top-50 pick all day long. Rowe can match up on the outside with the big receivers in the NFL.”
While he has successfully played both positions, Rowe said that his preference would be to play corner, as he feels he has is room to grow in that role. When asked to describe his style of play, Rowe revealed a DB this town may love.
A physical, press competitor. I love to hit, I love to come on the blitz and tackle. On the press man, I love to take charges on the line of scrimmage. I would say I’m an aggressive corner.”
Rowe played in 47 games (45 starts) at Utah and accumulated 261 tackles, three INTs and 34 passes defensed in his career. His 34 career pass breakups are the fourth-highest total in Ute’s annals, and his 13 pass breakups as a senior in 2014 tied for the fifth-highest single-season mark in school history.
In the third round, with the 84th overall selection, the Eagles picked Texas LB Jordan Hicks (6’1″ 236).
One thing Philadelphia already had with Hicks was an element of familiarity, said Kelly.
Jordan was, I think, the individual we saw the most this offseason, whether it was exposure at the Senior Bowl to him, his pro day, individual workouts, top-30 visits, all those other things… He’s a three-down linebacker, can cover and is an outstanding special teams player.”
There is little doubt about his talent, but there are concerns about his extensive injury history, though Hicks was healthy all of last season. Mayock’s reaction to the pick reflected these concerns.
“I think a lot of people like his physical traits, but people worry about his durability.”
Concerns about this health aside, Hicks feels his greatest asset is his proven ability to be thrown into any system and thrive.
I think, number one, the fact that I’m a smart football player. I can get people lined up on the field and I have a great understanding of football and schemes and what it takes to call a play and check plays. I think also the versatility that I’ve been in. I’ve seen four different linebacker coaches, four different [defensive] coordinators in five years at the University of Texas. I’ve played in 3-4 defenses, 4-3 defenses. I’ve been in spot drops, man drops, zone pressure schemes, man pressure schemes. You name it, I’ve probably learned it. I think the ability to convert and take what I’ve learned and translate it over to this next level is probably the big thing.”
Hicks appeared in 45 career games at Texas, with 28 starts, amassing 299 tackles, including 24 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, two INTs, seven pass breakups, 12 special teams tackles and one fumble recovery. His 147 tackles as a senior were tied for the seventh-highest total in Texas history. In 2014, Hicks was named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player.
Here’s some footage of Rowe at this year’s combine to get your excitement flowing:
And take a closer look at Hicks with highlights from 2014: