Forty years ago, the Eagles drafted two Penn State players. They were receiver Scott Fitzkee in the fourth round and center Chuck Correal in the eighth round of the 1979 NFL Draft.
That drought ended on Saturday when the Eagles selected Penn State defensive end Shareef Miller in the fourth round, pick No. 138 overall. Miller was teammates with running back Miles Sanders, who the Birds took during Friday night’s second round.
Not since 2007 did the Eagles even look toward State College to select a player. That was when they took running back Tony Hunt in the third round.
They can only hope they have better luck with Sanders and Miller than Hunt, and even Fitzkee and Correal, for that matter.
Miller, who had 7.5 sacks last year, gives the Eagles another edge rusher to add to a mix that includes Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, and Josh Sweat.
It’s also likely now that Chris Long won’t be a part of that mix. Long told the Eagles to “plan like he wasn’t coming back,” and relayed that information to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane on his “Birds Eye View” podcast leading into the draft.
Miller is 6-4, 254 pounds. He is originally from Philadelphia, having attended George Washington High School and growing up a big fan of the Eagles. He is the first Philadelphia-born player taken by the Eagles since they took running back Bruce Perry in 2004 out of Maryland.
In the fifth round, the Eagles added quarterback Clayton Thorson (pictured above) of Northwestern. The pick came four spots after the team was scheduled to draft after they traded down with the New England Patriots, acquiring a seventh-round pick from the Pats, No. 246 overall.
At 6-4, 222 pounds, Thorson certainly has the size the Eagles like in their quarterbacks.
They were also interested in North Dakota State QB Easton Stick, and may have taken him instead of Thorson, but the Los Angeles Chargers drafted Stick one pot ahead of the Eagles. Stick is good friends with Carson Wentz, who also attended North Dakota State.
The Eagles may not have traded down, however, if they didn’t have Stick and Thorson rated relatively the same.
A four-year starter for the Wildcats, Thorson threw 17 touchdowns last season but also 15 interceptions. In his career, he threw 61 TDs, but 45 picks.
It has been several years since the Eagles drafted a developmental type of quarterback and not the first time they drafted a signal-caller from Northwestern.
In 2010, they selected Mike Kafka in the fourth round. Kakfa played four games with the Eagles in 2011, completing 11 of 16 passes with two interceptions. He was cut after 2012’s training camp.
The Eagles picked Wentz second overall in 2016, but the last later-round QB they took was Matt Barkley in the fourth round of 2013. They also picked Nick Foles in the third round of 2012.