Philadelphia Eagles: UDFA Josh Adams is a post-draft steal

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

After a breakout 2017 season as Notre Dame’s lead back, local prospect Josh Adams has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent.

After only adding a single playmaker to Doug Pederson‘s offense in the 2018 NFL Draft, in second round tight end Dallas Goedert, Howie Roseman, and the entire Philadelphia Eagles scouting department may have once again struck gold on a local, undervalued running back prospect in Warrington native Josh Adams.

Adams, a 3-star recruit who played his high school football at Central Bucks South High School, received a plethora of offers to play college football at virtually every big-time Power 5 team but opted to take his talents to South Bend, Indiana to join the Notre Dame backfield.

Though he predominately played in a rotation with future third-round pick C.J. Prosise during his first season on campus, Adams received at least 115 carries for 800 yards in each of his first two seasons with the team before taking over the lead back role going into 2017.

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And after initially serving as a supplemental piece, Adams looked like the crown jewel of the Irish’s offensive backfield in the lead back role.

Over the first eight games of the 2017 college football season, number 33 put on an absolute show, rushing for an average of 146 yards per game with an 8.9 yards-per-carry average as an early Heisman dark horse, but after suffering an ankle injury against the University of Miami (Ohio), everything changed almost overnight.

While he did still have a few good games down the stretch, like his 106-yard performance against Navy, Adams only averaged 54.5 yards per game over the final four games of the season, with a 3.7 yards-per-carry average, effectively finishing out his college career with a whimper, not a roar.

Sure, he could have returned to school for a second season as the team’s lead back in an attempt to further solidify his case as a lead back in the minds of NFL scouts as a senior, especially since Notre Dame really didn’t have a viable candidate to take his spot on the roster, Adams instead opted to enter his name for consideration in the 2018 NFL Draft, based on his the strength of his 2017 tape.

A decision that now looks pretty ill-advised.

But even though all 32 NFL teams passed on selecting Adams in the 2018 NFL Draft, that doesn’t mean he can’t bring some value to a team in need.

Far from it in fact.

Though many scouts have attributed Adam’s success to running behind a pair of top-10 picks in offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, who also just so happens to be a Philadelphia native and Quenton Nelson, it would be incredibly shortsighted to simply disregard his accomplishments because of the team’s offensive efficiency. While highlighting Notre Dame’s ground and pound offense behind an NFL-caliber line surely made Adams’ life a whole lot easier, he’s still the one who ran for 1,430 yards in only 13 games, the 14th best mark of any player in the country.

At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Adams is a big-bodied battling ram between the tackles, who violently fights for extra yardage on every play. Though he’s not a particularly versatile weapon, as he wasn’t asked to run outside very often, and only caught 41 passes over his three years in college, Adams ability to fight for extra yardage, and plow through the line of scrimmage simply can’t be undervalued, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

But how does Adams fit in with the Philadelphia Eagles, and doesn’t even have a chance to make the roster?

Well, after LeGarrette Blount left town to join the Detroit Lions back in March, the Eagles really don’t have a big-bodied power back on their roster to take his 250-pound place. Sure, Jay Ajayi is a classic one-cut back, who excels at running between the tackles, but at only 6-foot, 216 pounds, he’s much more suited for the traditional lead back role, as opposed to a short-yardage specialist, and with his very well documented injury history, the Eagles would be wise to utilize a different back in these particularly physical situations.

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While Adams is far from a sure thing to make the roster, as the Eagles only gave him $55,000 guaranteed to sign with the team, if 2017 is of any indication, the team is more than willing to hold on to a talented undrafted free agent even if he’s at a position loaded with talent. Originally making the roster as the team’s fifth running back, Corey Clement was thrust into action after a string of injuries ravaged the team’s depth chart, to where he eventually caught four passes for 100 yards in Super Bowl 52 and now appears to be a part of the team’s future long-term.

Even though he will now have to compete with Darren Sproles, as he recently resigned for one final campaign in South Philly, and Donnel Pumphrey, who spent the entire 2017 season on IR, for a spot on the roster, Adam seems like the kind of player who could stick with the team when the final 53 is announced in September, and become yet another important cog in Pederson’s potent offense.

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Though he likely wouldn’t be asked to fill Blount’s massive shoes from day one, as I highly doubt the team would give an undrafted free agent 173 carries in his first season in the league, Josh Adams very well could receive Clements old carries from last season, 74, or roughly 4.6 per game, as each player slides one rung up on Duce Staley‘s depth chart.