Could the Philadelphia Eagles target Miles Sanders in the 2019 NFL Draft?

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Could the Philadelphia Eagles target Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the draft if he decides to leave school early?

Ever since Chip Kelly traded LeSean McCoy prior to the 2015 season, the Philadelphia Eagles have been in desperate need of their next “workhorse” running back. Demarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount, and Jay Ajayi have all taken their turns with little-to-no long-term success.

It looked like Ajayi could have been the guy, but the Eagles never trusted him to carry a full workload because of injury problems. Then earlier this season, Ajayi was lost with a torn-ACL and there is no guarantee he will be back in midnight green in 2019.

Currently, the Eagles have three running backs who they rotate in Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles. Sproles has never been an every down back and is in the twilight of his career. Smallwood has seen himself in and out of Doug Pederson‘s dog house these past three years, and Adams remains highly unknown.

The other option going into 2019 would be Corey Clement. Clement is a nice change of pace running back, but not someone a team can rely on to carry the ball 20-times per game. The fact of the matter is that the Eagles don’t have a guy they can rely on to be their featured back over a long period of time.

Going into this offseason, the Eagles need to make running back a priority. They have some nice complementary pieces, but they don’t have a guy they can consistently rely on. That is something the Eagles desperately need to take pressure off of Carson Wentz‘s (not Nick Foles) shoulders to help him become a better quarterback.

Odds are Ajayi won’t be back, and the Eagles could always go out and spend big money on Le’Veon Bell, but that seems highly unlikely. So the Eagles next best bet at finding a feature running back might be through the NFL draft.

Over the last handful of years, the Eagles have snagged some running backs in later rounds and in the undrafted free agent pool. Some have been solid pieces, but none of them have turned into top running backs.

So in the 2019 draft, with two second-round picks, could Howie Roseman look to pick a top running back early in the draft? Who could that be? Perhaps Penn State running back Miles Sanders.

Only a junior, Sanders would first have to declare for the draft, and that has been something highly talked about amongst the Penn State community. Penn State has a lot of young talented running backs, so Sanders leaving wouldn’t hurt the program too much, but is Sanders ready for that jump?

According to, Sanders is the fourth-ranked running back and the 40th overall prospect. Most mock drafts have Sanders being picked as either a mid to late day two pick, or an early day three pick. So, with a good combine and pro day, he could solidify himself as a day two pick.

It is all still up in the air, but the consensus seems to be that Sanders might leave for the NFL. Should he declare, would it be wise for the Eagles to target him? I say yes.

Sanders had big shoes to fill in 2018 after Saquon Barkley departed Penn State for the NFL. In his first season as the starter, Sanders ran for 1,223 yards and nine touchdowns, while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

If on the Eagles, how exactly would Sanders fit in the Eagles offense? Penn State is a shotgun run team only, so being able to run from under center would be a huge adjustment for Sanders. Sanders has shown fantastic explosiveness and an ability to get into the open field.

While Barkley would beat defenders with strength, Sanders relies more on elusiveness to get by defenders.  Out of all the running backs who are draft eligible this year, only two of them averaged more yards per carry than Sanders. So what more would coming back for one more year do for Sanders?

One criticism of Sanders is his fumbling issues. In 2018, Sanders fumbled the ball five times, losing four of them. One of those fumbles happened to come deep in Penn State’s own territory against Ohio State, catalyzing the Buckeye’s comeback in that game.

Fumbles can always be fixed, but the intangibles that Sanders shows cannot be taught. If he were to leave Penn State, Sanders would be a great fit in the Eagles backfield. He has shown a great playmaking ability and is able to make something out of nothing.

Should he go to the NFL, the two big questions surrounding Sanders will be can he adjust to a pro-style offense, and will he be able to adapt to NFL defenses? A lot of his big plays at Penn State came from running east-west, but a lot of those plays will be negated for losses in the NFL.

Sanders has a lot of fantastic qualities but should he make the transition into the NFL next season, he will have a work left to do. He likely won’t make as seamless of a transition as Barkley but should be able to make an early impact and continue to improve as he gets more work.

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If given the opportunity, should the Philadelphia Eagles draft Miles Sanders? Absolutely. His upside is just too much to pass on and if put in the right situation, he can really thrive in the Doug Pederson’s offense.