Darren Sproles was a fourth-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
If NFL teams knew a decade-plus career of excellence and all-purpose yards would emanate from Sproles’ small-framed body, he would have went much higher. Maybe even as high as the first round.
Tim Jernigan on why he fits with Eagles
Twelve years later, the Eagles could have the opportunity to take Sproles 2.0 with the No. 14 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in the form of Stanford star Christian McCaffrey.
Saints head coach Sean Payton–a Super Bowl champion head coach, offensive guru and former coach of Sproles during his days with the Saints–talked about the idea of McCaffrey having that kind of all-around impact in the NFL.
“He’s got the ability to make people miss, but also to make tough yards in the pile,” Payton said to Peter King in this week’s Monday Morning QB column. “I’ve got a crystal-clear vision of the player. He’d be like Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush for us, kind of the Joker role. But I think you have to have a pitch count on him.”
While Sproles is clearly a part-time player in Philadelphia, look back on his numbers during his years with Payton in New Orleans from 2011-2013:
Rushing: 188 carries, 1,067 yards, 5.7 yards per carry
Receiving: 232 receptions, 1,981 yards, 8.5 yards per reception
When you add in punt and kick return yards, Sproles averaged over 2,000 all-purpose yards per season in New Orleans.
As the Eagles get set for Sproles to depart for retirement after 2017, McCaffrey could represent his replacement–but in a bigger and potentially better form.
Kevin King visiting Eagles
Sproles is listed at 5’6″, 190 pounds. McCaffrey is listed at 5’11”, 202 pounds–potentially giving his NFL coaches the ability to use him like Sproles, but for more touches per game.
If there’s a Sproles-esque player with the ability to garner 15-20 touches per game–instead of the 9.5 Sproles averaged per year with Payton–it’s worth exploring with a first-round selection. According to a panel of experts in King’s MMQB piece, the Eagles will do just that in the draft.