Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eagles should look at Clemson OT Isaiah Battle in supplemental draft

PHILADELPHIA - Talented Clemson left tackle Isaiah Battle is set to enter the NFL supplemental draft next month, and the Eagles should have interest.

Most observers believe Battle is a third-round talent and another solid season in Death Valley could have vaulted the Brooklyn native into the first round conversation of the 2016 draft.

"Battle has terrific length on his 6-foot-6 frame and is quick to land hands on pass rushers to disrupt their attack," NFL Media draft expert Lance Zierlein said when discussing Battle's skill set.
Clemson OT Isaiah Battle

On the surface Philadelphia is set at the tackle position with All-Pro Jason Peters holding down the all-important left side and the ascending Lane Johnson, the No. 4 overall pick in '13. handling things at right tackle. Peters, however, is 33 and far closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Meanwhile, the team has penciled in veteran Allen Barbre as the replacement for Evan Mathis at left guard and Matt Tobin, a former undrafted free agent out of Iowa, as Todd Herremans' heir apparent at RG.

A talent upgrade would be welcomed on both sides of center Jason Kelce and Battle is the type of athlete who could easily slip inside while developing as the long-term replacement for Peters.

Of course Battle is expected to have plenty of other suitors also, most notably Denver, who recently lost LT Ryan Clady to a season-ending ACL injury, and perhaps Atlanta, which just parted ways with the oft-injured tackle Sam Baker.

Battle claims he is entering the supplemental draft due to personal reasons but some close to the Clemson program believe he was on the verge of being kicked off the team for a third rules violation. Battle served a suspension in 2013 after punching a player, and another last season after being caught with marijuana when pulled over for speeding in June.

"I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft," Battle said. "I want to thank everyone at Clemson, especially Coach (Dabo) Swinney and the assistant coaches, for what they have done for me the last three years. I also want to thank my teammates. They have all had a big impact on my career."

That career included 16 games started for the Tigers, including 11 last season.

On the surface Battle, who will be joined in the supplemental draft by a pair of West Georgia defensive linemen, pass rusher Darrius Caldwell and tackle  Dalvon Stuckey, as well as  North Carolina Central receiver Adrian Wilkins, doesn't seem like a "culture fit" for Chip Kelly but if a talent like this drops to the late-round range, it's worth rolling the dice.

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