PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After solidifying the offensive line Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles turned their attention to another position of need in the second round Friday. The Eagles selected Penn State running back Miles Sanders with the 53rd overall pick in the NFL draft.
Sanders, after being overshadowed by New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley at State College in his first two years, broke out in his lone season as the Nittany Lions’ lead back.
“I gained a lot of patience, got more mature, started focusing on the little things more, got bigger, stronger, faster, got deeper into the playbook, just preparing myself and making myself feel comfortable for when I finally get my chance to get in the game,” Sanders said Saturday. “And then also learning from Saquon, he’s a special guy on and off the field, so it’s just stuff like that I was just learning from him as far as how to watch film, what he looks for, just to prepare myself for when I finally get my chance.”
The 5-foot-11, 211-pound running back from Pittsburgh rushed for 1,274 yards with nine touchdowns in 13 games last season. His best game came in Penn State’s 63-24 win over Illinois in Week 4 when he ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Last season, Sanders had five 100-plus yard games.
According to CBS Sports, Sanders is a “physical, compactly built one-cut runner who is an asset in the pass game. He can run patterns out of the backfield as well as line up in the slot and when targeted he shows soft hands and the ability to make defenders miss.”
Sanders is the highest running back drafted by the Eagles since LeSean McCoy in 2009. McCoy was also drafted with the 53rd pick.
“Absolutely. Watched more of LeSean McCoy,” Sanders said. “He is from Harrisburg, so he’s pretty local. I heard about him when he came up from high school, broke a lot of records at his high school, too. So I know a lot about his game. He’s still doing well in the league, so he’s just the type of player that you see as a real vet and as a guy that you can really look up to and get advice. I don’t know how long he’s been in the league, but he’s doing very well for himself, so the type of guy that I really look up to, and running backs in my list, too. But that’s the type of career that I’m trying to really follow.
By drafting Sanders, Howie Roseman continued to address the backfield this offseason. In March, Roseman acquired Jordan Howard from the Chicago Bears. The Eagles’ backfield now consists of Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey.
Darren Sproles could also be added into the mix if he decides not to retire.
At the moment, Sanders is likely the Birds’ best receiver out of the backfield.
The PSU product was the first of two Eagles second-round picks Friday.
Four picks after selecting Sanders, the Eagles drafted wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside with the 57th pick.
In the first round Thursday, the Eagles traded up to select Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard.
The Eagles have two picks left in the 2019 NFL draft – a fourth-round pick (138) and fifth-round pick (163).
The NFL draft concludes Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee.