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2015 NFL Mock Draft: Philadelphia Eagles draft Jaelen Strong at No. 20

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With the 20th overall pick in the 2015 Bleeding Green Nation community mock draft, Philadelphia Eagles GM sports00fan00 selects ...

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

[Editor's note: Before we get to the explanation, note that Strong has denied a recent report that he needs surgery on his wrist.]

Jaelen Strong, WR
Arizona State Sun Devils
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 217 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.44 seconds

2014 Stats: 82 receptions, 1,165 yards, 10 touchdowns
2013 Stats: 75 receptions, 1,122 yards, 7 touchdowns

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The Eagles biggest needs heading into the draft are WR, OL, QB, S, and CB. Unless a move for Mariota is made on draft day, or he somehow falls all the way to 20, the Eagles most likely will not be picking a quarterback. For offensive line, currently the Eagles have bigger needs, and they should be able to find someone later in the draft unless a top OT falls to them, which is unlikely. Last year after the draft they said they weren’t going to reach for an OL, so I doubt they’ll do it this year. Safety is currently a huge need. However, there aren’t many choices in the first round. Even if Landon Collins falls to 20, the Eagles might see him as being not a scheme fit. This leaves us with the two most likely options being CB and WR. Lucky for the Eagles, both positions have deep draft classes this year.

The Eagles made a splash in Free Agency signing Byron Maxwell, locking up one starting CB slot. Also signed in the offseason was Walter Thurmond, who along with Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, and Jaylen Watkins will compete for playing time in the rest of the secondary. If the Eagles do go CB in the first round, they have been connected to a few during pre-draft visits: Jalen Collins, Kevin Johnson, Byron Jones, and Eric Rowe.

One of the most disappointing parts of Free Agency this year was when the Eagles lost Jeremy Maclin. For the second straight year the Eagles find themselves without their leading receiver from the previous season. Right now the Eagles have 8 WRs on their roster: Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Miles Austin, Riley Cooper, Jeff Maehl (ERFA), Will Murphy, Quron Pratt, and Seyi Ajirotutu. Outside of Matthews, Cooper, and Huff, with the exception of recently signed Austin, the rest are mainly special teams or practice squad players. This doesn’t exactly make Eagles fans feel safe about the WR core moving into next season.

The Eagles have met with a few WR draft prospects including Breshard Perriman, Jaelen Strong, and Nelson Agholor. Out of those three, Jaelen Strong is, in my opinion, the best. Perriman is fast, running an unofficial 4.22 40-yard dash at his pro-day, and due to that, has been rising up draft boards. However, Perriman had a concerning 14% drop rate last year. Agholor is smaller than Strong and brings some special teams experience, but he is more likely a 2nd round target if the Eagles decide to draft another position in the first.

Note: It’s worth mentioning that one of his top comparisons is Miles Austin, who the Eagles brought in on a one-year deal for 2015.

Jaelen Strong measures in at 6’2" 217 lbs. A little shorter and smaller hands than Jordan Matthews, but quicker, 4.44 40-yard dash, and can jump higher, 42" vertical, which was 2nd best at the combine behind Chris Conley. A high school basketball player, whose dad played college basketball at Drexel, Strong is known to go up and grab the ball at the peak of his jump. He struggles on short, and comeback routes, but one on one and down the field he jumps up and snatches the ball out the air. This was clearly on display versus USC for what has become known as the "Jael Mary"

If Jordan Matthews remains in the slot most of the time, Strong will give the Eagles a big target down the field and in the redzone that can go up and make a play on the ball.

Pros and Cons (per Ravens Website):

Pros

  • Good combination of height, weight and arm length for the position
  • Former high school basketball player, father played basketball at Drexel, who knows how to shield defenders – especially for jump balls – making him a strong red-zone target
  • Adept at braking press coverage and physical with cornerbacks
  • Quieted doubts about his speed with a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the combine
  • Tracks the ball well and has a knack for making acrobatic catches
  • Outstanding at back-shoulder throws and can make catches in traffic
  • Dependable and the hardest worker on the team, per the Arizona State coaching staff

Cons

  • Still somewhat raw and learning to play the position, especially in route running
  • Long strider who takes time to build up to speed
  • Doesn’t display much suddenness or twitchiness
  • Forced to make a lot of contested throws because of a lack of separation
  • Shows an adequate feel for finding soft spots in zone coverage

Other possibilities:

Byron Jones, CB UCONN – Jones has recently been skyrocketing up some boards after his impressive combine. The Eagles sent a large group up UCONN’s Pro-Day including Chip Kelly. If the Eagles go CB at 20, the perception is it will most likely be for Jones. Jones is a freak athlete, which seems to be theme for players Chip is interested in, and would fit what the Eagles look for in a CB. But Eagles can always draft him in the second round!

Arik Armstead, DE Oregon – Like Jones, Armstead is a freak athlete. Currently the Eagles are stacked at DE, but with Cedric Thornton currently on a one year contract, it wouldn’t be too much of stretch to see the Eagles selecting Arik. Plus, Oregon Bias.

Kevin Johnson, CB Wake Forest – 3 year starter at Wake Forest, Johnson is an explosive, tall CB.

Jake Fisher OT, Oregon – Hasn’t been linked to the Eagles, at least not yet, except the fact that he plays OL and went to Oregon. I see him more likely an early-mid 2nd round pick.

Noteworthy Links and Articles:

SI.com Story on Jaelen

BGN Pre-Draft Visit Story

PE.com Meet the Prospect

SBNation Breakdown

Breakdown of Routes by Bolts from the Blue

Draft Breakdown Videos

SNAPGOD: Jaelen’s community program in Philadelphia

2015 BGN Mock Draft Order

1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (slickpablovick) - Jameis Winston, QB, FSU - [Explanation]
2) Tennessee Titans (mchiodo) - Leonard Williams, DE, USC - [Explanation]
3) Jacksonville Jaguars ("Snax") - Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, UF - [Explanation]
4) Oakland Raiders (kylebruneault) - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - [Explanation]
5) Washington Redskins (BigTimeTMZ) - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - [Explanation]
6) New York Jets (4thand26) - Kevin White, WR, WVU - [Explanation]
7) Chicago Bears (rohan915) - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson - [Explanation]
8) Atlanta Falcons (GMinTraining) - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington - [Explanation]
9) New York Giants (Grandpapa Joe) - Landon Collins, S, Alabama - [Explanation]
10) St. Louis Rams (deg0ey) - Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa - [Explanation]
11) Minnesota Vikings (ablesser88) - Trae Waynes, CB, MSU - [Explanation]
12) Cleveland Browns (djcunningham) - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - [Explanation]
13) New Orleans Saints (del.champion) - Shane Ray, DE, Mizzou - [Explanation]
14) Miami Dolphins (drc242) - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU - [Explanation]
15) San Francisco 49ers (SleepingDuck) - Randy Gregory, OLB, NU - [Explanation]
16) Houston Texans (JaviYL) - La'el Collins, OT, LSU - [Explanation]
17) San Diego Chargers (StoneColeKiller58) - Bud Dupree, OLB, UK - [Explanation]
18) Kansas City Chiefs (jimmyrustler) - Andrus Peat, OT, Standford - [Explanation]
19) Cleveland Browns (NowWhat?) - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas - [Explanation]
20) Philadelphia Eagles (sports00fan00) - Jaelen Strong, WR, ASU - [Explanation]
21) Cincinnati Bengals (Zach_The_Gamecock) -
22) Pittsburgh Steelers (KJ Brophy) -
23) Detroit Lions (KamiKazeJEDI) -
24) Arizona Cardinals (ItownBallers22) -
25) Carolina Panthers (AndyMcNabb) -
26) Baltimore Ravens (dceagles) -
27) Dallas Cowboys (kamjam) -
28) Denver Broncos (WubbaLubbaDubDub) -
29) Indianapolis Colts (ei78) -
30) Green Bay Packers (Nka727) -
31) New Orleans Saints (SwoopThereItIs) -
32) New England Patriots (naderg43) -