The 2020 NFL Draft might seem far away but it’ll be here before you know it. Mock draft season has already begun and there’s no shortage of opinion as to whom the Philadelphia Eagles could select with the No. 21 overall pick. Let’s take a look at which players the experts have the Eagles taking in this week’s roundup.
Fake Teams (Pete Rogers) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
I love this pick too much to ever change it. Remember when DeSean Jackson was healthy for those two games and Carson Wentz was just casually tossing him bomb after bomb downfield? Ruggs would instantly add explosion to the Eagles depleted receiving core.
NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Speed! The Eagles are focused on getting faster this offseason, and Ruggs is the most explosive player in the draft.
Sports Illustrated (Kevin Hanson) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
Given the depth at receiver in this year’s draft class, one of the best in recent memory, it’s possible some of them get pushed down a bit. A top-12 prospect on my big board, Ruggs would provide the Eagles with the vertical element their passing attack has lacked. A legitimate threat to the NFL combine’s 40-yard dash record, Ruggs scored on one of four touches over his collegiate career.
Fox Sports (Jason McIntyre) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
At this point, their primary needs are receiver, and then secondary would be a distant second. We all saw how Philly’s skill players fared in 2019, after all ...
ESPN (Mel Kiper) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Philadelphia has to upgrade at wide receiver — its two top pass-catchers in 2019 were tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert — and the depth and talent in this class could set up perfectly for the Eagles to have several options here. At 6-foot-4, Higgins is the biggest wideout of the first-round talents, a jump-ball specialist and touchdown machine (25 the past two seasons). He’s not super explosive like Lamb, Jeudy or Ruggs, but he’ll box out cornerbacks in the red zone and pick up first downs, not unlike Alshon Jeffery, who struggled to stay on the field this season. The Eagles would have liked more from second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in Year 1, and I still like his upside, but Higgins has No. 1 receiver talent. As is always the case for Philadelphia, this is another spot to watch for an edge rusher.
The Draft Network (Joe Marino) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
The receiving corps the Philadelphia Eagles featured at the end of the season was … something. Even if DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery come back healthy, they are aging, and it’s hard to imagine Nelson Agholor re-signing. It’s time to solidify the wide receiver corps for Carson Wentz and Tee Higgins would be a great fit. His blend of size and vertical receiving ability blends well with the offense and how the Eagles would like to attack defenses.
CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Dream come true for the Eagles, a team starved to inject more youth and talent to its receiver group.
CBS Sports (Josh Edwards) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Philadelphia is hopeful that Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb or Higgins fall to their pick. All three are accomplished downfield threats, which the Eagles need to replace their likely offseason losses.
SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Speaking of receivers with star potential, the Eagles could get a steal with a receiver like Shenault. In most years Shenault would be a top-15 pick or higher. But with this draft being loaded at the position, teams will get lucky in the middle of the first round.
DraftTek (Broz) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
Well Eagles fans, Draft Season is finally upon us. Once we wrap up a few minor details and technicalities (Super Bowl), we can finally get down to the important stuff: pretend drafting!!! The first rule in the Hippocratic Corpus states: “Before thou can heal a man, thou must knowest what ails the man”. No need to look that up for fact-checking purposes...trust me, it’s in there. So, what ails the Eagles? This stat says it all: Carson Wentz is the first QB in NFL history to eclipse 4,000 pass yards without a WR reaching 500 receiving yards. So obviously, WR is the most glaring area of need. Remember this, though: the Eagles won a Super Bowl on the backs of their O-Line and D-Line...it’s their identity, and they’d be wise to not let momentary weaknesses in less-important areas keep them from constantly solidifying those units. If a talented pass rusher or DT slides, they should take him. In this week’s CMD, I found myself in an awkward spot. Still on the board were Higgins, Ruggs, and Delpit. Higgins is the guy I want to like, that everyone else seems to like, but I just can’t make myself like. Every WR class has a bust, and he’s my candidate to be that guy this year. I do like Ruggs; however, he was never “The Guy” at ‘Bama. I like Delpit’s game, but college safeties are so hard to project unless they’re Top 5 kind of guys (which Delpit is not). Most of these RD1 WRs look like skinny kids who are still maturing...but not Laviska Shenault. He’s a grown-ass man. At 6’2” and 220 lbs, he’s got an NFL-ready frame and isn’t afraid to bang heads with anyone. He was The Guy at Colorado, and might be the only Buffalo who’ll get drafted. Here his coach fawns over him, calling him “Julio Jones, but bigger” (perhaps a bit optimistic). He’s a playmaker everywhere on the field; however, the main concern with him are injuries. Luckily, the Eagles have a top-notch medical staff.
Pro Football Network (AJ Schulte) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
The Eagles wide receivers were completely decimated by injuries and inconsistent play all season long, which makes it a bit of a risk giving them a player who has had a few injuries in college. However, Shenault is the most talented wide receiver available and would be a star playmaker for the Eagles, especially if the rumors come true about the hiring of USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell for the same position.
CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Eagles were hobbled by injuries in the secondary all season and Fulton, who would have been in the first-round conversation had he declared a year ago, remains one of the best cornerbacks in this class.
Draft Countdown (Scott Wright) - CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The most pressing need for Philly is speed and playmaking ability on offense, but Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III is the best fit and he’s already off the board. Fortunately wideout is the deepest position in this class and they should be able to address it on Day 2. Instead the Eagles turn their attention to the defense and a problematic secondary, which could use an infusion of talent at both cornerback and safety. Henderson has everything you want from a size, speed and athleticism standpoint but his physicality leaves something to be desired and he wasn’t much of a playmaker for the Gators. In fact, he didn’t record a single interception during his final season in Gainesville. Henderson has all the tools to be a high-level starting cover guy at the next level though and that is exactly what the Eagles are searching for.
The Athletic (Bo Wulf) - Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
I know, you want a wide receiver, and so do I. But the only wide receiver in Mobile who has any possible first-round traction is Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk, who didn’t practice because of a failed physical, so he’s not eligible for this exercise (but you can joke that the injury makes him a perfect fit for the Eagles). It’s probably a consensus that Kinlaw is the highest-rated non-quarterback practicing this week, and there’s a good chance he’ll be off the board before the Eagles are scheduled to pick at No. 21. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler ranked Kinlaw 10th in his pre-Senior Bowl top 100. But those rankings are early and fluid, and an early run on quarterbacks and wide receivers could push Kinlaw down the board within the Eagles’ reach. I’m on the record as believing defensive tackle is the second most-likely position the Eagles could address in the first round, because even though cornerback is a more dire short-term need, I expect them to address it in free agency. They can’t afford to enter the draft needing to rely on a rookie corner to start, whereas they are unlikely to address the defensive tackle position with a starting-caliber veteran after signing Malik Jackson last season. Jackson and Fletcher Cox will be 30 and 29, respectively, next season. The Eagles need a young, impact player at the position, which is theoretically what Kinlaw would provide. At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Kinlaw was dominant through two days of practice before shutting things down for the week. He had six sacks and six tackles for loss as a senior at South Carolina. Here’s what Brugler wrote about Kinlaw: “Entering his senior season as a projected top-20 pick, Kinlaw didn’t disappoint in his final collegiate season and has a legitimate chance to land in the top 10. He looks like an NFL player with his broad-shouldered frame, length and explosive quickness to be a homewrecker on the interior.” Pairing Kinlaw with Cox would then give the Eagles a pair of homewreckers at defensive tackle.
NFL Draft Diamonds (Damond Talbot) - Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Though everyone knows that Philly has a large addressable need at wide receiver, the remaining first round talents do not fit their offensive scheme. With a receiver class as deep as this one, the Eagles are able to wait until later rounds to draft one and can attempt to fix their secondary; another position of need. Philly’s defensive backs were absolutely manhandled this season, allowing the second most plays of forty yards or more (15) in the league. As a safety, McKinney recorded 95 tackles for Alabama this year, proving that he can be reliable a factor in containing those big yardage plays.
WR Henry Ruggs III - 4
WR Tee Higgins - 4
WR Laviska Shenault - 3
CB Kristian Fulton - 1
CB CJ Henderson - 1
DT Javon Kinlaw - 1
S Xavier McKinney - 1
WR - 11
CB - 2
DT - 1
S - 1
Offense - 11
Defense - 4
- Always interesting to see the mocks that former Eagles scout and Howie Roseman’s friend Daniel Jeremiah puts out. Him and three others think Ruggs can fall to Philly at No. 21. It’d sure be great if they were right. Ruggs is exactly what this team needs. He’s The Chosen One. (DJ is being pretty generous since Ruggs is No. 14 on his big board.)
- Higgins is a reach pick based on where multiple boards have him. He’s outside of Kiper’s top 25. He’s Jeremiah’s No. 29 prospect. BGN’s Benjamin Solak has him No. 98 over at The Draft Network. Not the ideal fit or the right value for the Eagles at No. 21.
- Kinlaw had a great week at the Senior Bowl and might not be there when the Eagles pick. Defensive tackle isn’t an immediate need but both Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson will be over 30 this season. Cox is coming off the second lowest sack total of his career while Jackson is coming off a season where he barely played. Jackson is also two seasons removed from being benched and then cut.
- The Eagles sure have a big need at safety with Malcolm Jenkins demanding a raise and Rodney McLeod set to be a free agent. Would they draft one on Day 1? They’ve never drafted a first-round safety who then played exclusively at that position for them. The Roseman era Eagles haven’t drafted a Day 2 safety since Jaiquawn Jarrett (yikes) in 2011.
- Who is your favorite for No. 21?