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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Early look at Eagles options

Which player do you want Philadelphia to pick?

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Alabama v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Eagles’ position in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft has yet to be determined. What we do know is that they can pick as high as No. 3, as low as No. 10, and quite possibly somewhere between. All depends on what happens with their Week 17 game against the Washington Football Team and if the Birds can get some help (or not) elsewhere.

While we must wait to see exactly where the Eagles will pick, it’s not too early to get an initial look at their potential options (as if you haven’t already been looking at draft prospects throughout the season). And so here’s a mock draft roundup to pass the time.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

That’s right, Smith is the first wideout off the board. He isn’t our WR1 (yet) but he could end up winning the Heisman. More importantly for the Eagles, he plays much (much much) bigger than his listed 175 pounds (and he’s probably not even that heavy) and because he’s so polished as a player, he’s a Day 1 contributor in the NFL.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer)

The Eagles took a wide receiver in the first round in 2020 (Jalen Reagor) but they need a true dominating big-play No. 1 in the vein of DeAndre Hopkins or Stefon Diggs. Smith has picked up from he left off last season to become Heisman Trophy-worthy. He has 98 catches for 1,511 yards and 17 TDs in 11 games this season.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — DraftTek (Broz)

After 15 games, the Eagles have finally been eliminated from contention for the NFC East crown. The fact that it took 15 weeks for a four-win-team to be eliminated from playoff contention speaks to just how bad this division is this year, possibly the worst in NFL history. The Eagles have gotten some good looks at some young players these last few games, notably QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts has been good enough to show that he at least deserves to play in this league. On the field with uniform and helmet on, Hurts looks, moves, throws, and runs very similarly to Dak Prescott. Whether or not Hurts can reach Prescott’s level over the course of multiple seasons remains to be seen. With just one game left in this horrid season, the Eagles have but ONE task they need to accomplish: don’t blow it and win this last game. If the Eagles win, their draft position will plummet, probably down to the area where they’ll need to be satisfied with drafting the second- or third-best corner. Now, the Eagles DO need corners (along with everything else); however, if they lose this last game, they could potentially be picking as high as third. This is important, because if BYU’s Zach Wilson’s stock keeps rising, picking third could put the Eagles in position to receive one of those sweetheart QB trade deals that can turn a franchise around much quicker than it would normally take. This scenario is really the best thing any Eagles fan could hope for at this point. At this point in time, the QB hype isn’t at full steam, and as trades aren’t allowed here, the Eagles will have to stick-and-pick in this week’s CMD. In the 22 years that the AP has been giving out the Player Of The Year Award, no wide receiver has ever won it...until ‘Bama’s DeVonta Smith did it this year. Smith tallied 98 receptions, 1511 YDS, and 18 TDs in 2020, and displayed the kind of skill that have some wondering whether he might edge out Jamarr Chase for the first WR drafted.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUFOX Sports (Jason McIntyre)

The Eagles have needs all over the place, from OL to LB to DB. Allowing 500+ yards in Weeks 15 and 16 to Kyler Murray and Andy Dalton has the arrow pointing to cornerback here, but it could be a long offseason in Philadelphia – and it’s too early to tell who is safe, starting with the Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz. Chase is a big-time talent who would become WR1 in Philly very quickly.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (Austin Gayle)

The Eagles are somewhat screwed at the quarterback position. Even if they draft as high as sixth in the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s likely the top three quarterback prospects (Lawrence, Wilson, Fields) are already off the board. They’re also still tied to veteran Carson Wentz’s monster contract unless they can find a trade suitor in the offseason. And while rookie Jalen Hurts has shown flashes of competence as the team’s starter, he’s still one of the lowest-graded quarterbacks over the past three weeks (Weeks 14-16) and largely a project at the position. Hurts and Wentz will likely duke it out in camp to compete for the starting nod just to play for an offense that lacks depth and high-end talent across the board. Targeting one of the best non-quarterbacks in the draft at higher positional value than off-ball linebacker (sorry Micah Parsons stans) at No. 6 overall makes the most sense for Philly. Waddle is arguably a better receiver prospect than Henry Ruggs III was coming out of Alabama in 2020. An explosive, dynamic athlete, Waddle ranks inside the top five in yards per route run (3.64) and yards after the catch per reception (11.5) over the past two seasons.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

Pitts is so much of a matchup nightmare he may go in the top 10, and getting Jalen Hurts a towering, pass-catching specialist at tight end would be a smart idea.

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia TechDraftKings Nation (Collin Sherwin)

He opted out of the 2020 season, but the ball-hawking Hokie is still the most talented option available at this position. It’s just a matter of how long it will take him to get back to game-ready in 2021, but Farley can do everything you need from a shutdown corner. He’s got coverage skills and can stay step-for-step with X’s and Z’s in both man or zone schemes.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — Pro Football Network (Dalton Miller)

This young man is as solid as they come. Surtain is mature beyond his years technically. His physicality at the line mixes brutality and control, and his ability to get and remain in phase is impressive. There is little question that he will be a pro for a long time. He isn’t the high-end prospect guys like Jeffrey Okudah or Denzel Ward were, but Surtain going inside the top 10 in a class devoid of blue-chip talent is still a win.

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State — The Draft Network (Kyle Crabbs)

If the Eagles end up committing to Jalen Hurts this offseason, his athleticism and mobility can help gloss over some of the offensive line issues in Philadelphia. With the Bengals jumping them to ensure landing Sewell, Philadelphia can shift their focus elsewhere. And the Eagles would benefit in this case from avoiding the offensive arms race and nailing down arguably the best defensive prospect eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. Philadelphia’s linebacking group is in sorry shape—and the sell of Micah Parsons as a local prospect to step into the middle of the Eagles’ defense and thrive behind a strong Philadelphia defensive line should be an easy one.

SUMMARY

WR DeVonta Smith - 3
WR Ja’Marr Chase - 1
WR Jaylen Waddle - 1
TE Kyle Pitts - 1
CB Caleb Farley - 1
CB Patrick Surtain II - 1
LB Micah Parsons - 1

WR - 5
CB - 2
TE - 1
LB - 1

Offense - 6
Defense - 3

THOUGHTS

  • This is admittedly a very basic take but the Eagles should focus on finding a total star, almost regardless of position. They can’t get so caught up in “fit” and “need” like they did when they selected Jalen Reagor last year. They must do their best to add an elite-level talent to their lacking roster.
  • BGN’s Ben Natan recently wrote an in-depth profile on Smith. Hard not to like a prospect who’s putting up big-time production in the SEC (well, it is for Howie Roseman since he passed on Justin Jefferson) and the first college wide receiver to ever win AP Player of the Year. It could be nice for the Eagles to finally have an actually good receiver.
  • My sense is that Chase is the most popular option among Eagles fans. But they’re probably going to need to get higher than their current spot at No. 6 overall in order to land him. So he might be a pipe dream. BGN’s Ben Natan also recently wrote about him.
  • Wonder if the Eagles might think Waddle is redundant with what Reagor could be. But if I were them, I wouldn’t let Reagor prevent me from drafting someone to potentially replace him.
  • I get that Pitts is pretty dynamic for a “tight end” but come on.
  • The Eagles certainly need an answer at cornerback across from Darius Slay. I don’t love trying to find the solution so high in the draft because that resources would be better dedicated to improving the offense. If the guy is a total shutdown stud, then we can talk.
  • Unless there’s a massive regime change, just can’t see a linebacker being the Eagles’ first-round pick.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?