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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Trade up for Isaiah Simmons among Eagles’ projected scenarios

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Mock draft madness.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL Draft is merely 60 days away as the NFL Combine starts this week. Let’s pass the time until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles taking with the No. 21 overall pick.

ESPN (Mel Kiper) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

I just like the fit with Higgins in Philadelphia, as he has great size (6-4) and elite ball skills, boxing out defenders to high-point the ball on sideline routes. We know all about the Eagles’ problems at receiver last season, so this fills a massive void. If Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson can stay healthy — and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can take a leap in Year 2 — this position could go from a weakness to strength. Safety is another position to keep an eye on in Philly, with Malcolm Jenkins’ unhappiness (and age — 32) and Rodney McLeod potentially leaving in free agency.

CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

This is too perfect. Higgins provides the Eagles with a deep threat and just so happens to be around 6-foot-4 with immaculate ball skills.

CBS Sports (Josh Edwards) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Philadelphia, in desperate need of some pass-catchers, drafts Higgins, a gifted player, and hope that he can stay healthy.

USA Today (Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Philadelphia’s stagnant deep passing game should be reinvigorated by the addition of a 6-4, 215-pound target who averaged 19.8 yards per catch last year.

DraftWire (Luke Easterling) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Injuries ravaged Philly’s receiving corps this season, and exposed a sever lack of depth. That should be easily remedied this offseason, thanks in large part to an extremely deep class of pass-catchers. Higgins has a rare combination of size, length, ball skills and body control, and would give Carson Wentz a true No. 1 target.

SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Somehow, Carson Wentz managed to throw for 4,039 yards last season while his top wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery, had 490 yards. That’s kinda odd. And yes, the Eagles have arguably the best tight end duo in the NFL with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. And running back Miles Sanders is an effective pass catcher. But the addition of a player like Shenault could lead Wentz to going from a 4,000-yard passer to a 5,000-yard passer.

The Draft Network (Benjamin Solak) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

It’s no secret that I’m a big Laviska Shenault fan, but the bigger secret in Philadelphia is that it may have exactly zero 2021 starting receivers from its current 2020 roster. With rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside struggling to find the field, Alshon Jeffery looking like an eventual cap casualty once his figure goes down and DeSean Jackson yet to prove he’s back healthy, the receiving corps needs an overhaul something fierce. Enter Shenault, who can line up anywhere and win with a simple route tree early given his dominant athletic ability and quality hands away from his frame. He makes a lot of sense as well if Jeffery and Jackson are healthy. Shenault can win as an underneath player whose best trait is his yards-after-catch ability. That’s where Shenault is truly dominant.

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, if used properly.

Sports Illustrated (Kevin Hanson) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Carson Wentz became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards without a 500-yard wide receiver. The trio of Alshon Jeffery (10), DeSean Jackson (three) and Nelson Agholor (11) played only 24 games in 2019. Built more like a running back than a wide receiver, Shenault flourishes in the open field due to his strength, size, burst, vision and elusiveness.

NFL.com (Chad Reuter) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Ruggs could become the new DeSean Jackson-type deep threat for the Eagles’ offense.

DraftTek (Broz) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

If you’re an Eagles’ fan, there’s a few big “What Coulda Been”s you’ve had to live with over the years. What if Randall had played for a smart offensive coach that knew how to use him, and surrounded him with talent? What if T.O. and McNabb had like, you know, not acted like 12-year-old girls, and instead spent the next five or six years terrorizing the league? What if the Patriots hadn’t stolen our signals in Super Bowl 39? One of my personal favorites to stew on as I’m doing penance and scourging my own back with a Reggie White Green Bay jersey, is “what coulda been” had former Eagles’ coach and uber-dork Chip Kelly not sent WR DeSean Jackson packing six years ago in one of the most idiotic moves in franchise history? Five years of his prime were lost. He was the most dangerous deep threat in NFL history, and there’s zero doubt that DJax would’ve shattered all Eagles’ receiving records had he not foolishly been released. ”What coulda beens” are easy. “What should be”s are a bit harder. Every Eagle fan agrees the team needs speed in their WR corps. MOST fans feel that ‘Bama’s Henry Ruggs III is the guy that should bring it, partially because he reminds them of a young DJax. There’s been several small, crazy-fast deep threats drafted over the last 10 years. DJax, Brandin Cooks, Tavon Austin, John Ross, and Hollywood Brown are the most similar to Ruggs. All but Ross had major college production their last two full years (Cooks 2,900 yds/23 TD...Austin 2,500 yds/27TD). All were mid-4.3 forty guys. Ross was a 4.2 guy (like Ruggs is purported to be), but his production was much lower than the other guys, much like Ruggs’ is. Of that group, only DJax has ever made a Pro Bowl. Cooks has had a fine career, and Brown was just drafted, but Austin and Ross simply haven’t panned out. When you look at the history of smaller receivers, it just emphasizes how lucky the Eagles got when they drafted DJax, and how irresponsible it was to let such a unique player go.

CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

The Eagles were hobbled by injuries in the secondary and they’ll aim to fix that in the offseason. Henderson is long, fast and athletic and while he hasn’t been quite as productive this season, he has all the traits NFL teams look for in lockdown CBs.

Baltimore Beatdown (Jake Louque) - CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

It feels like the Eagles have a perpetual need at cornerback, with injuries and poor depth just ravaging them at that position over the last few years. It’s time for Howie Roseman to look at his analytically minded principles again and begin to rebuild his defense from the secondary down. Henderson has been a ball hawk since his early days suiting up for the Gators and would add some intimidation factor into an Eagles defense that was getting shredded by the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick at one point in 2019. Wide receiver is another (pretty obvious) need here, but Henderson lines up as the best option currently available in my book.

The Ringer (Danny Kelly) - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Reagor is a muscled-up pass catcher with a compact frame that’s built for the NFL. His track background is apparent on tape―he’s a smooth athlete with incredible explosiveness in the short area and the top-end speed to take the top off a defense. The junior pass catcher made Bruce Feldman’s preseason “Freaks List” thanks to his incredible weight-room prowess, including a 620-pound squat, a 380-pound bench, and a 380-pound clean. For context, Saquon Barkley and his tree-trunk quads squat 650 pounds. The Horned Frogs star has some drops on his tape, but at 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, he’s surprisingly adept at going up and making tough catches away from his body in traffic, displaying good high-point timing and concentration to reel balls in. Reagor is a shifty return man with jitterbug quicks that help him find daylight, and averaged 20.8 yards per return on punts in 2019. His receiving numbers were anything but jaw-dropping in 2019 thanks in part to subpar quarterback play, and his 43 catches for 611 yards and five touchdowns represented a disappointing dropoff from the season prior, when he posted a 72-catch, 1,061-yard, nine-touchdown line while adding 170 yards and two scores on the ground. But context for Reagor’s statistical setback is important: As a team, TCU’s offense netted just 2,444 passing yards and 15 total passing touchdowns in 2019―giving Reagor a 25-percent yardage share and 33-percent touchdown share of that unit.

NFL.com (Charley Casserly) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

It became quite evident down the stretch last season: Philadelphia needs more juice in its receiving corps.

CBS Sports (Pete Prisco) - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Their corner position was a disaster last season and their starters are all free agents. This is a need in a big way for the Eagles.

Bleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan) - Grant Delpit, S, LSU

With different options available than last week, I decided to pick up another blue chip defensive player. Safety isn’t a pressing need for the Eagles, but it’s hard to pass up on a versatile playmaker like Delpit when the Eagles desperately need some young talent in their secondary.

NJ.com (Mike Kaye) - Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

The Eagles wanted to be aggressive here. Still, the price to trade up for a wide receiver was too steep for their liking. The Eagles want to get younger, so sending two or three premium picks elsewhere to move up seven spots didn’t make sense for them. With Rodney McLeod likely to leave in free agency and Malcolm Jenkins wanting a new deal, the Eagles decide to get younger at safety with a talented defensive back from a winning program. Whether Jenkins sticks around or not, McKinney is a phenomenal new piece to the defensive puzzle for the Eagles.

The Draft Network (Joe Marino) - Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

Trade terms: Philadelphia Eagles acquire No. 10 overall; Cleveland Browns acquire Nos. 21, 53, 117 overall and 2021 third-round selection. The Eagles were viewed as a Super Bowl contender entering the 2019 season and injuries severely derailed that from becoming a reality. While every year presents a new team and new challenges, many of the reasons Philadelphia was perceived so favorably are still in place. But the Eagles have some holes to fill and Nigel Bradham’s recent release created significant concerns with the Philadelphia linebacker corps. In a deal similar to that of its cross-state rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers last year to move up for linebacker Devin Bush, the Eagles follow suit in this scenario and secure an elite defensive talent. Simmons is a true Swiss Army knife and can play all over the back seven and serve as a matchup neutralizer. His blend of size, length, speed and processing skills give him the upside to become one of the most unique defensive playmakers in the league.

SUMMARY

WR Tee Higgins - 5
WR Laviska Shenault - 4
WR Henry Ruggs III - 2
CB CJ Henderson - 2
WR Jalen Reagor - 1
WR Justin Jefferson - 1
CB Kristian Fulton - 1
S Grant Delpit - 1
S Xavier McKinney - 1
LB Isaiah Simmons - 1

WR - 13
CB - 3
S - 2
LB - 1

Offense - 13
Defense - 6

THOUGHTS

  • This roundup marks the first time in a few weeks that Ruggs isn’t the Eagles’ most popular pick. Most mocks obviously have him going before No. 21. That is, except Kiper’s mock, which has the Eagles passing on him in favor of Higgins. Crazy.
  • I’m interested to see how Higgins performs at this week’s Combine. Specifically want to see his 40 time. The stats portray him as an explosive play-maker but there are questions about his speed.
  • Shenault to the Eagles is gaining some more momentum. The injury history is a concern. I like his versatility but I do wonder how his game will translate to the NFL after being force fed so often in college.
  • “Possession receiver” and “chain-moving catches” are used in Jefferson’s scouting report on NFL.com. A perfect fit for the Eagles’ 2018 and 2019 bog offense.
  • I still think the Eagles don’t go corner in the first since they’ll likely be addressing that spot in free agency.
  • Can’t see the Eagles giving trading up 11 spots to draft Simmons. He’s an intriguing prospect due to his versatility. Jim Schwartz might like him considering the way he seems to prefer hybrid safety/linebacker types. But the Eagles’ front office just doesn’t highly value that position in relation to others. On a related note, BGN’s Benjamin Solak offered some interesting thoughts on Simmons in the latest Kist and Solak Show podcast.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to select?