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Eagles Mock Draft Roundup: Justin Jefferson is the favorite but there’s a dark horse rising

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Mock draft madness.

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College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft is merely 40 days away! Unless it gets postponed, that is. In any case, let’s pass the time until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles taking with the No. 21 overall pick.

Establish The Run (Evan Silva) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Greg Ward is not a bankable long-term guy. Justin Jefferson is very similar to Michael Thomas, in my opinion.

NFL.com (Charles Davis) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

His faster-than-expected 40 time at the combine (4.43 seconds) opened eyes, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will be eager to draw up plays for him from the slot and outside. And that cheering you hear in the background is from QB Carson Wentz.

CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles have obvious needs on defense, but Jefferson punctuated a fantastic season with an impressive combine and firmly put himself in the first-round conversation with his 4.43 40 time in Indy. He’s a monster in the slot but can play outside too.

CBS Sports (Josh Edwards) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Tiger has landed...with the Eagles. Jefferson is a viable deep threat option for Carson Wentz. Philadelphia probably needs to take another wide receiver or two before the weekend closes.

Sports Illustrated (Kevin Hanson) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Carson Wentz became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards without a 500-yard wide receiver as the team’s wide receiver corps was decimated by injuries. The trio of Alshon Jeffery (10), DeSean Jackson (three) and Nelson Agholor (11) played only 24 games in 2019. Jefferson has outstanding hands, ran a better-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.43) and is coming off a prolific season (111/1,540/18) for the national champions.

USA Today (Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

After coming up empty on an assortment of options at wide receiver, Philadelphia above all else needs someone reliable. A trustworthy target who showed off impressive athleticism at the combine, Jefferson fits the bill as a receiver who can be relied on to win contested catches and keep the passing game rolling.

Pro Football Network (Andrew DiCecco) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Jefferson gives quarterback Carson Wentz a consistent, dependable possession target that thrives from the slot; the LSU pass-catcher has a good feel for spacing and knows how to get open. Without much to speak of in terms of reliable pass catchers, it is likely that the Eagles come out of this draft with a pair of wide receivers.

NBC Sports Philadelphia (Dave Zangaro) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

In my first-round mock last week, I had the Eagles taking Jefferson in the first round and I’m going to stick with that here. Maybe he’s not with the top trio of CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III but he’s close. I’d almost include him in that group. Sure, maybe his best work has come in the slot but Jefferson, to me, is a versatile enough player to play inside and outside. There was a thought Jefferson might slip to the late first round but he had a really good combine. Running a 4.43 at 6-foot-1 is really solid and he looked great in the field drills as well. Sure, Jefferson was on a dynamic offense in college. His college quarterback is about to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, his passing game coordinator took an NFL offensive coordinator job and his fellow receiver Ja’Marr Chase will probably be a top 10 pick next year … but when the games mattered most, Jefferson came up huge. Check out his numbers down the stretch: SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia: 7 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD ... Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal) vs. Oklahoma: 14 catches, 227 yards, 4 TDs ... CFP National Championship vs. Clemson: 9 catches, 106 yards ... Jefferson has it all and would be a big addition for the Eagles in 2020.

NJ.com (Matt Lombardo) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles desperately need a wide receiver, and to continue building the talent pool around quarterback Carson Wentz. Jefferson’s wide catch radius, ability to pull down contested passes, and tendencies as a possession receiver would make him an ideal red-zone target for Wentz and an upgrade over Alshon Jeffery.

Pro Football Focus (Eric Eager) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

This is a position of need for the Eagles, and luckily the draft is deep enough at the position for the Eagles to get some value on the outside for Carson Wentz. With DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Chark Jr. as two of his comps, he projects as the all-around player at the position the team has lacked since Jeremy Maclin left for Kansas City in 2015.

CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Mims’ meteoric rise lands him inside the top 25 with a team in desperate need of speed and play-making ability at wideout.

DraftTek (Broz) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

According to the old saying, the only thing certain in life is death and taxes. Well, you can add “the Eagles will draft at least one WR in the first two rounds of the 2020 Draft” to that mix. Unless Chase Young slides to 21, Jeff Okudah makes it to 53, and a world-wide bacon famine is unleashed caused by pigs everywhere learning to fly, then you can hang your hat on the fact that the Eagles will be heading into RD3 with at LEAST one WR already in the fold. It’s not crazy for your tight end to lead your team in receptions. It’s pretty freakin’ weird when your NUMBER TWO tight end is second on your team, and your RB is third. If you’re scrolling down the NFL Receptions leader list, and you’re 80 names deep and you still haven’t seen a WR for your team pop up, you know your WRs suck. Luckily, this isn’t just a good WR draft class...it’s an historic one. A quick disclaimer for this CMD: if Henry Ruggs III is available at 21 (as he is in this week’s mock) the Eagles will take him. I didn’t select him this week, because I want to concentrate on players that I think will actually be available at 21, and I don’t think Ruggs will be. I’ll also say that I think the Eagles most likely choice would be Justin Jefferson, but I’ve already profiled him numerous times, so I thought it was time to explore a WR not often projected to the Eagles: Baylor’s Denzel Mims . Mims was not a highly ranked recruit out of high school. However, with 2,925 career receiving YDS and 28 TDs, Mims quickly became “The Guy” at Baylor. At the Senior Bowl, Mims really made some money for himself by showing his game translated against the nation’s best players. Mims was already known for his impressive size and sideline catches, but when he clocked a 4.38 40 at the Combine, Mims finally entered the RD1 conversation. I think Jefferson will end up being the pick in April, however with the Eagles’ need for a fast, outside #1 WR, the riskier but potentially more rewarding Mims is an option.

For The Win (Henry McKenna) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

His production in a pass-happy offense in the Big 12 is fairly impressive (66 catches, 1,020 yards, 10 TDs), but Mims’ combine performance proved his athleticism is an outlier. He’s physically gifted enough dominate in the NFL. He’s so good on the sideline with stop, go and back-shoulder routes. He’ll need to develop to win on other routes.

Eagles Addict (Dave Stoessel) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

It seems that after the top 3 receivers in Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs, everyone’s 4th guy is a variation of Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Reagor, Mims or even Tee Higgins and Laviska Shenault Jr. I’m taking Mims here, but I believe Jefferson will be given serious consideration by the Eagles. I think the Eagles will be choosing between Jefferson and Mims, I just give the edge to Mims based more on potential. Mims lit the combine up by running a 4.38 40, a 6.66 three-cone, a vertical of 38.5″, and a broad jump of 131″. Jefferson is probably more pro-ready, but Mims has the higher ceiling.

SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

This week’s surprise mock draft winner is the Eagles. If Ruggs doesn’t go to the Broncos at No. 15, there’s a chance he slips this far. In fact, if he falls past Denver, Philadelphia should consider a slight trade up. Ruggs is the exact type of speedy receiver the Eagles need in their offense.

Moving The Sticks (Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

BROOKS: Don’t pick yet. It’s Howie Roseman and I have a trade proposal for you. How about swapping No. 16 and No. 21 for my 3rd (No. 85) and 4th (No. 127)? [...] JEREMIAH: I love that pick for the Eagles. Good trade.

NFL.com (Bucky Brooks) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The Eagles need more speed on the outside. Ruggs is a burner — he ran the fastest 40-yard dash of this year’s NFL Scouting Combine at 4.27 seconds — with outstanding hands and ball skills.

NFL Draft Countdown (Scott Wright) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The most pressing need for Philly by far is speed and playmaking ability on offense so Ruggs would be an absolutely perfect fit. Ruggs will immediately be one of the fastest players in the league with legitimate 4.2 speed. With wheels like that it should come as no surprise that Ruggs is a big play waiting to happen, averaging almost 18 yards per catch and putting the ball in the end zone once every four receptions over the course of his college career. Ruggs isn’t just a vertical threat though and has the makings of a well-rounded weapon, including the ability to create after the catch plus the toughness to work all over field and even contribute on special teams. Ruggs isn’t always mentioned in debates about who top wide receiver prospect in this class is but belongs in that discussion with Crimson Tide teammate Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeCee Lamb.

CBS Sports (Pete Prisco) - CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

He could easily go before Ruggs, but I think Ruggs is a better fit for the Broncos and Lamb would be a great add for Carson Wentz.

CBS Sports (R.J. White) - CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

The depth at receiver in this class has caused the teams in the top 13 to focus on other positions, so when we get to the Bucs and no receivers are off the board, the Eagles package No. 21 with 85 and a fifth-round pick to jump the Broncos for Lamb, who can raise the ceiling of Philly’s passing attack.

Iggles Blitz (Tommy Lawlor) - Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

The Eagles would love to get one of the Bama guys (Ruggs or Jeudy), but I’m guessing they are gone. Carson Wentz needs weapons. Aiyuk doesn’t have elite speed, but he did run 4.50 at the Combine and you see plenty of speed when you watch him on tape. Aiyuk averaged 18.3 yards per catch in 2019. Some of that was on downfield catches, but he was also excellent at adding RAC yards onto short and intermediate passes. That has been a weakness for the Eagles in recent years. Aiyuk is also a return specialist and could help in that area as a rookie. Is he worth pick 21? That’s the complicated part of this scenario. Jim Nagy, who runs the Senior Bowl, said that some teams have Aiyuk graded higher than N’Keal Harry, who was a first rounder last year. We have no idea if the Eagles are one of those teams. We do know Aiyuk is the kind of weapon the Eagles would love to have on the roster. He reminds me a bit of a more physical version of Jeremy Maclin. Justin Jefferson ran a faster 40, but when I watch the game tape, Aiyuk sure looks like the more explosive player. You don’t see a lot of guys catching him from behind once he’s out in space. Aiyuk isn’t a polished receiver, but he is a weapon, something the passing game lacked in 2019.

Stampede Blue (Andrew Aziz) - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Offensively, the Eagles are in good shape and they have a strong defensive line, so that essentially narrows it down to linebacker and secondary. The Eagles have had issues in their secondary the last few years, so this pick is not only good value but it fills a big need. Fulton played an aggressive style at LSU, which fits in well with Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme.

The Draft Network (Kyle Crabbs) - Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles need to boost their pass catchers for franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, but the depth at wide receiver this year makes passing early on an easier pill to swallow. The secondary, especially at cornerback, could use a boost too. Jeff Gladney’s quick trigger and combative play mesh well with the Eagles’ archetype at cornerback.

Bleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan) - A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

Given the available players, it seemed smart to draft an impact player like AJ Epenesa. Epenesa would work into the rotation immediately for Philadelphia and help add youth to the Eagles defensive line.

The Draft Network (Trevor Sikkema) - Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

TRADE: Philadelphia sends Nos. 21, 85 and 173 for Tampa Bay’s No. 14. You thought this was going to be a trade up for a cornerback or a wide receiver, didn’t you? Well, instead it’s for a monster in the middle next to Fletcher Cox.

RealGM (Jeff Risdon) - Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Queen can step right into Jim Schwartz’s defense as the sideline-to-sideline pursuit backer with lightning-quick reactions. A defense that values speed and consistency will appreciate Queen, and that’s the Eagles.

94WIP (Eliot Shorr-Parks) - Grant Delpit, S, LSU

The Eagles would love to land one of the top-three receiver prospects in this year’s draft. To do so they will have to trade up into the top 15, and that shouldn’t be ruled out. If they don’t trade up and stick at No. 21, however, Delpit makes a ton of sense for a team that could be losing both of their starting safeties and have not really invested in the position in years. Delpit can do it all and projects to be the next stud secondary player from LSU. He could be used to replace Rodney McLeod next season if he leaves in free agency, as he has experience playing the single-high safety role and has the athleticism to be a playmaker in that role. What makes Delpit such a special prospect is his versatility, which will definitely be catching the Eagles’ attention if they need to replace Malcolm Jenkins. Delpit spent time in man coverage as a slot cornerback last season and in the box, playing at a high level in both roles. Chances are the Eagles will have either Jenkins or McLeod back next season. The chances both are back feel slim. Delpit projects not only as a player that can eventually replace either, but can also contribute right away in a number of different roles.

SUMMARY

WR Justin Jefferson - 9
WR Denzel Mims - 5
WR Henry Ruggs III - 4
WR CeeDee Lamb - 2
WR Brandon Aiyuk - 1
CB Kristian Fulton - 1
CB Jeff Gladney - 1
DE A.J. Epenesa - 1
DT Javon Kinlaw - 1
LB Patrick Queen - 1
S Grant Delpit - 1

WR - 21
CB - 2
DE - 1
DT - 1
LB - 1
S - 1

Offense - 21
Defense - 6

THOUGHTS

Mims scouting report from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:

Mims is a long-striding outside target with excellent height, weight and speed and an insane catch-radius. He’s a touchdown threat anytime he’s near the red zone, with the focus and body control to finesse and finish catches above the rim. He struggles to release and separate from physical press corners, and he doesn’t consistently compete and outwork opponents for positioning on contested catches. If the route work and intensity catch up with his natural athletic ability, he could become a dangerous “Z” receiver in a vertical offense, but the floor might be lower than some teams are comfortable with.

I think the Eagles will find themselves more comfortable selecting Jefferson than Mims. They’ll think the former has a higher floor.

  • Side note: Jefferson turned 21 in January while Mims turns 23 in October.
  • There are still scenarios with Ruggs falling to the Eagles’ first-round pick. One can always dream.
  • If Lamb falls to No. 21 — and he won’t — the Eagles should be sprinting to the podium. Awesome player. Should they trade up for him? I mean, it’s hard to be mad at the idea of him on the team. But I do think the cost will be prohibitive.
  • Javon Kinlaw is my favorite non-wide receiver target for the Eagles. Don’t think he’ll make it to their pick but maybe he could be this year’s Andre Dillard.