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Mel Kiper’s third mock draft has the Eagles taking one of seven first round wide receivers

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The right fit for Philly?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Oklahoma vs Louisiana State Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the first wave of free agency is over, it’s time for some updated 2020 NFL mock drafts.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper is back with a new mock for the first time since the awful one he put out back in February. You know, the one that had the Eagles passing on Henry Ruggs III in order to draft Tee Higgins at No. 21?

This time around Kiper has the Eagles taking a different wide receiver. Here’s the pick:

Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Philadelphia addressed its hole at cornerback by trading for Darius Slay. The next hole that needs to be filled is at wide receiver, where Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson had injury-plagued 2019 seasons and rookie second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside struggled. That resulted in a tough year for Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ offense, although they still went 9-7 and won the NFC East. Since this is a deep class of wide receivers, the Eagles should come out of the first round with their guy. Jefferson, who caught 111 passes from Joe Burrow last season, is a great fit.

I’m running out of new thing to say about Jefferson, who is clearly the most popular pick for the Eagles in mainstream mock draft simulations right now. I previously wrote about him at length when Todd McShay also mocked Jefferson to Philly earlier this month:

On one hand, the Eagles desperately need any help they can get at receiver. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor — two starters from 2019 — aren’t likely to return. The Eagles need to acquire starting talent and Jefferson figures to be able to contribute right away. It seems like he could be unlikely to bust since he has no obvious holes in his game. And that profile could be attractive to a team like the Eagles that’s struggled to successfully draft and develop receivers since Howie Roseman first came to power in 2010. Jefferson won’t be the dynamic deep threat the Eagles must acquire but he’ll at least be an effective contributor in the offense.

On the other hand, drafting Jefferson doesn’t satiate the Eagles’ need for a true burner. Perhaps the team can acquire that type of speedy player in free agency or later in the draft. If they don’t, though, that would be pretty frustrating. I don’t love the idea of only adding another receiver to the Eagles that best fits in the team’s garbage brand of bog offense. These descriptions from Jefferson’s NFL.com scouting report don’t leave me enthused: “[...] contested-catch focus [...] failed to stand out as an outside target [...] decent speed and separation talent [...] possession receiver [...] chain-moving catches.”

On the bright side, this description makes me think Jefferson could kind of be Carson Wentz’s wide receiver version of Zach Ertz. That’s to say, a reliable go-to target. Such a player would be even more useful in the intermediate passing game if there’s a player to actually take the top off the defense and open up room underneath. Jefferson has some level of explosive ability himself but it’s not his calling card.

It should be noted that Jefferson is just one of seven receivers going off the board in Kiper’s mock. Here’s an overview of all the receiver picks:

I sense there’s a sentiment among Eagles fans that they would rather have Mims — who has really shot up during the pre-draft process — than Jefferson. But I think the team is going to value Jefferson’s floor more highly than Mims’ ceiling.

Poll

Which wide receiver should the Eagles draft at No. 21?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Justin Jefferson
    (1816 votes)
  • 27%
    Denzel Mims
    (803 votes)
  • 11%
    Tee Higgins
    (327 votes)
2946 votes total Vote Now

To this point, the Eagles haven’t done anything in free agency to address the receiver position. It’d be really nice if they signed one of either Breshad Perriman or Robby Anderson. Doing so would give the team another veteran deep threat in addition to DeSean Jackson, who is coming off core muscle surgery and turns 34 this season.

If for some (dumb) reason Howie Roseman foregoes adding a veteran receiver, the team will really be counting on a rookie or two to make a significant impact in 2020. That seems like an inadvisable strategy for a number of reasons. For starters, Roseman has admitted receivers can take time to develop. Adjusting to the NFL could be even more challenging than usual due to the potential absence of offseason practices this year. This isn’t to mention the Eagles having to draft for need and merely hoping the receiver that they want falls to them.

But if the Eagles really are counting on instant impact from a rookie, well, Jefferson could be the guy who best fits the bill. Of course, that’s assuming he’s even still on the board, which isn’t a lock. Former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah has Jefferson ranked at No. 14 overall on his big board. Other teams could similarly value him higher than expected.

What do you make of Kiper’s latest pick?

Poll

Grade Mel Kiper’s pick for the Eagles taking Justin Jefferson at No. 21

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    A
    (533 votes)
  • 48%
    B
    (1049 votes)
  • 19%
    C
    (420 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (91 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (68 votes)
2161 votes total Vote Now