Now that the 2020 NFL Combine is over, it’s the perfect time for a new round of mock drafts.
Todd McShay previously had the Philadelphia Eagles taking Henry Ruggs III in each of his first two projections. Now the ESPN draft analyst has the Eagles taking a new wide receiver in Version 3.0 with Ruggs going off the board to the Denver Broncos at No. 15. Here’s the pick:
21. Philadelphia Eagles — Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Only the Ravens had fewer receiving yards from their wide receiver corps than the Eagles, and Greg Ward Jr. was the No. 1 option at the end of the 2019 season after injuries downed Philadelphia’s top three outside weapons. Alshon Jeffery isn’t getting any younger, and Nelson Agholor is a pending free agent. The Eagles’ 27-year-old quarterback Carson Wentz is in his prime and has no one to throw to outside the numbers. Jefferson posted 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, looked great at the combine and has a high-end ability to find pockets in coverage and generate separation.
Jefferson was dubbed as one of the “winners” of this year’s Combine. BGN’s Michael Kist wrote as much following last week’s wide receiver workouts:
The slot specialist with no discernible holes in his game checks another box by clocking an unexpected 4.43 40-time. At 6’1”, 202 pounds, the sure-handed Jefferson led the nation in slot receptions and yards and represents a high-floor, dependable target that could hear his name called as early as late round one.
Indeed, Jefferson boasts an elite athletic profile:
Justin Jefferson is a WR prospect in the 2020 draft class out of Louisiana State.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) February 28, 2020
He posted an elite #RAS with good size, elite speed, great explosiveness, at the WR position.https://t.co/JItM4089u9 pic.twitter.com/n0fNE5jPPG
Spider graph via Mockdraftable:
McShay isn’t the only draft analyst linking Jefferson to Philly. Former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah also has him as the pick at No. 21:
The Eagles need to give QB Carson Wentz more weapons.
Jeremiah was talking about Jefferson as an Eagles target even prior to the LSU receiver’s showing at the Combine.
I think Justin Jefferson has got a chance to be a high, high volume slot receiver a lot like Keenan Allen, can fill that role, can work in traffic. He’s really good down in the red zone. He led this entire draft class with touchdowns down in the red zone this year at 12. So, he’s a point producer and he would be a great fit for them.
The book on Jefferson seems to be that he’s a low-floor, high-ceiling prospect. I’m of two minds (or hands?) when it come to him.
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.
In terms of how realistic the pick is, I think Jefferson will be on the Eagles’ radar (note: the team did use one of their 45 Combine interviews on him). He checks a number of boxes, including their affinity for college production. Jefferson logged 165 receptions for 2,415 yards (14.6 average) and a whopping 24 touchdowns in his final two years at LSU.
I’m open to the idea of the Eagles taking Jefferson at No. 21. The bottom line is they need more good receivers and he seems to be one of those. The trio of Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, and a significant free agent addition (Breshad Perriman?) is a starting configuration that intrigues me. Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and/or another rookie receiver could round out the position for 2020.
What say you?
Grade Todd McShay’s pick of Justin Jefferson to the Eagles at No. 21
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