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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Eagles’ most popular pick is split between two wide receivers

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Mock draft madness.

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

The 2020 NFL Draft is merely 47 days away! Let’s pass the time until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles taking with the No. 21 overall pick.

Fake Teams (Pete Rogers) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Jefferson did wonders for his draft stock at the combine, running a 4.44 40 and showing out in the on-field drills. The Eagles desperately need receiver help and Jefferson can play inside and outside for them, and would quickly become another young offensive weapon to pair with Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders.

ESPN In$ider (Todd McShay) - 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.

NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles need to give QB Carson Wentz more weapons.

Touchdown Wire (Mark Schofield) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

As someone who co-hosts an Eagles’ podcast (titled The QB Scho Show with Michael Kist on Bleeding Green Nation Radio – check it out) I can tell you that Eagles fans are looking for the team to address two needs this off-season: secondary help and wide receiver. The thinking of Jefferson here is two-fold. First, it does seem like Byron Jones might make a move to Philadelphia, which would give the Eagles a top-flight cornerback to address a big hole they have on the defensive side of the football. Second, when both Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson addressed the media last Tuesday, one thing was clear: They need to help Carson Wentz and get him weapons. Pederson also said that all teams were looking for “speed” in the upcoming draft. They get that from Jefferson. The LSU receiver was dominant out of the slot last year for the Tigers, but with his impressive 40-yard dash time and his size, he could be used in a variety of roles in the NFL. With questions swirling about the status of Alshon Jeffrey, the health of DeSean Jackson, the development of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and the rest of the WR room, the Eagles give Wentz a guy who can step in and contribute on day one in a variety of roles. In addition, Jefferson’s experience last year in Joe Brady’s offense will give him a boost coming in and learning Pederson’s system.

CBS Sports (Pete Prisco) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

He lit up the combine and the Eagles have a major need at the position. I think they address corner in free agency.

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

Jefferson has been WR4 for me behind CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Philadelphia and Buffalo need wide receiver help so it would make sense for there to be a mini-run on the position. Jefferson high points the football and possesses elite body control.

Rotoworld (Hayden Winks) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Philly’s two glaring holes are at corner and receiver, but I think Jefferson is too good to pass up with the top two CBs (Okudah, Henderson) long gone. Jefferson had awesome college production, showed 68th percentile Adjusted SPARQ athleticism, and was one of the better interviewers at the Combine. You can read my early scouting report and statistical eval on Jefferson here.

The Athletic (Bo Wulf) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

It will be hard for Howie Roseman to go anywhere in Philadelphia if this scenario plays out and he fails to trade up for Ruggs, the speedster who has fascinated a fan base starved of speed for two seasons, minus one brief DeSean Jackson appearance. But in this mock draft, we were too late on responding to the Raiders’ calls for a trade, and so instead, there are several ways the Eagles could go here. They could take the draft’s first safety — Alabama’s Xavier McKinney would be the eventual Malcolm Jenkins replacement while LSU’s Grant Delpit would fit in as the deep player in Jim Schwartz’s defense. Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson is also tempting. But the Eagles are likely to address both positions in free agency and they’re unlikely to solve their wide receiver issues before late April so Roseman pulls the trigger early on a wide receiver in a deep class at the position after memorably failing to do so with running backs in 2017 (you can watch Donnel Pumphrey play in the XFL, though) and defensive line in 2019. Then the question becomes: which wide receiver do the Eagles fancy as the best behind the clear top three? Colorado’s Lavishka Shenault has juice with the ball in his hands but has injury issues. Clemson’s Tee Higgins is a contested catch specialist which makes him sound like a rich man’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. TCU’s Jalen Raegor and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler have the requisite speed but each has questions about productivity and/or size. So it’s Jefferson, who can play inside and outside and excelled at the highest level of college football. They think he’s their safest bet.

NJ.com (Mike Kaye) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles land the top remaining wide receiver in the draft, and he’s a perfect fit for Doug Pederson’s offense. While Jefferson (6-1, 202 lbs.) did most of his damage from the slot at the college level, he can play the X-receiver role in 12 personnel looks. When the Eagles deploy three receivers on offense, Jefferson can man the slot and be quarterback Carson Wentz’s best friend. Jefferson projects as a more athletic version of Keenan Allen, quicker and faster than the Pro Bowl receiver but with similar size and hand reliability. The LSU playmaker could be a bulk-catcher very early in his career, especially from the slot, allowing tight end Zach Ertz to be moved around like a chess piece.

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

The top three receivers are already off the board but Jefferson is no consolation prize. His name is closer to those top three than the guys who will follow him. Jefferson crushed the combine, running a 4.43 at 6-1, 202 and he looked great in the field drills. And it’s not like that doesn’t match the tape. He was really a really good player at LSU. Sure, he had a lot of great players around him but the last three games of his college career were incredible. Against Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson, Jefferson caught 30 passes for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Inside The Birds (Andrew DiCecco) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles land a pro-ready pass-catcher to grow with Carson Wentz. Jefferson, a polished receiver with exceptional college production, is poised to become a reliable security blanket at the next level. Known for his elite body control and coming down with contested catches, Jefferson has an innate feel for spacing while working from of the slot. Though not nearly as effective as a perimeter threat, the former LSU standout does possess some inside-outside versatility, but is at his best in the slot.

Bleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

To say this is a dream scenario is an understatement. Henry Ruggs III is a draft darling of Philadelphia fans everywhere and that was before he turned the NFL Combine into his personal playground. 4.27 second 40-yard dash, 42 inch vertical, 132 inch broad jump… Those numbers are Herculean, even for a player everyone expected to do well. Ruggs III making it to pick 21 seems like a fantasy at this point, but hey I won’t argue with the simulator.

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

The Eagles need more speed on the outside. Ruggs is a burner with outstanding hands and ball skills.

CBS Sports (Will Brinson) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

I am actually required by Mock Draft Law to give the Eagles Henry Ruggs at this spot.

CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Ruggs *only* managed a 4.27 40-time at the combine. This isn’t why he “falls” to 21st here, but again, he’s a victim of a run on other players and positions with not nearly the depth. But this is great news for the Eagles, who need help on defense but will find it hard to pass on Ruggs here.

CBS Sports (RJ White) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Trade up to Miami Dolphins’ pick at No. 18. The Eagles’ receiving corps was decimated by injury last year, and Ruggs give Carson Wentz an absolute burner to stretch the defense and let the rest of their talented pass-catchers work underneath. They sacrifice a fourth-rounder to make this move up the board.

Sports Illustrated (Kevin Hanson) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Projected trade: The Eagles send the 21 and the 53 pick to the Falcons for the 16 overall pick. Last year, Carson Wentz became the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards without a 500-yard wide receiver, as the Eagles’ receiving corps was decimated by injuries. The trio of Alshon Jeffery (10), DeSean Jackson (three) and Nelson Agholor (11) played only 24 games in 2019. Few players can match the 4.27 speed of Ruggs, who scored on one of every four career touches at Alabama, and he would provide that field-stretching element they expected when they brought back D-Jax.

Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The Eagles need more speed, quickness and big-play ability at wide receiver with Alshon Jeffery fading, DeSean Jackson aging (and hurting) and Nelson Agholor leaving. Ruggs (5-11, 188 pounds) fits the bill as a field-stretcher who also can use his route-running skills to win on shorter routes.

PennLive (Daniel Gallen) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Hey, what do you know, Ruggs falls down to No. 21 even after he ran the 40 in 4.27 seconds last week. This is a bit of a surprise in this exercise, but Ruggs would give the Eagles much-needed speed and a big-play threat to grow alongside Carson Wentz.

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

The two most common players being projected to the Eagles these days are WRs Henry Ruggs III and Justin Jefferson. Jefferson’s 2019 production (111 REC...1,540 TDS...18 TDS) compare favorably to Ruggs’ production over his entire career (98 REC...1,716 YDS...24 TDS over three years). However, after Ruggs totally Mamula’ed the Combine, it’s highly unlikely Ruggs makes it past 15, much less to 21. After watching Ruggs on the field all year, I was not surprised at all when he ran a roadrunner-esque 4.27 40 at the Combine. He uses every bit of that speed on the field effectively. The two measurements that did surprise me a bit: 1) his 42.0 inch vertical jump, and 2) his 10 1/8” hands. He also looked a bit more solid in his track digs than I expected. Doug Pederson seemed ECSTATIC while watching Ruggs run; however unless he wants to trade a good chunk of his draft to get him, Eagles fans should probably start deciding whether they want their Jefferson jerseys in green or white.

Radio.com (Jesse Pantuosco) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

All the cool kids are mocking Ruggs to the Eagles, so why fight it? The question is whether Ruggs actually makes it to 21 or if he goes sooner after blazing an otherworldly 4.27 at the Combine.

EagleMaven (Ed Kracz) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

I’m done overthinking it and have come around, at least for now, believing the Eagles will take a receiver in this spot. Two raised their draft stock quite a bit during the Combine. Mims is one, the other is LSU’s Justin Jefferson. Most of Jefferson’s damage last season came in the slot, so I’m going with the outside threat in Mims, who is 6-3, 207. He ran a 4.38 in the 40 with a nice vertical leap of 38.5 inches. He has never returned punts or kicks but I’m not going to hold that against him. Besides, that skill will arrive later in this mock draft.

Mile High Report (JoRo) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

The Eagles have perhaps one of the more loaded rosters in all of football and so it does make some sense that they’d want to try and trade up to get Henry Ruggs. They have $41 million in space and so it’ll be interesting to see what Howie Roseman does over the next couple weeks.

Pro Football Network (Brad Kelly) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Philadelphia needs to upgrade their wide receiver core after a disastrous and injury-riddled 2019 at the position. They could use both a field-stretcher with speed and a boundary presence to replace Alshon Jeffery, so how about a prospect that can do both? Denzel Mims, fresh off his 4.38s 40-yard dash, is known for expanding his catch radius and making preposterous receptions along the boundary. After his performance at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, he’s put himself into the first round conversation.

The Athletic (Dane Brugler) - Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

The Eagles need an influx of speed and Aiyuk offers just that. An NFL scout said: “That home run acceleration is a nightmare. I’ll be crossing my fingers and toes that he doesn’t end up in our division.”

Yahoo! Sports (Eric Edholm) - Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

I could see the Eagles trying to trade up to land Ruggs, as deep speed is a huge void in this offense. Aiyuk — even with a good-but-not-great 40 time of 4.5 — is a fascinating substitute. He could be tremendous on deep balls with his acceleration and outstanding length (a stunning 81-inch wingspan).

LA Times (Sam Farmer) - Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

This draft is rich with receivers, so the Eagles might wait. But they need a burner like Aiyuk who can stretch a defense.

Blogging The Boys (Connor Livesay) - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

The secondary issues in Philadelphia have been an issue for years. Ronald Darby’s time in Philadelphia looks to be coming to an end, and the development of Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby, and Jalen Mills has been rather disappointing. Kristian Fulton provides excellent coverage abilities on the boundary, and offers solid athleticism at the position. Fulton helped himself with a very solid combine, and would fit in well in Jim Schwartz defense as they look to revamp the secondary.

The Draft Network (Trevor Sikkema) - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

TRADE ALERT: Philadelphia Eagles give No. 21, No. 117 ... Dolphins give No. 18 ... With Okudah and Henderson already selected, the Eagles will be staring at the board with Las Vegas and Jacksonville picking in front of them and both have cornerback needs. It shouldn’t take much for them to jump three spots. The price would be worth it to get a true man coverage player like Kristian Fulton.

DraftWire (Luke Easterling) - Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

Count the Eagles among the teams that would likely be calling about a move up the board for Ruggs, but if that can’t happen, don’t be surprised if they prefer the value at corner here, hoping the depth of the receiver class rewards their patience on Day 2. Similar to Henderson, Fulton is a big, athletic corner who shut down tons of NFL talent in the SEC on a weekly basis, and has all the traits pro teams are looking for in a No. 1 cover man.

Rotoworld (Josh Norris) - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

That one game with DeSean Jackson was really fun, Philadelphia. The plan with the veteran vertical threat was clear - but unfortunately all of the eggs went into one basket. In this situation the Eagles could go with Jerry Jeudy (more refinement) or Reagor (a rocket ship). Reagor’s athletic profile is very similar to DK Metcalf, minus four or so inches in height.

Arrowhead Pride (Kent Swanson) - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

An athletic freak with high upside and explosive-play potential.

NFL.com (Chad Reuter) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Adding another playmaker to the receiver corps is a high priority for the Eagles.

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

The Eagles won’t let the bad season from J.J. Arcega-Whiteside stop them from picking a big, ball-skills specialist in Higgins. The Clemson star has more speed and yards-after-the-catch ability anyway.

USA Today (Nate Davis) - Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

He is dynamic with the ball in his hands and would be a nice weapon for a Philly receiving corps depleted by injuries in 2019. Naturally, Shenault needs surgery to address a core muscle problem but should be ready long before training camp. And he ran at the combine anyway, so people in the City of Brotherly Love would love his toughness.

Music City Miracles (Justin Melo) - CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Boy, the Eagles really need a wide receiver. Scratch that, wide receivers. Lamb is an exciting play-maker that’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He could drastically improve the Eagles passing attack in 2020.

SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

There was plenty of speculation from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah during the combine broadcast that Henderson is a top-15 pick. If he happens to drop to this range, the Eagles should snag him. Philadelphia has multiple free agent cornerbacks, and Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones just haven’t developed as expected.

The Ringer (Danny Kelly) - Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

Johnson has a sturdy frame with long arms. The second-team AP All-American plays with plenty of patience in press coverage, avoiding opening his hips too early or false-stepping to let a receiver get by him. He uses a two-handed jam to disrupt wideouts and throw off timing routes. He’s extremely physical inside of 5 yards, and relies on his quick feet and oily hips to transition from a backpedal to a trailing position. Johnson has a good feel for passing off and taking over coverage responsibilities in zone looks, and has proved comfortable in multiple techniques, whether he’s playing tight press coverage or giving a cushion in off looks, when he’s good at reading a quarterback’s eyes and breaking on passes. Johnson surrendered a passer rating of 52 in coverage at Utah, per Pro Football Focus, and allowed only 44.6 percent of the targets thrown his way to be completed. He gave up three touchdowns on 944 coverage snaps. He showed off ball-hawking talent as well, picking off six passes and breaking up another 15 between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He can play over the slot at times, and is a notably strong tackler.

NFL.com (Cynthia Frelund) - Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama

I am sure I will hear from Eagles fans who desperately want a wide receiver here, but Diggs’ size and versatility at the corner position create more wins for 2020. His 42.3 completion percentage allowed in coverage in 2019 was the second-lowest in a pass-happy SEC (according to Pro Football Focus).

The Draft Network (Carter Donnick) - Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

The Eagles have massive holes in the secondary and McKinney can essentially fill any of them. Extremely versatile, his “swiss-army knife” type of game makes him an asset in nearly all facets.

PhillyVoice (Jimmy Kempski) - A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

We’ll call this version the one where all the receivers worth taking in the first round are gone, and Epenesa is the kind of guy who you know they’ll like. To begin, he’s a DE, and the Eagles like those, seeing as they’ve drafted at least one of them in each of the last 9 drafts. But also, Epenesa was very productive in college, registering 22 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 6 batted passes, and 30.5 tackles for loss the last two seasons. He managed 11.5 sacks in 2019, despite being the focus of the opposing offense’s attention. While I believe that the Eagles will shy away from college production players at some positions after some failed picks, like Donnel Pumphrey, for example, they still believe that players who get sacks in college get sacks in the NFL. Epenesa has great size and power, who wins with hand fighting and bull rushes, and who finishes at the quarterback whose those opportunities present themselves. As expected, Epenesa didn’t wow anyone during his Combine workouts, running a 5.04 40. However, you can see that he does have some explosiveness when the pads go on. The Eagles have their starters in the aging Brandon Graham, and Derek Barnett. They also have a slew of guys after them in Josh Sweat, Genard Avery, Shareef Miller, Joe Ostman, and Daeshon Hall, none of whom would prevent me from taking a worthwhile DE with some inside versatility. Anything other than wide receiver in the first round will no doubt disappoint a large number of Eagles fans, which is understandable, but I can absolutely see them going defensive line if the cost to trade up is too prohibitive and the value of the available players at 21 just isn’t there.

Pro Football Focus (Austin Gayle) - Jordan Elliott, DT, Missouri

Interior defensive line isn’t a pressing need for the Eagles this offseason, but Elliott is a player the team should want if he falls to No. 21 in April’s draft. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Missouri product led all qualifying interior defensive linemen in overall grade (91.1) this past season. His first step and hand technique are among the best in the class. He wins in one-on-one situations at the line of scrimmage with great consistency and should offer value as an interior pass-rusher early in his NFL career.

SUMMARY

WR Justin Jefferson - 11
WR Henry Ruggs III - 10
WR Denzel Mims - 3
WR Brandon Aiyuk - 3
CB Kristian Fulton - 3
WR Jalen Reagor - 2
WR Tee Higgins - 2
WR Laviska Shenault - 1
WR CeeDee Lamb - 1
CB C.J. Henderson - 1
CB Jaylon Johnson - 1
CB Trevon Diggs - 1
S Xavier McKinney - 1
DE A.J. Epenesa - 1
DT Jordan Elliott - 1

WR - 36
CB - 6
S - 1
DE - 1
DT - 1

Offense - 36
Defense - 9

THOUGHTS

  • Jefferson to the Eagles at No. 21 is really gaining steam. He was only projected to Philly once in our last roundup. Jefferson is a pick I can realistically envision happening. The Eagles have clearly struggled to draft and develop receivers during the Howie Roseman era. With that in mind, they might want to bet on the receiver profile that seems unlikely to bust. Jefferson checks a number of boxes; he tested well at the NFL Combine, he was very productive for a national champion, he only turned 21 earlier this year, he has the versatility to play inside and outside ... need I say more? Jefferson isn’t the pure burner the Eagles must acquire this offseason but they can sign a free agent (Breshad Perriman?) to help in that regard. In addition to speed, the Eagles need to add some receivers who are actually good. Jefferson seems like a safe bet in that regard. He’ll be able to regularly get open and be a security blanket for Carson Wentz, not unlike Zach Ertz.
  • The common sentiment is that there’s no chance Ruggs will make it No. 21. I know I wouldn’t bet on him being there. With that said, there continue to be a number of mock scenarios that DO have Ruggs falling to Philly. So, again, maybe it’s not so impossible? The trade up to No. 18 to get ahead of Las Vegas and Jacksonville is probably the highest I can see the Eagles moving up to try to acquire Ruggs.
  • There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Mims, who’s previously been thought of as a Day 2 guy, going in the first round. The Baylor product has had a really good pre-draft process.
  • Glad to see Higgins to the Eagles isn’t as popular as it previously was. I’m even more out on him after his decision to skip the 40 at the NFL Combine. There were questions about his speed coming into Indy and he decided to rest because he had a long season having played into the national championship. Funny, because Jefferson didn’t need to rest despite playing just as long. I look at Higgins’ decision not to run as he’s got something to hide.
  • Thanks to our Tennessee Titans fan friends who have Lamb falling to the Eagles. A dream come true.
  • The cornerback and safety picks for the Eagles will only die down after the team makes some signings at those positions in free agency.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to select?