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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Eagles trade up for Justin Jefferson

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Mock draft madness.

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College Football Playoff National Championship - Media Day Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft is only 11 days away! Let’s pass the time in quarantine together until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles selecting with the No. 21 overall pick.

SB Nation (Dan Kadar) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

TRADE: The Eagles trade pick Nos. 21, 103, and 127 to the Falcons for pick No. 16 ... This trade is somewhat similar to the one between the Seahawks and Packers last year, when Green Bay traded three picks to move up from No. 30 to No. 21. This is a slightly sweeter deal because it is a higher pick. Philadelphia could be compelled to trade up from No. 21 to land the wide receiver it needs.

Bleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

After a couple weeks of fighting it, I have come around on Justin Jefferson in midnight green. I have never ever thought Jefferson was a bad player, but I thought drafting a slot receiver in the first doesn’t exactly fit what Philly needs. However, Jefferson is *so good* as an intermediate receiver in terms of his cerebral ability to attack zone coverage, his soft hands and his fantastic YAC ability. Jefferson’s speed and size out of the slot combined with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert in the middle of the field would make the Eagles intermediate passing game dangerous.

NFL.com (Adam Rank) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

I’m going to have to ask you to avoid the temptation to jump up when some of those receivers start flying off the board earlier in the draft. You’re going to be fine just sitting back and waiting for your guy. Jefferson is a player I really like. And why him over a guy like, say, Tee Higgins? That’s a fair question. Jefferson is an ace route-runner. Being in that LSU offense with Burrow and OC Joe Brady has him NFL-ready. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up as the top rookie receiver given the circumstances he would be walking into here.

TouchdownWire (Doug Farrar) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

This week, my esteemed Touchdown Wire colleague Mark Schofield went under the hood on Jefferson’s game, revealing in an outstanding article that while the LSU product played 870 snaps in the slot and just five outside in the 2019 season, there’s more to his game than the ability to be a slot weapon. Not that it matters much for the Eagles, who are just hoping to get any part of the M*A*S*H* unit their receiver corps became last season back at a high performance level. Jefferson would be an outstanding fit in Doug Pederson’s offense because he us truly versatile, he gets how to exploit coverage openings, and as long as he’s not facing a ton of press coverage (which is where the slot thing comes in), he could be a productive asset from Day 1.

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

Philadelphia’s top three receivers (entering 2019)—Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor—missed 24 games combined games last year. Agholor is now a Raider, Jeffery’s future in Philly is uncertain and second-rounder J.J. Arcega-Whiteside underwhelmed as a rookie. Jefferson has outstanding ball skills, ran a faster-than-expected 40-yard dash (4.43) and is coming off a prolific season (111/1,540/18) for the national champions.

Sports Illustrated (Matt De Lima) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles tried to address the WR position last year by adding DeSean Jackson and drafting J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. I think the position still needs help and Jefferson would fit nicely in the slot.

CBS Sports (R.J. White) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

With receiver as their clear biggest need, the Eagles might not be able to wait until Round 2 to address the position if they want to land a player who can quickly develop into a reliable weapon. I’m not sure they have the draft capital to move up for a top-three guy after the Darius Slay trade though.

CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Instead of moving up for a consensus top receiver, the Eagles stay patient and still get Jefferson.

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

They have to get help at receiver. Jefferson would add some much needed speed to a group that has questions.

CBS Sports (John Breech) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Carson Wentz needs some offensive help in Philly, so the Eagles decide to add Justin Jefferson.

FOX Sports (Jason McIntyre) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The worst kept secret in the bottom half of the first round is the Eagles need a receiver. The Alshon Jeffery situation is troubling. The local media claims he’s complaining to reporters about Carson Wentz. If he’s cut before June 1st, the remaining receivers are injury-prone DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a converted college QB (Greg Ward) and some practice squad guys. They’ll probably draft two receivers.

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

For a while now, Jefferson has been the most popular name for the Eagles with the 21st pick and for good reason. He’s a good receiver, but not considered to be one of the top three in the class. His value lines up right around where the Eagles will be picking. The big question about Jefferson (6-1, 202) is whether or not he’ll be able to play outside at the next level. It’s a valid question and there’s legitimate concern about that. So if the Eagles wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a slot receiver in the first round, it’s going to take some projecting on their part to make the pick. And with a team that has prioritized 12 personnel in recent seasons, maybe the Eagles simply want to find a player they can play outside. But, to me, Jefferson is just a really good receiver and I’m not as bothered by his lack of playing time outside. If we’re worried about giving Carson Wentz a reliable weapon, Jefferson fits that mold, even if he’s working inside most of the time. He can still be a game-changer working from the slot.

The Athletic (Zach Berman) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

This is not the most original projection, but it’s impossible to ignore because of the marriage of value and need. There was considerable Jefferson discussion in this week’s wide receiver article with Bo and Sheil Kapadia (along with the “Birds With Friends” episode). Jefferson would be a strong pick — a capable receiver who immediately upgrades the offense, can help in Year 1 and checks many of the boxes the Eagles seek. The questions with Jefferson are whether the 21-year-old can be productive on the outside and in the slot, and what his ceiling would be for the Eagles. Is he Keenan Allen or Jordan Matthews? Both outcomes would improve the Eagles, but only one gives them a long-term No. 1(-ish) receiver.

DraftTek (Broz) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

As the Eagles’ writer, I was desperately trying to get away from spot #21, as I feel this is real “No-Man’s-Land” territory. First, I tried hard to move up with the Jets, 9ers, Falcons, and even the stinkin’ Cowboys to land Lamb, Jeudy, or Ruggs...but was outbid or rejected every time. Then, once that tactic failed, I tried to bail out of RD1 completely and gain an extra RD3 pick. Denied again. After all, when players #18 to #40 are all of similar talent, what’s to motivate a team to trade up? So, shackled to Pick #21, I played it safe and took WR Justin Jefferson (24TDs, 2,415 YDS in two years). His detractors say “He’s just a slot WR”. Remember: Just because his 13 games out wide as a 19-year-old kid in 2018 were pedestrian doesn’t mean NFL coaches can’t take his plus athleticism/reliable hands and mold him into a legit outside threat. Besides, my RD2 pick goes quite nicely with this one.

Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles took care of cornerback in free agency by trading for Darius Slay, so they can focus on wide receiver here even with Ruggs off the board. Jefferson (6-1, 202 pounds), with massive production catching passes from Joe Burrow, emerged in LSU’s passing game as a quick, efficient route-runner with good hands. He also has underrated speed.

Stampede Blue (Andrew Aziz) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Mims is another undervalued player who should go in the 20s. He also gives the Eagles a player who can eventually replace Alshon Jeffery.

CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Philly needs to get Carson Wentz better weapons and few players are more explosive than Mims, who showed out at the Senior Bowl and the combine.

CBS Sports (Patrik Walker) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

An aging DeSean Jackson presents continued durability concerns, and the issues with Alshon Jeffery aside, the Eagles need a receiver who can be the future turbo at the position. Mims could give them what they were hoping for when they re-signed Jackson.

Pro Football Network (Neal Driscoll) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

While Denzel Mims is a solid player at a position of need, this had to be a worst-case scenario for the Eagles. Regardless, the Eagles must upgrade the wide receiver position to provide Carson Wentz ample weapons.

Sports Illustrated (Dr. Roto) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Mims has shot up everyone’s radar with his impressive run blocking ability. His ability to run various routes will endear him to Carson Wentz.

Sports Illustrated (Conor Orr) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

With multiple fourth-round picks and some flexibility prior to that, the Eagles make an ideal trade partner for the 49ers, who could be looking to get more cracks at the top 100. The Eagles, meanwhile, may want to grab their man before the run on premium wide receiver talent dries up. Ruggs’s incredible speed gives the Eagles exactly what they were missing a year ago.

DelawareOnline (Martin Frank) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Trade with Atlanta: The Eagles will move one pick ahead of Dallas to get Ruggs, who ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash, and who had touchdowns on one-quarter of his touches while in college. The Eagles will give up their pick at No. 21 and their third-rounder, along with a fourth-rounder in 2021. It’ll be worth it.

TheScore (Daniel Wilkins) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The 49ers should be looking to move back and recoup a few mid-round picks, and Philadelphia capitalizes on the opportunity to go up and get the receiver who can take the Eagles’ offense to the next level. Ruggs’ big-play ability gives him as high a ceiling as any playmaker in this draft.

Pro Football Focus (Steve Palazzolo) - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

The Eagles don’t have to force a receiver in the first round, but Reagor adds a vertical threat to the offense to open up the downfield passing attack for quarterback Carson Wentz. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is nearing the end of his career, and Reagor can step in with his incredible acceleration and big-play ability that saw him average 15.1 yards/catch despite poor quarterback play in college.

Establish The Run (Evan Silva) - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Already fielding one of the league’s strongest possession-receiver games via Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, plus Miles Sanders and Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles opt for Reagor’s vertical skills to address a need. In an ideal if perhaps improbable world, Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside would encompass Philly’s two-wideout set of the future with Jeffery and DeSean Jackson unlikely to be around in 2021.

CBS Sports (Josh Edwards) - CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Philadelphia watches as the draft’s arguable top receiver slides down the board. They take matters into their own hands by moving up. The deal is No. 21, No. 53 and a future 7th round pick in exchange for No. 14, No. 117 and No. 161.

NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah) - Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

The Eagles need to add receivers, but they can afford to wait a round or two. Murray would give them a dynamic playmaker in the middle of their defense.

SUMMARY

WR Justin Jefferson - 15
WR Denzel Mims - 5
WR Henry Ruggs III - 3
WR Jalen Reagor - 2
WR CeeDee Lamb - 1
LB Kenneth Murray - 1

WR - 26
LB - 1

Offense - 26
Defense - 1

THOUGHTS

  • I’m increasingly feeling like Jefferson isn’t even going to be on the board if the Eagles remain at No. 21. Daniel Jeremiah recently indicated that the league widely views Jefferson as a top four prospect at his position:

Further, a number of mocks that DON’T have the Eagles taking Jefferson have him being selected before Philly’s pick ... including Jeremiah’s mock. And some of those mocks have teams trading right up to No. 20 to get Jefferson. Given the Eagles’ obvious need at receiver, such a scenario is entirely plausible. Therefore, perhaps Howie Roseman will be motivated to make a small trade up to ensure they get the LSU product. Multiple reports indicate Jefferson is the player the Eagles are targeting in the first round, after all.

  • Not saying they’re the same player but Denzel Mims’ rise through the offseason reminds me of how Cody Latimer really shot up in 2014. The hype clearly wasn’t warranted in that case. Generally speaking, I’m a little wary of the pre-draft process riser.
  • I still don’t see the Eagles making an aggressive trade up to get Lamb or Ruggs. The Darius Slay limited their flexibility.
  • Reagor definitely profiles as what the Eagles could really afford to add to their offense: explosive speed. His recent 4.2 40-yard dash posted at his pro day was good to see. Is he definitely a first-round pick, though? Jeremiah doesn’t even have him in his top 50. Could the Eagles actually get him (or someome else like Brandon Aiyuk) in the second round? Maybe trade up a little from No. 53 on Day 2?
  • Really interseting that Jeremiah has the Eagles taking a first round linebacker. He used to work for the team and he’s said that he’s aware that the team hasn’t used a pick on the position since 1979. Does DJ know something? If the Eagles spend their first selection on a linebacker after spending all their free agency resources on defense, well ... that’s just much credence to “GM Schwartz.”
  • I will post an explantion of my upcoming pick in the 2020 SB Nation NFL writers mock draft at some point this week. I’ll also do a podcast with Michael Kist and Benjamin Solak about some draft stuff, so look out for that as well.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?