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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Final look at the Eagles’ projected first round picks

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Mock draft madness.

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

The 2020 NFL Draft is only five 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 (Brandon Lee Gowton) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Eagles did … literally nothing … to address their dire wide receiver situation through free agency, so the team MUST address the position early in the draft. Justin Jefferson isn’t the most ideal fit in that he isn’t the explosive burner that Philly could really afford to add. But the Eagles don’t *just* need to add speed; they need good receivers, period, and there’s a lot to like about Jefferson’s profile. He only turned 21 in January, he boasts an elite relative athletic score, he produced at a high level for a national champion in 2019, he has experience playing both the slot and outside, and he has a revered work ethic. Jefferson checks a lot of boxes and that’s important for an Eagles team that’s regularly failed to draft and develop receiver talent since Howie Roseman first came to power in 2010. There are rarely sure things in the draft, but Jefferson feels like an especially reasonable bet. He could be a reliable weapon for Wentz for years to come.

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

If they wanted, the Eagles probably could have gone after free agent receivers Robby Anderson, Randall Cobb, Breshad Perriman, or Emmanuel Sanders. But they didn’t and all four signed elsewhere. That leaves the Eagles to the draft, and potentially Jefferson. He had 111 receptions for LSU last season, and anything close to that production in the NFL would be well worth the 21st pick.

94WIP (James Seltzer) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

In case you missed it, the Eagles’ last slot receiver had some issues dropping the ball. Jefferson solves that problem in a big way and gives Carson Wentz an all-around play maker on offense to develop with. I’ll take my chances on a guy who scored 18 touchdowns playing against the best teams in college football.

94WIP (Ray Didinger) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Most mock drafts have the Eagles taking Jefferson in this spot which makes sense. Jerry Jeudy, Cee Dee Lamb and Ruggs will be gone so the 6-1, 200-pound Jefferson will be the best receiver on the board. He is coming off a monster year (111 catches, 18 touchdowns) with the national champion Tigers. He has good speed (4.43) and a wide catch radius. He was far more productive in the slot than split wide so that may limit him a bit at the next level. He was much better beating coverage inside than he was outside. He will need to improve his routes in the NFL but he will be a productive player wherever he winds up.

The Athletic (Sheil Kapadia) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

The Cardinals are up at 14, but Keim gets another trade offer — this one from GM Howie Roseman. The Eagles are desperate for receiver help and don’t want to risk losing out on LSU’s Justin Jefferson. Roseman sends a third and a fourth to Arizona and moves up from 21 to 14 to select Jefferson. He texts Doug Pederson “LET’S GOOOO!!!” after making the move. Confused by the message, Pederson FaceTimes Roseman. He explains that he was crushing some Haagen-Dazs and watching a replay of Super Bowl LII and had forgotten that the draft was tonight but is happy to land a talented receiver.

Rotoworld (Josh Norris) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

It was shocking to see the Eagles bypass wide receiver during free agency, but there is no better year to double down on the position. Jefferson is ready-made for the NFL. He contributed 109 receptions out of the slot last year, leading the country, but his contributions to an offense exceed that area of the field. Jefferson possesses outstanding body control and strong hands to haul in contested catches at a high rate and forced 25 missed tackles last season. He makes plays. That’s the definition of creating yards others simply cannot.

TouchdownWire (Mark Schofield) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Some might question whether Jefferson is a good fit for the Eagles. After all, he saw just five snaps outside of the slot last year, and with the Eagles running so much 12 offensive personnel (483 snaps, or 54% of their offensive plays) a boundary receiver makes more sense schematically. However, I would argue two points in rebuttal. First, were the Eagles running so much 12 personnel because they wanted to, or because they had to? While maybe they still wanted to, given their tight ends, it is something to consider. Also worth considering is the fact that Jefferson is more than just a slot receiver. In 2018, he was a boundary receiver in the LSU offense, and as I highlighted in this film dive, he handled life on the outside well enough. Is it where he can be best used? No, but he can do it. In addition, the Eagles would get a ball-winner at the catch point and a player who made 111 receptions for 1,540 yards with 18 touchdowns in LSU’s offense last season. He is perhaps the ideal pick for Philadelphia.

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

The Eagles have been projected to take a receiver at No. 21 by most people in mock drafts, and that’s not going to change here. Jefferson was an absolute beast battling for catches at LSU, and he tested better than expected at the combine, helping him to emerge as the clear best option after the top tier at the position comes off the board. While Philadelphia could consider a trade up to land one of those Tier 1 guys (San Francisco at 13 seems like a prime trade-down team), spending two picks to get Darius Slay could limit how far they can move up the board.

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 also play outside too.

CBS Sports (Will Brinson) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Justin Jefferson to the Eagles might break the record for most times one player has been mocked to the same team in a single offseason.

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

Time for a celebratory drink for Carson Wentz with the selection of Jefferson in Round 1.

CBS Sports (Tyler Sullivan) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

It’s no secret that the Eagles need to add more top-tier pass-catching talent around Carson Wentz and they waste no time taking Jefferson once they are on the clock.

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 (Roy Larking) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Philadelphia focused on defense during the free-agent period, which leaves wide receiver as a top priority. Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert led the Eagles in receiving yards and accounted for 11 of 27 touchdown passes last season. Justin Jefferson didn’t play much as a freshman but flashed signs of emerging talent as a sophomore. That came to fruition during his junior year has Jefferson tied for first in the nation 111 receptions, finished second with 18 touchdowns, and was third with 1,540 receiving yards. Jefferson is an ideal possession receiver for Carson Wentz.

Sports Illustrated (Frankie Taddeo) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor missed a combined 24 games last year. Agholor is now wearing Silver and Black in Las Vegas and Jeffery’s future in Philly is muddled to say the least. In 2019, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound LSU receiver hauled in 111 balls to go along with 18 touchdowns. Jefferson followed up his incredible season with a great combine performance and is exactly what Carson Wentz needs to get the Eagles’ attack back to an elite level.

Action Network (Matthew Freedman) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

They have a strong offensive line, and quarterback Carson Wentz, running back Miles Sanders and tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are foundational pieces, but the entire wide receiver unit is a question mark. Alshon Jeffery is 30 years old going on 45. DeSean Jackson played in just one full game last year. Greg Ward is an undrafted quarterback-turned-slot receiver. And J.J. Arcega-Whiteside massively underwhelmed last year as a rookie. Jefferson should be a significant upgrade on former slot receiver Nelson Agholor, whom the Eagles allowed to leave via free agency. Bottom line: Jefferson is a 21-year-old SEC receiver with an above-average physical profile and an elite production history. A guy like that tends to have NFL success.

Los Angeles Time (Les Bowen) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Most people consider Jefferson the fourth-best receiver in this draft. There’s some concern he’s more of a slot guy than the outside player the Eagles need.

PennLive (Daniel Gallen) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

It keeps coming back to Jefferson at this spot for the Eagles. The Birds need help at wide receiver. It doesn’t seem like any of the top three will fall. After the Darius Slay trade, it doesn’t appear the Eagles have the resources to move up to grab one. So Jefferson, widely considered to be the No. 4 receiver on the board, is the pick. It feels solid, but not necessarily spectacular.

FantasyPros (Bobby Sylvester) - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Much like the Raiders with Murray, you can almost write this one in ink. The Eagles are wide receiver needy and Jefferson fits their opening in the slot perfectly. He should perform as a JuJu-lite type of receiver that Carson Wentz desperately needs.

ESPN+ (Mel Kiper) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

This pick should be the best wide receiver on their board. Philadelphia doesn’t have many roster holes, but there’s a big one at wideout. And really, if I’m running the Eagles, I would look at trading up a few spots to get my guy. I suspect they’d be thrilled to get Ruggs, who is one of the fastest players in this class but is underrated as a route runner. This is a roster that can win the NFC East again.

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

The Eagles need more speed and explosiveness in the passing game. Ruggs is a big-play threat with the capacity to score from anywhere on the field.

Sports Illustrated (Mark Morales-Smith) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Ruggs is an absolute burner and a big play waiting to happen, whether it’s on a deep bomb or a quick slant. The Eagles desperately need a receiver, and Ruggs is an ideal fit to replace an aging DeSean Jackson. I do think the Eagles end up with Ruggs, but they may have to move up to get him because other teams may be looking to jump them if he lasts this late. While there is little doubt about his playmaking ability, the concern and reason he may drop to the late teens or early 20s is that he’s never been a true WR1 and has the makings of a week-to-week boom-or-bust big-play performer.

Athlon Sports (Bryan Fischer) - Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

The Eagles make a big gamble to swap spots with Tampa (No. 21, No. 103 and a future second-rounder) and land another speedster in Ruggs. Teaming him up with DeSean Jackson could be a nightmare for opposing coordinators while the selection also provides cover for the veteran wideout’s injury history at the same time.

94WIP (Jack Fritz) - CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Trade pick #21, pick #53 and their 2021 3rd round pick and if they want Rasul Douglas to the Jets for #11 to draft CeeDee Lamb. Let’s start this off with a bang and go get the best receiver in the draft. Enough messing around with the Justin Jefferson’s or Denzel Mims’s of the draft. You don’t have to trade for DeAndre Hopkins, and re-sign him to a huge deal, when you can just draft him in the first round. The proposed deal above is similar to what the Steelers gave up last year to go from pick 20 to pick 10. They traded pick #20, pick #52 and a future 3rd for that pick last year so I’d assume it’s around the same price tag this year.

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

Reasonably speaking, one of those top three wide receivers could fall a little bit and it is clear that the Eagles need another dynamic pass catcher. The Falcons add No. 103 overall and a future fourth-round pick.

WatchStadium (Tyler Jacobs) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Tee Higgins is not the most dynamic athlete at this deep position, but he consistently came through on the field, producing first downs and touchdowns for the prolific Clemson offense. 20 percent of his career catches were touchdowns, while 81 percent of his career catches were first downs. At 6-4, Higgins has long arms and the body control to offer his QB a catching radius the size of an airplane hangar’s garage door. The Eagles are desperate for help at wideout, and Higgins is the most prolific WR to come out of a school that has sent the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant to the NFL in recent years.

For The Win (Henry McKenna) - Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Higgins is the best receiver that’s available, but he and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside have a number of similarities. They make for two rangy athletes who generally don’t stretch a defense. But there isn’t a burning wideout on the board, so Philly takes what they can get — and Higgins has the makings to maybe be the next A.J. Green, which ain’t bad.

NFL.com (Chad Reuter) - Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Opinions are all over the board on Jeudy. Some believe he’ll go to Denver or Dallas well before the Eagles are on the clock. Others believe he’ll slide down. I try to identify some surprises in my mock, so I’ll say Jeudy falls a few spots like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown did last year. The Eagles luck into finding a very talented receiver at 21.

Microsoft Sports - Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

The Eagles have one of the most concerning WR rooms in the NFL. DeSean Jackson is 33 years old and recovering from sports hernia surgery. Alshon Jeffery is recovering from foot surgery and has been the subject of trade talks. Nelson Agholor is now a Raider. JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward are simply not good enough to be starters in the NFL. With the Eagles having two TEs (Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert) heavily involved, the middle of the field isn’t the problem – it’s the outside and over the top. With this in mind, the Eagles need a speedy receiver who forces an opposing defense to always be wary of a downfield play. If anyone is going to challenge Ruggs’ speed in this class, it’s Reagor. Not only is Reagor the type of WR they’re looking for, but his father, Montae Reagor, played and coached for the Eagles. Familiarity doesn’t hurt when weighing options in the 1st round.

CBS Sports (Cody Benjamin) - Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

Howie Roseman is absolutely no lock to be pigeonholed into WR, but after moving down [to No. 24] to collect an additional pick, he gets the next best thing at wideout after Justin Jefferson: a versatile big-play target for Carson Wentz.

NJ.com (Mike Kaye) - Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

The Eagles land a talented outside wide receiver after trading down for significant draft ammo in the later rounds. Mims offers a rare blend of size and speed, and he should be a strong target for Carson Wentz moving forward.

Bleeding Green Nation (20Safety_Hazards) - C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

Why CJ Henderson? I’ll start with my BPA. He was easily in the collection of 4-5 players I was targeting at 21 currently left on the board. His size, speed, and intelligence make him a dangerous cover corner. He clearly fits a position of need. If you count moving Mills to safety, we need to replace both starting CBs. Granted that need was mitigated in part by trading for Darius Slay, but that still leaves the other CB position. Finally, if you look at the draft talent at CB, after Henderson, Jeff Okudah, and Kristian Fulton, the talent level at CB drops off. Even Ben Natan will attest to that. For the record, I also considered a linebacker at this pick, as I thought there were two excellent LBs on the board (Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen). I’ve always felt that the Eagles have undervalued LBs to their detriment. However, I felt the value at CB was higher and taking a CB seemed more realistic for the Eagles in round 1 then a LB. CJ Henderson checks all the boxes in my draft philosophy. He’s a starting caliber player who has tremendous upside potential. First, he’s got a rare combination of size and speed that is very hard to come by. Although he stands at 6’1” and 204 lbs, Henderson ran a sub-4.4 40 time at the combine. Henderson was also the most consistent CB in drills. He has the size to match up with tall receivers and the speed and athleticism to keep up with speed receivers. I mean, just look at his spider chart.

Pro Football Network (Andrew DiCecco) - Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

With Jefferson off the board, the Eagles opt to add some length and size to the cornerback room for new defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel. Jaylon Johnson, who has garnered some first-round buzz late in the draft process, met with the Eagles at the NFL Combine.

NFL.com (Peter Schrager) - Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

Everyone’s thinking wide receiver — no matter what — at No. 21 for the Eagles, but that’s not how Howie Roseman typically rolls. Queen is viewed even higher than Kenneth Murray on some teams’ boards, and I could see Philadelphia going with an immediate game-changer on defense. Despite just one big season at LSU, Queen tore it up, and can roam sideline to sideline with ease. This would be a big swing — especially with Justin Jefferson still on the board — but I think the linebacker group is a lot thinner than the receiving corps.

The Athletic (Dane Brugler) - Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

Under Howie Roseman, the Eagles traditionally draft the best player available at a position of relative need in the first round and Murray fits that criteria. He can be late to sort at times, but his play speed and competitive energy will quickly make him a fan favorite in Philadelphia.

DraftTek (Broz) - A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa

As an Eagles’ fan, I’m very glad the NFL decided not to postpone the Draft, because I think we’re about a month away from seeing something very bad happen amongst Eagle fans. Much like a Game of Thrones episode, Philly fans are gravitating towards various camps based on the Wide Receiver they think the team should pick in RD1. The Denzel Mims supporters are threatening the Justin Jefferson camp...the Jalen Raegor clan is calling Tee Higgins “Fat Todd Pinkston”, and the Higgins fans don’t like it. Everyone is cooped up, quarantined...teetering on the edge of going all Jack Nicholson in The Shining, so if this Draft doesn’t happen, I’m afraid there’s an Eagle Fan Battle Royale to the death in the very near future. I mean, if people are going to kill each other, can’t it at least be for a good reason (like toilet paper)? This is the last CMD where I’m going to draft players I think the Eagles SHOULD draft; next week I’ll be picking players I think the Eagles WILL draft, even if I don’t agree with it. Of the four WRs I named above, I’m just not thrilled with any of them at 21, as they all have serious questions about their game. Of the four, only Jefferson doesn’t sound the “BUST” alarm in my head, but there are legit questions about whether Jefferson can play outside our not. I was not allowed to trade up in this mock for a “sure thing” at WR, nor trade back for volume...so with the benefit of knowing who would be available to me in RD2, I selected DE A.J. Epenesa here. D-End is an underrated need for Philly, in my opinion. Brandon Graham is quickly aging, and the guys behind him (Barnett and Sweat) still have much to prove. Epenesa (26.5 Career Sacks) may never win NFL Defensive POTY Award, but he’s a guy at a premium position with a very high floor that I doubt any team will regret having drafted five years from now. Teaser Alert: I am only veering away from WR with this pick because of the two guys I knew were available in RD2 and RD5.

CBS Sports (Tom Fornelli) - Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Eagles fans will want a WR here, but with the top guys gone, and such a deep class overall, Philly addresses another primary need at safety.

SUMMARY

WR Justin Jefferson - 19
WR Henry Ruggs III - 4
WR CeeDee Lamb - 2
WR Tee Higgins - 2
WR Jerry Jeudy - 1
WR Brandon Aiyuk - 1
WR Denzel Mims - 1
CB C.J. Henderson - 1
CB Jaylon Johnson - 1
LB Kenneth Murray - 1
LB Patrick Queen - 1
DE A.J. Epenesa - 1
S Xavier McKinney - 1

WR - 30
CB - 2
LB - 2
DE - 1
S - 1

Offense - 30
Defense - 6

THOUGHTS

  • For the billionth week in a row, Justin Jefferson is the clear favorite. I made my case for the Eagles drafting him earlier this week. The TL;DR version is that the fit isn’t perfect but his profile is still worth betting on. Howie Roseman can’t afford another total miss at receiver.
  • There’s been some indication that Ruggs might actually fall to No. 21. I’ll believe it when I see it happen.
  • The Eagles are rumored to be “aggressively pursuing” a trade up for CeeDee Lamb. I wonder if Roseman feels like he has to trade up since their need at receiver is so transparent.
  • Denzel Mims was the second most popular pick in BGN’s penultimate mock roundup last week but he only made a single appearance in this final edition. The Eagles have been showing a lot of pre-draft interest in him. My guess is that he’s not as likely to be the Eagles’ first-round pick as some hope/think he is. I think the hype has gotten a little out of control. Mims is 39th on ESPN’s big board, 45th on Daniel Jeremiah’s, and 49th on Gil Brandt’s. Lance Zierlein said he sees the Baylor product going in the second round. One Football Outsiders projection profiles him as more of a third-round prospect. Feels like a reach at No. 22.
  • Defense in the first round would be in disappointing. The Eagles have done nothing personnel-wise to help Carson Wentz out this offseason. He really has to wait until Day 2 of the draft to finally get some assistance?
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?