It’s always interesting to take a look at Peter King’s mock draft each year since he only publishes one and it usually contains some good information.
In that vein, King has had some noteworthy nuggets on the Philadelphia Eagles in recent years. He correctly indicated they were looking to trade down in 2018. King had the Eagles taking Marquise Brown last year. The Eagles passed on Hollywood but the sense is he would’ve been their pick had Andre Dillard not unexpectedly fallen to Philly’s range.
When it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft, King has the Eagles taking another speedy wide receiver:
21. Philadelphia—Henry Ruggs III, wide receiver, Alabama
Maybe Eagles GM Howie Roseman will find a taker for Alshon Jeffery and his hefty salary (maybe by paying a good chunk of it), or maybe the Eagles have to play with Jeffery and his injury bug for one more season; when he’s on the field he’s effective if not a star. But the thing I heard about the Eagles in the last few days is, Henry Ruggs will not get past 21. So here we are. Ruggs and his 4.27 40-speed are obviously tempting, and 24 touchdowns on only 98 career catches is explosive stuff. But a couple of things make me wonder. Three years, 41 games, 2.4 catches per game, 41.9 receiving yards per game. The most dangerous weapon in your offense gets 42 yards a game? The other side of that is some very smart offensive minds—Sean Payton, Andy Reid—love Ruggs. He’s competitive, and he doesn’t drop many. If he goes to Philadelphia, he’ll be the deep weapon Carson Wentz has imagined with DeSean Jackson.
Cue the obligatory “Ruggs isn’t making to No. 21” comments.
And that sentiment might very well be true. In a world where John Ross can come off the board at No. 9, it’s hardly crazy to think Ruggs will be available for long.
But King isn’t the only high profile mock drafter to recently have Ruggs landing in Philly. Mel Kiper’s mock draft from last week also had the Alabama speedster falling to the Eagles’ pick. Maybe they’re both hearing that Ruggs’ lack of production will scare some teams off. If that’s truly the case, such an outcome would make a lot of Eagles fans very happy. Ruggs is the explosive talent that this offense sorely lacks.
It’s interesting to note that Ruggs is actually the FOURTH receiver off the board in King’s mock. Rumored Eagles target Justin Jefferson gets selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 20 in this simulation. Here’s what King wrote:
20. Jacksonville—Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, LSU
When you ask about Jefferson, you hear lots of NFL people talk about his elite mechanics and route-running. “His speed is good enough, he runs a 12-yard out at exactly 12 yards, and he’s got pro tools,” said a coach who loves him. A playoff team in the twenties is calculating whether to move up to the teens to get him—and to bypass Henry Ruggs to do so. He’s fearless too, the kind of building-block player a good offense should froth over. Jefferson’s going to have a good pro career, and he’d be the kind of alternative to deep-threat D.J. Chark the Jaguars could feature, regardless of the coach or quarterback, for five or six years.
Could the Eagles be that team in the twenties calculating a trade up to get Jefferson? Such a move would not be popular with those who don’t even want the LSU receiver at No. 21. But I could see the Eagles having a desire for Jefferson based on their rumored interest and his high floor profile. Philly needs to add instant impact at receiver through the NFL Draft after neglecting to address the position in free agency. Jefferson fits the bill in that regard. The 21-year-old also has considerable upside.
Changing gears from receivers the Eagles could potentially add to one who could be leaving Philly, let’s revisit what King had to say about Alshon Jeffery.
Maybe Eagles GM Howie Roseman will find a taker for Alshon Jeffery and his hefty salary (maybe by paying a good chunk of it), or maybe the Eagles have to play with Jeffery and his injury bug for one more season; when he’s on the field he’s effective if not a star.
After writing that during the Ruggs pick explanation, King later includes the following section in his FMIA column:
Players likely to get traded during the draft, in order: Washington T Trent Williams, Jacksonville DE Yannick Ngakoue, New England G Joe Thuney, Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton, Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette, Philadelphia WR Alshon Jeffery.
On one hand, King is saying that Jeffery is one of the most likely players to get traded this week. On the other hand, he’s also saying Jeffery is the least likely to be moved of the likely players to be moved. Hm.
It’s hard to imagine there’s much of a market for Jeffery; there are multiple factors working against the Eagles’ favor. He’s 30, he’s coming off the worst season of his career, he’s coming off a Lisfranc injury, he’s been accused of anonymously criticizing his quarterback on multiple occasions, and this year’s draft is perceived to be loaded with receiver talent.
But, hey, that won’t necessarily dissuade Roseman from trying to move Jeffery. The Eagles have reportedly been trying to trade him dating back to October. Perhaps there will be a team that misses on drafting the receiver(s) they desired and comes to view Jeffery as a fallback plan? The chances of that happening might be as likely as Ruggs falling to No. 21 ... depending on what that means to you.
In any case, King’s insight gives us some interesting things to think about and discuss as we pass the time until the draft gets here. Should be a fun week!
Some other noteworthy things from King’s mock:
- Wide receivers in the first round: CeeDee Lamb to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 12, Jerry Jeudy to the Denver Broncos at No. 15, Justin Jefferson to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 20, Henry Ruggs III to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 21, Tee Higgins to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 25, and Michael Pittman (!) to the Green Bay Packers at No. 30. No Denzel Mims or Jalen Reagor in the first 32 picks.
- Three cornerbacks are off the board before the Eagles’ pick: Jeff Okudah to the Detroit Lions (trade down) at No. 5, C.J. Henderson to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 9, and Kristian Fulton to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 19.
- King has the Eagles passing on linebacker Kenneth Murray, who has been connected to Philly in recent mocks. Murray goes to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 28. No Patrick Queen in the first round.
- The New England Patriots trade up for Tua Tagovailoa at No. 13. Dear NFL teams, please feel free to take quarterbacks ahead of the Eagles’ pick.
- Around the NFC East: Chase Young to Washington at No. 2, Tristan Wirfs to the New York Giants at No. 4, and Xavier McKinney to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 17. King also has the Cowboys trading up into the first again to get Cesar Ruiz at No. 31 to be Travis Frederick’s replacement.
- I know I can be tough on Roseman but credit where credit is due. Good note from King:
You’ll like this. So many people around the NFL are giving money to coronavirus causes. All deserve credit. I love this one: The general managers in the league agreed to give $1,000 per pick ($256,000, based on 255 picks plus one Supplemental Pick last summer) to the league’s Draft-A-Thon fundraiser, which is divvying up all donations during the draft to six worthy causes. To make it equitable, each GM is donating $8,000. I was told by a league official that Eagles GM Howie Roseman spearheaded the cause, and that it has extended to the head coaches too. By late Saturday, all 32 GMs and three-quarters coaches had agreed, and there was confidence the rest would this week. The GMs and coaches (if all are in) will give a combined $512,000 to Draft-A-Thon. That’s a good start for the pot.