Former Philadelphia Eagles scout and current NFL Network lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah unveiled his final 2020 NFL mock draft on Wednesday evening. Here’s who he has the Birds taking with the No. 21 overall pick:
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma — I know the Eagles would love to add a speed receiver, but with the top options off the board, Murray is too good to ignore.
This isn’t the first time Jeremiah has linked Murray to the Eagles. He previously explained why Philly could actually draft a first-round linebacker for the first time since 1979.
“I’m a huge fan of Kenneth Murray, and I understand — I know — obviously I worked there, I know the history and what they traditionally do. I just know when I look inside that division and I’ve got to play Ezekiel Elliott twice a year and I’ve got to play Saquon Barkley twice a year, I’d like to have a guy like Kenneth Murray to match up against those players, and they do not have that player on their roster right now.
I also know that from Joe Douglas being there with Howie [Roseman] and now with Andy Weidl being there with Howie, those guys came from the same place I came from in Baltimore, and we saw what a linebacker can do with Ray Lewis and the impact he can have on a football team. That’s another side of it. I would also say if you’re looking at high batting average picks, when you look at some of the linebackers that we’ve seen go in the first round over the last several years, they’ve all been impact players. We saw it with Devin Bush last year with the Steelers. We saw it with Devin White last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we’ve seen it with Vander Esch what he’s done with the Cowboys while he’s been out there, these guys have all played at a high level and been very impactful, and Jim Schwartz with what he wants to do and asking some of those guys to be able to run and cover, I think he’s a great pick, and I also think with Murray, you’re talking about off-the-charts intangibles with intelligence and just a high, high character individual who’s a phenomenal leader. He started at Oklahoma as a freshman. This kid is made of the right stuff, and I think in a year where you don’t have all the information on all these players and there can be more risk involved, I don’t know that it gets much safer than him.”
The sense I’ve gotten is that Murray is indeed in play at No. 21. I think Jeremiah linking him to Philly isn’t just a smokescreen or a total stab in the dark.
And I’d argue that’s not very encouraging. The Eagles spent all their free agency resources on Jim Schwartz’s side of the ball. They’re really going to spend their most valuable draft asset on defense, too? On a linebacker with questionable processing speed who logged zero interceptions and just one forced fumble in college? All while further neglecting their most obvious and biggest need at wide receiver?
It’s difficult for me to imagine the Eagles not going receiver with their first pick. I don’t think they can merely afford to wait until No. 53 to get one. There’s going to be a big run ahead of their pick since everyone knows they have to go that route. And they’ll sorely lack leverage in any trade up scenario because they have no alternative. Their next pick after No. 53 isn’t until the very end of the third round at No. 103.
The Eagles going linebacker at No. 21 would probably be a sign that they got stuck. Such an outcome would mean they failed to trade up for the receiver they want. It would also mean the right pass catcher didn’t fall to them. And it would also signal that there wasn’t commensurate value in a trade down scenario to land one of the next tier receivers.
But given how the Eagles have handled the receiver position thus far, they might just be forced into reaching for one. The alternative is missing out.
It’s worth noting that Jeremiah’s mock has the following four receivers going off the board before the Eagles’ pick:
Interesting to see that Jeremiah has popular Eagles target Jefferson going so high. There’s an increasing sense he won’t even be available at No. 21.
The other first round receivers in Jeremiah’s mock include:
This scenario means that the Eagles will be getting the seventh receiver off the board at the very best. It could be that they’re picking the 10th or 12 option by the next time they pick.
Of course, Jeremiah’s mock isn’t gospel. It’s entirely possible he’s off base with his projections. There’s a real chance the top four receivers could be off the board by Philly’s pick, though, which wouldn’t be ideal. Roseman might need to trade up at least a little bit to ensure he gets a receiver.
Or he could be fine taking a linebacker at No. 21. The Eagles definitely have a big need at the position. Just not the best use of resources, though.