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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase, or neither?

Who do you want Philadelphia to pick?

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College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft is merely 96 days away! Let’s pass the time together until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles selecting with the No. 6 overall pick.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Bleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan)

The Ja’Marr Chase v. DeVonta Smith debate becomes a lot easier if Chase is off the board by the sixth pick, as he is in this simulation. I have not been shy in my love for the Alabama playmaker and the Eagles would be smart to target him regardless of who is coaching the team. There isn’t a scheme where DeVonta Smith isn’t a game-changer.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Beacon Journal (Dan Kadar)

At this point, the Eagles are mess. Head coach Doug Pederson is out. Carson Wentz, playing on a monster contract, has regressed. Jalen Hurts, a 2020 second-round pick, is intriguing. Whoever is the quarterback needs weapons. Smith, this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, would give Philadelphia a reliable pass catcher who runs excellent routes.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

The Eagles need a new head coach but it appears Carson Wentz’s job is safe (for now, anyway). Assuming the quarterback for next season is currently on the roster, finding a downfield playmaker is a priority. And no one was more explosive during the 2020 college season than Smith.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Josh Edwards)

Philadelphia is about to undergo wholesale changes to the wide receiver room. Devonta Smith is slight in frame but his game is polished. It would be a surprise if he were a total bust. The Eagles are committed to Carson Wentz and, with Jalen Reagor, Wentz now has a few options to target.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Network (Zach Segars)

The Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to fire Doug Pederson tells us a lot about their future direction. Most importantly, it tells us Carson Wentz is likely to return to his starting quarterback role. At the very least, he should be in the picture. If the Eagles choose to double-down on Wentz, it makes sense to surround him with as much talent as possible. With Ja’Marr Chase off the board, that makes DeVonta Smith the best option. Unlike their Day 1 wide receiver pick from last year, DeVonta Smith is a polished product. He can become Philadelphia’s top pass catcher and potentially their top skill position player as well. He would ideally play in the slot considering his smaller frame. However, the Eagles could probably play him outside as well.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUThe Draft Network (Benjamin Solak)

The Eagles are a mess. They seemingly picked Carson Wentz over Doug Pederson and his coaching staff this offseason, and with that pick, I imagine offensive weaponry will be the priority in the offseason. (Of course, that was the expectation last season as well, which delivered Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts). The WR1 conversation will be difficult, as the three legit candidates (Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith) all bring wildly different profiles to the table. The Eagles tried to prioritize speed last offseason to no avail, but have a proclivity for catch point receivers as well: they’ve played Alshon Jeffery as their X receiver for several seasons and tried to replace him with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the 2019 draft. Chase is best at the catch point—a tremendous in-air adjuster and a physical route-runner. The Eagles’ offensive scheme is not yet known, but it’s tough to imagine any system not wanting that physicality, route-running savvy, and hand strength.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — Pro Football Focus (Seth Galina)

I’m of the opinion that neither Carson Wentz nor Jalen Hurts is really the future of this franchise, though I do think seeing who Hurts is for a whole season in 2021 is the best way to go forward. You’d love for them to take a QB here, but that’s not going to happen. The next best thing is taking a receiver who can actually get open and catch passes, something the Eagles didn’t have last year. Chase is one of the more physical prospects in the draft and consistently destroyed press coverage and double-teams when defenses said, “Hey, you know what, one guy is not enough to cover No. 1.” He’s good.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

Who knows if Jalen Hurts is the answer at quarterback for the Eagles. They could pick another one here, but I ultimately believe they’ll go playmaker to build the offense.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — The Athletic (Dane Brugler)

Regardless of their quarterback situation, the Eagles need more firepower on offense. Chase, whose 84 catches last season were for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns, both SEC records, has the gear-changing acceleration and elite finishing skills that make him an immediate NFL weapon.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — NJ.com (Chris Franklin)

This pick could be the hardest to project because of the uncertainty at head coach and the possibility of the Eagles trading down to acquire more picks, especially if a team is in the market to select a quarterback. The Eagles take the LSU wide receiver to couple with Jalen Reagor and hope that the combination can become a potent duo for either Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah)

The Eagles need another wideout, but they’re also desperate for help in the secondary. Surtain would team up with Darius Slay to give Philadelphia’s new staff an outstanding cornerback duo.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer)

The Eagles had all kinds of secondary issues away from veteran Darius Slay in 2020 and need a big shakeup at cornerback to help their defense under a new coach. Surtain, with his pedigree, size and ball-hawking skills, has the potential to be a true shutdown player.

Zach Wilson, QB, BYUDraftTek (Broz)

In the last week it looked like the Eagles’ GM was going to get fired, then didn’t get fired, but then the head coach got a vote of confidence, but then a week later got fired, which was a week after one of the most blatant tank jobs ever when our back up QB Hurts (who was in for benched starter Carson Wentz (who’s just at the beginning of one of the most expensive contracts in NFL history (and who now is publicly requesting to be traded) got yanked out of the game in the 4th quarter for the freaking 3rd-stringer, Nate Sudfeld, ruining the Giants’ playoff chances (HA HA!) and becoming a national laughingstock and target of disdain for not respecting the spirit of the sport. Yada, Yada, Yada, the Eagles now own the 6th pick, are being linked to every potential head coaching candidate you can imagine, and have legitimately become a train wreck. It’s hard to say what will change in the coming weeks or months, but as of right now, there’s a very real chance that QB could be an option with the Eagles’ RD1 pick. Philly has no shot at Trevor Lawrence, and Trey Lance and Justin Fields are just a little too “Carson Wentzy” for me. BYU’s Zach Wilson is a bit of a one-year-wonder, but boy what a year it was (3,700 Pass YDS, 33 TDs, 3 INTs, 10 Rushing TDs). Wilson is a risky prospect; however, he has the best combination of vision and arm talent of any QB in the class aside from Lawrence. I predict he will not make it past Pick 3.

SUMMARY

WR DeVonta Smith - 5
WR Ja’marr Chase - 5
CB Patrick Surtain II - 2
QB Zach Wilson - 1

WR - 10
CB - 2
QB - 1

Offense - 11
Defense - 2

THOUGHTS

  • The Smith vs. Chase debate is moot in that only one of those wide receivers will likely make it to No. 6. And it’s not impossible that neither of them will be there. Hard not to be happy with getting either one. Chase is bigger (6’1”, 200 pounds) than Smith (6’1”, 175 pounds) and younger as well (turning 21 in March vs. turning 23 in November). Smith’s 2020 season gives him the higher peak but Chase’s 2019 season wasn’t that far off. I’d lean towards Chase if I had to pick, but, again ... pretty happy with either option.

Poll

Which WR do you want the Eagles to draft at No. 6?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Ja’Marr Chase
    (1693 votes)
  • 36%
    DeVonta Smith
    (964 votes)
2657 votes total Vote Now
  • Daniel Jeremiah having the Eagles pass on Smith to take Surtain certainly got people worked up. Can’t blame them. Surtain better be the next coming of Deion Sanders if they’re doing that. No one doubts the Eagles need an answer at CB2 ... but they also really need a WR1! And if the talent level is anywhere close, offense supersedes defense. If both Chase and Smith are off the board, then we can talk about Surtain.
  • Not that a 39-year-old Nick Sirianni is likely to have much say in personnel with Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman still running the show but I’d imagine the former wide receivers coach would prefer a pass catcher at No. 6.
  • Currently don’t see the Eagles taking a quarterback at No. 6, even though it’s quite possible neither Carson Wentz nor Jalen Hurts are the answers at that position. Not the best feeling.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?