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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: There’s a new popular pick at No. 6 overall

What if the Eagles draft the “other” Alabama wide receiver?

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CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft is merely 45 days away! Let’s pass the time together until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles taking with the No. 6 overall pick.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Josh Edwards)

There are smokescreens every year. A year ago, we were hearing that Miami was actually not interested in Tua Tagovailoa. However, I actually believe Philadelphia when they project confidence in Jalen Hurts. I am not saying that confidence is justified but I believe in their commitment. If this is going to work, the Eagles must sell out and surround him with players that will prop him up. Jaylen Waddle is a wide receiver with which he has a history.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Tom Fornelli)

Waddle makes too much sense in this spot. I don’t know what Philly’s ultimate plans are at the QB spot, but with the top three off the board, you’re better off giving Jalen Hurts a weapon of this caliber than competition. And if you do add a different QB this offseason, I’m sure they’ll appreciate having Waddle too.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Pete Prisco)

They add a big-play weapon to an offense that needs it. Team him with Jalen Reagor, last year’s top pick, and Jalen Hurts will be one happy dude — if he’s the quarterback.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — DraftTek (Broz)

Another CMD, another ‘Bama receiver for the Eagles. Yet, I still have this hunch that Howie Roseman and the Eagles have no intention of quietly waiting to pick a WR at this spot. It ‘s just not like them. Conflicting rumors from national media keep surfacing about the Eagles ‘ QB plans. The more rumors I hear, the more I ‘m convinced Roseman is flooding the media with smoke to create uncertainty. Why? Maybe because the Eagles want to make the same bold move to trade up and take a QB with the second overall pick, just like they did in 2016 (a move which resulted in a Super Bowl). If I ‘m wrong, Jaylen Waddle (28 REC, 591 YDS, 4 TDs in four games) would be a strong option here, with great hands, route-running, speed, effort and knowledge of the game.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — 97.5 The Fanatic (Jamie Lynch)

QB Justin Fields is the pick at 6 but it isn’t to the QB factory Eagles. The Eagles trade down with the Panthers to 8. Picking up a 3rd and 5th rounder in the process. Waddle goes to the Eagles at #8. As the Eagles once again try to get a true weapon on offense.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Mike Mulhern)

[San Francisco trades No. 12 and 2022 1st round pick to Philadelphia for No. 6] If not for a brutal ankle injury that cost him most of last season, it might’ve been Waddle and not teammate Devonta Smith hoisting the Heisman trophy. In his four contests before getting hurt, Waddle averaged nearly 140 yards and a score per game. As an added bonus: He caught passes from fellow Houston native Jalen Hurts when the two were teammates with the Crimson Tide in 2018. Jeffrey Lurie wants to hit the reset button while building an elite and explosive offense. The trade down as well as this selection will help jump-start both processes. And sign me up for the chaos of keeping track of Jalen (Hurts) throwing to Jaylen (Waddle) and Jalen (Reagor).

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUBleeding Green Nation (Ben Natan)

Though I favor DeVonta Smith in the short term, there is no denying what kind of upside Ja’Marr Chase has at the receiver position. Draft projections have the LSU wideout going top three, so I imagine the Eagles (and their fans) would be elated to have Chase here. Ja’Marr Chase is an all-around playmaker with the potential to be an elite wide receiver. Exactly what the Eagles need.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — The Athletic (Zach Berman)

This would be an ideal scenario for the Eagles, considering Chase is one of the best players in the draft and would give the Eagles the No. 1 receiver they badly need. Put it this way: If you think the Eagles whiffed by taking Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson last season, consider that Chase — not Jefferson — was the top wideout for LSU in 2019 and the Biletnikoff Award winner. Even if he seems a likely candidate for the Dolphins at No. 3, Chase fell to No. 6 in Dane Brugler’s recent mock draft. If you want Chase to fall, it seems you should hope a team trades into the top five for a quarterback.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — Sharp Football Analysis (Ryan McCrystal)

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, owner Jeff Lurie has instructed the team to build around Jalen Hurts, at least in the short term. Ja’Marr Chase is a more traditional outside receiver compared to the undersized speedster DeVonta Smith, likely making him a better complement to last year’s first-round selection, Jalen Reagor.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — USA Today (Nate Davis)

Whether he’s lined up tight, in the slot or out wide, just a tremendous weapon – especially for a young quarterback. And with owner Jeffrey Lurie apparently looking for ways to help QB Jalen Hurts succeed – and with TE Zach Ertz evidently on the trade block – adding Pitts would seem to solve a lot of problems … while bolstering a receiving corps that hasn’t done much in two seasons.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — Pro Football Network (Tony Pauline)

Kyle Pitts goes to the Eagles. However, I’ve stated all along Sewell will get consideration at this spot if he’s available as will the signal-callers.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — DraftWire (Luke Easterling)

Philly’s primary mission this offseason? Make sure Jalen Hurts has everything he needs to succeed as their new franchise quarterback. Whether that’s along the offensive line or with added weapons at the skill positions, the Eagles have to invest in Hurts’ supporting cast. The best course of action in this scenario is taking Pitts, a rare athlete with incredible versatility and the ability to create huge matchup problems for opposing defenses.

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio StateCBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

Taking Fields allows the Eagles to give Jalen Hurts a chance to win the job because Fields probably needs a year of seasoning. But should the Ohio State standout win the job outright, then Philly will know it has found its franchise QB and won’t have to begin that process again a year from now.

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State — CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

The Eagles can’t pass on a quarterback here, so they go with Fields to start a QB competition with Jalen Hurts right away.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — The Draft Network (Jordan Reid)

One of the harder teams to get a gauge on heading into the first day of the draft will be the Eagles. Jalen Hurts shouldn’t keep the team from considering a QB, but spending a second-round pick on him and not giving him a large enough sample size in order to determine his future is a bit illogical as well. Ultimately, this pick comes down to selecting a cornerback or a receiver. Wanting to figure out if Hurts can be the guy for the foreseeable future, Roseman spends another first-round selection on a receiver in Smith.

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State — PhillyVoice (Jimmy Kempski)

Let’s say the first five picks of the 2021 NFL Draft unfold like so: 1) Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson, 2) Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU, 3) Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU, 4) Falcons: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State, 5) Bengals: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon. The top three quarterbacks (in my opinion) are gone, as are the two positional players – Chase and Sewell – who probably have the best chances of being elite in the NFL. The Eagles would then have to decide between a couple of Bama WRs in DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, one of the top cornerbacks, or the final quarterback worthy of taking somewhere in the top 10. (To note, taking a tight end here would be an awful use of resources, even if Kyle Pitts is a stud.) Another North Dakota State quarterback could very well be in play for the Eagles with the sixth overall pick, which would no doubt be a controversial selection. In addition to coming from the same school as Wentz (I don’t care about that even a little bit, personally, but plenty will), Lance certainly has some concerning things working against him, as we laid out when we took a deeper look at him a couple weeks ago: Accuracy, Level of competition, Lack of experience, Mechanics, Pocket presence. On the plus side, he has some really appealing traits as well. He has all the physical attributes you could want, from size, to speed, to arm strength. He also seems to be a good decision maker (one career INT), he’s tough, he doesn’t rattle easily, and he makes more than his share of off-schedule plays.

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU — Arrowhead Pride (Kent Swanson)

Wilson is a clear and obvious upgrade over Jalen Hurts — nothing about the small sample size we saw from Hurts should make the Eagles consider not taking a talent like Wilson in this scenario.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (Seth Galina)

The Eagles will want to see what they have in Jalen Hurts, and while there is excitement, his play didn’t match that excitement last year. Hurts does give you some playmaking ability, but he was dreadfully inaccurate last season. Philadelphia desperately needs an accurate passer to compete with Hurts in camp. Key Change: Hurts generated the fourth-lowest accuracy rate in the NFL last season. Jones finished No. 1 in the same category in college in 2020.

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia — The Ringer (Danny Kelly)

The Eagles defense ranked dead last in pass deflections last year (43), and finished 29th with just eight picks. That unit badly needs an infusion of talent in the secondary and Farley would be a huge get for new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. The former Hokies star is a ball-hawking playmaker with the skill set to thrive in either man- or zone-coverage looks.

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State — NFL.com (Maurice Jones-Drew)

The ever-changing NFL now demands fast-running linebackers. The Eagles nab a prospect who’ll become an immediate impact player in the middle of the defense.


SUMMARY

WR Jaylen Waddle - 6
WR Ja’Marr Chase - 3
TE Kyle Pitts - 3
QB Justin Fields - 2
WR DeVonta Smith - 1
QB Trey Lance - 1
QB Zach Wilson - 1
QB Mac Jones - 1
CB Caleb Farley - 1
LB Micah Parsons - 1

WR - 10
QB - 5
TE - 3
CB - 1
LB - 1

Offense - 18
Defense - 2


THOUGHTS

While the consensus has Waddle lower than his peers, there are those who think more highly of him. Sports Info Solutions, for example, has Waddle as WR1. Here’s what they told me during a BGN Radio interview last week:

“When you look at Jaylen Waddle, he’s a fun guy to watch. Even with the injury this year, you take that out. Quick-twitch athlete, rare play speed, we actually graded him as a “9” play speed on a 1-9 scale. So, his speed is ridiculous. He varies speeds really well mid-route. He’s able to accelerate in bursts and really explode and separate from defenders. Has the ability to create yards, as a receiver, as a runner, can kind of do a little bit of everything. Has the speed to win on not only screens and the crossers and can stretch the field as well. Waddle’s a guy that I don’t think you can go wrong with and, like I said, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these pass catchers. All of these guys are really going to be solid at the next level. We have Waddle at No. 1 and that’s what he brings.”

Daniel Jeremiah has Waddle as his WR2 and his No. 6 overall prospect:

Waddle is a slightly undersized receiver with extraordinary speed and playmaking ability. He has the ability to line up inside or outside. His acceleration in his release is elite. He destroys the cushions he receives from defenders in a hiccup and can find a second and third gear once the ball is in the air. He’s at his best on runaway routes, but he flashes the ability to efficiently gear down and work back downhill. I thought his hands were improved this fall (see: crazy catch versus Missouri in the season opener). He’s one of the most talented kickoff and punt returners (just watch the tape of his 2019 performance against Auburn) to enter the NFL over the last decade. Overall, Waddle isn’t quite as strong as Tyreek Hill, but he’s capable of having the same impact in the NFL.

Jalen Hurts seems to have a tight bond with Waddle and recently spoke highly of him on The Adam Schefter Podcast:

Hurts on Jaylen Waddle: “a great player […] like a little brother to me […] there’s nothing he can’t do […] the sky is the limit for him.”

Hurts on Schefter asking him if he wouldn’t mind Waddle being the Eagles’ pick at No. 6: “(laughs) I ain’t answering that one!”

The Eagles drafting Waddle feels like waving the white flag on Jalen Reagor to some extent but the team shouldn’t let their 2020 first-round pick impact their decision. The feeling here is that the Eagles should pick either Chase or Smith at No. 6. But I’d have an open mind about Waddle depending on how the board shakes out.

  • One of the Waddle scenarios has the Eagles getting him at No. 12 in a trade down. I really don’t like the idea of moving down from No. 6 since the Eagles desperately need blue-chip talent and can’t afford to get cute. With that said, a trade down where the Eagles pick up a 2022 first-round pick (especially from a team that has reasonable potential to be bad) is where I’m willing to start listening. The Eagles could potentially have three first-round picks next year with such a trade.
  • Interesting note from Pauline, who said the Eagles will certainly consider taking Sewell if he falls to them.
  • I don’t think Fields nor Wilson will still be on the board at No. 6. And I don’t think the Eagles are making a major trade up.
  • I don’t see the Eagles taking a Cover 2 cornerback at No. 6.
  • I will bet any amount of money the Eagles don’t draft Parsons at No. 6.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?