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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Jaylen Waddle is the early favorite for the Eagles at No. 12

Not totally dissimilar options to No. 6.

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

The Philadelphia Eagles now own the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after Friday’s trade action. With 31 days until the first round begins, let’s take a look at who mock drafts have the Birds taking.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — The Draft Network (Drae Harris)

Philadelphia considers a quarterback with this pick. Ultimately they decide to add more weapons to further the development of Jalen Hurts. They select Hurts’ former teammate, Jaylen Waddle. Waddle brings the type of dynamic threat Philadelphia has not seen since DeSean Jackson was healthy.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — USA Today (Nate Davis)

Like Miami, Philadelphia could wind up getting a player it might have targeted all along at No. 6 – its original draft slot – while accelerating the team’s reboot and still improving the supporting cast for second-year QB Jalen Hurts, now the unquestioned starter for 2021. Waddle played with Hurts in Tuscaloosa, is a highly explosive threat and adds a game-breaking element to the return game.

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

Philadelphia moves back after trading with the Dolphins and still gets one of the top wide receivers in the draft.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NJ.com (Chris Franklin)

Waddle already has a rapport with quarterback Jalen Hurts and was once considered the best wide receiver on an Alabama team deep at wide receiver. Waddle can line up outside or in the slot and use his speed on quick screens. Waddle also gives them a potential kick returner for a team ranked 20th in the league last season in kick return average (20.9 yards per return).

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — 94WIP (Eliot Shorr-Parks)

Waddle might have been the top receiver taken in this year’s draft if he didn’t suffer a broken ankle at the beginning of the season. He might have been the top receiver taken in the 2020 NFL Draft if he was in the draft. So while there is some risk in taking him off of a season ruined with injury, there is also an argument to be made that the team is getting great value with him at No. 12 overall. At his best, Waddle is a receiver that can stretch the field like Henry Ruggs but also polished like Jerry Jeudy. He doesn’t have great size at 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, but many felt he was the best receiver on a team with Jeudy, Ruggs and DeVonta Smith, so it is hard to get too worked up about his lack of size. The Eagles could go defense here, with Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons an option, or offensive tackle if Rashawn Slater falls to them. Waddle, however, feels like the perfect mixture of value, need and upside at No. 12 — plus it might remove the sting of passing on Chase at No. 6.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Network (Nick Farabaugh)

Trading back and still getting Jaylen Waddle? The Eagles might have to pinch themselves in this scenario because there may not be a better scenario for the green and white. Waddle changes the game on so many levels. He has the ability to shift how defenses play coverages with his game-breaking speed. That will help Jalen Reagor on the other side that much more as a threat, too. Jalen Hurts gets some much-needed weapons as a result of this scenario.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — NFL.com (Chad Reuter)

The Eagles could pick one of the Alabama receivers here but Horn’s outstanding pro day and game tape may force their hand. Philly needs his size, speed and tenacious attitude on the outside in a bad way.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Pro Football Focus (Seth Galina)

Horn’s combination of athleticism and physicality is rare for the cornerback position. He allowed just eight catches on 24 targets for 116 yards in the seven games he played in 2020.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — NJ.com (Mike Kaye)

The overload of offensive talent in the top 10 pushes down one of the premier cornerbacks in the class. Horn can come in and start opposite Darius Slay, and then eventually replace him in the future. Horn, listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 lbs., is a long corner who would be a good fit for Jonathan Gannon’s zone-heavy defense.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — The Athletic (Zach Berman)

Even after moving from No. 6 to No. 12, the Eagles are still in a position to take a player who projects as a Day 1 starter. Horn fits that profile. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee Horn is one of the top three cornerbacks in this class with the potential to become a No. 1 cornerback. He could start opposite Darius Slay this season on the outside and would be the first cornerback drafted in the first round by the Eagles since Lito Sheppard in 2002.

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

Can’t help but feel the NFL is sleeping on DeVonta Smith at this point. The Heisman winner is being heavily scrutinized for his wiry frame and the Eagles could be beneficiaries of this. Getting one of the best receivers in the class after trading down would be a massive win.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — The Athletic (Dane Brugler)

Trading back opens up the options for the Eagles. Pass rusher? Cornerback? Wide receiver? Smith falls in their laps here. The Dolphins reunited Tua and Waddle, the Eagles could do the same with Jalen Hurts and Smith.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — FOX Sports (Rob Rang)

Trading out of the sixth pick might limit the Eagles’ options for finding presumptive starting quarterback Jalen Hurts a true No. 1 overall wide receiver but general manager Howie Roseman’s gamble pays off with the defending Heisman Trophy winner, Smith, still on the board. An elite route-runner with sticky hands and graduate-level understanding of defenses, Smith would be an ideal complement to last year’s speedy top pick, Jalen Reagor.

Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama — TouchdownWire (Mark Schofield)

The Philadelphia Eagles now sit in the 12th spot thanks to today’s trade with the Miami Dolphins. Howie Roseman could go in a number of different directions with this selection, and if they are truly going to build around Jalen Hurts offensive weapons such as Ja’Marr Chase or Kyle Pitts could be in play. And yet they address the defense instead. This is a very interesting cornerback class and many could have Caleb Farley graded out as their top option at the position. His injury history — including his upcoming back surgery — might scare some teams away. The Eagles go with Patrick Surtain II here, an NFL-ready cornerback with both man coverage chops and great awareness in zone coverage.

Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama — DraftTek (Broz)

GM Howie Roseman engineers a trade with Miami on Friday, giving the Eagles the #12 and an RD1 pick in 2022. They’ve got nice options here. Our mocks have slotted Philly with DeVonta Smith at #6 quite often, Smith is still available at #12, but we’re going with Patrick Surtain after his fine Pro-Day.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer)

The Eagles are bound to move on from Zach Ertz at some point in the offseason and offensive-minded coach Nick Sirianni could use another playmaker for Jalen Hurts as a good complement to Dallas Goedert. Pitts is a dazzling pass-catcher and his athleticism could be used in a nice hybrid role, adding some big-play ability to 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor for Hurts. Philadelphia will hope it can make this seamless pivot from wideout at No. 6 to a different style of dynamic receiver here.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

The Eagles appear to be moving forward with Jalen Hurts and if that’s the plan they have to surround him with playmakers. There’s none better than Kyle Pitts, who only falls this far because of the run on QBs, WRs and O-linemen.


SUMMARY

WR Jaylen Waddle - 6
CB Jaycee Horn - 4
WR DeVonta Smith - 3
CB Patrick Surtain - 2
TE Kyle Pitts - 2

WR - 9
CB - 6
TE - 2

Offense - 11
Defense - 6


THOUGHTS

  • The talk about reuniting Jalen Hurts and Waddle is a little funny because their playing time together in 2018 was limited. Hurts only attempted 70 passes that year as Tua Tagovailoa’s backup. Only one of Waddle’s 17 college receiving touchdowns came from Hurts. To be clear, this isn’t to say the two wouldn’t be a good pairing! On the contrary, Hurts showed a penchant to push the ball down the field last season. His 9.5 average intended air yards ranked second-most in the NFL, only behind ... Joe Flacco at 10.9 (per NFL Next Gen Stats)!
  • There are things to be concerned about with Waddle’s profile. He was injured last year (ankle), he hasn’t produced in great volume (666.33 yards per season), and he turns 23 in November (not young for a rookie). But if you believe in his speed and traits and such, you just might love him. Some view him as the No. 1 WR in this year’s draft.
  • Horn is a new name for the Eagles. Well, BGN’s Ben Natan actually had the Eagles taking him at No. 6 prior to last week’s trade announcement. The 6’1”, 205-pound had an impressive pro day in which the Eagles were in attendance to work him out and speak with him. Kyle Posey of Niners Nation recently wrote about how Horn is CB1 in this year’s draft. Cornerback is an obvious short-term AND long-term need for Philly with [tumbleweed blows by] starting on the outside across from Darius Slay.
  • Smith was previously linked to the Eagles at No. 6 but there was a feeling he might be a reach there. He’s bound to be a much more popular option at No. 12, assuming the Heisman Trophy winner makes it there. No guarantee. Smith could be a player that the analytically-inclined Eagles don’t want to bet on but the feeling here is the tape is too good to ignore.
  • Surtain previously got some buzz at No. 6 but that fell off. Now the Alabama product is potentially back in the mix.
  • I don’t think Pitts will be on the board by the time the Eagles pick at No. 12. There’s been buzz he could go as high as No. 4 overall.
  • No Micah Parsons in the roundup just yet, though I’m sure that’s bound to change leading up the draft.
  • Who do you most want the Eagles to take at No. 12?