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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: All offense, no defense for the Eagles

Pass catcher continues to be the most popular option.

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CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft is merely 52 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.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — ESPN+ (Todd McShay)

Despite the Eagles’ glaring weakness at wide receiver, I’m mixing it up with Pitts at No. 6. It’d be the 10th time a tight end has been drafted before the first wide receiver off the board, and only four other tight ends have ever been taken in the top six. But here’s the thing: Pitts is more than just a tight end. He’s a matchup nightmare who can line up all over the place, and his great speed, hands and 6-foot-6 size make him extremely difficult to contain. Philadelphia should add receiver help in free agency, but a Pitts-Dallas Goedert pairing is a dream for any offensive coordinator. Tim McManus on his fit with the Eagles: With Zach Ertz expected to be traded or released, Pitts would immediately assume a co-starter role alongside Goedert. The Eagles used two-tight end sets a league-high 35% of the time last season — a number that would skyrocket toward their 2019 totals (52%) with Pitts in the fold.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — NFL.com (Chad Reuter)

The trade of Carson Wentz might open the door to an early pick of a quarterback, but in this scenario, I’ll say GM Howie Roseman and new head coach Nick Sirianni will find a veteran free agent to compete with or complement 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts. The team has a need at the tight end position, as Zach Ertz is not expected to return and Dallas Goedert is a free agent after next season, but this could simply be a case of the Eagles picking the best available player. Pitts possesses the size, speed and insane catch radius to be a real force.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — NFL.com (Cynthia Frelund)

I’m assuming here that a certain 30-year-old tight end will not be on the Eagles’ roster for the 2021 season — if Zach Ertz sticks in Philly, that will throw this projection off. Otherwise, my model likes Pitts as a sure-handed, high-probability pass-catcher. On snaps where Pitts ran routes, he displayed a faster burst (that is, the time it takes him to travel 2 yards from the line of scrimmage) than all but three FBS wide receivers in 2020.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — The Athletic (Chris Burke)

More likely to trade up or down? Down. Unless the Eagles are already all the way out on Jalen Hurts, the value for them is in stockpiling picks. They’re still in a good spot here to dangle a QB or an elite wide receiver to a team in need. Pitts is special. He’s a “tight end” by designation but can do so much, from so many different alignments, to help an offense that he almost needs his own category. If new coach Nick Sirianni’s offense still looks like it did in Indianapolis, he’d take full advantage of Pitts’ talents.

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

I feel like people have gotten bored talking about how good DeVonta Smith. Only weeks after winning the Heisman, I see people talking about him like he is the fourth or fifth-best receiving option in this class. Craziness. Smith might not have the upside of some of his peers, but he is the day one difference maker that the Eagles desperately need. Assuming Jalen Hurts is the starting quarterback, giving him a reliable target who can damage a defense from anywhere on the field is a no-brainer.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (George Chahrouri)

A lot has been made of the Eagles going after a quarterback here. And while we ascribe to the notion that thou shalt not pass up the chance at a great signal-caller, we weren’t confident enough in the small samples of Trey Lance or Mac Jones and his boosted production at Alabama. Just because 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor hasn’t turned into a stud yet doesn’t mean the Eagles shouldn’t draft the most valuable player on the board — even if he’s a wideout. Smith would perfectly complement Reagor’s electric speed. If you are going to make a call on the Eagles sticking with Jalen Hurts, it better not be with the “well, we haven’t seen him with real playmakers” caveat. Smith was so slippery off the line and dominated downfield despite his thin frame. His route heat map looks as if the computer messed up and spilled red paint on the field. He led the class in deep receiving yards and screen yards. Smith is simply the WR1 that Philly needs.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NJ.com (Chris Franklin)

The Eagles are another team that could trade down from their current spot, but will remain at six. According to Sharp Football Stats, the Indianapolis Colts have used a lot of 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one running back, and one tight end). The Colts used it 69% of their offensive snaps in 2020, 62% of the time in 2019, and 72% in 2018. If Eagles new head coach Nick Sirianni decides to bring that same philosophy to the Eagles, expect to see a lot of this grouping. Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Smith does not have the prototypical weight of an NFL wide receiver (175 pounds), Smith can line up outside or play in the slot, and he is a good route runner and is elusive after the catch. Adding Smith to the receiving corps would undoubtedly bolster the receiving corps.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

Let’s see how the Jalen Hurts experiment goes in Philadelphia. He’ll have a nice collection of young and fast receivers if this is the pick on draft night.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Action Network (Scott Smith)

Chase’s physicality would complement TE Dallas Goedert and last year’s first-round receiver Jalen Reagor. With Carson Wentz gone to Indianapolis, it’s important for the new coaching staff to surround Jalen Hurts with proper weapons to allow him to take the next step.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — DraftTek (Broz)

There is a huge debate amongst Eagle fans as to who to spend their tasty Top-10 pick on this year. Should they grab Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith? Should they take a QB such as Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or even the surging Mac Jones at six? Should they trade up for Zach Wilson, or hope they can trade back for picks? How about x-factor Kyle Pitts, who could be both a receiving tight end AND a featured X-receiver? Probably the least-talked-about prospect for Philly is ‘Bama WR Jaylen Waddle. Waddle doesn’t get the hype of Chase or Smith; however, in four games prior to breaking his ankle against Tennessee, Waddle was averaging 6.25 REC, 140 YDS, and 1 TD per game. Waddle has game-breaking speed, is a savvy route-runner, blocks, and is a game-changing kick/punt returner.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUBGN Radio (Shamus Clancy)

And we have sitting on the board: Justin Fields, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith. All guys that should be entertaining to the Eagles. Now, Justin Fields is a quarterback. I’m a Hurts guy. Justin Fields is probably the only quarterback I’d really be comfortable taking. Don’t like Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence is gone. Trey Lance, I get he’s super talented and it’s not rational in the slightest but I cannot do the North Dakota State thing again. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know that means he’s going to go on to a Hall of Fame career but I can’t do it. I like Justin Fields but I really want Ja’Marr Chase. I really want Jalen Hurts to have a chance at success in Philadelphia. Let’s give him some building blocks. Let’s not make the same mistake the Eagles made with Randall Cunningham, with Donovan McNabb, and with Carson Wentz where they didn’t surround those guys with enough truly great talent early in their careers.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU — FantasyPros (Mike Tagliere)

Now that the Eagles have officially announced the releases of DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery [BLG Note: Jeffery’s release hasn’t been officially announced … yet], they need to start filling out their receiving corps. Pairing Chase with Jalen Reagor would give Jalen Hurts the weapons he needs to succeed and remove any excuses about poor play. While I do believe that Micah Parsons should be considered, Chase is considered a “once every five years” type prospect at a position of need.

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio StateCBS Sports (Cody Benjamin)

Eagles acquire No. 3 from Dolphins for No. 6, 2021 second-rounder, 2022 third-rounder, 2022 fifth-rounder — The Eagles don’t pick this high very often, and they know it. They’ve also been more willing to stock up at QB than almost any team (sometimes to their detriment). With Carson Wentz out the door and Jalen Hurts still an unknown, Howie Roseman goes big for the dynamic Fields — his second swing at unearthing a top rookie QB.

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State — Pro Football Network (AJ Schulte)

Swinging big for the first trade in this 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft, the Eagles move up to get their guy at quarterback. I based this trade on the Jets’ maneuvering for pick No. 3 in the 2018 NFL Draft, where they inevitably picked Sam Darnold. With the threat of the Falcons drafting him at No. 4 or a Lions trade up to get Fields, Philly pulls the trigger to get the best quarterback left. Three quarterbacks going 1-2-3 has only happened twice in NFL history, and these guys deserve it. I love the marriage of Nick Sirianni and Justin Fields. Fields is one of the most accurate quarterbacks I’ve ever scouted and is one of the best quarterback prospects in recent memory. The processing concerns are highly overblown. The four games of Jalen Hurts were not enough to suggest passing on a quarterback of Fields’ caliber. Fields would be a clear upgrade over what Hurts put on the field in Philadelphia. Many of the perceived “holes” on the Eagles’ roster would look different with good quarterback play and coaching.

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama — CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

Who knows what the Eagles will do with the No. 6 pick, but it’s hard to imagine they no-showed in that Week 17 game just to take a wideout or offensive lineman. And with Carson Wentz now in Indy, there has to be a Plan B behind Jalen Hurts, who is reunited with his former Alabama teammate, Mac Jones.

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State — CBS Sports (Josh Edwards)

A North Dakota State quarterback replaces a North Dakota State quarterback. Trey Lance may need a little bit of time to hit his stride, but his upside is immense.

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon — The Draft Network (Trevor Sikkema)

Maybe Howie Roseman will draft a wide receiver this early? But I doubt it, especially if an offensive line upgrade can be had. The Eagles plan to have Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks back, and hopefully Jason Kelce, too. They also hope health will be much more on their side in 2021. There is reason to believe they could go with Andre Dillard or Jordan Mailata as their left tackle, but why risk such a crucial offensive line spot on belief if a sure thing like Sewell is on the board? I don’t think they would.


SUMMARY

TE Kyle Pitts - 4
WR DeVonta Smith - 3
WR Jaylen Waddle - 3
WR Ja’Marr Chase - 2
QB Justin Fields - 2
QB Mac Jones - 1
QB Trey Lance - 1
OT Penei Sewell - 1

WR - 8
TE - 4
QB - 4
OT - 1

Offense - 17
Defense - 0


THOUGHTS

  • The two mocks that have the Eagles landing Fields both have Philly trading up to No. 3 to get him. I don’t think the Ohio State quarterback is going to be available at No. 6.
  • The more I think about it, the more I don’t like the Eagles taking an offensive tackle. It’s not that it’s an idea without merit. We can’t rule out Andre Dillard being a bust and Jordan Mailata, while promising, isn’t yet a “no doubt about it” starter. Sewell might just be the best player available on the board and it’s typically a good idea to build through the trenches. I just feel like if Jeff Stoutland is as truly good as we believe him to be, he should ultimately be able to get more out of less on the offensive line. Conversely, I have no trust in the Eagles doing the same thing at wide receiver. Howie Roseman has NEVER gotten that position right in the NFL Draft. Taking one at No. 6 is the Eagles’ best bet to finally have a solution at that spot.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft? Share your top six big board with us, if you haven’t already.