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Answering the biggest Eagles draft questions

With help from Sports Info Solutions.

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Vanderbilt v Florida Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

There are a number of questions to wonder about the Philadelphia Eagles heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Should the Eagles draft a quarterback? Or just ride with Jalen Hurts?
  • How are the top quarterbacks ranked? Who, if anyone, is worth realistically trading up for?
  • Could the Eagles actually take Mac Jones?!
  • Is Kyle Pitts a realistic option for the Eagles at No. 6? Is he more than just a tight end?
  • Which wide receiver prospect makes the most sense for Philly?
  • Should the Eagles take a cornerback with their first-round pick?
  • Who are the Day 2 and Day 3 targets this team should be considering?

Thankfully, draft experts Nathan Cooper and John Todd from Sports Info Solutions were kind enough to address these queries in a recent BGN Radio podcast interview. And these guys really know their stuff thanks to their hard work assembling The SIS Football Rookie Handbook (paperback | eBook).

I highly recommend you listen to the entire podcast but I transcribed some of the conversation for you to read below.

PASS ON TAKING A QB?

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, we wouldn’t really advocate for taking a quarterback at six. Eagles fans are probably a little bit bitter about that, going after what you guys did last year with [taking] Hurts. But you have to look at it, there’s a lot of good talent at the top for quarterback. If a team really falls in love with somebody, at that point you really have to do what’s best for the team. And now you have a new regime, and you have Nick Sirianni, new coaching staff. They’re not tied to Hurts at all. So it’s going to be interesting to see what they want to do. Hurts is a guy that we viewed as a circumstantial starter, more of a backup type of guy, in last year’s guide. And we obviously want to stick by that. And if you go by that, you think they’d probably need a quarterback to go in front of him. But, again, we’re not really advocating for that. You want to give Hurts the best situation. And looking at the Eagles’ needs right now, you need a lot of pass-catching options, and there are a lot of those options, especially at the top of the draft.

PITTS MAKES SENSE IN PHILLY?

TODD: It’s interesting. There’s kind of two sides to the label of Kyle Pitts. For me, personally, I kind of reject the notion that he’s just a big receiver. Some people call him a pass catcher, a weapon, whatever you want to call him like that. I do reject that notion a bit because I think he can play in-line, I think he can play as a regular tight end. But, yes, if you’re taking a guy at No. 6, he’s got to be more than that. And I do think he is. He’s one of the highest rated guys in the book for us. I think if you’re going to take him at No. 6, you’ve got to have a forward-thinking coaching staff, who’s going to use him as a player like that. You’ve got to have a guy who’s going to use him as that big receiver, as well as being a tight end in regular situations. You’ve got to be able to figure out ways to get him and [Dallas] Goedert on the field, similar as the way they did with Zach Ertz. You’ve got to be able to use him in the slot. He’s a legitimate X receiver, he did that in college. It’s one of the reasons why he’s such an incredible mismatch. Obviously, he was just tearing up linebackers and safeties at the college level with his speed and size and everything. But he played legitimately X receiver against SEC No. 1 defensive backs, and it was winning against Jaycee Horn, and having great battles with these top guys going in the draft. And he’s 240 pounds, bigger than all these receivers in the class. So, he does have that extra special X factor there. Looking at the Colts’ usage last year, for Nick Sirianni, his offense, they were middle of the pack in using 12 personnel, using one running back and two tight ends. But they were top 10 in using 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end) and top 10 in using 13 personnel (three tight ends). So, tight ends are obviously going to be a factor in Sirianni’s offense. I don’t think that kicks the Eagles out of contention out of taking Kyle Pitts. Especially, we just talked about the quarterback situation. If you’re not taking a quarterback, and we don’t think you should, the idea should be to maybe get the first crack at this elite receiver crop here coming up of Pitts and the three receivers we’re going to be talking about.

WADDLE = WR1?

COOPER: It’s really hard to go wrong with any of the three top receivers, even including Pitts as well. A lot of people are talking about DeVonta Smith, the season that he had this year. Our rankings do have Waddle No. 1, then Ja’Marr Chase No. 2, and then DeVonta Smith at No. 3. 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.

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BONUS: If you want to hear even more draft talk from Nathan and John, they recently joined Kyle Posey on The SB Nation NFL Show.