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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Three-way tie for the Eagles’ first-round pick

Mock draft madness.

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Kentucky v South Carolina Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft is only 18 days away! Let’s pass the time together until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles taking with the No. 12 overall pick.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Shamus Clancy)

A player Eagles fans would’ve been overjoyed to get with the sixth pick falls here to 12. It’s pretty simple: the team hasn’t had an electric player with major juice vibes at wideout since early-career DeSean Jackson. Put aside the weight concerns and just watch how the guy dominated the SEC.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (Andrew Erickson)

Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles made an epic blunder in the first round by drafting Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson. Reagor went on to have a below-average and injury-riddled season, while Jefferson posted arguably the greatest rookie season in the history of the NFL. General manager Howie Roseman claimed to have made the decision to choose Reagor over Jefferson because the former fit the offense more systematically. Roseman said, “Our job is to fit the vision of the head coach.” If Roseman sticks to his drafting philosophy, then I have no doubt that DeVonta Smith would be their selection at No. 12. New Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is coming from an offense in Indianapolis that finished second in YAC/reception and sixth in screen-pass play rate. Smith led all of college football last season in total yards after the catch and screen yards. The Heisman Trophy winner’s ability to win on the perimeter will be a blessing for quarterback Jalen Hurts, whose receivers got open at the lowest rate in the league (54%) in 2020. Smith’s size concerns are sure to keep some teams from taking him in the first round, but I doubt the Eagles shy away from a player that would be the perfect fit. Roseman has the pedigree to be more risky than other GMs; drafting an undersized receiver is par for the course for Philadelphia.

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

Philadelphia continues attacking the wide receiver room. The Eagles land one of the top overall talents and slide back to pick up additional draft capital; smart move by general manager Howie Roseman.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Tom Fornelli)

The Eagles couldn’t get Ja’Marr Chase, so instead, they’ll have to settle for the Heisman Trophy winner who just posted one of the most impressive seasons I’ve ever seen from a college wide receiver. Not a bad trade down for the Birds.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — USA Today (Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz)

As Philadelphia resets with QB Jalen Hurts, its offense is still being weighed down by several whiffs at wide receiver. Smith – reuniting with the Crimson Tide transfer who became a star at Oklahoma – would provide a much-needed dose of reliability, as his separation skills and surehandedness should position him for early success so long as he can hold up at the line of scrimmage against physical cornerbacks.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Peter Schrager)

Could the Eagles really go with a WR in the first round a year after taking a WR in the first round? Yes. Waddle’s medicals will come in and we’ll see where he’s at health-wise, but I won’t be surprised if Howie Roseman and Co. go ahead and grab the talented wideout (and former Jalen Hurts teammate) to pair with Jalen Reagor.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — PhillyVoice (Jimmy Kempski)

Last week, we went a long way to point out that there’s a pretty good chance that as long as at least one of the top three receivers — LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, or the two Bama receivers, Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith — survives the first seven picks, they should also make it all the way to pick No. 12, where they’d probably be too hard to pass up. The most likely receiver to fall, in my opinion, is Smith, but we already used him in a previous Eagles-only mock, and since we don’t repeat any players, we’ll go with a scenario in which Waddle falls to the Birds. Waddle’s game is all about speed. In the video below, watch how many times it looks like a defender has an angle on him, and then... nope. Through the first two years of his career at Bama, Waddle was relegated to the slot, as he played alongside other first-round receivers like Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. In 2020, he was poised to take on a much bigger role in the Alabama offense, which he did initially, catching 25 passes for 557 yards (22.3 YPC) and 4 TDs in just 5 games, before a suffering a broken ankle. In addition to his game-breaking ability as a receiver, as you can see in the video above, Waddle can also change games as a returner. He has 3 return TDs in his college career.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — DraftTek (Broz)

Last night I re-watched the 2020 SEC Championship Game between Florida and ‘Bama. My pick in this week’s CMD, WR Jaylen Waddle, has become a popular alternative to Devonta Smith due to Smith’s size. That said, Devonta was playing in that game, and Waddle wasn’t. Despite missing minor bits of time, Smith has been remarkably durable playing against the big boys in the SEC. I was left with three thoughts after re-watching that game: First, there’s no way Kyle Pitts will slide to 12, but if he does, just take him...he’s the best receiver in the Draft. Second, if Najee Harris somehow slips to Pick #37, the Eagles must seriously consider him. And third, I truly believe either Smith or Waddle will be available at 12, and either one will immediately give the Eagles a true #1 WR.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (Jarad Evans)

Eagles fans were rightfully devastated after the team traded down with the Dolphins and forfeited a chance to draft either Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase. This comes a year after Philadelphia passed over Justin Jefferson to draft Jalen Reagor. And of course, the infamous selection of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside over D.K. Metcalf is still top of mind. Eagles fans are committed to continuing to attack the wide receiver position until they get it right. Jaylen Waddle holds the closest prospect profile to Tyreek Hill since 2016, when Hill entered the league. Waddle is the complete package as a speed receiver who pops off the line of scrimmage. He is arguably the most explosive all-around athlete at the wide receiver position in this class. Jalen Hurts finally gets his WR1.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — The Score (Dan Wilkins)

Using a first-round pick on a receiver for the second time in as many years may not be the most popular decision in Philadelphia, but Waddle is just too good to pass up. One of the rare wideouts actually worthy of a Tyreek Hill comparison, the Alabama standout is a threat to score from anywhere. Adding this type of game-breaker to the receiver room would go a long way toward improving the Eagles’ chances of rebounding after a few years of offensive ineptitude.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Pro Football Focus (Ben Linsey)

Beyond Darius Slay, the Eagles are very thin at the cornerback position. Avonte Maddox currently projects to be their No. 2 option outside, but he’s coming off a 2020 season in which he earned a 37.8 overall grade in that role. Horn pairs high-end athleticism with a physical, in-your-face mentality that you love to see at the cornerback position. No game showcased that better than his 2020 matchup with Auburn and Seth Williams, where Horn came away with two interceptions and five pass breakups on 10 targets.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Pro Football Network (Matt Valdovinos)

Proposed trade: Philadelphia sends picks #12, 84, and a 2022 3rd to Denver for the #9 pick. The Eagles were able to add draft capital by moving from the sixth pick to the 12th pick via Miami. They also gained selections from the Colts in the Carson Wentz trade. They use the No. 12 pick and the third-rounder from the Colts, as well as a third next year, to move ahead of Dallas and ensure they get their choice of cornerbacks before the Cowboys inevitably take one. Given Howie Roseman’s affinity for talented man-coverage cornerbacks, like Darius Slay, I’d expect that corner to be Jaycee Horn. Horn and Slay could be one of the top cornerback duos in Year 1, as both can shadow opposing No. 1 receivers. Slay gets the help he didn’t have last year.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Action Network (Scott Smith)

Reports say that Philadelphia’s brass moved from No. 7 because the Eagles expect the Bengals to select Chase. While wide receiver needs to be a priority for Philly, cornerback should be just as high on the list. Avonte Maddox — currently projected as a starter — graded out as the 121st at the position according to Pro Football Focus.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — NJ.com (Joe Giglio)

Fans will clamor for an offensive play maker with this pick, especially with the Heisman Trophy winner sliding down the board. But the Eagles will land a big-time corner with the capability of becoming a No. 1 in the NFL.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — 97.5 The Fanatic (Jamie Lynch)

Jaycee Horn goes to the Eagles. They get one of the better CB’s in the draft. Get excited Birds fans!

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

This would be a dream scenario for the Eagles. After trading down to No. 12, they still land the top cornerback in the draft.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

The Eagles are ecstatic to land Surtain without having to move up to get him.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern — Stampede Blue (Andrew Aziz)

The Eagles need offensive line help and Slater is arguably the best player on the board here, even they can’t screw this one up (although they probably will).

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern — CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

DeVonta Smith makes sense here, but with the WR class being deeper than the O-line group, the Eagles go with Slater, who can step into a starting role — either at tackle or inside — on Day 1.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota — Pro Football Focus (Seth Galina)

The Eagles aren’t trading down and then picking a quarterback in real life. And we are trying to win the division immediately in this exercise, so we won’t be taking a quarterback, either. The Eagles need to sprint to the microphone and announce whichever receiver falls to them at Pick 12. In this mock draft, Bateman is available and immediately slots in as the best receiver on the team. In fact, he would become the best outside receiver on the team as well as the best slot receiver. This is such an unbelievable need for the Eagles. It would be shocking to see them go elsewhere with the pick.

Trevon Moehrig, S, TCUBGN Radio (Shamus Clancy)

Shamus traded down to No. 20 and picked up even more picks. Watch for the explanation:


SUMMARY

WR DeVonta Smith - 5
WR Jaylen Waddle - 5
CB Jaycee Horn - 5
CB Patrick Surtain II - 2
OT Rashawn Slater - 2
WR Rashod Bateman - 1
S Trevon Moehrig - 1

WR - 11
CB - 7
OT - 2
S - 1

Offense - 13
Defense - 8


THOUGHTS

  • This is the third week in a row where Smith, Waddle, and Horn are the most popular options at No. 12. Two weeks go, it was Wadle first, Horn second, and Smith third. Last week, it was Waddle first, Smith second, and Horn third. This week, they’re all tied for the top spot.
  • Football Outsiders recently wrote about how Smith is a “one-of-a-kind prospect.” He’s the guy I covet the most at No. 12. I really hope he makes it there. Not unlike Justin Jefferson last year, I feel confident about him being a good pro.
  • If the Eagles have their pick of cornerbacks, I’m more intrigued with Horn than Surtain. Horn boasts a truly elite athletic profile at 6-1, 205 pounds.
  • I’m all for the Eagles trying to find an elite player, be it one who plays either offense or defense. That being said, if the talent level is similar, definitely prefer to see them go offense first. The priority should be to build an elite passing game. Wide receiver > cornerback.
  • If the board shakes out where the top three receivers and top two corners are gone, a lineman feels like the most likely option. Slater could be in play.
  • Find it hard to believe there’s a scenario where Bateman is the best available player at No. 12.
  • If you missed it, Jimmy Kempski and I did a snake draft of the Eagles’ most likely first-round options. None of my top two picks appeared here!
  • Who do you most want the Eagles to take in the first round?