clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Wide receiver and cornerback make up 32 of 34 Eagles picks

Mock draft madness.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One - Alabama v Notre Dame Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft is only 11 days away! Let’s pass the time until then by looking at who mock drafts have the Philadelphia Eagles taking with the No. 12 overall pick.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Loaded Box (Brandon Lee Gowton)

There isn’t a world where the Eagles pass on the Heisman Trophy winner – at a huge position of need, no less – and that works out well for them. Howie Roseman overthought it when he took Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson last year. He should try not to do that this year and just take an excellent player in Smith at No. 12 overall

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Maize n Brew (Anthony Broome)

This might be a little lower for Smith than some would think, but it is just the way the draft board fell this year. The Eagles could use major help in the passing game with productive playmakers.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Iggles Blitz (Tommy Lawlor)

I’ve talked a lot about my love for Smith in the past few months. He is small at just 170, but he is tough. Smith will block. He will play on special teams. As a receiver, he is a smart, polished player. The Eagles drafted fast guys last year. Now they add someone who knows how to run routes and get open. Smith has elite body control, the most important trait for receivers. He can play in the slot or outside. Smith is the kind of guy you want on a team that is rebuilding. Smart. Tough. Dedicated.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — The Ringer (Danny Kelly)

This is an ideal situation for the Eagles, who not only added a 2022 first-rounder from the Dolphins by trading back from no. 6 to no. 12, but they still grab an elite pass-catching prospect in Smith. The Heisman winner would bring a much-needed big-play presence to Philly’s offense and give presumptive starter Jalen Hurts another talented (and familiar) target to throw to downfield.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Charles Davis)

The early run on WRs concludes with Smith. While the Eagles could use a CB to pair with Darius Slay, they also need reliability on the perimeter for their offense.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Maurice Jones-Drew)

The Heisman winner gives the Eagles a strong route-runner to build around and a familiar target for Jalen Hurts.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Jonathan Jones)

Howie Roseman has taken his lumps the past few months, and many of them were warranted. His decision to trade down from No. 6 to 12 seemed curious at the time, but he still gets the third-best receiver in the draft in Smith to go with former Bama QB Jalen Hurts.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson)

The Eagles moved down from the No. 6 spot a few weeks ago, an indication that they’re not looking for a QB. There are still plenty of needs, including offensive line or in the secondary, but perhaps getting Jalen Hurts a playmaker on the outside should be atop the to-do list. Smith falls to No. 12 only because NFL teams could be concerned about his 170-pound frame. It wasn’t an issue at Alabama, and he’s one of the best players in this class.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Tyler Sullivan)

The Eagles tipped their hand that they weren’t going for a QB in the draft after they traded down. That means it’s the Jalen Hurts Show heading into next season and Philly does what it can to ensure it kicks off successfully by bringing in one of the more talented receivers in this class.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Action Network (Matthew Freedman)

The Eagles need pass-catching help. Veterans Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson were both released this offseason, and tight end Zach Ertz could be traded before the season starts. On top of that, 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor and 2019 second-rounder J.J. Arcega-Whiteside have both underwhelmed in their brief NFL careers. Enter Smith. The Eagles could have stayed at No. 6 and drafted a receiver — maybe Smith — but in trading down they picked up a future first-rounder and still get an impact receiver. That Smith has familiarity with quarterback Jalen Hurts from their time together at Alabama is just an added bonus. I have my doubts about Smith because of his age and size, but he outright dominated in 2020 with 117-1,856-23 receiving as the winner of the Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award. And it’s not as if he’s a one-year wonder: In 2019, he was also the No. 1 receiver for Alabama — ahead of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs — with 68-1,256-14 receiving.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Network (Nick Farabaugh)

In this 2021 First Round NFL Mock Draft, the Eagles get a dream scenario that comes to fruition. With both of the top cornerbacks off the board and no quarterback they like, the Eagles take the value of a dropping DeVonta Smith to pair with Jalen Reagor. Smith will reunite with Jalen Hurts and give him a weapon who is an elite separator at all levels of the field.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Mile High Report (Joe Rowles)

There will be parts of Philly outraged about back to back first round receivers, but who are we kidding? Philly fans are outraged about everything. Waddle is the best player left and beside Jalen Reagor is Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham. If Jeffrey Lurie is determined to roll with Jalen Hurts, he needs help. Waddle can take the top off a defense and his elite short area agility will help him to turn short completions into long gains.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — The Phinsider (Kevin Nogle)

The Eagles land a field-stretching wide receiver for their Jalen Hurts led offense. Sure, Hurts transferred to Ohio State when Tua Tagovailoa took over as Alabama’s starting quarterback, but Hurts and Waddle were still together in 2018. So, we now have three cases of a quarterback/receiving pair from college reuniting in the NFL.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Establish The Run (Evan Silva)

Waddle went for 120-plus receiving yards in each of Alabama’s first four 2020 games before an ankle injury torpedoed his season. When healthy, Waddle averaged nearly 19.0 career yards per catch and scored three TDs in the return game, demonstrating elite playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. In this scenario, the soft-rebuilding Eagles could surround 2021 quarterback starter Jalen Hurts with speedsters Waddle and Jalen Reagor on the perimeter and obvious breakout candidate Dallas Goedert at tight end behind a still-loaded offensive line.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Charley Casserly)

With a skill set that compares to Tyreek Hill’s, Waddle may be the major receiving weapon the Eagles have been searching for. Jalen Hurts is the big winner with this pick.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Jordan Dajani)

The Eagles need help at wide receiver, and Jaylen Waddle is one of the best weapons in the draft.

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

Philadelphia gets a physical cornerback to pair with Darius Slay. Horn gives the team a long-term option at the position.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NBC Sports Edge (John Daigle)

Philadelphia reportedly traded down from No. 6 because GM Howie Roseman assumed Chase wouldn’t be available, which suggests the team will be prioritizing a wide receiver with its first pick. Although Waddle’s production in his final year (8/134/2, 5/142/1, 6/120, 6/161/1) was basically a one month sample, the 22-year-old’s career 19.3 yards per punt return qualifies him as a versatile weapon that likely leaped off the tape to owner Jeff Lurie, a known draftnik.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Sports Illustrated (Conor Orr)

The Eagles traded back and here would still get a receiver they probably coveted in the top 10 prior to their trade with Miami. All is well and Waddle pairs with the still-likable Jalen Reagor to form the core of Nick Sirianni’s new offense. Philadelphia has a lot of work to do, but Waddle is a value they cannot possibly pass up.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Sharp Football Analysis (Ryan McCrystal)

The Eagles are in a good position at No. 12 to address massive holes at either receiver or cornerback. Since they’re building around a young quarterback, the edge probably goes to the receivers at this selection.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — B/R (Brad Gagnon)

It might seem silly for the Philadelphia Eagles to use first-round picks on wide receivers in back-to-back drafts, but the Jalen Reagor pick is a sunk cost now, the receiver position remains a massive weak spot in Philly, and it works out that, in this case, the best player available is a wideout. Waddle was destined to be a top-10 (maybe even top-five) pick before suffering that ankle injury in October. He still could go that high, but a player with his skill set shouldn’t get past a team that has Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward Jr. and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside topping the receiver depth chart. The blazing-fast Alabama product averaged 21.1 yards per reception during an abbreviated 2020 campaign and is more than just a speed demon. He’s instinctive, he runs smooth routes and he adjusts well to balls in the air. The Eagles could also use another cornerback or help in the linebacker corps, but this decision is made easier by the fact Surtain is off the board and Waddle can make a much larger impact than the sliding Micah Parsons can off the ball.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Bleeding Green Nation (ablesser88)

The term “shutdown corner” is overused in today’s league but if there is one prospect in this year’s draft that has the potential to be just that it’s Horn. Every year he has been in college he has improved by leaps and bounds. I can’t remember the last time we had 2 legitimately good outside CBs, and if you told me it wasn’t since the Andy Reid glory years of the mid ‘00s I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. Horn and Darius Slay gives us that. He’s a scheme fit with an incredibly high ceiling who will only continue to improve.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Dawgs By Nature (Big Comsic News)

Horn would be a different style of corner for the Eagles, with his preference for playing press man, but the Eagles have a new DC and have always preferred length in their DBs. Horn tested off the charts and plays the game with great competitiveness. An athletic alpha type player could be just the sort of player to build a defense around this year. And if Hurts is really something, Horn and Darius Slay would form an excellent orner tandem for a surprisingly competitive team.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — The Draft Network (Trevor Sikkema)

You would think that with the top three pass-catching options and Surtain off the board that this would be the worst-case scenario for the Eagles, but there is still one player left who could make this all work, and that is Horn. Horn will give the Eagles a reliable man coverage cornerback they need in the secondary. He would immediately be their CB1.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — DraftTek (Broz)

Over the last month, I’ve been trying to select a variety of players for the Eagles so that I can research and write about every realistic option. This will be the last CMD where I do that; going forward, I will select who I think the Eagles WILL take, not who I want them to take. For instance, if the Draft fell this way, I’d want them to take Horn, but I think they’d take Lance or Paye. Jaycee Horn is probably the most physically-gifted CB in this draft. That said, the potential problem with this choice is the assumed Cover-2 scheme the team will likely use. Although using the #12- overall pick on a corner in a 2-high defense may be “over-kill”, if Horn lives up to his potential, he would thrive in any scheme.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — The Athletic (Dane Brugler)

The Eagles could go wide receiver here or add to the trenches, but Philadelphia also needs help at cornerback. Horn and Darius Slay starting on the outside would help make cornerback a strength.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Yahoo! Sports (Eric Edholm)

They could go with an outside corner in Round 1 and add a nickel corner with one of their three Day 2 picks. Horn would start immediately opposite Darius Slay and potentially be a significant upgrade over the options currently in place. The NFC East is suddenly strong at receiver, with Kenny Golladay joining the Giants and Curtis Samuel going to the Washington Football Team, so the Eagles will need as many talented cover men as possible.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Dave Zangaro)

I have Horn ranked as the second-best cornerback in this draft class, which is not a knock on him but more about how much I like Patrick Surtain II from Alabama. But there are plenty of teams who probably like Horn’s upside even more. There’s a lot to like about Horn. So if Surtain is off the board and if one of those top receivers isn’t there, then it makes a ton of sense to take Horn. At 6-1, 205 pounds, he’s an absolute physical specimen who has Pro Bowl potential. For an Eagles team with a desperate need at corner, this is a situation where need and value line up.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — ESPN+ (Mel Kiper Jr.)

The Eagles traded out of the top 10 and moved to No. 12, which essentially took them out of the quarterback race. They could also miss out on the top wide receivers; I suspect they would jump at Waddle if he made it here. Just looking at this roster, though, corner should be a priority, and they’d have their pick of all of them if the board shakes out this way. Surtain is the most fundamentally sound defensive back in this class.

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

If Surtain is here at No. 12, you can lock this one in. Surtain to the home of Paddy’s Pub.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUTouchdown Wire (Mark Schofield)

[BLG Note: Eagles trade up to No. 5!?] Cincinnati gets: Philadelphia’s 12th overall pick in the 2021 draft, plus Philadelphia’s first-round pick in the 2022 draft. Philadelphia gets: Cincinnati’s fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft. The Eagles have already traded around in this draft and picked up an extra 2022 first-rounder from the Dolphins in doing so, and it’s easy enough to spend that pick here to move ahead of their former trade partners and get the guy they want. The Eagles need a lot of things before they’re going to be fully competitive again, but no need has been more obvious over the last few seasons than the need for a field-tilting receiver who will make his quarterback better at all times. Assume that Philly is going all in on Jalen Hurts — at least, in the short term — and Chase would help Hurts a ton with his otherworldly combination of athletic talent and determination that brings Davante Adams to mind, in my eyes.

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

The Eagles will hope things play out this way with both the Falcons and Bengals not taking Pitts well ahead of them. They should still be trading Zach Ertz and targeting Pitts as Jalen Hurts’ new ultimate security blanket with a heavy dose of dynamic athleticism for the position.

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan — Pro Football Focus (Sam Monson)

Philadelphia was at its best over the past few seasons when its defensive front could run seven-deep in terms of generating pressure. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham aren’t getting any younger, while Derek Barnett never quite became the force the Eagles may have hoped for when drafting him. At this spot, they get to take their pick of the best defensive linemen in the draft, choosing to make Michigan’s Kwity Paye the first selected. Paye has freakish quick-twitch explosion and showed significant year-over-year improvement throughout his college career. That improvement is an important thing to see for a player who totaled only 1,326 snaps on defense over four years. He also has the size to line up inside and the experience of doing so, as well, giving him a pass-rushing versatility that not many players can match.


SUMMARY

WR DeVonta Smith - 11
WR Jaylen Waddle - 10
CB Jaycee Horn - 7
CB Patrick Surtain II - 2
WR Ja’Marr Chase - 1
TE Kyle Pitts - 1
DE Kwity Paye - 1

WR - 23
CB - 9
TE - 1
DE - 1

Offense - 24
Defense - 10


THOUGHTS

  • Another week where the roundup is unsurprisingly dominated by the Eagles’ two biggest positions of need. Are we getting too caught in chalk picks or are the Eagles actually (read: ‘No, seriously!’) going to go in that direction? Last week, Derrick Gunn said his “sources keep telling me if the Eagles stay at the 12th spot in the first round they will target a WR or DB.” Makes logical sense. But, with all due respect to a true GOAT like DGunn, draft sources must be taken with a grain of salt. There’s so much unknown in terms of how the board is going to play out.
  • Maybe the Eagles aren’t even going to stay at No. 12? The latest rumor indicates they’re looking to move back up into the top 10. The No. 9 spot is intriguing if the cost is reasonable (2021 third-round pick) and Smith is still around. I really want Smith. I think his ceiling offers home run potential and his floor is like hitting a double.
  • As I recently discussed on this week’s BGN Radio podcast, I’m Team WR over Team CB when it comes to the Eagles’ first-round pick. The main priority should be about becoming an elite passing offense as opposed to trying to stop other ones. I don’t love this idea the Eagles can merely find a good wide receiver later on. What about Howie Roseman’s draft history at that position suggests it’s a favorable outcome? His draft record at corner isn’t much better, for sure, but it’s arguably not as bad. And based on Jonathan Gannon’s track record, there’s hope he can do more with less at CB.
  • To be clear, the WR vs. CB debate assumes the talent level is about equal. If the available talent at CB is in a tier above the WR talent, gotta go with the best player.
  • The scenario in this roundup where the Eagles trade up to No. 5 to get Chase is just bonkers!
  • Feel pretty confident that Pitts isn’t lasting until No. 12. He might go as early as No. 4.
  • I’ve said it before but I still can’t help but feel all the WR and CB talk will be for naught and Paye will indeed be the pick.
  • Other darkhorse guys that could be in play at No. 12 but aren’t listed here: Rashawn Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Christian Barmore.
  • Who do you think it’s going to be? Who do you want the Eagles to take?