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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Guess who leads the final count for the Eagles?

Mock draft madness.

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The 2021 NFL Draft is TONIGHT! Let’s pass the time until the Philadelphia Eagles are on the clock by looking at who the experts have them taking.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Bleeding Green Nation (Brandon Lee Gowton)

I already wrote about how the Eagles shouldn’t talk themselves out of Smith if he’s available at No. 12. The weight concerns are overblown. This is a player who hasn’t had durability issues and regularly excelled at getting off press coverage in the nation’s top college football conference. The Eagles have never successfully drafted and developed a wide receiver under Howie Roseman. There’s a good chance Smith is a solution to their long-time problem at that position. Smith can line up at multiple positions in Philly.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — PhillyVoice (Jimmy Kempski)

Don’t overthink it, Howie.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Establish The Run (Evan Silva)

Heisman-winning wideout forces Howie Roseman’s hand.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah)

Ideally, you don’t pick a wide receiver in the first round in consecutive years, but Smith is too good to pass up at No. 12. He gives the Eagles the true No. 1 WR they’re lacking.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Bucky Brooks)

The Eagles desperately need a No. 1 receiver to anchor the passing game. The silky-smooth Smith is an exceptional route runner with vertical playmaking ability.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — ESPN+ (Todd McShay)

The Eagles, who have the most picks in the draft (11), land the Heisman winner and a dynamic route runner here to address their WR need. They are currently relying on Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham, but Smith will give Jalen Hurts an explosive difference-maker. And remember, Hurts and Smith hooked up for 12 catches back in 2017-18 when Hurts was at Alabama.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — The Athletic (Zach Berman)

My guess is the Eagles will be in position to land one of Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain Jr. or Jaycee Horn at No. 12. If Smith is available, the Heisman Trophy winner would be a strong pick for a team that has not enjoyed the return on investment needed from their rookie receivers. I went back and forth between Smith and Horn at this spot; any of the four would be a good outcome for the Eagles.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Inquirer (Jeff McLane)

Howie Roseman drowns out the noise, listens to his scouts, and takes the dynamic Heisman Trophy winner.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Inquirer (EJ Smith)

The Eagles could be wary of going with a first-round receiver in consecutive years, but shouldn’t overthink it here. Smith is one of the best prospects in the draft. The Heisman Trophy winner could become a true No. 1 receiver. Jaycee Horn is in play here as well, but there are plenty of opportunities in later rounds to add a CB2, which isn’t likely as high a priority for a defense transitioning to more Cover 2 looks.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — 94WIP (Eliot Shorr-Parks)

There seems to be a good chance that Smith is on the board when the Eagles go on the clock. If he is, they should jump at the chance to get him. Smith is a lot like LSU’s Justin Jefferson last season. He has great hands, is a great route runner and has dominated at the highest levels (and biggest stages) of college football. Like Jefferson, Smith has one issue everyone is focusing on, and it seems to be impacting his draft stock. For Jefferson, it was that he played in the slot. For Smith, it is his weight. Jefferson overcame those concerns and was the best rookie receiver in the NFL last season. Both Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni made it clear this past week that they are willing to overlook Smith’s small stature. If they do, Smith can be the consistent, game-changing receiver they have spent the last few seasons looking for.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — 97.5 The Fanatic (Jamie Lynch)

WR DeVonta Smith is a Philadelphia Eagle as Howie Roseman says “we were able to get the best player on the board at #12

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Yahoo! Sports (Eric Edholm)

Wild: The Eagles have drafted one Bama player (WR Freddie Milons, 2002) since 1996. Smith would be a fascinating addition to Jalen Hurts’ offense.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Delaware Online (Martin Frank)

When the Eagles traded back with Miami to go from No. 6 to No. 12, they did so with the expectation that five quarterbacks would be chosen in the top 10, leaving the Eagles with one of seven non-QB picks. That’s like having a top 10 pick. Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy last season while racking up 1,856 receiving yards for the Crimson Tide, would be a great addition to a wide receiver core without a true go-to guy.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Network (Tony Pauline)

Kwity Paye will get heavy consideration here as the Eagles view him as a Brandon Graham clone. In the end, Jaylen Waddle’s speed and athleticism are too much to pass up — assuming he’s available.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (Cris Collinsworth)

The Eagles get lucky here. Waddle likely would have been a top-10 pick but for his injury. His speed flashes often, and he consistently pulled away from SEC defenders. His double-moves are frightening, given his speed, and few receivers run them more often. One of the things I really like about Waddle is that he tends to hold his speed and create comfort for the defensive back before hitting the jets, and then it is all over. His diving catch and collision against Missouri showed his toughness. Jaylen Hurts gets an intimidator outside.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Football Outsiders (Benjamin Robinson)

The Eagles look like an organization on the edge of a rebuild (perhaps at this time next year I’ll be mocking Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler to the Eagles in the top 10?), and just like in the leadup to the 2020 NFL draft, wide receiver is the position most mocked to them by draftniks. Instead of going against the grain as they did in 2020 when they drafted TCU’s Jalen Reagor, they stick to Expected Draft Position and select Alabama speedster Jaylen Waddle, who will eclipse his Heisman Trophy-winning teammate DeVonta Smith on draft night.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Pro Football Talk (Mike Florio)

Many think they’ll go for cornerback Jaycee Horn. To get the most out of quarterback Jalen Hurts, they need to give him weapons. And, yes, given the presence of 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor, the Eagles would have a three-Ja(y)len attack.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — The Draft Network (Jordan Reid)

I would be really surprised if this pick isn’t a wide receiver or cornerback. With the presumed top two corners now off of the board, it’s wise to think that the team will address its need on the perimeter. In search of what to make of Jalen Hurts, providing him with an explosive weapon on the perimeter like Waddle presents many opportunities in the passing game. He’s also an immediate game-changer in the return game as well.

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

The Eagles offense now runs through Jalen Hurts, Jalen Reagor, and Jaylen Waddle. Fun. Don’t forget that extra “y” in the new wideout’s first name.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NBC Sports Edge (Eric Froton)

For three years the college football community has been hearing rumblings out of Alabama that Jaylen Waddle is the most explosive player in their wide receiver corps. That group included Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, but defensive players raved about Waddle’s fast twitch explosiveness. Real knows real, and Waddle made quite an impression by recording four consecutive 100-yard performances to start the 2021 season before getting injured. He would make a fine running mate with Jalen Reagor.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Inquirer (Paul Domowitch)

Waddle is only 5-9, but Howie Roseman loves those little guys who can fly.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — PennLive (Daniel Gallen)

Trading back works out for the Eagles here as Waddle slips down to a wide receiver-needy team at No. 12. While Alabama teammate DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy last season, Waddle started off the season on a tear before he suffered an ankle injury that cost him most of the season. Waddle had 28 catches for 591 yards (21.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in six games last season.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Football Morning In America (Peter King)

I think when the Eagles moved from 6 to 12 on March 29 in the trade with Miami, they hoped for three things: their choice of a top receiver, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, and one of the top two corners in the draft. By this mock, they’re all there. Nothing would surprise me—include a shallow trade-down, say, to New England at 15 if the Patriots are smitten with DeVonta Smith. Horn is my pick here because corner’s a significant need; the Eagles’ best (and priciest) corner, Darius Slay, gave up 77-percent completions last year, per Pro Football Focus, and there’s no other long-term solutions, at least not one who has played to that level, on the roster now. Horn’s a three-year starter in a throwing league, and the book on him is he’s uber-competitive and feisty. Sounds like a Philly guy already.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — NFL.com (Lance Zierlein)

If Lance or Fields were to be available here, it might get interesting. Instead, the Eagles grab a big, talented corner to address their coverage woes.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Sports Illustrated (Albert Breer)

The Eagles have sniffed around on moving up, in front of Dallas, for a corner—so I think this would be a really nice scenario for GM Howie Roseman, and a gift to new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, whose roots in Mike Zimmer’s aggressive scheme could come back to life with a top bookend for Darius Slay.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — The Athletic (Bo Wulf)

As Zach said above, if the Eagles stay at No. 12, the pick should be one of four players: Horn, Surtain, Waddle or Smith. I think they will consider moving up to No. 9, which would probably cost No. 70 and something else, in order to draft Surtain before he can get to the Cowboys. If Ja’Marr Chase falls within their range, that could necessitate another trade-up conversation. And if Horn and the three Alabama players are all off the board, the Eagles will hope to trade back a few spots. In this scenario, both Horn and Smith are available and the Eagles pull the trigger on Horn. The decision is defensible, given Smith’s size limitations and the empty cupboard of young cornerbacks on the roster. Horn has the kind of aggressive play personality sure to attract Nick Sirianni, and he would step in as a day-one starter opposite Darius Slay. But you probably want your cornerback to be more of a factor in forcing turnovers than Horn has been if you’re going to use such a high pick. Horn only had one interception in college. In this scenario, Howie Roseman will pray that Smith doesn’t end up haunting the Eagles like DK Metcalf and Justin Jefferson have over the past two seasons.

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

An interesting scenario for the Eagles plays out in this last CMD. All of the top talent, including the best WRs and O-Tackles, are gone. The top two CBs are available; however, in Philly’s Cover-2 scheme, one has to wonder if using the #12-overall pick on a CB is a wise investment. In this scenario, I imagine Howie Roseman would be calling up the Patriots, trying to sell the pick for Mac Jones. Today’s rumor mill also suggests Kwity Paye is an option. In this CMD, Philly takes CB Jaycee Horn. This would be a bit of a Plan-C for me. That said, the Eagles were last in INTs last year, so taking one of the fastest, most-athletic CBs in the Draft wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — CBS Sports (Pete Prisco)

Their corner situation is a mess, so they have to get a top corner to go with Darius Slay. They could put Horn with Slay and keep Avonte Maddox inside as the nickel.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — CBS Sports (Jonathan Jones)

Looks like this winds up being a masterful trade-down for Howie Roseman. He’s in position to take either DeVonta Smith or Horn. And though I have a strong urge to mock Smith here, they need an upgrade in the defensive backfield.

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

The Eagles wanted to trade up for Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain, but the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers got better offers from the New England Patriots and Washington Football Team in their respective pursuits of Justin Fields and Mac Jones. However, those trades and follow-up selections led to Horn eventually falling to No. 12. The Eagles’ biggest need is unquestionably cornerback. With Ja’Marr Chase (Bengals), Jaylen Waddle (Dolphins) and DeVonta Smith (Giants) off the board, the Eagles have an easy decision to make and they take Horn, who will team with Darius Slay for the next few years before taking over as the No. 1 corner in Philly.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Inquirer (Les Bowen)

Hey, he might be better than Surtain in the long run. Great athlete. Needs better discipline with his hands. There’ll be a lot of comparisons to live up to for whoever is drafted here, which is one reason why I think the Eagles might move up.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — ESPN (Tim McManus)

The Eagles traded back from No. 6 to 12 and still manage to land one of the top prospects in the draft. Surtain is a technically sound lockdown corner with the size (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) to get physical at the line of scrimmage and against the run, and the speed (4.46 second 40-yard dash) to stick with receivers down the field. The addition of Surtain will be music to the ears of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, a former defensive backs coach who is expected to put a heavy emphasis on the secondary. Surtain, the 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, will slide right in as the starting corner opposite Darius Slay.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — Pro Football Focus (Mike Renner)

Passing on DeVonta Smith may sting a bit, but Surtain is no slouch as a consolation prize. He’s been starting since his true freshman year at Alabama and was the highest-graded cornerback in coverage this past season.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — NFL.com (Peter Schrager)

The Lions want to trade back. Badly. Our first massive trade of the evening comes here. I get the feeling the Eagles want one of the top two CBs, and with whispers out there that their NFC East rivals are also in that market, Howie Roseman continues to wheel and deal. In this case, the Philly GM has to give up just the 12th overall pick and a pair of third-rounders to move up five spots and get Surtain.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — NFL.com (Charles Davis)

Of course the Eagles would also like a top WR, but CB Darius Slay needs a counterpart on the other side, and Surtain is terrific.

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

Trade terms: Philadelphia receives: 2021 first-round pick (9 overall). Detroit receives: 2021 first-round pick (12 overall) and a 2021 third-round pick (70 overall). The Detroit Lions slide down yet again, adding another third-round selection in this draft. The Philadelphia Eagles, after trading out of the sixth spot earlier this cycle, have been rumored to be in the mix to a trade back into the top ten, and they pull off this move to get ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, and add the first defensive player of this draft cycle. The Eagles have a need at cornerback and want to grab Patrick Surtain II, an NFL-ready cornerback with great technique and experience.

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Dave Zangaro)

This would be an ideal way for the board to go for the Eagles. They have their choice of the top corners and DeVonta Smith. In this case, the clear choice to me would be Surtain. He’s the top cornerback in this class and has a high floor and high ceiling. I’m convinced he’s going to be a good pro. He’s technically sound, athletic and has a huge football IQ. I know there’s a debate about the value of corners in Jon Gannon’s defense but don’t overthink this. Value lines up with need here.

Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan — The Athletic (Sheil Kapadia)

Howie Roseman has his choice of Devonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle at No. 12, but the Cardinals call looking to move up. They offer a fifth (No. 160) this year and a third next year so that they can take Waddle. The Eagles take the deal, hoping that Smith falls to 16. He does not. They debate Paye (6-foot-3, 261 pounds) and South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn at 16 and ultimately land on Paye. Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat are free agents after the 2021 season, and Brandon Graham will be 34 going into 2022. Roseman decides he needs to restock the cupboard at defensive end.

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

The Eagles could go in several different directions here, including trading down again given the potential rebuild they are looking at. This defense has been at its best when it has rolled seven pass-rushers deep, and Kwity Paye would add to that rotation and give them positional flexibility to always be a threat in obvious rushing situations. After all, the likes of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox aren’t getting any younger.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Reuben Frank)

With Waddle, Chase and Surtain off the board, do the Eagles take a risk on Caleb Farley’s health, Jaycee Horn’s production or DeVonta Smith’s size? If this is the scenario, I could see Howie taking the closest to a sure thing left on the board in versatile monster offensive lineman Rashawn Slater. The Eagles’ offensive line is aging and injury-prone, and Slater gives them a stud who’d be ready to play at a high level on opening day.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Shamus Clancy)

In trading the 12th and 84th picks to Denver to get back into the top 10, the Eagles land a Philadelphia-area native who many pundits consider the most talented prospect in the draft. Kyle Pitts is projected to outgrow the tight end label, acting as a positionless pass-catcher who can line up all over the field and cause mayhem for defensive coordinators. I’m worried about his cheesesteak takes, but grabbing a player of Pitts’ pedigree while leapfrogging the Cowboys and Giants only makes landing the Archbishop Wood grad that much sweeter.

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State — CBS Sports (Will Brinson)

I went through 14 different iterations of this mock draft just because this outcome is SO implausible. This team wants to give Jalen Hurts a year and draft a North Dakota State quarterback to potentially steal his spot? The upside is huge here and Howie Roseman loves to talk about Philly being a “quarterback factory.” He would need to be right here or else he’s hurtling towards “quarterback landfill.”


SUMMARY

WR Devonta Smith - 13
WR Jaylen Waddle - 9
CB Jaycee Horn - 9
CB Patrick Surtain II - 6
DE Kwity Paye - 2
OT Rashawn Slater - 1
TE Kyle Pitts - 1
QB Trey Lance - 1

WR - 22
CB - 15
DE - 2
TE - 1
QB - 1

Offense - 24
Defense - 17

THOUGHTS

  • DRAFT DEVONTA SMITH, EAGLES!!!
  • Evan Silva, Tony Pauline, and Lance Zierlein all notably nailed the Eagles taking Jalen Reagor last year. Silva and Pauline have the Eagles taking Smith this year while Zierlein has them taking Horn.
  • Please draft DeVonta Smith.
  • There’s buzz that the Eagles are looking to trade up for Waddle. Would be OK with taking him at No. 12 but don’t love giving up extra picks for him.
  • Giving up two third-round picks to move up for Surtain? No thanks. I don’t think these corners are that special. And the Eagles have no reason to be super confident in their evaluation to give up extra assets.
  • Only one QB in the final roundup. I don’t think Lance will be falling to No. 12.
  • Please no Kwity Paye. Please draft DeVonta.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?!