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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Eagles pick one of two Alabama wide receivers

Mock draft madness.

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The 2021 NFL Draft is merely 25 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.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Lance Zierlein)

Moving back and grabbing Jalen Hurts’ former Alabama teammate is a strong play. Waddle can help open up the offense and threaten with yards-after-catch throws underneath.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Acme Packing Company (Peter Bukowski)

If this were another team, DeVonta Smith might feel like the safer way to go, but Waddle ranks higher, at least by our averages, and new head coach Nick Sirianni comes from Indianapolis where they built an offense around the explosive speed of T.Y. Hilton. Between Waddle and Jalen Reagor, this offense could give defenses nightmares.

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

The Eagles need to add a wide receiver and they see one of the top guys fall straight into their lap after trading back to the 12th spot. It is a perfect fit for them.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — Sports Illustrated (Michael Fabiano)

The Eagles will have a new look on offense after the trade of Carson Wentz and the release of both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. Zach Ertz could be traded, too. Adding Waddle to an offense with Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor, and Dallas Goedert would be exciting.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Jeff Kerr)

Brilliant move by Howie Roseman to move down and acquire a future first-round pick — still getting one of the top three wide receivers in the draft in Waddle. Immediately the No. 1 wide receiver in Philadelphia, Waddle is a game-breaking talent with the speed the Eagles covet at the position. The Eagles land a star for years to come.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NBC Sports Edge (Hayden Winks)

There are plenty of avenues to where one of the consensus top-three receivers fall to 12th overall. That’s what happens here with Waddle, who sits atop of this stacked slot receiver class because of his lightning speed and physicality with the ball in the air. As a bonus, Waddle and Jalen Hurts played together at Alabama in 2018. Philly will certainly be in the corner market, too.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — NBC Sports Philadelphia (Reuben Frank)

The Eagles trade out of 6 and down six spots and still get one of the top skill guys in the draft in Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards on 28 catches in just six games last year. Waddle missed the season with a broken ankle but returned for the BCS Championship Game against Ohio State and is totally healthy now. The Eagles haven’t really nailed a WR pick since Maclin 12 years ago, but Waddle sure looks like a can’t-miss.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — The Draft Network (Drae Harris)

Philadelphia considers a quarterback with this pick. Ultimately they decide to add more weapons to further the development of Jalen Hurts. They select Hurts’ former teammate, Jaylen Waddle. Waddle brings the type of dynamic threat Philadelphia has not seen since DeSean Jackson was healthy.

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama — DraftTek (Broz)

Howie Roseman apparently sees this draft the same way I do: if you can’t trade up for Wilson or Lawrence (they can’t), then there’s not much of a difference between the next dozen or so guys. The Eagles will now have at least two (but probably three) RD1 picks next year, which should allow them to re-stock their roster, but also may require DraftTek to re-work Broz’s contract! Roseman’s logic is supported in this CMD: guys I’ve been selecting at six all winter are still available here at #12. In this CMD, the mercurial Jaylen Waddle is available, so I nabbed him. This is not an unrealistic scenario, as I feel certain that at least one of Waddle, Chase, Devonta Smith, Sewell, or Kyle Pitts will be available here due to the number of QBs that will go early.

Jaylen Waddle, 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 Waddle. The Eagles could have stayed at No. 6 and drafted a receiver — maybe Waddle — but in trading down they picked up a future first-rounder and still get an impact receiver. That Waddle has familiarity with quarterback Jalen Hurts from their time together at Alabama is just an added bonus. Waddle missed most of the 2020 season with an ankle injury, but before his injury, he — and not the Heisman-winning Devonta Smith — was the playmaking No. 1 receiver at Alabama. Jaylen Waddle (Weeks 1-4): 25-557-4 receiving | 3-12-0 rushing. DeVonta Smith (Weeks 1-4): 38-483-4 receiving | 2-2-1 rushing. Waddle is raw and relatively unproven, but I’m yet to see him fall outside the top 20 of any mock.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — Fake Teams (Pete Rogers)

Smith is “undersized” and that might spook enough GMs to have his draft stock fall, but there’s no way the Eagles are going to let a receiver pass them especially if yet again a team in the NFC East bolsters the position just ahead of them. Oh, and Smith won the Heisman as a receiver and caught 117 balls for 1,856 and 23 touchdowns. Size be damned!

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Cynthia Frelund)

In my draft forecast model, which is what I use to determine the likelihood of a prospect being available at a position when trades are possible, Smith and his Alabama teammate, Jaylen Waddle, have intersecting volatility bubbles — which just means they are closely rated, and there are solid reason for each to be chosen ahead or behind the other. Smith is a more precise route runner, which drives him being slightly more valuable in my models. (Teams use this type of thing to help see how proposed trades impact player availability; the draft forecast model produces a percent likelihood.)

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — NFL.com (Adam Rank)

There are really no wrong answers in this situation right here. If the Giants go defense, then take the receiver you want. Just like you should have done last year, when I told you to take Justin Jefferson. And yes, I’m going to cling to that for quite some time.

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

Philadelphia slid back from No. 6 to No. 12 overall and still has a chance to add one of the draft’s top wide receivers. It would not be a surprise to see them take a cornerback or edge rusher either.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — CBS Sports (Pete Prisco)

They have to get better in the passing game and Smith would help do that. Jalen Hurts looks like he’s their quarterback, so why not get him some help?

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama — FantasyPros (Mike Tagliere)

It’s no secret that the Eagles need wide receivers after releasing both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Sure, they drafted Jalen Reagor in the first round last year, but we’ve heard the Eagles GM state that they want to put Jalen Hurts in a position to be successful, which means having weapons and/or protection. Reagor is a good receiver, but he’s not going to be the go-to possession receiver the Eagles need. Smith is that guy. Some will question his weight and not want to put him this high, but don’t forget that John Ross went at No. 8 overall just four years ago when nobody expected him to. Smith is a superstar whose play deserves more respect.

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

Trading back has rightfully upset a lot of people, but Jaycee Horn would be a tremendous pick at this point in the draft. Having a cornerback with his athleticism and physicality on this defense would be huge.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Bucs Nation (Mike Kiwak)

The Eagles made the right move in shifting down the board in exchange for more capital. With QB off the board, the Eagles could go with Jaylen Waddle here, but it would be redundant with their first-round receiver last year, Jalen Reagor. Instead, they could emphasize improvements to their porous secondary, which lacks a legitimate running mate for Darius Slay. Horn isn’t the cleanest fit for their defense, presuming they carry over zone-heavy principles from Indianapolis under new DC Johnathan Gannon, but him being an absolute freak will make it easier to pull the trigger. He was arguably the best defensive player in the SEC last year.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina — Washington Post (John Clayton)

The Eagles didn’t mind moving back in the first round, knowing they are rebuilding and could have as many as three first-round picks in next year’s draft. Horn is a physical cornerback who is great in man-to-man coverage. Philadelphia could also draft a wide receiver here to help second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.

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

This would be a good result after the Eagles slid down from No. 6. The son of former Saints receiver Joe Horn could be earmarked as a Day 1 starter opposite Darius Slay and has the length and athletic twitch to handle talented NFC East receivers such as CeeDee Lamb and Kenny Golladay.

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

The way I look at it, the move down to No. 12 could get the Eagles the third-best receiver in the draft but it could also give them the best cornerback. South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn is the hotter name right now and there’s a chance he actually goes ahead of Surtain. But let’s not lose sight of how good Surtain has been during his college career. At 6-2, 200 pounds, Surtain would come in and start at CB2 immediately and grow into CB1 after Darius Slay is gone. He has the potential to be great in the NFL.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSUSB Nation (James Dator)

There’s a lot of temptation to take DeVonta Smith here, and personally I like Smith better. However, for the fit, Chase works better in the offense the Eagles are building. It remains to be seen how Jalen Hurts will operate as a full time starter, but his legs and creativity will warrant a receiver who is better picking up yards after the catch, and a powerhouse with the ball in his hands, regardless of where he catches the ball. This selection adds more electricity to the burgeoning offense.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern — CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso)

Given the collective age of the Eagles offensive line, it would be prudent for Roseman to pick a high-floor blocker in Slater here.

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State — LA Times (Sam Farmer)

The Eagles aren’t completely sold on Jalen Hurts at quarterback. If Fields slips a bit, he might be too tempting.

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State — ESPN+ (Todd McShay)

Let’s start with the bad news: As we thought might be the case, the Eagles miss out on the top four pass-catchers in the class after their trade out of No. 6 overall. That’s a problem. The WR room has Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham as the top three options, not leaving QB Jalen Hurts in the best position to find success in an evaluation period. But here’s the good news: The Eagles hold 11 picks this year (the most in the NFL) in a draft with a deep receiver class, the 2022 first-rounder received in the trade will certainly prove valuable, and Philly can still land a guy like Parsons here. He can do a little bit of everything in the middle of this defense.


SUMMARY

WR Jaylen Waddle - 10
WR DeVonta Smith - 6
CB Jaycee Horn - 4
CB Patrick Surtain II - 1
WR Ja’Marr Chase - 1
OT Rashawn Slater - 1
QB Justin Fields - 1
LB Micah Parsons - 1

WR - 17
CB - 5
OT - 1
QB - 1
LB - 1

Offense - 19
Defense - 6


THOUGHTS

  • Waddle continues to be the most popular Eagles mock draft pick. Of those 10 projections, only one outcome had Philly passing on Smith to take him instead.
  • I came across a scenario in the SB Nation NFL writers' mock draft where I had the option of picking between Waddle and Smith. Wasn’t an easy decision for me. I’ll be writing more about that once the mock goes live.
  • Jalen Hurts and Waddle could make for a good stylistic pairing. Hurts likes to push the ball down the field and Waddle is a big play waiting to happen.
  • As BGN’s Benjamin Solak noted in our recent #JerseyNumberAnalytics podcast on BGN Radio, Waddle seamlessly going from No. 17 at Alabama to No. 17 in Philly (with Alshon Jeffery gone) would be pretty sick.
  • I think cornerback is viewed as a more likely Eagles pick than it actually is. If we assume Jonathan Gannon is going to be running a lot of Cover 2, there’s thought that primary resources shouldn’t be devoted to corner. Along those lines, Gannon might be able to do more with less at corner. Look no further than Xavier Rhodes bouncing back in Indy last year. Or T.J. Carrie having a career year. Kenny Moore’s development is another point in that favor.
  • With that said, Horn’s athleticism is incredibly intriguing:
  • Interesting to see that some scenarios had Chase and Fields falling to the Eagles. Can’t see it.
  • I can’t shake the feeling that all this talk about wide receiver and cornerback is going to be for naught. Deep down, we all know the Eagles are actually going to draft an offensive or defensive lineman, right? That’s the direction Howie Roseman has gone in with seven of his nine first-round picks since 2010. Carson Wentz and Jalen Reagor were the only non-trench players. We should probably be talking about the likes of Slater, Penei Sewell, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Kwity Paye as the most likely options for Philly’s pick. In terms of realism, at least, and not necessarily preference.
  • Who do you want the Eagles to draft?