With the No. 15 overall pick in the 2022 SB Nation NFL community mock draft, I picked Jordan Davis for the Philadelphia Eagles. There was temptation to go wide receiver at that spot but I figured I could still get a good pass-catcher at No. 18.
Unfortunately, my preferred target got sniped with the Los Angeles Chargers taking Jameson Williams at No. 17. I’d really like the Eagles to get the Alabama speedster with one of their two first-round picks. But considering the buzz that the league is higher on Williams than mock drafters are, there’s a decent chance he won’t even be available to Philly.
And so perhaps it’s best to adjust expectations and focus on a more realistic (?) wide receiver target for the Eagles. With the No. 18 pick in this year’s SB Nation NFL community mock draft, I’m taking Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave.
Wait. WR in the first round for the third straight year?!
Before we even dive deeper on Olave, let’s tackle the elephant in the room.
There seems to be a lot of consternation about the Eagles potentially becoming the first team to draft first-round receivers in three consecutive years for the first time since Matt Millen’s Lions.
This is silly. What happened in Detroit has no bearing on what the Eagles should do.
The reality is the Eagles need help at receiver. Their top three options are currently DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Zach Pascal. DeVonta had an encouraging season as he broke the Eagles’ rookie record for receiving yards. Watkins might be unlocked with improved quarterback play but he might be more of a WR3. Pascal should really be no more than a WR3 and ideally a WR4. Jalen Reagor shouldn’t even be on the 2022 regular season roster.
The Eagles need more receiver talent. And they know it! They tried to trade for Calvin Ridley. They had interest in trading for Robert Woods. They had interest in signing Allen Robinson. Ultimately, the Birds failed to land one of their targets. And likely in part because of an offense that ranked dead last in passing play percentage last year.
With the Eagles unable to convince veteran receivers to come to Philly, the draft remains their best avenue to upgrading the position. To be clear, the Eagles should not be drafting merely to fill holes. But the talent at receiver tends to line up with their picks in the middle of the first round. It’s a sensible marriage of need and value.
We know Olave is on the Eagles’ radar. The team brought him to the NovaCare Complex for an official pre-draft visit last week. Here’s what we wrote at the time:
Olave, who turns 22 in June, had a productive four-year stint at Ohio State. He amassed 175 total receptions for 2,702 yards (15.4 average) and a whopping 35 touchdowns. Teams clearly struggled to keep him out of the end zone.
Some might be concerned that Olave never posted more than 936 yards in a given season. Then again, he was sharing targets with some high-profile teammates such as Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Terry McLaurin, and Parris Campbell.
Some might also be concerned about his relatively smaller frame. In a perfect world, the Eagles would be able to add a player with more size to their receiving corps. Incumbent starters DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins are obviously on the slighter side. But more important for the Eagles than adding a receiver of a certain profile is adding a receiver who’s actually good at football. And there’s reason to believe Olave fits the bill there. He’s demonstrated ability to make big plays and score.
Bleeding Green Nation’s Ben Natan has Olave as his WR1. From his wide receiver rankings:
What he does well: Chris Olave was a prolific deep threat at Ohio State due to his easy acceleration, game breaking second gear and tremendous ball skills. Calling him a deep threat, however, undersells his skill set. Olave is a silky smooth route runner with great feels for the defense. Playing with Garrett Wilson meant Olave’s role was simplified, but he has shown he can win in a variety of ways.
Where he can improve: Olave rarely saw contested situations due to his play style and usage, so there are legitimate questions as to if he can win in traffic. However, that might be an irrelevant concern because he is just open so often. He could stand to put on some size, but probably shouldn’t if that would compromise his speed.
NFL Comparison: Terry McLaurin
A top trio of DeVonta, Quez, and Olave is intriguing. There’s a lot of playmaking ability there. Having Pascal rotate in as a complementary piece who can do the dirty work as a run blocker gives the Eagles a quality quartet. Add in Dallas Goedert and the Eagles have more than enough to accurately evaluate Jalen Hurts in what figures to be a crucial season for the third-year quarterback.
Should the Eagles draft Chris Olave?
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Chris Olave: Best route runner in the 2022 #NFLDraft.— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) April 20, 2022
Deep speed, outstanding concentration and catch-finishing, and the ease of separation has made him a favorite of offensive coaches. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/MfSHl1dFq5
Spider graph via Mockdraftable:
Top players remaining:
- George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
- Bernhard Raimann, T, Central Michigan
- Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
- Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan