I’m taking a different approach with the Birds’ second first-round pick. This selection is more about having fun than it is necessarily trying to be incredibly predictive.
And so with the No. 30 overall selection, the Eagles select ... Jalin Hyatt, wide receiver, Tennessee.
The Eagles’ ‘need’ at this position is nuanced.
On one hand, they have two excellent starters in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. On the other hand, there just isn’t much in the way of reliable depth behind them.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: Quez Watkins failed to prove himself as a trustworthy option last season. He was very detrimental to the team’s chances of winning in three out of their four total losses. And in the one loss where he wasn’t responsible for an obviously awful play, he saw one target and didn’t log a catch.
It doesn’t make sense to have Watkins carrying the 18th-highest cap number on this year’s roster. Especially when he’s on the final year of his contract and can be released or traded to clear $2.743 million with only $42,415 in dead money.
Hyatt has the opportunity to be an upgrade on Watkins. The 21-year-old is coming off a season where he logged 67 receptions for 1,267 yards (18.9 average!) and 15 touchdowns. He’s drawn comparisons to elite deep threats like DeSean Jackson and Will Fuller V.
Scouting report from NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah:
Hyatt is a thin-framed wide receiver with rare speed. At Tennessee over the past two years, he primarily lined up in the slot in Josh Heupel’s spread attack, catching a ton of quick hitters and over-the-top balls. He is at his best when he can stay on the move without having to gear down and work back to the quarterback. He has easy speed, destroying cushions immediately, and he can find another gear with the ball in the air. He tracks the ball naturally over his shoulder and can make plays above the rim. After the catch, he isn’t very shifty or elusive, but he can simply run away from tacklers. He enjoyed his best game this past season in Tennessee’s thrilling win over Alabama, producing one big play after another in a five-touchdown bonanza. Overall, Hyatt is a home run hitter with reliable hands.
Another from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:
Long, slender wideout with deep speed that could force defensive coordinators to alter coverage considerations. Hyatt’s gliding gait disguises explosive acceleration that can lead to easy separation on deep throws. However, he does display inconsistency on contested catches comes. Hyatt is ordinary getting in and out of intermediate breaks and might be best with a limited route tree full of slants, crossers and a series of field-stretching patterns. Hyatt is an instantly credible WR2 with the ability to make a huge impact, but production could be erratic due to the limitations of his game.
The notion that Hyatt’s “production could be erratic” isn’t so much of a concern in Philadelphia. The way I see it, the Eagles are not going to be looking to use a primary resource to add another volume target to this offense. They already have their big three in Brown, Smith, and Dallas Goedert.
And the team clearly had to manage those alpha receiver personalities to some extent last year. The Eagles made a concentrated effort to get Smith involved on the first play of the game in Week 2 after he was held without a catch in Week 1. We saw how Brown was visibly annoyed on the sideline with his lack of action even when the Eagles were blowing out the New York Giants 38 to 7 in the Divisional Round. That was not the only time last year that Brown seemingly was not satisfied with the target distribution.
With that in mind, it’s difficult for me to believe the Eagles are looking to add a receiver like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who’s going to come in and demand the ball on a regular basis. Someone who profiles as a low-volume, high-impact target seems like the more realistic fit. That’s where Hyatt comes in.
For what it’s worth, DraftKings Sportsbook doesn’t see wide receiver as a likely target for the Birds, with +1000 odds on that position being the team’s first drafted player. Offensive lineman (-190), defensive line/EDGE (+190), running back (+700), and cornerback (+900) all have better odds.
- Trading down. The Eagles are totally going to be on the clock at No. 30 late on Thursday night only to trade out of the first round. It’s a logical move for a team that’s entering the draft with six selections and a HUGE gap from their third-round pick at No. 94 and the first of two seventh-round picks at No. 219. But trading down in this mock isn’t really fun since then I wouldn’t get to do a write-up for a pick. And I wanted to share my theory on how they’re approaching the receiver position.
- Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs is a very popular target for the Eagles at No. 30. I don’t know that he’s as realistic of a pick as most seem to think he is, though? Jalen Hurts isn’t really the biggest ‘throw to the running back’ guy. Maybe that’s in part due to the talent he’s had available to him. But it also seems related to him preferring to run rather than to check down. Also, Kenneth Gainwell’s progress in the playoffs could have the Birds feeling like they want to see what he can do in Year 3 as opposed to burying him on the depth chart behind Gibbs.
- O’Cyrus Torrence. I had the Eagles go with Nolan Smith at No. 10. I’d be surprised if they don’t go OL with at least one of their first two selections. Torrence would have a chance to start at right guard with Cam Jurgens remaining on the bench as Jason Kelce’s backup. But writing about a guard is kinda boring.
- Bryan Bresee. Arguably the best player available. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Eagles take him here. But, again, not the most exciting pick for this activity. And would they really double dip on the defensive line after I had them taking Smith? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s the most likely outcome.