Grading the Philadelphia Eagles' Most Likely Draft Choices
It's the 2019 NFL Draft, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf out of Ole Miss is still on the board when the Eagles pick comes around, but due to him failing a physical, the Eagles opt to select wide receiver JJ Arcega Whiteside from Stanford. A huge miss by the Eagles brass but nobody nails every day one draft pick, so fool me once shame on me.
One year later however, wide receiver Justin Jefferson out of LSU is available to be picked by the Eagles, who instead choose wide receiver Jalen Reagor out of TCU. Jefferson goes on to have over 1000 yards receiving in his rookie year, while Reagor sat most of the season on the bench with injury and was underwhelming when he did play. Fool me twice, shame on you Eagles!
That being said the Eagles currently hold the number 12 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, after previously having the 6th pick but trading spots with Miami and gaining some future draft capital in the process.
There has been speculation swirling around the team that they might select a player at nearly every position, including receiver, cornerback, defensive end and quarterback, but what the Eagles will do on draft night is anyone's guess.
Here are my grades for the most likely draft selections that the Eagles will make in round one of the draft:
Quarterback, Justin Fields: Ohio State Buckeyes
This move would likely require a trade back into the top ten, unless Fields was to somehow fall past the Panthers at 8 and Broncos at 9. I personally don't think both of those teams are going to pass on Fields if he is still there, and also what's the logic behind moving out of the top ten of the draft, only to move back in and take another young signal caller when you already have Jalen Hurts on the roster. I personally do not like this move for the Eagles, and I love Justin Fields as a player, I still think he is the second best QB in the draft behind Trevor Lawrence.
Tight End, Kyle Pitts: Florida Gators
To get Pitts, the Eagles would absolutely have to trade back into the top ten, likely the top five. But in order to get the best prospect in this year's draft (yes including Trevor Lawrence), it would be completely worth it. I think Pitts is a lock to have a Hall of Fame Career and would give Jalen Hurts a security blanket and a bonafide number 1 option that can lineup anywhere on the field. This would likely signal the end of Zach Ertz as an Eagle and they could include him in the trade package to move up and get Pitts.
Cornerback, Jaycee Horn: South Carolina Gamecocks
The NFL bloodlines are there: The son of former New Orleans Saints receiver, Joe Horn, Jaycee is an aggressive bump and run corner with size, speed and grit that would pair up well opposite Darius Slay for the Eagles. I see this as a pretty likely pick because I think that Patrick Surtain II will be gone to the Cowboys at pick number 10, along with Kyle Pitts and Jaylen Waddle being gone before pick 12.
Cornerback, Patrick Surtain II: Alabama Crimson Tide
Another player whose father played and excelled in the league, Surtain II is the consensus best cornerback in the draft and would be a steal for the Eagles; helping to shore up one of their biggest weaknesses on defense. If someone as uber-talented as Surtain II falls all the way down to 12, I think it's a no-brainer pick.
Wide Receiver, Jaylen Waddle: Alabama Crimson Tide
I don't see Waddle falling to 12, as I think he's risen to the consensus number 2 receiver, behind Ja'Marr Chase, and Waddle will therefore be selected by the Dolphins at 6, Lions at 7, or Giants at 11. If he does somehow fall to 12, it would certainly fill a team need, and he would instantly become the best receiver on the Eagles roster. But he has a very similar skill set to Jalen Raegor, and I see Waddle making his NFL living in the slot more than out wide, which I also see as Reagor's bread and butter. The Eagles need a player they can stick out wide so Reagor can move into the slot.
Linebacker, Micah Parsons: Penn State Nittany Lions
The likelihood that this happens is low for me, not because I think Parsons will be gone before 12, although I think the Lions at 7 or the Broncos at 9 might snatch him up, but because the Eagles have more glaring needs at wide receiver and cornerback. The only way I could see this transpiring is if Jaylen Waddle, Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn, and Devonta Smith are all off of the board by 12. Even then, the Eagles might just trade back at that point and acquire more future draft capital. If by small chance the Eagles do decide to pick Parsons, I think they'd be getting the best defensive player in the draft and an absolute steal at 12.
Defensive End, Kwity Paye: Michigan Wolverines
Paye to the Eagles at 12 has come up in some NFL circles as of late. The Eagles have been disappointed in Derek Barnett's production and Brandon Graham is getting up there in age, but this year's draft class isn't loaded with defensive end talent. Paye would be a risk and a project, while fellow defensive prospects like Horn, Surtain II and Parsons would be much more of a sure thing and solidify positions of need.
Wider Receiver, Devonta Smith: Alabama Crimson Tide
The "Slim Reaper" might be the coolest nickname I've heard in awhile and Smith's 166 pound frame has some teams hesitating to pick him, but his play during the 2020/2021 college season speaks for itself. He not only won the Biletnikoff Award for best receiver in college football but took home the Heisman Trophy and absolutely dominated the College Football Playoff. The only team that I see taking Smith ahead of the Eagles is the Giants at 11 but they just as likely could go with Waddle or an offensive lineman. Smith would give the Eagles their first bonafide outside weapon since Terrell Owens.
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