While the new league year doesn’t technically start until March 18th at 4 p.m. ET, the start of the scouting combine marks the first NFL event that will lead into the 2020 season.
Most pundits and fans agree, this year’s draft may be the most important of Howie Roseman’s career. With 10 picks to play around with, seven of them coming before the fifth round, it’s paramount that the front office nails this draft.
Their recent draft history is a murky one, but hopefully Howie and the rest of the scouting department has learned from their mistakes. They can’t afford to get cute this year — if there’s a wide receiver or corner back there for the taking, trade up and get him. The Eagles waited it out in an historically deep running back draft in 2017, only to walk away with Donnel Pumphrey. Last season, they elected to pass on all of the stud defensive lineman in the first three rounds just to take Penn State’s Shareef Miller in the fourth and see him sit on the practice squad all season.
This year’s draft class has been heralded as the deepest wideout draft we’ve seen since 2014. Good news for the Eagles, receiver is easily their biggest offensive need this offseason. Here are three guys who the Eagles are likely to target within the first three rounds.
K.J. Hamler has voiced his desire to stay in the Keystone State during his pre-draft process. When asked about his relationship with former PSU standout and current Eagles tail back Miles Sanders, Hamler said, “Miles is really my best friend. We always talk about (playing together in the NFL). That’s be a fun adventure.” He finished his statement by saying, “I hope he puts in a good word for me.”
Hamler to Philly makes a ton of sense. First, he’ll instantly inject some much needed speed and play making ability into this offense. Last season, he had five touchdowns of 20 yards or more and 11 catches of at least 20 yards. He also has been clocked in with a 4.27 40-yard-dash time, although he won’t be running at the combine because he tweaked his hamstring during training.
In most drafts, Hamler would be a consensus first round pick. But given how deep and talented the WR group is this year, the Eagles could find themselves in prime position to snag him in the second round. The team certainly has the draft capital to trade up in the second to take him if they need to as well.
Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs III is considered by most to be the fastest receiver entering this year’s draft, maybe even the fastest player in the draft period. He certainly thinks he is, as he’s preparing to break John Ross’s 40-yard-dash time of 4.22. “I’m trying to hit the lowest ever, so 4.22 or lower,” he said during his media availability at the combine.
Landing Ruggs would be a home run for Howie, but it feels like he’ll probably have to trade up in the first round to snag him, especially if Ruggs does break the combine 40 record. Again, they have 10 draft picks to play with, so trading up is in the realm of possibilities.
Inserting Ruggs into Doug Pederson’s offense would be so fun to watch. They had no explosiveness last season, and Ruggs would instantly fix that.
TCU’s Jalen Reagor deserves a lot more buzz than he’s getting during the pre-draft process. Like Ruggs, Reagor also plans on running the fastest 40 time. He was asked specifically about competing with Ruggs at the combine, and he confidently stated he’ll out run the Bama wideout. “That’s the plan,” Reagor said. “He runs after me. I’m going to set the bar for him.”
That’s the kind of confidence you look for in a prospect.
He did a lot for his Horned Frogs during his collegiate career. He accumulated 148 receptions for 2,248 yards and 22 touchdowns, while also racking up 324 yards on the ground and an additional two touchdowns during his three years with TCU. He draws comparisons to Tyreek Hill, mostly due to his electrifying speed and big play ability.
He also did some kick and punt returning in college, tallying 15 returns with a 20 yard return average and one touchdown in his final year. It’s been awhile since the Eagles had a play maker in the return game. Reagor could fill that role along with providing some big play ability on offense.
Reagor could be a second round option, like Hamler. Even if he’s available when the Eagles pick in the first round, which he likely will be, I wouldn’t be opposed to them selecting this guy. He may be getting overshadowed by some of the bigger names in this draft class, but that doesn’t mean he can’t ball when given the opportunity.