The NFL Draft is now just two days away and the Eagles options at 21 are becoming more clear. While there’s an outside possibility of a Henry Ruggs III falling to 21, I wouldn’t bet on that happening.
The most likely scenario is that the Eagles trade down in the draft, trade up for CeDee Lamb, or select one of the following five players with the 21st overall pick.
Justin Jefferson is far and away the most popular pick in mock drafts for the Eagles. He’s generally considered the WR4, and while he’s not always grouped in the top tier with Lamb, Jeudy, and Ruggs, you could argue his combination of size, athleticism, polish, and ball skills make him a safer, more pro-ready prospect than those three.
He profiles mainly as a slot receiver but he has the versatility to play outside—we know Pederson already planned to use DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery out of the slot on occasion, so it makes sense to add a guy who’s versatile enough to be effective in both roles.
Obviously Ertz is Wentz’s favorite security blanket over the middle, but Jefferson would immediately become the “1b” option to Ertz on third downs. He has strong hands and is the sort of precise and physical route-runner who’s capable of making plays in traffic (the sort of plays Agholor struggled to finish with consistency).
I wouldn’t be surprised if they move up a couple spots to secure Jefferson. Jacksonville at 20 is a prime trade back candidate for a team who wants to leap us and the Vikings for a wideout.
Reagor is my WR5 and a popular pick among some Eagles fans. He’s one of the most explosive players in the draft and is worth grabbing at 21.
I wrote about Reagor a week ago and raved of his twitchy athleticism, speed, and leaping ability. Pair that with polished route-running and good ball skills and it’s hard to understand why he’s not rated higher. He‘ll be a RAC-monster in the quick passing attack while also being a vertical threat who can shake single coverage in a moments notice.
Reagor managed to produce 148 catches, 2,248 yards and 22 TDs over three seasons despite some of the worst quarterback play in the country. Pederson will be able to use him all over the field, and Wentz would make him an immediate star in year one.
Mims is the strongest bust candidate out of anyone on this list, which makes him pretty risky at this point of the draft. Nonetheless, 6’3” wideouts who run well at the combine always catch our eye, and it’s hard to deny that his ceiling is very high.
He shows flashes of elite ball skills, and he has the foundation of a solid route runner. If he can quickly develop both these areas into legitimate strengths at the pro-level then he’ll be a real asset and well worth the price at 21.
It’s unlikely he’ll ever play as fast on-field as he runs in the gym, but with his physical profile he doesn’t necessarily need blazing speed. His floor is Braylon Edwards with a ceiling of Dez Bryant—not bad, but not ideal at 21 for such a deep/talented receiver class.
The Eagles haven’t taken a linebacker in the first round since 1975; Howie Roseman is known to use a team building philosophy that doesn’t allocate assets at LB; and the NFL as a whole continues to squeeze out the position altogether. Nonetheless I won’t rule this pick out as a possibility.
You can make a strong case that linebacker is the last major hole in the defense, and Murray is a very safe, modern linebacker who’s projected to go in the late first round (he’s a trade-back option, too). He’s fast, long, and has a twitchy burst that makes him the prototypical sideline-to-sideline linebacker who rarely misses a tackle.
He needs to improve as a processor and decision-maker, but the hope is that this will develop with more reps in the pros. He’s plenty strong to play up the middle in the NFL, though he could hone his technique in terms of block-shedding—another area he should have no problem developing with real pro-style reps he didn’t get at Oklahoma.
He has the tools to excel in coverage, and is already playable on third down in simple zone responsibilities. The Eagles likely won’t ask too much of him in pass defense, so there’s no reason to harp on this area too much, but I’m not afraid to call him a clear “three down player” by year two if things break right for him.
This pick isn’t getting a ton of play because of how likely WR is, but Howie and the rest of the team’s decision makers understand how important the line of scrimmage is. They also know that Jason Kelce is near retirement, and Isaac Seumalo doesn’t exactly have a stranglehold on left guard.
With the team breaking-in a new left tackle they might be wise to sure up the future transition on the interior before it becomes imperative. Ruiz is a safe, high-level prospect who’s an exceptional athlete with a great football IQ. Check out a full profile of him here.
They could potentially trade back a few spots for Ruiz, but this pick likely only comes into play if five receiver are taken ahead of 21—a possibility if there’s a WR surprisingly taken inside the top 10, or a run on the position from picks 11-13 & 15.