The 2019 Eagles Draft Encyclopedia: Wide Receiver Edition

As fans get ready to watch the Rams face off against the Patriots, the city of Philadelphia is collectively thinking aloud “that should be us”. Instead, we will have to wait until the 2019 Draft for Eagles football again, even if it is just a taste. Over the next few months, mock drafts will abound and speculative journalism will be at all-time high as fans and teams alike try to sift through the throngs of eligible draftees to find the next great star.  This series will be an intro for those looking to get a grasp of some of the better options that will be available for the Birds during the draft. As always, draft projections are never perfect, and even the most thorough analyses can let future Pro-Bowlers slip through the cracks. So, if you feel that I’ve missed someone, gotten it wrong, or would just like me to do a write-up of your favorite under-the-radar prospect, let me know in the comments below!

Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, Philadelphia holds six selections, not including compensatory picks which have yet to be calculated. According to the most recent compensatory projections list by Over The Cap, the Eagles are set to receive three compensatory picks: a 4th-round pick for Trey Burton, and two sixth-rounders for Beau Allen and Patrick Robinson. The Birds were able to replace Beau Allen with the Haloti Ngata signing and may lose one of their two 6th-round compensatory picks because of it. As of now, their draft positioning is as follows:

First Round Pick 25 (25)
Second Round Pick 21 (53)
Pick 25 (57)
Fourth Round Pick 25 (121)
Compensatory Pick
Fifth Round Pick 25 (153)
Sixth Round Pick 25 (185)
Compensatory Pick
Compensatory Pick

 

RECEIVER

In 2018, the Eagles brought on Mike Wallace to replace Torrey Smith on the outside, hoping that one of their young promising depth receivers could make a big splash. Neither Wallace, nor draft picks Mack Hollins or Shelton Gibson made any ground in improving the receiver room. Philadelphia does have a true number one option in Alshon Jeffery, but Nelson Agholor struggled to be an effective number two which forced the team to seek the help of veteran Golden Tate at the trade deadline. There is a possibility, due to limited cap space and a weighty contract, that Agholor could find himself on the trade block this off-season. While most would argue there are greater positions of need for the team in the offseason, drafting a receiver early in the 2019 draft is not out of the realm of possibilities. There is talent sprinkled in all over this draft class of young pass-catchers, and the Eagles could really use a player to take the pressure off Jeffrey and Zach Ertz. The obvious solution is to add a play-maker with the speed to take the top off the defense. Rumors have already spread about a reunion with former Philly receiver DeSean Jackson. However, if the front office is without the coin to land a big free agent signing or bring back one of their own, who could they look to add in the upcoming draft?

 

D.K. Metcalf – Ole Miss

Walter Football Rank: 2

CBS Rank: 1

DraftTek Rank: 1

Draft Wire Rank: 1

The Draft Network Rank: 1

Range: First Round

Size: 6’3″, 225

Breakdown: Metcalf is as close to a bona fide number one receiver as you’ll get in this class. He’s got the size, speed, strength and big-play potential you look for in a first round pick. His contested catch ability and catch radius makes him an easy target and he’ll be one of those receivers that’s open even when he’s covered. The problem is he missed a chunk of last season due to injury and scouts aren’t really sure how healthy he is yet.

Pros: Brings a lot to the table for a man his size. Route running, speed and burst are not lacking for a bigger receiver. Bad news for corners — if he can’t outrun you, he’ll just out-muscle you. Has a great release and really showcases his technique when challenged in press. Has great YAC ability and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. Has a second gear that can surprise defenders. Good blocker when he can get his hands on the defender.

Cons: Not an intricate route runner. Had a limited route tree at Ole Miss. Could be a more consistent catcher, can be prone to drops and needs to work on technique. Can mistime his jumps and doesn’t always win the ones he should because of it.

How he fits: His skill set is very similar to that of Alshon Jeffery; if not even faster. Having to worry about Metcalf and Alshon would cause nightmares for defensive coordinators. If either of the two Ole Miss receivers fall to the Eagles at pick number 25, you can bet Howie will give them a long hard look. That may be the case for A.J. Brown, but expect Metcalf to be gone by then. Save for a bad medical, which may cause him to fall, D.K. will probably get scooped up in the top 20. I’m not sure the front office feels they need a receiver of this skill set, or are tempted to spend draft capital on one of this caliber, but “best player available” always rings true and Metcalf may very well be that at 25.

Signature play:

 

A.J. Brown – Ole Miss

Walter Football Rank: 1

CBS Rank: 2

DraftTek Rank: 4

Draft Wire Rank: 5

The Draft Network Rank: 7

Range: First to Second Round

Size: 6’1″, 225 lbs

Breakdown: A hyper-savvy, large slot receiver with big YAC potential, Brown was once thought of as the hands down number one receiver in this class. A strong get-off and quick lateral movements make him a great underneath receiver that can gash a defense with the ball in his hands.

Pros: Fantastic route running ability despite only being asked to run a handful of routes in college. Thick lower body and solid base along with a decisive and aggressive run style make him a tough tackle for corners and safeties. Isn’t the most determined blocker, but the technique is there. Natural hands, good catch radius, and body control, really strong in traffic. Highly intelligent receiver, won’t make many mistakes.

Cons: Not a flat out speed demon, won’t really take the top off the defense. Can get timid when asked to take big hits over the middle — more prone to drops and lazy routes. Will start running before the ball is in his hands. Consistency will have to improve. Smooth athlete, but not exactly shifty, won’t juke defenders out of their socks.

How he fits: Think of Brown as a second shot at integrating a Golden Tate like player into the offense. Built like a small running back, he has the physical traits to force defenders into tough situations at the second level and create space for himself on short routes. While he doesn’t have the breakaway speed the Eagles seem to covet in their pass-catchers, he would be a nice versatile piece for Mike Groh to move around the offense. If the Eagles are able to secure a contract for Golden Tate, I think they won’t make a move for Brown. However, if Groh is convinced that this is the style of player he needs to implement his offense, look for Howie to pull the trigger if the Brown falls to the second round. It’s a possibility that the Eagles take him in the first round, but they likely believe they can get a key addition later in the draft.

Signature play:

 

Kelvin Harmon – North Carolina State

Walter Football Rank: 6

CBS Rank: 5

DraftTek Rank: 3

Draft Wire Rank: 3

The Draft Network Rank: 2

Range: First to Second Round

Size: 6’3″, 213 lbs

Breakdown: Harmon is a big, strong receiver with underrated speed and a go-get-it attitude who oozes physicality. He comes into the NFL with impressive size and all the tools teams look for in a go-to option for their QBs. Within a few years, he will no doubt be a prototypical number one receiver.

Pros: Simply stronger and hungrier than the man across from him. Dominant in jump-ball and back shoulder situations. Tracks the ball very well over the shoulder. Will be a monster in the red zone. Polished route-runner, especially for his size. Find space in zones. Fluid hips allow for head fakes and more intricate routes. A scary blocker. Will force corners into business decisions with the football in his hands.

Cons: Not that fast, can’t hit his top speed very quickly. Will not be found behind the defense with regularity. Won’t impress with YAC ability. Can’t turn up the field in a hurry due to length. Can get bogged down in his routes early if footwork and balance fail him. Will sometimes take bad angles while blocking.

How he fits: I threw Harmon in here just in case the Eagles decide to address speed in free agency and look for another big body to pair with Alshon on the outside. With the success Jefferey had out-muscling defenders, nickel-and-diming it down the field, it’s not a terrible option. I think that is more OC Mike Groh’s style. The draft staff will love his production — two straight 1,000 yard seasons — and his blocking ability. They won’t love his limitations after the catch, but maybe they bet on him developing the way Alshon has in that regard. Harmon and Jeffery would sure make a formidable tandem for opposing defensive coordinators. The pick makes sense if defensive talent flies off the board early in the draft and the NC State product is the best player available for the Eagles. One of the “top three” receivers is bound to get left out of the first round and is a likely candidate to fall as teams look for more versatile or needy options for their offence. At the end of the day, it’s unlikely, but a bit of fun to imagine.

Signature play: 

https://twitter.com/MichaelKistNFL/status/1089541544745537537

 

Deebo Samuel – South Carolina

Walter Football Rank: 4

CBS Rank: –

DraftTek Rank: 11

Draft Wire Rank: 7

The Draft Network Rank: 5

Range: First to Second Round

Size: 5’11”, 215 lbs

Breakdown: Possibly the premier route-runner in the draft, Samuel is a technician with great quickness and a competitive edge. His quickness and creativity make him a nightmare with the ball in his hands. He has size limitations, but his explosiveness and technical ability should immediately make him a great number three option in year one.

Pros: Despite lacking elite speed, will use incredibly quick footwork and a textbook release to beat defenders down the field. Will make defenders whiff at air in press coverage. Can make impressive catches outside of his frame despite the limited length. Ran a full route tree at South Carolina. Great contact balance. Versatile has played in the slot and outside, even ran gadget plays and special teams. Electric kick returner had success with jet sweeps, etc. Competitive edge jumps off the screen.

Cons: Doesn’t have great length and won’t stress corners with his catch radius. Fractured his fibula in 2017, struggled with a hamstring injury the year before. A blocking liability, despite relatively physical play style. He suffered through some terrible quarterback play in 2018 and his film followed suit.

How he fits: This will depend on where he ranks on NFL scouts’ boards. As you can see from the rankings, some are higher on him than others. I expect he’ll be a late second round to third round pick. That fits right in the wheelhouse of available options for Philadelphia. He’s a Senior Bowl participant, and according to all reports did a fantastic job at upping his stock during the process. The Eagles are bound to love that. The Birds won’t like the lack of blocking ability, but maybe they think it will improve. He’s not the burner that the team seems to be after, but he would be a great addition to the rotation. He has a similar skill set to Nelson Agholor and may have to vie for snaps. However, if Nelly departs for another team, that won’t be an issue. Again, an option for Howie to consider in the second round. If I had to take a shot in the dark, I think the team would favour Samuel over A.J. Brown.

Signature play: This is what he’s been up to at the Senior Bowl.

 

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown – Oklahoma

Walter Football Rank: 5

CBS Rank: –

DraftTek Rank: –

Draft Wire Rank: 11

The Draft Network Rank: 6

Range: First to Third Round

Size: 5’10”, 168 lbs

Breakdown: Brown does everything fast; he probably even brushes his teeth quickly. He’s got feet like the roadrunner and the long speed to live behind opposing defenses. He’ll be a candidate to run the fastest 40 at the combine. A game breaker with the speed to win over the top, or take a short crosser to the house.

Pros: Elite speed, causes bad angles of pursuit from defenders. Tracks the ball well downfield. Does a good job getting on top of the defender with route running when releasing downfield. Fairly good contact balance despite size will duck under defenders who come in too high and hot. Shows great quickness in and out of his breaks, creating separation at the top of routes. Can lull a defender to sleep and hit them with a sudden burst of speed. Will get in defenders face in a hurry while run blocking, moves feet to stay with mark. A cousin of Antonio Brown, pedigree will come as a plus for some teams.

Cons: Does not, and will not have NFL size. Small frame with not much room for growth. Accordingly, durability will be a concern. Won’t come down with a whole lot of 50/50 balls, doesn’t have length or vertical to go up over top of defenders. Doesn’t showcase the strongest hands and will drop catches due to contact. Somewhat of a body catcher. Will have trouble blocking bigger corners.

How he fits: This pick makes a whole lot of sense. Brown fits the DeSean Jackson archetype that the Eagles have been longing for since the beginning of Doug Pederson’s tenure.  Again, his availability is a hard one to figure. He is one of the few receivers in the draft with truly elite speed. This could cause him to fly off the board much sooner than mocks expect. Some have him as the first receiver drafted — others have him falling to the third round. While it used to be the case that speed receivers were a dime a dozen, new-age offenses and pass-catchers like John Ross and D.J. Moore have helped change the narrative. He would take a ton of pressure off of Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery over the middle. Even Nelson Agholor would benefit as Brown projects best as a Z receiver. Personally, 25 seems too rich for Brown, but expect Howie to be more than tempted if the Oklahoma receiver is still available at pick number 53.

Signature play:

 

Parris Campbell – Ohio State

Walter Football Rank: 3

CBS Rank: 11

DraftTek Rank: 17

Draft Wire Rank: 17

The Draft Network Rank: 24

Range: Second to Third Round

Size: 6’0″, 208 lbs

Breakdown: Campbell is a burner who should be one of the fastest receivers in the class. Not to take away from his skill as a receiver: due to restricted route running and sensational ability with the ball in his hands, he will probably be used as a deceptive gadget player/ Swiss-army knife in the NFL.

Pros: Special in the open field. Athletic ability translates well to jet sweeps and screens. He reads blocks well and has the ability to create for himself and make defenders miss. Smooth hips; can bend, wiggle and maneuver without losing speed. As such, shows good contact balance when bumped into going full pace. Great acceleration after the catch — very dangerous on crossing routes. Speed and wiggle should translate well to special teams.

Cons: Doesn’t display natural hands, prone to double-catches. Not very physical when running routes, won’t win 50/50 balls or beat draping coverage. Straight line runner, much better on short routes and goes than in the mid-range. Had a limited route tree at Ohio State. Seemingly faster with the ball in his hands than without. Wasn’t asked to block much in college, but wasn’t particularly impressive when he was.

How he fits: A faster Golden Tate — minus the running back like taste for punishment — might be just what the doctor ordered for the 2019 Eagles. Despite his pedigree, I think Campbell is still somewhat of a sleeper pick for many teams. Having only one year of top-tier production, the Ohio State receiver has a fantastic opportunity to develop into something special. His 40-time will either be a blessing or a detriment to his draft stock. If he truly is one of the fastest receivers in the class, a little work on route running and ball-tracking could go a long way and teams will be willing to take a chance on him late in the second round. If he places in the middle of the ranks, it’s possible Campbell is a candidate to fall. The Eagles could do much worse than fourth round pick for a versatile receiver with Big10 production. I think there are better options for them in the second.

Signature play:

 

DaMarkus Lodge – Ole Miss

Walter Football Rank: 14

CBS Rank: 12

DraftTek Rank: 10

Draft Wire Rank: 13

The Draft Network Rank: 10

Range: Third to Fourth Round

Size: 6’1″, 199 lbs

Breakdown: Overlooked by many having to share the field with A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf at Ole Miss, Lodge is beginning to get traction as a noteworthy receiver in his own right. Used mostly as a deep threat in college, Lodge has the length and athleticism to be a special athlete in the NFL.

Pros: Has shown the ability to dominate the sideline. Does well not to get squeezed to the boundary, and long and bouncy enough to make acrobatic catches when he does. Tracks the ball well downfield and adjusts seamlessly to back shoulder throws. Length is an asset, extends well towards the football and shows snatch-and-grab hands when he does. His releases are a thing of beauty — uses clever footwork and a good understanding of coverage to play mind games with DBs. Does well to eat space when given a cushion. Fantastic in contested catch situations and will make some highlight reel plays. Ability after the catch is hard to gauge due to lack of opportunity, but has enough agility to make a defender miss and will surprise defenders. Has above-average long speed, and scary acceleration. Takes him no time at all to hit top gear. One of the better blocking receivers in the class.

Cons: Hasn’t shown consistent ability to make big plays. Has big lapses in concentration and drops easy passes. Much better receiver when he can extend that when the ball is thrown into his body. Can take a long time to gear down and come back to the quarterback, but has shown improvement. Was really only asked to run goes at Ole Miss. Was never relied on as a number one target. Lean frame, not overly strong. He is susceptible to jams — his fantastic release will help him in that regard — and will get out-muscled on occasion.

How he fits: Short answer: perfectly. He has the long speed that the Eagles need and, in my opinion, one of the highest ceilings as an all-around receiver. His length will be paramount in the red zone — something he hadn’t given us a full taste of at Ole Miss. He will have the opportunity to develop his strength and already comes into the league with great technique. If he can limit the negative plays, there isn’t one thing that Lodge does not do well. The Eagles will love the fact that he is a willing and able blocker. I have a hard time not getting my hopes up that Lodge will be an Eagle. Right now he’s projected as a third-round pick — which Philadelphia does not have. I don’t think a late second round pick is too high for him, as he has a tremendous ceiling. The other possibility is trading down into the third to accrue more picks; something that Howie has been known to do. Lodge can be a true talent as a number two receiver in the NFL.

Signature play: One example of his circus catch ability, and one of his release.

 

Emanuel Hall – Missouri

Walter Football Rank: 21

CBS Rank: –

DraftTek Rank: 6

Draft Wire Rank: –

The Draft Network Rank: 11

Range: Third to Fifth Round

Size: 6’2″, 200 lbs

Breakdown: A shifty receiver with great speed, Hall was mostly used as a deep threat receiver at Missouri. He’s explosive in and out of his breaks and can make defenders look silly with his head fakes, jukes, and quickness in and out of his breaks.

Pros: Fantastic vertical release, has a lot of options in his bag of tricks. Can break press with relative ease. Lightning quick feet for a man of his size. High-end speed. Fast in and out of his breaks at the top of his routes. An emotional leader at Mizzou.  Average blocker, but works hard. High-quality athleticism, should test well.

Cons: His hands are one of his biggest weaknesses — will drop and double catch routine passes. Won’t make many contested catches. Dealt with injuries in 2018 and health will be a concern. Will have to learn to use his size better, doesn’t really act like a long, tall receiver. Limited route tree.

How he fits: Should the team miss the opportunity to select a game-changing receiver at the top of the draft, Hall should be an option for the Eagles in the fourth or maybe fifth round. However, adding another long deep threat with health and hand concerns might not be on the top of Howie’s draft wish list. This pick will be picked or passed based on how the team feels about Mack Hollins going forward. It will also depend on if they feel that their 3rd receiving option is a weakness. Hall figures to be an average number two option with some upside — if he can stay healthy. At the very minimum, he can stretch the field on day one.

Signature play:

 

Gary Jennings Jr. – West Virginia

Walter Football Rank: 19

CBS Rank: –

DraftTek Rank: 21

Draft Wire Rank: –

The Draft Network Rank: 43

Range: Third to Sixth Round

Size: 6’2″, 215 lbs

Breakdown: Jennings is a consistent, versatile “move” receiver that has above average speed and a good understanding of deep coverage. Overshadowed by David Stills at WVU, Jennings is a talented receiver and projects as a rotational deep threat in the NFL.

Pros: Shows flashes that indicate he could be an effective blocker, just wasn’t asked to block often in college. Was asked to do a lot of different things at West Virginia, can move all over the formation. Has good route running ability, will use hands and head fakes to create space. Fluid hips shows in clean breaks at the top of routes. Was one of the fastest players on the field at the Senior Bowl. Strong body and hands, will compete for the ball. Does not shy away from contact over the middle.

Cons: Not a top-shelf athlete. Will telegraph routes, could be more deceptive out of breaks. Doesn’t drop passes often, but also doesn’t display consistent natural hands. Average catch radius. Doesn’t display innate ability to create yards after the catch. Better going in a straight line than across the field. Does not have a great burst out of cuts.

How he fits: The Senior Bowl receiver that seems to be getting the most run from Philly fans is Hunter Renfrow from Clemson. Quietly, Jennings made a handful of good plays in the Senior Bowl, securing a long pass and a slant for a touchdown. The Eagles have had a habit of drafting or being linked to West Virginia products and Jennings could be a deep threat option available later in the draft. Scouts will like his compete level and physicality, however, it will be his athletic upside that determines where he’s drafted. This selection will be based around how the front office feels about Mack Hollins health going forward. Overall, not a bad option for Philly if he’s still available in the 4th or 5th.

Signature play:

 

Hunter Renfrow – Clemson

Walter Football Rank: 30

CBS Rank: –

DraftTek Rank: –

Draft Wire Rank: –

The Draft Network Rank: 25

Range: Fourth to Sixth Round

Size: 5’10”, 185 lbs

Breakdown: Consistency is key for Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow. While he’s not the most electric pass-catcher of the bunch, nor the most physically imposing, he has fantastic hands, a great motor, and a high football IQ. More of a technician than an explosive athlete, Renfrow has the makings of an underrated safety blanket in the slot.

Pros: Despite lacking in burst, he has impeccable stop and start at the top of routes. Works back to the quarterback with purpose, leaving corners in bad spots to make a break on the football. Very savvy route-runner. Shows a tenacity tracking the football, not afraid to go up in tight coverage. High effort player, won’t stop running his routes and will continue to find open space during scrambles. Truly one of the most consistent catchers in the class. Has flexible hips and can open for the football quickly, does well to adjust to poorly thrown balls. Looked the part returning punts at the Senior Bowl. YAC ability follows suit — intelligent with the football in his hands and shows natural instincts as a ball carrier.

Cons: Not overly athletic, and does not have high-end speed. Limited in his route tree due to athletic restrictions. Does not have the burst to create ideal separation on routes. Unspectacular short area quickness. Doesn’t make many defenders miss one-on-one, and doesn’t have the physicality to consistently break tackles. Won’t win very many contested catches, not a fantastic jump-ball receiver. I can’t see him lining up on the outside in the NFL. A very willing blocker, but does not have the physical tools to make a big impact in that department.

How he fits: A Senior Bowl participant who has been raising his stock with surgical route running, impressing with football IQ, with four years of consistent college production and is known for his high effort levels? In a lot of ways, this pick has Philly written all over it. His fit in the offense is another matter. For a team looking to get faster on offense, Renfrow doesn’t really fit into the wheel-house. On the flip side, the Eagles could use a young prospect whose best attribute is his ability to catch the football. I say there’s a chance they take him to let him sit and develop. There have been other underwhelmingly athletic, yet intelligent receivers with sticky hands on the Philadelphia practice squad; despite impressing, they don’t seem to last long. Paul Turner, anyone? Nevertheless, Hunter has the makings of a solid sixth-round pick for the Eagles if he sticks around that long.

Signature play: Big Senior Bowl highlight:

 

Final Analysis

Will the Eagles Draft a Receiver? I’m 50/50 on this one. I don’t think they’ll take a receiver in the first round like many early mock drafts had them doing. Obviously, free agency will play its part in the decision. Although it seems that a DeSean Jackson reunion is becoming less and less likely. Who knows what the Eagles plan on doing with Mike Wallace. The receiver didn’t look as advertised in his small stint with the Eagles before being injured, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that the front office won’t give him another chance. Depending on how Mack Hollins has recovered from his injuries, the front office may feel comfortable giving their young talent some more playing time. Overall, I think it is more likely than not that the Eagles add to their receiving corps whether through the draft or free agency.

What Round? If Philadelphia is to upgrade their pass-catchers I see two likely scenarios. At the moment, what looks to be a defense-heavy first day will cause offensive playmakers to fly off the board in the second and third rounds. Therefore, having two late second round picks could be a huge bonus for a team in the market for a receiver or running back. There should be ample options for the Eagles in round two. I don’t think many of the top 15 options will be left by the fourth. Trading back to secure a third-round selection is an option as well. If they decide to pass up a receiver in the second round, they will have another chance in the fifth and will possibly have three swings at one in the sixth. Frankly, I don’t know that Howie and Doug want to add a list of “possible starters” to their receiving room. That could just muddy the waters. However, it’s possible that a second-day option could fall in their laps. In my personal opinion, securing a receiver in the second round or trading back into the third will be the team’s best options if they decide to upgrade.

 

 

Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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