Eagles draft watch: Making the case for & against top offensive prospects

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 13 CFP National Championship – LSU v Clemson
NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 13: LSU Tigers wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) reacts during the second half of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the LSU Tigers and the Clemson Tigers on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans LA. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

A little while back, I made the case why every position (outside K, P, LS) is a position of need at pick six for the Eagles. Since then, there have been countless debates about Chase, Smith, Pitts, Fields, Wilson, punters, kickers, long snap… sorry.

The case was made for defensive help at six by our fearless leader Liam Jenkins, but I firmly believe this team needs offense first.

There really can be a case made for every top offensive prospect at number six, but cases can also be argued.

Ja’Marr Chase

The case “for”

Can a case be made with one tweet? Because:

Want another?

Note that the stat says “since 2019” because Chase didn’t play in 2020.

If you missed my interview with LSU’s WR coach/assistant HC Mickey Joseph about Chase, check it out.

Ja’Marr Chase is an incredible talent. There’s zero debate about that.

The Draft Network’s Joe Marino compares Chase to Roddy White coming out of college in 2005. They measure extremely similarly and Chase projects to run about a 4.40 40-yard dash time. That size and speed make him a dream pick for the Eagles.

The case “against”

Has any player done well after a year off from football?

We’ve seen so many reports, including from myself, about how Joe Brady made that offense run. He helped Joe Burrow go from a 5th/5th round prospect to the number one overall pick. He created such an incredible offensive scheme that every offensive player had pretty much the best year of their short college careers. Did Brady “make” Ja’Marr Chase? What happens when Chase goes into a different offensive scheme in the NFL?

I don’t have any doubts that Chase will be an elite WR1 in the NFL, maybe even in year one, but teams should have some pause when it comes to a) the year off and b) is he a product of a system.

DeVonta Smith

The case “for”

The Eagles are absolutely dreadful at running routes, which leads to inadequate separation. DeVonta Smith is a routes master. His ability to leave DBs in the dust due to his crisp moves is absolutely incredible. The dude just makes plays.

He has reliable hands and his football IQ is off the charts. While his 4.49 40 time may scare off some, his ability to build up speed on his YAC is what makes him so dynamic. Just get him the ball and let him run.

In the National Championship game, he had 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He did this in one half as he missed the second half with a dislocated finger.

The case “against”

For as dynamic as Smith is, his frame is slight. Listed at 6’1″ 175 lbs, Smith’s body size does not have a history of success in the NFL:

Pro Football Reference

As you can see, not a lot of success for players of his size.

Since 2016, there have been 61 DBs who have played an NFL game that are the same height but weigh in at 180-200 lbs. Some of those names:

Will Smith be able to keep up with bigger, more physical DBs? Although Smith is excellent at routes, he’ll no doubt be matched up against DBs who can disrupt them with ease.

Even if that isn’t the case, these DBs have the speed and technique necessary to stay step for step with wide receivers on their routes. Will he be able to make a play in traffic?

Will Smith’s dynamic college route running translate to dynamic NFL route running? His size will definitely have an impact on that answer.

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