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)

Kyle Pitts

The case “for”

This guy is a behemoth of a player. At 6’6″ 245 lbs, he provides a mismatch as soon as he steps on the field.

BuT He’S a TiGhT eNd.

Florida lined him up in line at tight end, flexed him out to the slot, played him wide, played him in the backfield. He’s not your typical “tight end”.

There were only three DBs (Justin Simmons, Jeremy Chinn, Keanu Neal) worth a damn that played at 6’2″ or taller in 2020 who will face the Eagles in 2021 (Simmons is a free agent, however).

More likely than not, Kyle Pitts would be matched up against DBs who are shorter than him by five inches or more.

His movement is so fluid. He can catch at the high points with his Mr. Fantastic catch radius. He didn’t drop a pass last season in the red zone. He had one drop overall. He’s a unicorn.

The game is rapidly changing where in-line tight ends who are predominately blockers are becoming less and less frequent.

Kelce, Kittle, Waller, Ertz, Hockenson, and Andrews, to name a few, are players known for their receiving threat more than their blocking (not to say they can’t [err.. Ertz maybe])

Having Dallas Goedert should not be a reason to not take Pitts. They are two totally different players. Additionally, Goedert is a free agent after this year (barring an extension).

It’s rare to find a player of Pitts’ skill set and still have so much room for improvement. He’s not 21 until October. Drafting a 20-year-old with this much potential? Sky’s the limit.

The case “against”

Despite all the above praise, yes, he is a tight end, and, yes, the Eagles do have a damn good one in Dallas Goedert. I’m contradicting myself!

While tight end isn’t necessarily deep in the draft, there are still others who can play the “F” position quite well.

While he’s a willing blocker, he’ll need to improve on that if he wants to be adept at chipping bigger/faster EDGE rushers to protect his QB.

Because he was able to manhandle DBs with ease, it led to not the most intricate of routes ran. Will he be able to just “Moss” his way with DBs who can jump simple routes? What about LBs who can cover? (The Eagles wouldn’t know).

He was last timed at 4.7 in the 40-yard dash, but that was in high school. Scouts believe he will be in the 4.6-4.65 range. Will that lack of top speed be an issue?

Jaylen Waddle

The case “for”


Waddle was videoed racing former teammate Henry Ruggs (4.27 40-time) in a practice and Waddle was able to stay step-for-step with him. Waddle’s yards after the catch come with ease with his ability to change directions on a dime. Over the past two seasons, according to Sports Info Solutions, 673 of his 1,109 receiving yards have been after the catch.

He’s incredible on kick returns, punt returns, Amazon returns, even returns over 90 days.

The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid has Waddle comped to one Tyreek Hill.

With Waddle in the lineup, and his ability to play any receiver position, the Eagles would be able to get creative with their alignments with Waddle, Reagor, Watkins, and Hightower (assuming they are the main speed options).

Just watch him work:

The case “against”

If DeVonta Smith’s size is an issue, so is Waddle’s. Waddle stands a few inches shorter than Smith at 5’10” and weighs between 180-185 lbs.

While there are recent examples of success (Hill, Antonio Brown, Danny Amendola), receivers are overwhelmingly less durable when they are that size.

Speaking of durability, Waddle hasn’t been great in that department. You may remember a few sentences ago, I mentioned Waddle had a lot of YAC among his total receiving yards. His total within the last two seasons is 1,109. Pretty low over a two-year period.

After playing 13 games in 2019, and accumulating 560 yards, Waddle was on pace for 1,920 yards through four games until an ankle sprain and fracture in his fifth game caused Waddle to leave and head coach Nick Saban deemed him “out for the year”. However, Waddle did return in the National Championship game but was clearly not 100%. The original plan, according to Saban, was to play Waddle 10-12 snaps but those snaps increased due to injuries to other WRs in the game.

With a bum ankle, which could definitely be 100% healed by training camp, could his ability to utilize his cuts on routes be affected? Surely it could, and his medicals will be crucial to any team picking him in the top ten.

Justin Fields

I almost put this section as “the quarterbacks”, but I do not think Zach Wilson falls to 6. Even though I agree on that notion with Fields also, I think he’s the likeliest of the two to fall to the Eagles.

The case “for”

New head coach, new scheme, new almost everything for the Eagles, well except the GM (angry face).

Although Jalen Hurts showed some flashes of competence in the final four games of the season, it’s entirely possible that Nick Sirianni would want to start his Eagles tenure with his own guy at QB. That’s not to say Sirianni and Fields are connected, just saying a new head coach may want a new quarterback. A fresh start at both spots for a franchise.

One year after a 14 game season where he had 3,273 yards, 41 TDs, and 3 INTs, Fields had 2,100 yards in eight games with 22 TDs and 6 INTs. The eight games were due to cancellations.

His 14 game pace was 3,675 yards, 38.5 TDs, and 10.5 INTs. A pretty great year.

His accuracy was 70.2%, which was fourth in the nation among QBs who played 8 or more games. Jalen Hurts’ final season as a starter in Alabama in 2017 included a 60.4% completion rate.

In a change at quarterback, the Eagles won’t lose the mobility that Hurts showcased. Fields is an extremely mobile QB and is able to make initial defenders miss and still make plays downfield while on the move.

If you don’t believe in Hurts’ accuracy down the field, you’ll definitely agree with Fields’. He has the arm to get it down the field but also the touch to drop it over the shoulder.

Fields is also lauded for his ability as a leader. Transferring in from Georgia in 2019 did not keep Fields from establishing himself as Ohio State’s unquestioned leader. His poise in the locker room is something that even the most grizzled veterans can respect.

The case “against”

Boy, oh, boy. How much time do you have?

If you haven’t noticed, this offseason quarterback drama has been quite the doozie.

Between the constant trade “proposals”, the Wentz silence, the Hurts interviews, and Hurts apparently working out with the young WRs in the coming weeks, and finally: the completed trade, a new quarterback in the mix would be yet another page in this encyclopedia of drama.

If the Eagles draft Fields, Howie Roseman would have done the following:

  • Draft Carson Wentz 2nd overall in 2016
  • Extend him to a $128 million contract
  • Draft a QB in the 2nd round instead of an immediate impact player
  • Trade Wentz for the largest dead cap hit in history while getting (seemingly) worst deal offered
  • Draft a QB at 6 to create yet another QB controversy.
  • Still have his job

What kind of GM is allowed to go through three head coaching changes (Reid to Kelly, Kelly to Pederson, Pederson to Sirianni), have nine different starting QBs (maybe tenth in 2021), and still have their job?

This is all without explaining what Fields doesn’t do well.

For as great as his arm is, he does tend to rely on it a little too much. If his feet aren’t set, his throws can be a tad erratic.

He does tend to stay on his first read a little too much, which Eagles fans are used to.

Like any rookie quarterback, there’s a lot to improve on. But if the Eagles draft a first-round project at QB to compete with their second-round project at QB and, again, fail to surround their “franchise” quarterback with adequate weapons, Howie Roseman needs to be held accountable.

Who do you want at 6, Eagles fans?

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire