Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles draft watch: Ranking the top offensive playmakers in the first round

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With new reports stating that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie signed off on the Jalen Hurts pick and has informed Howie Roseman to build around the 2nd year QB, this year’s draft suddenly looks even more interesting. If the goal is to build around Hurts then the pick at 6th overall should be one of the easiest decisions ever made by Howie Roseman. The cream of the crop in playmakers for Hurts is there, but how should the Eagles view the top-tier talent? Let’s take a look at four prospects that the Eagles should consider at 6th overall.

LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase

Chase is the apple to every Eagles fan’s eye. There’s no denying that the Eagles need a star wide receiver to start the rebuild with. Roseman has been terrible when it comes to finding playmakers in the draft but he’s lucked out in free agency. Alshon Jeffery was the right guy at the right time but all good things come to an end.

After a historical season back in 2019, Chase set the SEC single-season record for more receiving yards and touchdowns in a season with 1,780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. During that span, he averaged 21.2 yards per catch. While Chase had opted to sit out the 2020 season due to COVID-19, that shouldn’t derail his status as the top wideout in the draft. He also should top the list of players that the Eagles need and want. Getting him will help the growth of Jalen Hurts, something that the Eagles brass failed to do for Carson Wentz.

Florida TE Kyle Pitts

Kyle Pitts isn’t your traditional Tight End. He moves and plays like a big-time wide receiver. At 6’ 6” 240 lbs, Kyle Pitts had a semi-breakout year last season. As a Junior, Pitts tallied 770 receiving yards on 43 receptions with 12 touchdowns. He averaged 17.9 yards per catch last season which is 5.9 yards better than he did in his sophomore season.

While the Eagles are expected to move on from Zach Ertz in favor of letting Dallas Goedert flourish; drafting Kyle Pitts would not interrupt those plans at all. He has a big catch radius which could help the Eagles move the chains.

Jalen Hurts could benefit from having such a big target as an outside receiver or even in the middle of the field. Pitts has incredible strength while running his routes which leads to a good amount of separation at times, his routes still need to be a bit more polished but that’ll come in time.

Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle

Possibly one of the most underrated receivers in the draft, Jaylen Waddle has more than earned his fair share of respect. Due to an injury in the early part of the season, Waddle was sidelined after putting up some incredible numbers. While the NFL world has become enamored with DeVonta Smith, Waddle has fallen behind the shadow of his counterpart. Jaylen put up 557 receiving yards on 25 receptions in the first 4 games of his junior year. He also added 4 touchdowns while averaging 22.2 yards per catch which is greater than Chase did in 2019 and Pitts did in 2020.

Waddle has great game speed that the Eagles so desperately need. Another thing to not sweep under the rug is his relationship with Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts played with Waddle during his time in Alabama and maybe it helps that Waddle caught his last touchdown pass for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

I’ve had my eye on Smith since his junior year, sure that may be a little late but there’s only a handful of players that people grow attached to. My last player was Miles Sanders in his senior year at Penn State.

While there are three better prospects in the draft above Smith, you can’t deny that he deserves to be mentioned along with his peers after posting back-to-back seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns. Not to mention, Smith did break the record of single receiving yards and touchdowns that Ja’marr Chase set back in 2019 with 1,856 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns.

In his last two seasons at Alabama, Smith tallied 3,112 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns while averaging 18.5 yards per catch in junior year and 15.9 in his senior year. Smith has an incredibly quick release off of the line of scrimmage that helps his ability to blow by defenders. Even with his slim frame, Smith has shown that he had a wide catch radius and the ability to make big-time catches. Another player that once played with Jalen Hurts, the Eagles could benefit from adding the Heisman Trophy winner to a group that has plenty of potential but no identity.

Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

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1 comment

  • Dave says:

    You named them in the exact order of priority. With Ertz on his way out the door, having a 2nd TE for the D to worry about rather than only one, will give the Eagles a huge (literally) advantage. Pitts can function from all over the field. He lines up tight, split wide, from the slot. He is a matchup nightmare, in that he is too fast for most LB’s to cover and too big for CB’s. The Eagles have always moved the ball well between the 20’s with a lot of passes to the guy they are either trading or cutting in Ertz. Ertz was Hurts this past year. Goedert was even hurt, so that left us for a game or two with no TE but Rodgers. He did a nice job, but he is no Ertz or Goedert. This guy would be a great safety valve for Hurts and a great combo on slant plays, which is why he had so many yards. Picture Goedert on one side and Pitts on the other running crossing routes. Then comes the Red Zone. The Eagles have often had to settle for FG’s instead of the TD. Having a super athletic 6’6″ guy to throw to certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    I think Waddle is a better choice than Smith. They are different receivers as Waddle is pure speed in the mold of Tyreek Hill, whereas Smith is more of a possession receiver who converts to YAC. I think that Smith will have to pack on a few lbs. as most of the NFL CB’s he will go up against will outweigh him.

    If you consider the Eagles situation, it is assumed that the entire OL will be back and healthy, depending on what happens with Brooks regarding the latest trade rumors. IF healthy, this group will be able to protect Hurts, and either Smith or Waddle will get the chance to operate. Both of those guys however need to be open. Alabama fields a team of the best players in the nation. That’s why they are #1 or close to it every year. This year alone, 7 players are expected to go in the 1st round….7! When Alabama plays a team, it is often a blowout, or a very high scoring affair. That tells you that the playing field is tilted in favor of Alabama because they feature some of the top players in the country. That is borne out by the fact that their two WR’s, QB, LT and RB will be drafted, without even mentioning the players on the D side of the ball.

    Now…suppose we have OL injuries, like we have had over the past few seasons. All your plans to get guys the ball, go right out the window. Hurts will have to scramble on every play trying to create an opening. If you have either Goedert and/or Pitts in the game, you can at least keep the chains moving. Pitts is a matchup problem against LB’s. The reason the offense started moving when Hurts was inserted into the lineup and Wentz was benched was because 1. Hurts took what the D was giving him, as opposed to Wentz holding the ball to make the ultimate hero throw 2 Hurts has a much quicker delivery than Wentz, and of course 3. Hurts is a huge threat to run.

    So suppose you are the new coach of the Eagles. Have Jeff and Howie told you, this is your show…we’ll get you the players you want in the draft if we can and we will sign whatever free agents you want if we can, or is it something different? Let’s assume it is the former. You’re the coach…you look at an OL that could be awesome, but the entire right side of the line is over 30 and coming off of major injury. The C is a stud and one of the best in the game. Your LG is coming along and your LT has made huge strides and most likely will continue to do so. Your backups however are Pryor, who did not have a stellar year, Driscoll and Herbig, both 1st year players who did OK at best. You have a budding star as your RB, a very mobile QB who has been putting in a ton of work in the offseason working with the guys who coach Mahomes and Watson. Good start. Now, you have a TE who is going to be traded or released very soon and your other TE is on the last year of his contract. Your WR’s consist of practice squad guys, an underwhelming 1st round draft choice, and a bust of a 2nd rounder in JJAW.

    The case could probably be made to either go stud WR (I mean a real stud) or you could get two in one by selecting a TE who can play multiple positions all over the offense. If you go with a WR, and he is shut down by an NFL CB, or you can’t get him the ball, you still have the same problem. Will it leave WR2 open…possibly, but not definitely. Now think Kelce/Kittle/Waller. Think of what kind of difference makers they are for their respective teams. A WR is a WR who runs a prescribed route, whether it is Fulgham/Reagor/Watkins/Hightower, etc. Pitts has an advantage in that he is a 3rd WR, a TE, a slot receiver, etc. He is all over the place. If I was a coach designing and running plays, Pitts is the guy I can’t pass up. There are multiple WR’s later in the draft, even ones that the Eagles could move up for, like Toney, Marshall, Rondale Moore, St.Brown, Elijah Moore, Wallace, Williams and Rodgers are just a few examples. I also think the Eagles could target Josh Reynolds from the Rams in FA.

    Nobody knows exactly what kind of offense Sirianni will run. I’m pretty certain he had to divulge his plan to Jeff and Howie which was why he was hired. Until we see what players get drafted and or traded, or if OTA’s and mini camp happen and maybe finally at training camp, we may get an idea of what the 2021 Eagles will look like. I’m just hoping that Pitts is part of that plan.

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