The Eagles have now placed themselves outside of the top 10 spots in this year’s NFL draft. Friday’s blockbuster trade may break the hearts of fans who were crying out for players like Kyle Pitts, but attention now turns to prospects who will be available when the Eagles are on the clock with the 12th overall pick.
South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
The Eagles have not developed a true number one corner in what seems forever. They traded for Darius Slay last offseason but with age creeping upon him and the lack of help around him, now’s the time to pounce. The Eagles need to plug in a pro-ready corner opposite Slay and Jaycee Horn could be that guy.
While his tackling is far from consistent, Horn plays physically and will always assert himself at the catch-point. Ball skills are his calling card. He had 2 interceptions and 6 pass deflections in 2020.
He put on a stunning show at his pro day recently that helped his stock skyrocket up. Horn ran a 4.32 then amazed scouts with his broad jump and vertical leap. He has the speed and length to be a game-changer in the NFL and the Eagles should be zeroed in on him.
Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
Smith is a filthy route runner and you can’t deny that he deserves to be mentioned along with the top receivers in the draft 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-season 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 the line of scrimmage. Even with his slim frame, Smith has shown that he has a wide catch radius and the ability to make big-time catches. Another player who 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.
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 teammate. 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 ridiculous speed and the Eagles desperately need some of that juice. 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 Hurts’ last touchdown pass for Alabama football.
Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II
Patrick Surtain is a certified stud and although it’s plausible he somehow slips outside of the top-10, the birds will probably have to hope that interest from their rivals, the Cowboys and Giants, dwindles first.
Surtain is another CB that had a very impressive pro day. He’s drawn comparisons to Jalen Ramsey early on due to his speed, size, and length. Surtain finished his junior season with 37 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 9 pass deflections.
Though Surtain is quick, Horn may be the faster corner of the two. Still, you can’t deny the ability that Surtain has when it comes to defending his assignments. His natural ability to close out on a receiver and get his hands in those tight windows puts him on top of the rest in this draft. Surtain has elite size at 6’2, 208 lbs, and is the best press corner in the class from a technical standpoint.
Michigan DE Kwity Paye
Defensive end is a huge need for the Birds this offseason and let’s not forget that Derek Barnett was once drafted in this range. If Howie decides to hit reload at DE, then Paye may have the inside track.
The Eagles had scouts attend Michigan’s game against Minnesota and Paye put on a show, racking up 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and being a constant pain in Minnesota’s offense’s side.
Paye is the prototypical modern-day edge rusher who can do it all. He’s explosive off the line, has a strong array of pass-rushing moves, and enough awareness to seal the edge to back up a strong and intimidating athletic presence. This may be the most Howie pick of all, so don’t write it off!
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