Ja’Marr Chase, Kyle Pitts, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Rashod Bateman, the names of potential first round receivers is ever-growing. Well I guess you can cross off the first two names… But what if the Eagles plan is to go back to what worked? What if the plan is to fortify the defense and further develop the offensive pieces they have in place?
In the 2001 season, the Eagles went 11-5 behind 3,233 yards from McNabb, the most receiving yards being 833 from James Thrash and the next being 626 from Duce Staley, and the second best passing defense in the NFL. In no way are those statistics comparable to the 2020 Eagles, but the premise going into the draft was clearly: strengthen and get younger on defense and further develop the offense.
In that dominant defense, you had a 29-year-old Bobby Taylor, a 31-year-old Troy Vincent, and a 28-year-old Brian Dawkins (obviously in his prime). In that draft, the Eagles selected Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, and Sheldon Brown in three consecutive picks (26,58,59 respectively). On offense, they had 26 year old James Thrash, 24-year-old Todd Pinkston, and 23-year-old Freddie Mitchell (lol).
Regardless of how you feel about those weapons for McNabb, the team allowed for development instead of reaching for the likes of Jabar Gaffney, Josh Reed, Tim Carter, and Andre’ Davis. WR production from that draft was really weak looking back, with Deion Branch, Donte’ Stallworth, and Antwaan Randle El the only legit contributors.
Anywho, what if the Eagles are looking at 30-year-old Darius Slay and saying “ya know what, time to get younger there”. What if they are looking at the entire DB room and saying “ya know what, time to infuse legitimate talent”.
With Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins flashing, at least, some potential in 2020, it could be worth seeing what a mainly-new coaching staff and continuation of Aaron Moorehead at WR coach could do for them. This is not saying they need to shy away from the position, because it’s still a need. But in a division with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel… should I go on?.. it’s pivotal the Eagles shore up the secondary if they want any chance to succeed in 2021.
With that being said, here’s my Mock Draft 69.0 (nice) which will be my final mock before the draft.
Unless I feel like writing another.
Pick 12 – Jaycee Horn – CB
The Eagles desperately need a corner opposite Darius Slay over 5’9″, has length and knows how to use it (wait.. no not that way stop it), and is physical.
Enter Jaycee Horn.
The Draft Network’s Joe Marino compares him to Michael Davis from the Chargers coming out in 2017.
He’s feisty, he doesn’t lack for confidence, and he’s just the player Jonathan Gannon needs in his secondary.
He’ll need to really clean up his tackling consistency, but which Eagles DB doesn’t?
Jaycee Horn: 33.3% completion % allowed in coverage in 2020
Lowest in the SEC👀 pic.twitter.com/63cAi2TmI7
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 24, 2021
Pick 37 – Ifeatu Melifonwu – CB
Where’s Drake? Because we’re going back to back.
Did ya see the wide receivers listed above? Yeah..
While Melifonwu is projected to be an outside-only corner, the Eagles should be preparing for Slay’s eventual departure.
He’s best in zone-heavy schemes (hello Gannon), isn’t afraid to tackle, and has the length necessary to disrupt passes on any size target.
Check out Eagles’ Fran Duffy on Melifonwu’s spacial awareness (something Eagles defenders need help with):
Pick 70 – Brevin Jordan – TE
The first offensive weapon in this draft is a tight end. You’re welcome.
With the looming departure of Zach Ertz (I think it could happen draft day), the Eagles need someone to pair with Dallas Goedert. Sure, the prospects of Hakeem Butler and Tyree Jackson at TE are very intriguing, and the one target/one catch/one TD Jason Croom could see more playing time, but the idea of Brevin Jordan in Sirianni’s offense is too appealing to pass up.
Compared to former-Titans/now-Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith, Jordan provides value as a receiver and a blocker.
TE Brevin Jordan was asked to block DEs throughout his career at Miami – he is MUCH better blocking prospect than we think
Whether 1-on-1 pass pro, sealing DE in run game, or whamming a NT – Jordan is willing & capable!
He is best ‘all-around’ TE in this 2021 NFL Draft class pic.twitter.com/QulYjZ0s9Y
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) February 13, 2021
Coming off a year where Eagles quarterbacks were 66 times, the team should prioritize players who can do it all. Brevin Jordan is that. While he didn’t test out that great on his Pro Day, his game tape leaves little doubt that he can be an impact player in the NFL.
Kyle Pitts is phenomenal, but do not forget about Brevin Jordan down in Miami.
Jordan bolsters a strong frame with room to add more muscle if he chooses.
— Damian Parson 🏈 (@DP_NFL) January 11, 2021
Pick 84 – Ronnie Perkins – EDGE
ANOTHER DEFENDER? Yeah.. so?
Brandon Graham is getting up there in age, although it didn’t really look it last season. Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett have shown flashes, but health limits their true upside, and behind them you have Joe Ostman and Matt Leo.
Edge is a need.
Enter Ronnie Perkins. While his RAS was low due to a not so great Pro Day, he’s another “watch the damn film” player. While he needs work as a run defender, his ability as a pass rusher rivals that of any of the day one edge rushers.
He’s violent at the point of attack, using his hands to knock off blockers and rush the quarterback with ease.
A name that should be mentioned more in this draft process is #Oklahoma EDGE Ronnie Perkins. He had a monster game against Oklahoma State this year.
The 6’3” 250 pound junior has the ideal size, explosion and hand usage.. Watch the push, pull and rip move here. He plays violent. pic.twitter.com/KfpAjFB8ff
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) January 18, 2021
Pick 123 – Josh Imatorbhebhe – WR
While the Eagles have depth at WR, they don’t necessarily have it at the “X” position.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, here’s a good break down of what that role demands:
“The X receiver is the split end. He is the widest receiver away from the tight end. What’s unique about him, — as opposed to the Z receiver, who is the flanker, and the other wide receiver — is that the X receiver, in most formations, and of course, there are a lot of exceptions, but in most formations, the X receiver, the split end — and those expressions are used synonymously — he is tethered to the line of scrimmage.”
“He’s on the line of scrimmage, he cannot go in motion, and so, when he’s facing a cornerback, as he almost always is, the cornerback can jam him at the line. So, your X receiver, he better have the profile of a guy that has the speed to get down the sideline, he better have the quickness to get away from the corner, and he better be good coming off a press.”
John Hightower and Quez Watkins could fill that role based on their speed alone, but a true jump ball specialist who can separate with ease is needed in that spot.
In case you’re unaware, Imatorbhebhe posted a 46.5″ vertical. In feet, that’s just shy of four feet. Yes, he can jump almost four feet in the air. The previous combine record was 45.5″ by Cameron Wake in 2006. The highest by a wide receiver was 45″ by Chris Chambers in 2001 and Chris Conley in 2015.
Think the Eagles could use a guy like that?
A name many should watch is
WR Josh Imatorbhebhe (@JoshBhebhe)
Played at USC and Illinois
57rec 942yds 16.5avg 12TD
11’2” Broad Jump
— Johnny Ulecka (@Johnnyu9322) March 23, 2021
Pick 150 – Kendrick Green – IOL
The later rounds are where you find your “diamond in the rough” players who may need a year of polishing up before fully taking on a starting role. Kendrick Green is the perfect example of this.
A defensive tackle convert, Green was pretty inconsistent during his Illinois career. However, there’s plenty of tape to suggest more refinery at the position could pay huge dividends for the team drafting him.
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 25, 2021
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) March 10, 2021
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) March 10, 2021
Pick 189 – Josh Ball – OT
The OT depth seems to be set with Dillard, Mailata, Johnson, and Driscoll. But we’re really not sure how much longer Dillard will be on the team, Johnson is also getting older and the injury bug has been biting him a bit more lately, Driscoll showed flashes at RT but still has a ways to go, and Mailata was definitely hit or miss (with more hits, don’t get that twisted).
Josh Ball is a massive 6’8″ 350 lbs and has the athleticism needed for left tackle. He also has 35 inch arms, very desirable for a tackle.
He will need to answer big time character concerns. He was dismissed from Florida State in 2018 due to accusations of dating violence.
Josh Ball | OT | #79
+ Fluid mover w/ quick feet up the arc
+ Great inside hand usage
+ Patient punch following foot mirror through slide
+ Great range as a run blocker
+ Flexibility to open up and long or short pull pic.twitter.com/f4mfKMSQs2
— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) February 10, 2021
Pick 224 – Rakeem Boyd – RB
From “Last Chance U” to the NFL, Boyd is a popular running back target in late rounds.
Very stiff, needs time to build up speed (although his 10 yard split suggests a good initial burst), can have tunnel vision. There’s a lot to work on for Boyd. He won’t be a home run hitter, but at 5’11” 213 lbs he can be an effective short yardage back behind Miles Sanders.
Pick 225 – Dax Milne – WR
I’ll admit how surprised I was to see Milne available this late in The Draft Network’s simulation, but he was there. Save the yelling.
At 6’0.5″ 190 lbs, Dax is a tiny fella, but he plays big.
Being presumably the second overall pick Zach Wilson‘s go to target in 2020, Milne hauled in 70 receptions for 1,188 yards and eight touchdowns. The best part about that? His hands:
Draft-Eligible Leaders in Drop% in 2020 (min. 73 targets), per PFF:
1. Elijah Moore (2.3%)
2. Devonta Smith (2.5%)
t-3. Kadarius Toney (2.8%)
t-3. Dax Milne (2.8%)
5. Cornell Powell (3.6%)
6. Jarrin Pierce (4.8%)
7. Dyami Brown (5.2%)
t-8. Whop Philyor (5.3%)
— Christian Williams (@CWilliamsNFL) January 25, 2021
The three names above Milne’s name will all be gone by early day two.
Did you see the Siranni breakdown about routes? You won’t see Milne splitting any bananas in his routes. Dax is a technician on the field and cuts on a dime.
So why the drop in the draft? In addition to his height limitations, he doesn’t have elite speed (4.57 40) and is very weak at creating separation because of it. He relies heavily on his footwork to create space but you’ll often find his catches being the contested version due to defenders being so close by at all times.
While Greg Ward is currently that “hands” receiver for the Eagles, Sirianni could view Milne as an upgrade in that regard and strike gold in the sixth round.
Pick 234 – Paddy Fisher – LB
Finally! A linebacker!
Listen, for all the scrutiny that group got last year, I believe they have a bright future. #47 and Duke Riley are gone. Alex Singleton is back to continue his dominance. T.J. Edwards showed promise, as well as Shaun Bradley in limited action. Third round pick Davion Taylor played 32 more snaps than you and me. Genard Avery is also moving back to linebacker, where he belongs. As I stated with the wide receivers, you need to let the group develop.
Paddy Fisher brings a blue collar attitude to the LB room and is the only LB in the draft that has over 400 career tackles. He is extremely intelligent and will help diagnose plays from the MIKE position. He does need work in coverage, but he has the work ethic and leadership abilities necessary to be an adequate addition to the team.
Even with Eric Wilson now in the fold (great signing), Fisher could provide adequate depth on the practice squad.
Fisher has met with the Eagles.
Pick 240 – K.J. Costello – QB
Costello has A LOT to work on. From where he holds the ball, to his decision making, to building arm strength, to his accuracy, to his.. you get it.
He’s a project and the Eagles need a QB3 to develop and get mentored by Sam the Eagle.. er.. I mean Joe Flacco.
Costello has met with the Eagles.
Ok.. yell at me. @Infante54
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire