The Eagles enter this offseason with a lot of needs. Today I’m going to take my best shot at fixing the Eagles via the NFL Draft.
The Eagles trade back with the Denver Broncos in a deal that sends #6 overall and a 6th round pick to Denver in exchange for #9 overall, a 3rd round pick (71 overall), and the Broncos 1st round pick in 2022. With Jaylen Waddle, Kyle Pitts, and DeVonta Smith all left on the board, the Eagles are guaranteed to select a high-impact offensive playmaker and pick up additional draft capital along the way. Obtaining an extra 1st round pick next season is a huge plus, giving the Eagles 3 potential 1st rounders in the 2022 draft. With that ammunition, they can trade up for QB1 next year if Jalen Hurts struggles in 2021 or they can add a lot of talent around him in a draft cycle that hasn’t been interrupted by COVID-19.
Round 1 Pick 9 – WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Drafting a Heisman Trophy winner at a position of need 9th overall while picking up extra picks along the way is the definition of a home run 1st round. Smith is a great route runner with the versatility to play inside or outside. He has great hands, registering only 3 drops on 145 targets in 2020. Smith slots in most naturally as a Z receiver, a position already occupied by Jalen Reagor. However, Smith is a much better prospect than Reagor and we all saw what happened the last time the Eagles drafted a WR for fit rather than talent. Smith is also capable of taking reps at the X or in the slot and would immediately be the best pass-catcher on the Eagles roster.
Round 2 Pick 37 – S Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Rodney McLeod is aging and coming off of a major injury while Jalen Mills is a pending free agent. The Eagles need a playmaker on the back end of their defense and Moehrig fits the bill perfectly. Moehrig possesses elite instincts at the safety position and has the ball skills to match. He generally played as a single high safety in college, something the Eagles are unlikely to ask him to do often under new DC Jonathan Gannon. That said, he would give the Eagles versatility when it comes to coverage shells and can do everything from sit in split field zones to covering receivers man to man out of the slot.
Round 3 Pick 70 – LB Pete Werner, Ohio State
Werner is a thumper style of linebacker who loves to play physically at the line of scrimmage. He possesses a great football IQ and flows to the ball well. Werner is great at the point of attack and excels coming downhill in the run game. He has some athletic limitations when it comes to pass coverage, primarily when he is asked to flip his hips and run with shifty tight ends. Werner doesn’t have the range to run sideline to sideline in the run game as a MIKE linebacker but would be an immediate starter for the Eagles as a SAM.
Round 3 Pick 71 – CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
Adebo has good man coverage ability and a great understanding of zone coverage schemes. He is a physical tackler who plays the run aggressively as a force defender. He has a high football IQ and has the versatility to play in the slot, although he is better served on the outside. Adebo projects favorably to a Cover 2 scheme in both man and zone coverage due to his ability to be a plus in the running game and his capability in short zones.
Round 3 Pick 84 – iDL Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
Fletcher Cox isn’t getting any younger and the Eagles are likely to lose Malik Jackson as a cap casualty this offseason anyway. The front office loves to invest in the trenches and Nixon is a perfect developmental piece for the defensive line. He burst onto the scene in 2020 with 13.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks in 8 games. Nixon is nowhere near a finished product, but he has a high ceiling and the opportunity to learn from one of the best in the business in Philly. He has an explosive first step and plays strong at the point of attack. Nixon excels as a run defender and has a high motor in the trenches. He isn’t the best pass rusher yet but demonstrates the necessary traits to develop in that area.
Round 5 Pick 151 – RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
The Eagles have lacked the thunder compliment to Miles Sanders’ lightning for his entire career. With the selection of Stevenson that problem is solved. In 2020 he averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 11.7 yards per reception out of the backfield. Stevenson likes to run through tacklers but also demonstrates the ability to make defenders miss. He isn’t elite in any area, but he has a great skill set to thrive as a rotational rusher in a power running game and an occasional receiving option.
Round 5 Pick 157 – WR Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
Surratt had a stellar 2019 season, racking up 1,006 yards and 11 TDs on 65 catches in the first 9 games of the year before a shoulder injury ended his season. He opted out of the 2020 season. Surratt is a very physical receiver who is great at using his body to create leverage and then winning at the catch point. He doesn’t have ideal speed or ability to create separation but makes up for it in his ability to body corners downfield. Last season, the Eagles go-to passing concept for Jalen Hurts was a sail concept tagged with a backside vertical route. Surratt would be a perfect piece for that backside vertical route to give Hurts an option to push the ball downfield.
Round 6 Pick 191 – iOL Trey Hill, Georgia
Hill has experience playing all five positions on the offensive line but ultimately settled in as the center for the Bulldogs. He excels moving forward in the running game but struggles when asked to pass set. He is a limited athlete in terms of agility and lateral mobility and is unlikely to ever be able to play in space at the next level. However, at OG or C, Hill has the ability to protect himself from more athletic EDGE rushers and mix it up with bigger-bodied defensive linemen. As Jason Kelce continues to draw closer to retirement, the Eagles would be well served to take a guy like Hill and hand him over to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland for a couple of seasons for development.
Round 7 Pick 228 – EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
Weaver had a productive season in 2018 with 14 TFL and 6.5 sacks before missing the entirety of the 2019 season with a knee injury. In 2020 he picked up where he left off with another 14 TFL and 7.5 sacks in a 9 game season. Weaver is a strong defensive end who excels as a power rusher. His explosiveness is limited which caps his ceiling as a pass rusher, but he is a good run defender and could be a good DE4 option for the Eagles behind Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Josh Sweat. Another year removed from his knee injury, perhaps Weaver will demonstrate more athleticism moving forwards. Even if he doesn’t, you could do a lot worse for defensive end depth (see Genard Avery).
What I Like About This Draft
- I love how the first round played out for the Eagles. While I would prefer Pitts to Smith, I would much rather have the additional picks and take Smith. Grabbing an elite WR talent will help with the evaluation of Jalen Hurts in 2021 and the extra first-round pick next draft gives maximum flexibility for next offseason.
- On day 2, the Eagles grab 3 starters for the defense. Moehrig would immediately be the best safety on the Eagles roster. Werner would instantly be the best linebacker on the Eagles Roster. Adebo would be a huge upgrade over Avonte Maddox at CB2. Last year the Eagles walked out of day 2 with a backup QB and a LB who had never played football before (don’t even get me started). This year they walk out with 3 starters.
- On day 3, the Eagles add a couple of good value players in Stevenson and Surratt. While neither would likely be a starter, both would play a valuable role for the offense.
What I Don’t Like About This Draft
- The Eagles highly value the trenches and are aging on both sides of the ball. Brandon Graham is 32, Fletcher Cox is 30, Jason Kelce is 33, Brandon Brooks is 31, and Lane Johnson is 30. When you are rebuilding, you want to start with the positions you value most, and yet I didn’t take a lineman until the end of the 3rd round. This isn’t the deepest defensive line group, but it is a very deep offensive line class and I would have liked to address the trenches more than I did.
- Zach Ertz won’t be on the roster next season, and regardless of your opinion of Dallas Goedert, the Eagles need TE depth. Given all the young WRs that the Eagles took last draft, it might have made more sense to take a day 3 TE than to take Sage Surratt.
- 2021 should be about evaluating Jalen Hurts. And yet, only 1 of my first 5 picks addressed the offensive side of the ball. I think there are bigger needs on defense and this is a draft that has a lot of day 2 players at positions of need for the Eagles. But putting more pieces around Hurts to figure out if he is the future should be the top priority.
All picks and trades were made using The Mock Draft Machine. Pictures included below for proof.