After a disastrous 4-11-1 season in 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles were “rewarded” with the sixth overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft. So what did the team bereft of NFL talent do with that much-needed asset? They traded it to the Miami Dolphins to move back to 12th.
Now, yes, the Eagles are now in a position to have three first-round picks in 2022. But they forfeited the chance to land Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase in the process, both of whom could’ve jumped into the starting lineup from day one and quickly became the No. 1 target on the offense. With Philly now drafting 12th overall this Thursday night, let’s take a look at the team’s best options for its all-important first-round pick.
DeVonta Smith — WR, Alabama
DeVonta Smith shouldn’t be the first name on the Eagles’ 2021 draft board. He should be the first, second, third, and fourth name on their list.
The Alabama wide receiver and reigning Heisman Trophy winner went ballistic on every defense he faced as a senior. Smith led all of Division I with 1,856 receiving yards and 23(!) receiving touchdowns last season.
He’s lightning fast. He’s incredibly sure-handed. He’s the smoothest route runner in the 2021 class. The only knock on Smith seems to be his slender frame (6-foot-0, 170 pounds), but just watch tape on the guy and you’ll see why NFL teams are clamoring to add him to their offense.
Howie Roseman hasn’t drafted a single Alabama player as the general manager of the Eagles. It’s time.
Jaylen Waddle — WR, Alabama
What do the Eagles desperately need on the offensive side of the ball?
What does Jaylen Waddle have a whole lot of?
You guessed it. Speed.
Waddle, Smith’s teammate at Alabama for the last three years, possesses elite acceleration off the line of scrimmage and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He can be utilized on the outside, in the slot, and as a dangerous returner on special teams.
If Smith is gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock and Waddle is still on the board, he should be the pick.
Jaycee Horn — CB, South Carolina
Alabama product Patrick Surtain II is regarded as the best cornerback in the 2021 draft class, but let’s assume he’s taken before pick No. 12. That leaves us with Jaycee Horn, the aggressive corner out of South Carolina, as the best remaining player at the position for the Eagles.
Horn is a physical presence on the outside who isn’t afraid of any challenge. He thrives in press coverage, but he also has the athleticism to hang with speedy NFL wideouts.
Philadelphia has been searching for a lockdown corner for years. Horn could finally be that guy.
Eagles fans, who do you want the team to take at No. 12?
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference