A Deeper Look at the Wide Receiver Options for the Eagles in NFL Draft
Most of the discussion around the first round of tomorrow's NFL Draft for the Eagles centers around the wide receiver position.
We took a deeper look at that position with a look at the possibilities at No. 21, but also a look at some names that could be available at pick 53 and in Round 3 where the Eagles own pick No. 103.
While most draft observers believe there are three-or-four top flight wide outs, there is no argument that the depth of this wide receiver class is exceptional.
"There is a lot of talk about this receiver class," acknowledged NFL Draft expert Scott Wright, President of the draft site Draftcountdown.com. "How great it is, and its incredible. But its not necessarily the best wide receiver class I have ever seen, because of the top, its definitely the deepest wide receiver class I've ever seen. That's what the strength is, the depth more than the talent."
Starting at pick No. 22 for Howie Roseman, the Eagles might be limited on the top-flight options, with Alabama's Jerry Jeudry, Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb both projected to be off-the-board by the time Philadelphia picks.
LSU's Justin Jefferson and Alabama's Henry Ruggs have also been mentioned in that upper-tier by some draft experts.
"If they want one of those top-three guys, I think they are going to have to maneuver a little bit," Wright explained.
So what about Ruggs falling to the Eagles at No. 21, he has appeared in that spot in two of the more prominent mock drafts leading up to this draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper and NBC's Peter King, both had Ruggs landing with the Eagles at pick 21.
"That would be the dream scenario for the Eagles," Wright stated. "He is exactly what that offense needs, an injection of not only youth but of speed and explosiveness."
"If the Eagles were picking 10, I think Ruggs would be the best fit," Wright continued.
"While that would be the dream scenario, I guess its pretty unlikely."
Another key name to keep an eye on that was landing with the Eagles in mock drafts is Jefferson, who is starting to move up draft boards during this final week of draft preparation.
"People in the NFL really, really like Jefferson," said 97.3 ESPN Eagles insider John McMullen on The Sports Bash. "I don't see anyway he is going to last that long."
However Wright sees Jefferson being on the board when the its time for the Eagles to make their selection.
"I think there is a really good chance Jefferson will be there at 21," Wright said. "He profiles more as a slot receiver, he's not going to be a outside receiver who is running these vertical routes, making plays downfield, which is what Philly needs."
"Think of him as a bigger, far more reliable version of Nelson Agholor. At this point any playmaker will help, but is he the best fit? I don't think so."
So if its not Ruggs and its not Jefferson at No. 21 who could it be?
"Denzel Mims from Baylor has a lot of momentum right now," Wright said. "I think that would be a little early for him. There has been some speculation about a linebacker, but its not a position that Eagles have prioritized in the draft, so I would be mildly surprised if they take Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma or Patrick Queen from LSU even though it would be a fit for both value and need."
"All signs are pointing to the Eagles zeroing in on wide receiver and I think it's the right move to make, now they just have to decide if they are happy with the options that will be there at No. 21 or do they need to go get someone. Philly has shown they'll trade up if there is a guy they are targeting."
So what about trading up? The top two names are clearly Jeudy and Lamb, and while Wright said he would tale Ruggs at No. 10 if he were the Eagles, its hard to argue with the talent the top two names bring to the field.
While Wright said Lamb and Jeudry would both be good fits for the Eagles, it sounded like trading up was not necessary.
"They need a guy who is going to be a threat to score anytime he touches the ball from anywhere on the field - and that's going to be Henry Ruggs," Wright said. "
What if the Eagles get to pick 21 and all four of the wide outs are off the board, the Eagles could elect to take a defensive player, like linebacker Kenneth Murray as Wright insinuated, or maybe move out of the pick all together.
"I think it would be time to start thinking about bailing," Wright admitted. "I think there will be an option at wide receiver there, but if the top four are gone, I think they can move down a little bit."
The Eagles also could land a wide receiver with their second-round pick, No. 53 overall. Wright explained how deep the class is, so the Eagles could land that defensive player in Round 1, and look to nab a wide out in the second-round.
"The guy who really stands out to me at 53 is K.J. Hamler of Penn State," Wright said. "Not real big, really fast, really explosive. Jalen Regor from TCU, I wouldn't be shocked if he was still there at 53, little bit of an underachiever this year, explosive athlete, runs a 4.4, has NFL bloodlines."
Further down the draft board in the third round, there will still be names that will be there that could help them.
"I wouldn't fault the Eagles for using two of their early picks on wide receivers," Wright suggested.
Some names in the third-round Wright suggested were Lynn Bowden Jr. out of Kentucky, who he says draws comparisons to Randall Cobb. Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay is another name that Wright suggested in Round 3. John Hightowner from Boise State, who Wright explains has a "Will Fuller vibe to him". Finally, he mentions a sleeper who the Eagles could land, Isaiah Coulter from Rhode Island. Coulter is a guy that the Eagles could land in the late third or maybe with one of their fourth round selections.