Mayock Believes Eagles Should Look at WR Early
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles two most pressing needs heading into the new league year are pretty obvious, wide receiver and cornerback.
Mike Mayock believes Philadelphia will be in a position to get significant help at either position when it picks in the first round of April’s draft but the depth at CB position makes wide receiver the top priority, according to the NFL Network draft analyst.
“I think the wide receiver class is good, but I don't think it's as deep as corner,” Mayock said Monday on his annual pro-combine conference call. “So, if you're there at 14 or 15, I think the Eagles have to be looking really hard at all three of those potential first-round wideouts.”
The Eagles will be selecting either 14th or 15th in the first round, depending on a coin flip with the Indianapolis Colts which will be held on Friday at the combine.
The three top-rated receivers -- Western Michigan’s Corey Davis, Clemson’s Mike Williams, and Washington’s John Ross -- could all be there when the Eagles make their choice with the pick acquired from Minnesota for Sam Bradford.
“They’re distinctly different (players),” Mayock said when discussing the three receivers. “The Eagles have to figure out what their order of preference is, what kind of style they want. But they’ve got to be looking hard at all three of those guys and have to know up front whether or not if one, two or all three of them are available, who are you going to take? And then I think they can drop back in a later round [for a cornerback], and it wouldn’t bother me at all if they drafted a couple of corners, and I think they could.”
Free agency, which begins March 9, could change that strategy as a report out of Miami indicated the Eagles will be pushing hard to sign pending Dolphins free agent Kenny Stills, a deep threat
That would almost certainly take WR off the board in the first round after Philadelphia pulls off the signing.
According to Mayock, Ross is the best deep receiver in the draft and compares favorably to Houston’s Will Fuller, the Philadelphia native and Notre Dame product who ran a blazing 4.3 at last year’s combine.
Ross, however, has size issues at just 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds and also had an ACL tear that cost him the 2015 season at UW before returning to haul in 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
Davis (6-3, 212) is regarded as the most well-rounded receiver in the draft but will not work out at the combine due to an ankle issue while Williams (6-3, 225) is the biggest with the best red-zone skills.
“I have Corey Davis as the No. 1 rated receiver because he’s a better athlete, with good size, and better running after the catch than Mike Williams,” Mayock said. “Mike Williams creates his own space. He’s a big, physical dude. I think he welcomes press coverage.
“...If you’re looking from an Eagles perspective and scoring in red-zone opportunities, (Williams) is probably the best guy at wide receiver in this draft in the red zone because of his catching radius and his physicality.”
As for corner, Mayock believes the top option, Ohio State’s Marcus Lattimore, will be long gone before it’s the Eagles’ turn but Ross’ teammate at Washington, Sidney Jones, could be in play.
Mayock also highlighted the depth at the position by claiming Florida’s Teez Tabor could just into the first-round mix with an impressive showing at the combine and also saying there will be plenty of contributors who could be options on Day 2 and 3.
“It wouldn't bother me at all if they drafted a couple corners, and I think they could,” Mayock said of the Eagles. “I think they can get one and two, I think they could. It's so deep at corner when you start talking where's Gareon Conley going to go from Ohio State? There is a kid named Ahkello Witherspoon out of Colorado. People are talking about him in the fourth round. He's a good football player. Damontae Kazee (San Diego State) if they want a nickel. Cam Sutton (Tennessee). I can get through four rounds of quality corners, and I've never been able to say that before.”
The 2017 draft will be held from April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen