The Philadelphia Eagles will be one of the centers of the NFL’s swirling offseason, as a potential Carson Wentz trade is a massive domino that is yet to fall in the upcoming free agency cycle. With that trade could come more picks for the Eagles to begin the arduous rebuild of a depleted roster, and the other players they move or get back in such a trade could change their team needs. There’s a lot we don’t know about this team right now.
As it is, I prioritized team speed in the offensive arsenal and defensive back seven, largely neglecting trenches—a very non-Howie Roseman draft. But considering the struggles Roseman has had drafting over the last few seasons, a non-Roseman draft would be appropriate.
ROUND 1 (NO. 6 OVERALL): JAYLEN WADDLE, WR, ALABAMA
It’s impossible to tell what positions exactly the Eagles will target at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft—first, we have to see if they trade Wentz and what subsequent moves they make in free agency to get under the cap ceiling. They’re in a difficult spot.
The inarguable truth of the Eagles’ roster is that they need more help at wide receiver. With rookie first-rounder Jalen Reagor taking a slow start to his career in Year 1 and no trustworthy depth behind him, the Eagles should attack the top of the wide receiver board with multiple picks. If the front office is still valuing the same traits they did when they selected Reagor—YAC ability, explosiveness—then they’ll love Waddle, who’s a more-developed player within the same mold.
Waddle gives them field-stretching ability, which Reagor struggled with last season, while also bringing the versatility necessary to move around the formation, avoid press coverage, and get some easy targets for whoever ends up the starting quarterback in Philadelphia.
ROUND 2 (NO. 38 OVERALL): GREG NEWSOME II, CB, NORTHWESTERN
More hype is needed for Newsome, a studly zone coverage corner for the Wildcats’ suffocating defense this past season. He doesn’t have elite size or man coverage traits, but if you aren’t asking your corners to consistently track receivers downfield, you want a player of Newsome’s vision, ball skills, and transitional quickness.
That’s the call for the Jonathan Gannon defense in Philadelphia. The ex-DBs coach in Indianapolis, Gannon worked with such players as Kenny Moore, Xavier Rhodes, and Rock Ya-Sin in a heavy zone approach that sprinkled in both split field and single-high coverages to keep defenses guessing. Newsome’s football intelligence gives him an early leg up to start at CB2 opposite Darius Slay.
ROUND 3 (NO. 70 OVERALL): BREVIN JORDAN, TE, MIAMI (FL)
Some have paired the Eagles with Kyle Pitts at the top of the draft, and while the pick would make sense, I think they can wait on this tight end class and get a running mate to Dallas Goedert later in the draft. Jordan at the top of Round 3 is a perfect example.
Jordan isn’t a fit for every team, but he’s exactly what the Eagles need: a playmaker. Jordan is one of the best YAC tight ends to come out in recent seasons, and while he offers little as a blocker and must improve as a route-runner, he’s deadly with the ball in his hands. New head coach Nick Sirianni has shown a commitment both to using multiple-TE sets and to getting the ball into his playmakers’ hands quickly—Jordan fits both philosophies.
ROUND 5 (NO. 151 OVERALL): TONY FIELDS II, LB, WEST VIRGINIA
I was holding my breath watching Tony Fields fall to this pick for the Eagles—thank goodness he made it. Fields is a box-safety-like player who comes in the 220-pound range, but is experienced playing in the second level and running sideline to sideline in the Mountaineers’ defense. Fields has the range and explosiveness that most of the Eagles’ linebacker room lacks, and could carve out a third-down role early in a weak positional group.
ROUND 5 (NO. 155 OVERALL): JOSHUAH BLEDSOE, S, MISSOURI
Bledsoe is one of my favorite Day 3 players in this class. He’s an aggressive box defender who can survive in short zones with good instincts and vision, and he clearly has the quickness necessary to stick in coverage. Bledsoe can’t be trusted from the roof just yet, but the Eagles have Rodney McLeod in place as their deep safety and should continue to add box players as the second level of their defense was a complete liability last year.
ROUND 6 (NO. 192 OVERALL): JOSH IMATORBHEBHE, WR, ILLINOIS
Imatorbhebhe is the third pass-catcher the Eagles add in this draft, which may feel like a lot—but he’s an important addition. Even with the additions of Waddle and Jordan, the Eagles still lack a jump-ball player to win on outside routes—a role they enjoyed with Alshon Jeffery over the last few seasons. Imatorbhebhe is a legendary athlete on jump-ball opportunities, with an elite vertical and great body control in the air. He’ll be helpful in the red zone.
ROUND 6 (NO. 220 OVERALL): THOMAS GRAHAM JR., CB, OREGON
Graham didn’t play this season, then showed up at the Senior Bowl and had one of the strongest performances of all cover men after knocking off a year’s worth of rust. Graham is a physical, aggressive corner who is excellent in run support, but doesn’t have the ideal size of an outside corner and can struggle with height, weight, and speed in man coverage. In a zone role, or perhaps in the slot, he can be a solid pro—good fit for the Eagles’ defense.
ROUND 7 (NO. 228 OVERALL): CHAUNCEY GOLSTON, EDGE, IOWA
The Eagles may need a jolt in the arm at EDGE if cap limitations force them to move on from Derek Barnett in the upcoming season. With all of their needs considered, it’ll be tough to go EDGE early, but if they can steal a player like Golston in the seventh round, they’ll keep their rotation strong. He’s a quality run defender—something they need with incumbent Josh Sweat, who struggles in run defense—and can provide some push on the pocket with power rushes.