The Philadelphia Eagles draft picks heading into the 2021 NFL Draft put this team in a good position to land young talent. Given the franchise will be restrained from spending thanks to cap space issues in the next two years, it will be key for general manager Howie Roseman to nail the Eagles draft picks.
With Nick Sirianni taking over as head coach in Philadelphia, and Carson Wentz being traded to the Indianapolis Colts, Roseman and team owner Jeffrey Lurie made it clear they’re going in a new direction even in taking on a ton of dead cap money by dealing Wentz away.
The moving off of Wentz means the Eagles can’t necessarily rule out a quarterback near the top of the 2021 NFL Draft. That raises all kinds of exciting possibilities with the No. 6 overall pick, but having said that, there are plenty of other holes for Philadelphia to address this offseason.
Whether it was the result of Week 17 tanking or not, the Eagles draft picks and specific position create an intriguing scenario that could reshape the franchise this offseason.
Philadelphia Eagles draft picks: Round-by-round targets in 2021 NFL Draft
Entering the offseason, the Eagles hold the No.6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s an ideal situation for a team that has needs but could also use a quarterback, with this spot offering plenty of flexibility to trade up for a new signal-caller or capitalize on a potential run of QBs to take the best pure talent available on their board.
If the top three or four quarterbacks come off the board early, a top-five overall prospect will be available for Philadelphia. But, if someone like Trey Lance slides to the sixth spot, the Eagles could either roll with Hurts, trade down and acquire more picks in a deep class, or simply grab Lance as the QB of the future.
Let’s examine some round-by-round targets for the Eagles in the first three rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.
First round, 6th overall: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU), Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech), Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
Ja’Marr Chase sat out the entire 2020 college football season and is still viewed as the top receiver prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. That is how dominant he looked in 2019. LSU’s record-setting offense was fueled by its No. 1 receiver hauling in 20 touchdowns with 1,780 receiving yards and averaging 21.2 yards per catch. He could become a perennial Pro Bowl receiver in Philadelphia, making all kinds of plays as the top receiving threat for the Eagles. We’re talking about a perennial Pro Bowl receiver who will make 1,200-yard seasons a frequent milestone.
If Chase is off the board, the Eagles could turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. Darius Slay held his own as the No. 1 cornerback, but opponents attacked Avonte Maddox relentlessly. Farley excels in man coverage, with a physical style that would pair nicely alongside Slay. Put these two together and passing against this secondary becomes a lot more difficult.
There is depth at cornerback in this draft class, though, which could create the opportunity to bring in a first-round quarterback if the Eagles aren’t entirely sold on Hurts as the answer in 2021 or beyond. Fields boasts a similar dual-threat skill set to Hurts, and that’s becoming more and more the new prototype at the position. However, Fields is more accurate, a better arm talent overall and is arguably superior as a runner to Hurts when he takes off.
Second round, 38th overall: Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue), Alex Leatherwood (OT, Alabama), Tyson Campbell (CB, Georgia)
When healthy, Rondale Moore is the most dangerous player with the football in his hands. He played in just seven games over the past two years due to lower-body injuries, but his 2018 season was absurd. As a true freshman, Moore racked up nearly 1,500 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns. Plays like this show how explosive he is with the football. Sirianni’s offense needs playmakers in open space and Moore fits that perfectly.
If the Eagles are truly going to help Carson Wentz return to his former glory, improving the offensive line is crucial. This team received the fourth-worst mark by PFF for pass-grade efficiency (83. Finding a center to replace, but don’t look past offensive tackle. Andre Dillard, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been a bust to this point. Lane Johnson, for as dominant as he plays, struggles to stay healthy. Leatherwood brings experience at multiple spots, handled himself well in pass protection at right tackle and offers upside. The versatility and talent might even make him a first-round pick.
We’ve already mentioned this team’s need for a cornerback. If one isn’t grabbed in the first round, a Day 2 pick must be devoted to upgrading at this spot. Campbell can start on the outside and fit well for a team that likes to press their corners at the line of scrimmage. While he isn’t clean in man coverage, some NFL coaching could quickly mold him into a No. 2 cornerback.
Third round, 70th overall: Jevon Holland (S, Oregon), Jabril Cox (LB, LSU), Paulson Adebo (CB, Stanford), Sage Surratt (WR, Wake Forest)
Cornerback isn’t the only need in Philadelphia’s secondary. At least one of the Eagles draft picks will be spent on a safety. There really isn’t another choice. We saw how much this team missed Malcolm Jenkins in 2020. While his leadership can’t be replaced, Holland brings similar versatility. He can line up in the slot, serve as deep safety, or help play near the box to stop the run. He brings all the tools to contribute to every aspect of the game.
Cox transferred to LSU From North Dakota State seeking to prove himself against the highest level of competition. He did just that with the Tigers this past season. A 6-foot-4 linebacker, he brings plenty of athleticism to the table. He explodes once he recognizes the play, flying to the football and blowing things up. He is a reactionary player who needs coaching, but that will come at the next level.
Surratt chose to opt-out of the 2020 college football season, a decision that shouldn’t impact his draft stock too much. In 2019, with Jamie Newman at quarterback, Wake Forest’s top receiver finished with 1,001 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He brings nice size (6-foot-2) and strong hands to the table, with skills that might pair well with Jalen Reagor.
Philadelphia Eagles mock draft
One of the best parts of the offseason is putting together mock drafts and simulating through different scenarios. With the help of The Draft Network’s 2021 NFL Draft simulator, we did that with the Eagles draft picks.
- First round, 12th overall*: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
- Second round, 38th overall: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
- Second round, 44th overall: Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
- Third round, 70th overall: Jevon Holland, S, Oregon
- Fifth round, 149th overall: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
- Fifth round, 153rd overall (via DAL): Adrian Ealy, OT, Oklahoma
TRADE: Philadelphia Eagles send No. 6 overall pick to San Francisco 49ers for No. 12 overall, No. 44 overall picks and a 2022 second-round pick.
It’s in this team’s best interest to trade down. Whether he’s in San Francisco or Denver, some general manager will be willing to move up for a quarterback like Trey Lance. That’s something to take advantage of and it helped us strengthen the Eagles draft picks situation in our mock draft.
Moving down from No. 6 to No. 12 overall, we still grab our top cornerback. For all the reasons we highlighted, Farley will fit into this defense perfectly. He proved himself at the college level as a shutdown cornerback and we expect him to be a Pro Bowl player in the NFL. Plus, he might get more opportunities for interceptions with opposing quarterbacks trying to test him early in his career.
Leatherwood is an ideal offensive lineman for the Eagles. He’ll be able to compete for a spot at guard in training camp, while also spending time learning from Lane Johnson. If all goes well, the two could both start on the line in Week 1. In the worst-case scenario, injury striking Johnson again, Leatherwood can move outside to right tackle.
This is the benefit of trading down. We land Moore, a perfect fit for Sirianni’s offense. He’ll be moved around in motion, given the football on reverses, bubble screens and quick passes. Sirianni will find every way possible to get Moore the football in open space and good things will come as a result. If not for the trade with San Francisco, we’d have been forced to choose between Leatherwood and Moore.
While Miles Sanders could explode next season, don’t forget the Colts used multiple running backs. Patterson comes from a smaller program, but consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards and 14-plus touchdowns is absurd. He’ll be a strong No. 2 back in this offense, delivering explosive runs late in games when the defense is tired and Philadelphia is creating holes for him to burst through.