There has been a sudden shift in thinking about the Eagles’ draft mentality. Maybe they won’t take a receiver in the first round.
Philadelphia has been linked to an edge rusher and a linebacker, possibly even a center at pick No. 21. But wideout remains their most glaring need and in a receiver-laden draft class, it seems like a no-brainer to take a dynamic playmaker.
According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper, that’s exactly what they will do on April 23. Kiper has Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III falling to the Eagles at pick No. 21. Ruggs clocked a blazing 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, tops among all pass-catchers.
There was speculation that Ruggs’ 40 time had moved him higher and out of reach for the Eagles. Kiper doesn’t think so. Here’s what he wrote:
This pick should be the best wide receiver on their board. Philadelphia doesn’t have many roster holes, but there’s a big one at wideout. And really, if I’m running the Eagles, I would look at trading up a few spots to get my guy. I suspect they’d be thrilled to get Ruggs, who is one of the fastest players in this class but is underrated as a route runner. This is a roster that can win the NFC East again.
The ESPN draft expert is one of the most trusted names in football but his predictions often fall flat. There have been a greater number of NFL mock drafts pegging LSU receiver Justin Jefferson to the Eagles in the first round. Stay tuned.
Arizona State WR Emerges as Potential Eagles Pick
Henry Ruggs III. Justin Jefferson. Tee Higgins. Jalen Reagor. These are the most common names being associated with the Eagles.
What about a wild card?
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has the Eagles selecting Brandon Aiyuk from Arizona State at pick No. 21. The 6-foot, 205-pounder was a two-year starter for the Sun Devils where he caught 98 balls for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns. More impressively, he averaged 17 yards per reception.
A dual-threat on special teams (punt and kick returner), Aiyuk’s numbers are lower than normal at Arizona State because he transferred over from Sierra College in 2018. He had 89 receptions for 1,533 yards and 19 touchdowns there, along with three returns for scores.
He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.50 seconds — and did so while dealing with a core muscle injury, similar to what DeSean Jackson has been rehabbing from since last year. Aiyuk underwent surgery, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, for the ailment on April 7.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared Aiyuk favorably to the Rams’ Robert Woods and projected him as a solid WR3 in his scouting report. Here is what he wrote:
Ascending receiving prospect who has shown continued improvement since coming from the JUCO ranks. Aiyuk has size, speed and is a natural pass-catcher who plays with good energy but he must improve physicality to handle contested catches. He can be slick and instinctive to separate out of stems and turns, but getting in and out of standard route breaks tends to limit his effectiveness. He needs more polish, but his ability to create yards after catch could get him some early reps while he’s still developing. He has the potential to develop into a WR3.