The Philadelphia Eagles made a splash on Friday when they traded down six spots in the draft. The blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins has the potential to net the Eagles three first-round picks in 2022.
However, it does limit the star power they can acquire in the first round of this year’s draft. Top offensive targets Ja’Marr Chase and Kyle Pitts will definitely be off the board when Philly goes on the clock at No. 12. Ditto for Justin Fields and most of the other intriguing prospects in what has been called a loaded quarterback class.
Still, the Eagles have the opportunity to land an impactful rookie in the first round. The decision to trade back six spots may mean they are focusing on the defensive side of the ball. There should be quite a few talented pass-rushers and cornerbacks available to them. Or maybe they decide to add offensive line depth considering last year’s injury woes there.
“As we go forward with 19 draft picks in the next two years, we need great players and great people,” general manager Howie Roseman said on March 18. “We started the offseason with keeping them in mind.”
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Top 7 Prospects for Eagles at Pick No. 12
The Eagles own 11 total picks in the 2021 draft, including four of the first 84 selections following the Carson Wentz trade. None of those will be weighted heavier than No. 12 since they must hit on it. Let’s take a look at a few of the best options for them in the first round:
DeVonta Smith: The Heisman Trophy winner has seen his draft stock plummet after Smith revealed he only weighs 170 pounds. Scouts had been drooling over his Alabama highlight reel, filled with spectacular one-handed grabs and tons of explosive YAC (yards-after-catch) plays. But those cheers have been replaced by concerns over his durability and ability to break free versus bulked-up NFL cornerbacks. The 6-foot-1 receiver could slide all the way down to No. 12 — and he’d be a steal at that value.
Patrick Surtain: The son of a three-time Pro Bowler, Surtain is arguably the best cover corner in this year’s class. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after recording four interceptions with 24 pass breakups in three years at Alabama. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder was the top-rated cornerback in the country, per Pro Football Focus, and allowed only one reception on throws 20-plus yards downfield.
Kwity Paye: The Michigan pass-rusher fired off the snap and fought through double teams in the hard-hitting Big 10 Conference. He finished with 11.5 sacks in 38 college games while serving as team captain in 2020. Paye (6-foot-1, 261 pounds) is a freak athlete who put on a show at this pro day, too. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and tallied a 35.5-inch vertical jump, plus 36 bench press reps. Remember, the Eagles like their Michigan defensive ends (see: Brandon Graham).
Greg Rousseau: This raw edge rusher needs to fill out his 6-foot-7 frame a bit but there’s no denying his explosiveness off the line. Rousseau sat out the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns but had 15.5 sacks in 2019 and got them off only 46 pressures as a redshirt freshman at Miami. The 265-pounder projects as a defensive end in the NFL but he can also play nose tackle and even lined up at linebacker and safety for a few snaps.
Micah Parsons: What’s left to say about the “freak show” after his ridiculous pro day? The Penn State product sat out the 2020 season but he never stopped training. He posted a blistering 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash, just a hair slower than the record set by Shaquem Griffin (4.38) in 2018. Parsons recorded 109 tackles (14 for loss), five sacks, four forced fumbles, five pass breakups in 2019. He’s a plug-and-play starter at linebacker in Week 1, although the Eagles don’t usually look at that position in the first round.
Jaycee Horn: If Patrick Surtain is gone — rumors have the Dallas Cowboys eyeing him up at No. 10 — then Horn would be a really nice consolation prize. The South Carolina product is a big, physical cornerback (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) who excels at using his size to disrupt receiver’s routes. He finished with eight passes defended in 2020, including six pass breakups and a pair of interceptions. He’s more suited for a press-man scheme and the Eagles appear to be headed to a zone-based scheme under new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Christian Darrisaw: The Eagles might decide to replenish their injured, aging offensive line by adding a devastating run blocker. Darrisaw projects as either a starting left or right tackle in the NFL, an intriguing prospect who could provide insurance in case Lane Johnson isn’t fully healed. The 314-pounder could also compete with Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata. Pro Football Focus chose him as their 2020 Outland Trophy winner, awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman.