The Philadelphia Eagles have the opportunity to draft a potential franchise-changing player with the sixth overall pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.
Playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, specifically wide receiver, should be a high priority for Howie Roseman and the Eagles scouts to consider when they are on the clock during their day one pick.
The top two receivers in this draft (Ja’Marr Chase and Devonta Smith) are essentially one A and one B when comparing the two in terms of impact on the field. Smith is coming off of a Heisman Trophy campaign which resulted in 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns during Alabama’s National Championship run. Although Chase opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, he won the Biletnikoff Award (an award presented annually to the outstanding receiver in college football) behind 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 scores in 2019.
The consensus among the league is that Chase and Smith will likely be selected within the first five draft picks. Familiarity can be a factor come draft night as well. The Miami Dolphins have the third overall pick, and an Alabama reunion between Tua Tagovailoa and Smith would instantly help upgrade their offense. The same could be said with the fifth overall pick when the Cincinnati Bengals would consider pairing Joe Burrow back up with his old LSU buddy in Chase.
When considering this scenario, it is easy to imagine that these two prospects may no longer be on the draft board by the time Philly picks at No. 6…
If Chase and Smith are both off the board, the Birds should certainly select Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle is widely regarded as a top ten talent in this year’s draft. Despite only playing in the first four regular-season games, Waddle was able to average 21.1 yards per catch and also score four touchdowns in a short stretch. Waddle did not have a game under 100 receiving yards within the stint.
Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against Tennessee, Waddle’s 591 receiving yards led the Crimson Tide. After an extensive rehab period, Waddle was able to return during the National Championship game versus Ohio State, where he registered 3 receptions for 34 yards.
Speed is the name of Waddle’s game; “Definitely a high 4.2, low 4.3s,” Waddle said when asked about his 40-yard dash time. “That’s normally where I’m around.”
Jaylen Waddle’s final two seasons at Alabama:
* 10 receiving TD averaging 43.6 yards ?
* 98 yard kickoff return TD
* 77 yard punt return TD
Most explosive player in the draft. pic.twitter.com/jo5TZol0gM
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 22, 2021
The familiarity reference comes back full circle to help wrap up this evaluation. If the Eagles do indeed draft Waddle, he would be reunited with Jalen Hurts, who was also once an Alabama football member. Since that the two already have some existing chemistry, it would be interesting to see the tandem rocking midnight green.
Waddle’s skillset also fits what the Eagles have been yearning for in the passing game, a quick shifty playmaker who can do damage with the ball in his hands.
Expect a ton of catch and run opportunities to be incorporated in first-year head coach Nick Sirianni’s offense if Waddle becomes a member of the Birds.
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