Things are starting to heat up across the league with the NFL Draft just under a month away. Prospects are continuing to go through pro days across the league, while scouts and executives are traveling from university to university, rushing to get one final look at the prospects and put some of the final touches on their big boards. As the highly anticipated day looms closer, we’ve already seen a few teams make some moves in order to put themselves in position to land either more draft capital, their desired prospect, or in Miami’s case both. One of the teams the Dolphins went into business with was of course, the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Birds to the displeasure of many of their fans, agreed to swap picks with the Dolphins, moving back from six to 12 and accumulated an extra 2022 first round pick in the process. While theres an argument to be made that despite the opportunity to have three first round picks and a boatload of financial wealth at their disposal for the 2022 season. Philadelphia may have very well passed up on the opportunity to land what many consider to be a franchise altering talent by moving outside of the top ten. Or did they? While the move certainly puts them out of reach of arguably the two best pass catchers in the entire draft, to say that Philadelphia can’t land a franchise altering player at all is a bit or a reach. In fact with the depth in this class in terms of pass catchers, it’s possible that the Eagles could address another position of value on day one and still come away with a few high impact players outside of the first round.

So in order to help our Eagles fans get an idea of the amount of impact talent available in the NFL draft class of 2021, the team here at PHL Eagles Nation thought it would be wise to get an outside perspective of the draft from a member of “the NFL’s 33rd Front Office.” So our very our Mar’Quell Fripp-Owens had a chance to have a conversation with Jordan Reid, the Senior NFL Draft Analyst over at The Draft Network. It is here we’re Reid gives us his thoughts on the MIA/PHL deal, which cornerback prospect best fits the Eagles new defensive scheme, and much, much more.

Mar’Quell Fripp-Owens: “I’ve noticed that TDN has Waddle listed as the number 3 overall prospects on the Big Board. Care to take us into gist of why the team is so high on him despite missing so much of the season? And what exactly should a team expect to get from him?”

Jordan Reid: “Prior to this season, Waddle was more of the fourth option behind Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, and DeVonta Smith. Prior to his injury during the 2020 season, he was leading the team in all major categories. When assessing players, we often like to put ourselves in the shoes of defensive coordinators. Taking that into consideration, we felt as if Waddle was one of the more unique players in this draft class. His combination of speed, balance, catch consistency, and pure explosiveness helped propel him into being WR1.”

The 2021 wide receiver class has the opportunity to be historically good. Stop me when you’ve heard this before. It wasn’t even 365 days ago when the world was discussing the wide receiver class of 2020 and how it had the chance to be the best class since that historic 2014 class that saw 12 wide receivers taken in the first two rounds. Yet despite all of the anticipation surrounding the group to say that they surpassed expectations would probably be an understatement. The group already broke 2014’s draft day record when it had 13 receivers taken in the first two rounds, but when they did hit the field, well ladies and gentleman those young men found a way to out do themselves. While much has been made of just how much talent the in the 2020 receiving group, it has been mentioned that the 2021 unit has the chance to be even better.

Chase, Smith, Bateman, Toney, Moore, Marshall, Atwell, and so many more names that should have first or second round grades on them. Yet the most tantalizing wide receiver prospect has some how found his way as the number three prospect on the entire TDN Big Board. Where according to some he was the fourth best receiver in a stacked room at Alabama. And while he didn’t opt out, you seem to have to watch a lot of his 2019 tape to get a grasp on who he is as a whole due to injury. So how did Jaylen Waddle become so highly touted? Well when you’re the ‘fourth option’ on a stacked team and can still amass 848 yards and seven touchdown (one of which being one of the three longest in school history) and then return for your junior season and was statistically on track to have a better season than your Heisman Trophy winning comrade in the receiving room. Well, its safe to say you start to open some eyes. Then when you get into Waddle’s skill set; earning first team All SEC honors as a kick returner as a freshman showing his importance on special teams. Waddle offers a team a bonafide playmaker at all three levels. He’s best when showing his abilities after catch but to be honest with you, it really doesn’t matter when or where you get him the ball. Jet sweeps, screens, slants, post, Waddles elite level speed will alway be on full display. While Waddle hasn’t faced much press coverage due to his alignment over the years and the last time we seen him during the National Championship game he was a shell of himself, his skills translate way to well at the next level for a team not to have him in their top 15 prospects.

Fripp-Owens: “In your opinion just how big is the gap between Farley, Surtain, and Horn? Which would be the best fit in Philadelphia?”

Reid: “All of those prospects can be clumped into the same cluster as the top three names in this class at the position. Farley’s injury was a bit of a cluster buster in that there will be some teams that are more hesitant than others depending on the severity of his back injury. With the Eagles, Horn is the best fit because of his natural ability in press man, which is a heavy part of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s defensive scheme.”

It’s hard to truly get a grasp of how teams view the gap between each of the top three cornerback prospects as each of them offers their own over the top variable that makes them the high quality prospect they are. In my personal opinion Patrick Surtain II from Alabama is the most complete cornerback in the entire class and should be viewed as the clear cut CB1. Surtain is so technically sound; has a good hip flex, even better route recognition, and looks like he’s a 10 year veteran when you watch how consistent his technique is and how discipline he remains; which makes sense given the fact he is the son of former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Patrick Surtain. This on top of his phenomenal 6’2 200 pound frame, it makes it hard to over look what Surtain brings to the table. Caleb Farley as Jordan mentioned may suffer a bit of a drop given his recent back surgery but the Virginia Tech cornerback is athleticism personified. He takes risk many CBs shouldn’t and wouldn’t but his high quality speed mixed with his 6’1 frame makes him exception to the general rule. Farley can be used in both off and press coverage; I’d prefer him in man coverage based on his history but his 2019 tape showed a significant improvement in zone. Would have liked to see him get a few more reps in with some 2020 tape but has proven to be a high quality prospect with high upside given the fact that he’s still generally new to the position.

This is where things get interesting though while many formerly declared the other two prospects as the top two guys in the class; given Farley’s injury and Horn’s tape/recent testing, its safe to safe the son of former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn has formally inserted his name into the CB1 conversation. Jaycee Horn plays the position the with the swagger and aggressiveness it deserves to be played with. He’ll let you hear it before the play, lock you up during the play, then proceed to continue his trash talk after the play. There are some concerns that his physical play style will make him an oft-flagged player during his career but thats aggressiveness makes Horn who he is. He’s a fighter at the catch point, times routes very well, and has experience lined up against receivers aligned all over the formation. Has really good size for the position and is more than a willing tackler. If we’re being honestly as Jordan has mentioned, this is the typical Mike Zimmer–Matt Eberflus–Jonathan Gannon type of cornerback. Horn’s aggressive nature will be often covered by an even more aggressive pass rush and split field safety help across the top. That along with Horn’s comfortability in zone coverage with his eyes on the quarterback, makes him a prime candidate for the Eagles at 12 giving his fit in the scheme.

Fripp-Owens: “I posed the question on Twitter recently: If I’m an Eagles fan and the team comes away with Jaycee Horn and Creed Humphrey in the first two rounds I should feel? “

Reid: “You should be very happy. Both are top-50 players on my board and both would fill positions of need. Humphrey only has experience as center, but he could also transition to guard prior to becoming the potential heir apparent to Jason Kelce.”

This haul is what I’d like to call the ‘Howie Roseman special’. Along with this comes the selection of quarterback Jamie Newman some where along the line because this is the quarterback factory right? On a serious note think of each draft Howie Roseman has been in charge of over his tenure in Philadelphia. How often do the Eagles get out of the first two rounds without selecting either an offensive lineman or defensive lineman in the first two rounds? Dating back to 2013, four of the seven Eagles drafts have saw this trend continue itself. This year should be no different. No one truly knows what the Eagles will do at 12 but what is known is that the team has questions along both sides of the trenches that need to be answered. While Philadelphia will see a multitude of veteran starters returning along line on both offense and defense, with many of those names over the age of 30, it shouldn’t be a surprise for the Eagles to begin to plan for the future at many of those positions.

While age is a problem the Eagles also seem to have some youth along the lines as well. On offense to have to figure out the rotation between Dillard and Maliata as your starting and swing tackle respectively certainly isn’t a bad problem to have. Seumalo has proven to be more than serviceable at the guard position. Hargrave signed that huge contract last off-season, and with Barnett and Sweat along the edges the is certainly youth among the depth. In fact in a perfect world just about each veteran along both lines has a replacement when their respective time comes; Well, everyone except Jason Kelce. There was talk at one point that Nate Herbig could serve that role but it seems as if that time has past. In the past the Eagles have trained Seumalo at the center position in the event Kelce was unable to go, but does the team really have a long term view of him at the position? There is truly no one in the building to fill this void. However, insert Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey into the equation and now were cooking with grease. With 37 career starts along the interior, Humphrey served as an anchor for the Sooner offensive line. Despite his small stature he does his job and does his job well. Despite the limited movement he was asked to do at Oklahoma surprising Humphrey is actually one of the most athletic centers the league has seen since…. well, Jason Kelce.

Fripp-Owens: “Much has been made of Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr, given the fact that prior to Slay his dad is the last legitimate CB1 Philadelphia has seen. What are some similarities and differences to his game from his dads?”

Reid: “Both are high IQ players and even though both were smaller players, they played with me against the world attitude. The apple doesn’t fall from the tree and it’s impossible not to see the parallels between the two.”

When Eagles fans realized that the son of the greatest cornerback the franchise has seen in about a decade was in the draft and he was actually a quality prospect, the initial thought was ‘were do I sign up?’ In comparison to his father, both have a smaller stature; being listed at 5’10. However despite the small frame both players were quite physical, especially when it comes to making tackles down hill and surely didn’t lack any confidence. This however is where the difference begin to come into play; while the elder Samuel was a pros pro in zone coverage, especially in a cover 2 based scheme, Samuel Jr isn’t quite as advanced when it comes to zone coverage. Though the same can be said about Samuel Sr, who wasn’t exactly the greatest man coverage guy, where as Samuel Jr is at his best given the high usage of man to man coverage at Florida State.

Samuel Jr isn’t quite the playmaker his dad was either. While the elder Samuel goes by the Twitter handle @PickSix22 for a reason, Samuel Jr generally struggles locating the football. Gets called for ‘bonehead’ penalties because of his unwillingness to stop face guarding and get his head turned around in time. And while Samuel Sr was viewed primarily as an outside corner, Samuel Jr is a bit more versatile given his history in the nickel.

Fripp-Owens: “One prospect from each day of the draft that you would consider to be underrated?”

Reid:

Day 1 – Can’t really say that a player in this range is underrated

– N/A

Day 2 – LB – Baron Browning – Ohio State

Here‘s a look at the TDN scouting report from Browning:


Day 3 – Safety – Damar Hamlin – Pittsburgh

Heres a look at Hamlin’s TDN profile.

Fripp-Owens: “Initial thoughts from the MIA-PHI trade from the Eagles standpoint.”

Reid: “They took themselves out of contention for players like Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase, but it gave them long-term flexibility in case Jalen Hurts isn’t the answer. Roseman can still take a possible immediate starter at No. 12 overall, but possibly having three 1st round picks in 2022 could set the team up for plenty of success in the future.”

  • As mentioned the Eagles and the Dolphins recently engaged in a trade that saw the two teams swap draft selections and Philadelphia get draft compensation. I recently touched on this in my most recent article, but this trade is certainly a win-win for both teams. Miami was able to move back from three, a spot that they had no reason to select at in the first place given the pros and cons of moving out of the spot. Then not only did they move out of three, to gain an extra an first round pick but they used one of the extras they already had at their disposal to get back up into the top ten to ensure that they would land the same player they targeted at three. As for Philadelphia, well this trade is more for the future than the present; both Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie have mentioned how the roster is in need of an infusion of youth. And while it would be nice for the Eagles to add the best player available and someone who could inject a much needed spark, the amount of holes present on this roster will take more than just one draft selection to fix.

Philadelphia has way to many questions surrounding the roster heading into the season and with a limited supply of cap space, free agency wasn’t going to help the Eagles; at least this off-season. However, as Jordan mentioned just because the team is now selecting at 12 does not mean that they can’t come away with a high impact player. Being in position to grab a player that should be able to immediately help your roster, as well as recovering an extra draft pick to match the NFL leading 11 the Eagles already have is always a plus. With the prospect of three first round picks in their back pocket the Eagles should use this season as a bit of an identifier. Is Jalen Hurts a franchise quarterback? How far are we as a roster? Which veterans are worth keeping? What Pro Day should I visit next? So many questions left to be answered, but what can be agreed on is that the Eagles are in a much better position in the future than they were moments prior.


Featured Image: NFL.com


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