First Round Preview

Posted: April 23rd, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on First Round Preview

The draft gets underway tonight. A lot can happen between now and then, but the Eagles have pick 21 for now and we’ll focus on that.

Every year the Eagles have a list of five names they are targeting with their pick. I’ll cover the five names I expect them to be focusing on.

Jerry Jeudy  – 6-1, 193 – Alabama

Arguably the best route-runner in the draft. Jeudy has a chance to be an impact receiver in the NFL. The first thing that stood out when I watched him was his RAC ability. He can catch a short pass and turn that into a big play. He’s elusive and has terrific acceleration. He will run through some arm tackles. Jeudy isn’t huge, but he’s got some physicality to his game. He’s also an outstanding deep receiver. Jeudy tracks the ball well and is able to adjust on the move. He has good hands.

Jeudy was a volume receiver in college. In 2018 he went 68-1315-14-19.3 and in 2019 he went 77-1163-10-15.1. That’s a lot of catches and a lot of big plays.

There is some concern over a meniscus issue with one of his knees, but Jeudy played in 28 college games over the past two years so he wasn’t missing much time.

Henry Ruggs – 5-11, 188 – Alabama

Ruggs was the most explosive player in college football in 2019. He went to the Combine and ran a 4.27, showing that speed wasn’t some kind of illusion. He is one of the fastest college players I’ve ever seen.

Ruggs is more than just fast. He runs good routes. He is an effective Red Zone receiver. Ruggs has good hands. He can go up and make tough, contested catches. He’s not just a one-trick pony. That said, his speed is what makes him special.

The question is why he wasn’t more productive in college. He was 46-741-11-16.1 in 2018 and 40-746-7-18.7 in 2019. Those are not dynamic numbers. Part of the problem is that Ruggs was the second or third best receiver on his college team. The other players will be high picks so it isn’t like Ruggs was getting out-played by chumps.

The Eagles want to improve their ability to run after the catch. Ruggs is very good at that and would be a big help in that area. He’s not very elusive, but his acceleration is tremendous. Give him an alley and he just explodes up the field. He knows how to use his speed on short and deep routes. He knows how to get separation horizontally and vertically. Ruggs will be a better pro player than he was a college player.

Justin Jefferson – 6-2, 202 – LSU

Will Jefferson make it to 21? Most felt the Eagles would have to settle for him if CeeDee Lamb, Jeudy and Ruggs were gone. Now there is talk that Jefferson could go in the Top 15. He’s coming off an amazing junior season where he posted insane numbers: 111-1540-18-13.7. As you can see, Jefferson was more of a possession receiver. That’s not an insult, though. He played in an NFL style of offense and his role as the slot receiver was critical to LSU’s success. That will go down as one of the great offenses in college history and Jefferson was a huge part of that.

Jefferson is a gifted route-runner and he’s got excellent hands. He made contested catches all year long. He has terrific body control and great concentration. He focuses on the ball and makes the play, time after time. Jefferson played on the outside in 2018 and showed that athleticism at the Combine. He ran 4.43 and had a 37.5-inch vertical jump.

Jefferson has the potential to be a workhorse receiver in the NFL. I don’t think he’s an ideal fit for what the Eagles want, but he would be a huge addition to the passing attack. He can line up anywhere. He’s got good hands and runs well after the catch. He’s just not explosive.

Kenneth Murray – 6-2, 241 – Oklahoma

The Eagles will not draft a LB in the first round. You know that. I know that.

But if they ever did, this might be the year. The team is thin at LB, in terms of talent and bodies. They like young players Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards, but the Eagles know they need a major talent to add to the mix. The team has been looking at some of the top LB prospects.

Murray would be a good fit at WLB. He flies around the field and has great closing speed. This wouldn’t be a move to focus on run defense. Murray would help the passing game as well as run defense. Jim Schwartz loves to use the Sticks defense. Murray would be perfect for that. Line him up 15 yards off the ball and let him attack the runner or receiver on third-and-long. Murray would close to the ball and make the play. He has tremendous range.

The Eagles have to deal with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott multiple times a year. Murray has the speed to match up with them, in the pass game or the run game. Murray is a gifted blitzer and would add a playmaker to the front seven.

Murray is also a natural leader and high character guy. This is the kind of player you want to build your defense around. If the top receivers are gone and Howie Roseman can’t work out a good trade, Murray would make a lot of sense.

Brandon Aiyuk – 6-0, 205 – Arizona State

Outside the top four receivers, Aiyuk is the guy who stands out to me. There are arguments against him. He only had one great year in college. He played in the PAC-12, which hasn’t exactly been a receiver factory in recent years. I get it.

Watch the tape.

I see a guy with tremendous ability. Aiyuk is one of the best RAC receivers in the draft. He has a deadly combination of speed and burst. He’s also a gifted deep receiver. He locates the ball well and does a really good job of adjusting to the ball. Aiyuk went 65-1192-8-18.3 in 2019. Those are pretty darn good numbers. He also offers impact in the return game. Put the ball in his hands and Aiyuk can make things happen.

Aiyuk only ran 4.50 at the Combine, but he looks 4.35 on tape. He pulls away from defenders over and over. Only Ruggs did that with the same kind of consistency.


Howie has traded up or down in 3 of the past 4 drafts so there is every chance he’ll make a move.

The guy he would love to move up and get is CeeDee Lamb, the best receiver in the draft. I had Jeudy rated higher than Lamb for a while, but Lamb’s ability to go up and get the ball in the air really impressed me. Lamb has dynamic RAC ability and posted huge numbers this year. He would be a huge upgrade to the WR corps for the Eagles.

If the cost is reasonable, Lamb would be an awesome addition.

Part of me would love to see him move down and add an extra mid-round pick.


Are there players I don’t want at 21? Yes.

WR Denzel Mims had a good career at Baylor. He had a great offseason, standing out at the Senior Bowl and Combine. I think Mims can be a good NFL player, but I don’t like him at 21. I’d love him in the second round.

DE A.J. Epenesa from Iowa is big at 6-4, 275. He’s not a great athlete, but is a good pass rusher. Part of the attraction to him is that he can slide into DT in passing situations. I don’t like him for the Eagles at 21.

DE K’Lavon Chaisson from LSU is a young, athletic, gifted player. I don’t think he has the kind of physicality the Eagles need in their DL. I don’t like the fit. He could be terrific in another scheme.

There aren’t any CBs or safeties that I like at 21. If the Eagles move back, there could be a few safeties that make sense. Jeremy Chinn is the most interesting because he’s 6-3, 221 and an explosive athlete. It would be fun to add a player like that to the back end of the defense.


I will post a full draft preview on Thursday night or Friday morning.


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