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February 15, 2021

Eagles-only mock draft, version 2.0

At some point, the Philadelphia Eagles may finally trade Carson Wentz. For now, Howie Roseman's expectations of the compensation the Birds should receive in return for Wentz are not aligning with how teams around the league are valuing him. 

While the Birds may eventually add a pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it's more likely that the higher picks they receive will be in 2022. And so, while we wait for the outcome of that trade, here's a look at the players who could interest the Eagles with the picks that they do presently have.

As a reminder, the Eagles are projected to have eight draft picks this year, with two in the fifth round, and two in the sixth, depending on how compensatory pick projections go. In case you missed version 1.0, here you go.

Round 1: DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama (6'1, 175)

In 2019, Smith led Alabama in receiving yards and TDs, despite playing alongside a pair of first round picks in Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy.

Alabama WRs: 2019 Rec Yards YPC TD 
DeVonta Smith 68 1,256 18.5 14 
 Jerry Jeudy77 1,163 15.1 10 
 Henry Ruggs40 746 18.6 
 Jaylen Waddle33 560 17.0 

Smith could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he stayed in school for his senior season, which turned out to be a wise move, as he's now in position to be a top 10 pick in the 2021 draft. In 2020, Smith had a monster season. I mean, obviously. He was the Heisman trophy winner. On the season, he had 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 TDs. He also had a 21.5 yards per return average on 11 punt returns, including a TD.

Smith is a smooth route runner, he gobbles up yards after the catch, he has great hands, and he can make spectacular catches in traffic. The concern that teams are going to have about Smith is his lack of size. He opted not to be weighed at the Senior Bowl. He's listed at 175, but does he even weigh 170? Certainly, he plays much bigger than his slight frame.

Smith is going to be connected to the Eagles in mock drafts all offseason long.

MORE: NFL trade rumors: Eagles have reportedly spoken to Colts, Seahawks about Zach Ertz

Round 2: Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa (6'3, 305)

Nixon was a big riser this year, as he was a highly decorated player in 2020:

  1. Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
  2. AP First-Team All-Big Ten.
  3. One of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, which is given to the best interior lineman (offense or defense) in the country. The other two finalists -- Alabama's Alex Leatherwood and Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg -- play offense. (Leatherwood won.)
  4. Bronko Nagurski finalist, for the national defensive player of the year. (Zaven Collins won.)

So that's all pretty good, right?

Nixon is quick, powerful, instinctive, and productive. On the season (in 8 games), Nixon had 45 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.

You can also see his obvious athleticism on display on this game-sealing pick six against Penn State. Watch him kinda-sorta Euro step Sean Clifford, lol:

With Malik Jackson clearly not returning in 2021 and Fletcher Cox now on the wrong side of 30, the Eagles need to reload at defensive tackle, a position that they obviously prioritize.

TRADE: Eagles trade their third-round pick (No. 69) to the Browns for a third-round pick (No. 89) and a fourth-round pick (No. 100).

At the 2019 trade deadline, the Eagles flushed their 2021 fourth-round pick down the toilet when they traded it to the Browns for Genard Avery. I believe it would make sense for them to try to trade back in the third round to recoup a pick in Round 4. Here's how the draft value chart math works on the trade back that I'm proposing: 

 Eagles getBrowns get 
 Pick No. 89 (145 points) Pick No. 69 (245 points)
 Pick No. 100 (100 points) 

MORE: Mailbag: If the Eagles get a first-round pick for Carson Wentz, is it better in 2021 or 2022? | WTS: Why Eagles haven't traded Wentz (yet) and how packaging him with Ertz can help

Round 3: Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State (6'3, 242)

Werner does not have particularly impressive numbers for a potential Day 2 linebacker, but he projects as an athletic three-down player in the NFL with the size and strength to play the run, and athleticism to cover tight ends and running backs. A look:

Yes, Alex Singleton came on a bit at during the back half of the season, and the Eagles drafted a couple linebackers in the 2020 draft in Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley, but the Eagles could still clearly use a three down linebacker.

Round 4: Richard LeCounte III, S, Georgia (5'11, 190)

LeCounte is a ballhawking safety, as he had four INTs, two FFs, and three FRs in 2019. In 2020 he had 3 INTs in just 5 games.

He is also smart, and well-liked by his teammates, coaches, and Georgia's media, and he has become a leader on the field, communicating calls and alignments to the rest of the secondary.

So why could he be available in the fourth round? The concern is his tackling, as he had 15 missed tackles in 2018, according to this site, and some teams will be turned off by his lack of size.

In the 2020 draft, the Eagles selected K'Von Wallace, who is suited to play something of a Malcolm Jenkins role in the Eagles' defense. LeCounte is a safety prospect who fits in more as the deep middle Rodney McLeod safety. LeCounte could be well-suited to make plays if the Eagles play more Cover-2 under new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

MORE: Eagles officially finalize their coaching staff | How could the Eagles possibly have second best odds to win NFC East?

Round 5: Sedarius Hutcherson, iOL, South Carolina (6'4, 320)

Hutcherson has both guard-tackle and left-right versatility, as he has started at LT, LG, and RG for South Carolina. He is also an impressive athlete who made Bruce Feldman's 2020 Freaks list.

The Gamecocks starting left tackle for most of last season isn’t only one of the strongest men in the SEC, but the 320-pounder also has impressive athleticism as reflected by his 31.5-inch vertical jump. Hutcherson, a former high school tight end, also benches around 450 pounds and squats more than 600.

Hutcherson will probably be a guard at the next level, but with versatility to play either side, and potentially kick out to tackle in a pinch.

Round 5: Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston (5'10, 182)

Stevenson is an explosive receiver who has had good production the last three seasons in Houston's spread offense:

Marquez Stevenson Rec Yards YPC TD 
 2018 (13 games)75 1019 13.6 
 2019 (12 games)52 907 17.4 
 2020 (5 games)20 307 15.4 

He mainly works out of the slot, and has added value as a returner, where the Eagles have an obvious need.

If you're a regular reader of this series you already know where this is going. Yes, we all like Greg Ward, who should have a role on the team, just not as a starting slot, where the Eagles can use more playmaking ability. 

Round 6: Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana (5'10, 215)

Mitchell had a 6.2 yards per carry average and 46 total TDs in his 42 career college games. While he doesn't have good long speed, he's a "get it and go" back with good acceleration who can get up to top speed quickly and run through tacklers with his compact frame.

He also has 47 career catches and a 12.2 yards per catch average. It's time to replace Corey Clement as the RB3, and a later-round running back would be a cheap way to do that.

MORE: Ron Jaworski discusses the 'best offer' the Eagles have received for Carson Wentz | McMullen: Searching for the Eagles sense of urgency

Round 6: Tony Poljan, TE, Virginia (6'7, 265)

Poljan played quarterback at Central Michigan, before converting to tight end, and moving on to Virginia as a graduate transfer. In his first full season at tight end in 2019, Poljan had 33 catches for 496 yards (15.0 YPC) and 4 TDs, decent numbers for a guy playing full time there for the first time. In 2020, he had 38 catches for 411 yards (10.8 YPC) and 6 TDs.

He has great size, he understands passing concepts from a quarterbacks' perspective, and the Eagles love them some converted QBs. He'll need work as a blocker, but he has the size to be an effective one. Poljan isn't going to scare many defenses in between the 20's, but he has the size to be a quality red zone target. For example:

If the Eagles move on from Zach Ertz, as is expected, the Eagles will need TE depth.

Round 7: Max Duffy, P, Kentucky (6'1 197)

Not just a punter, but a 28-year-old punter! Why? Because screw you, I want a punter in my mock draft. That's why.

Anyway, I'm not saying the Eagles should draft a punter, but Duffy is one of the top two punter prospects in the country, and he competed at the Senior Bowl in January. Also, I just love this guy.

Meanwhile, Cameron Johnston (a) did not have a good season, and (b) his restricted free agent tender amount is projected to be $2,240,000 this offseason, which the Eagles should not pay.

What'd we miss?

In all these mock drafts, there's going to be a position that gets left out, because, well, the roster stinks and they have so many needs. This time around it's cornerback. My apologies in advance. 

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