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April 24, 2023

NFL draft rumors: Eagles to target receiver with 10th pick?

Looking at the latest NFL Draft rumors for the Eagles, including the possibility of them selecting Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

The NFL Draft is just three days away and even after countless mock drafts and podcast listens, more juicy info keeps trickling out. As for the always-active Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles, who are armed with two first-round picks, there are a ton of different directions the franchise can go with a roster that's already stacked and coming off a Super Bowl berth. 

Here are three new rumors surrounding the Birds that would make for big Day 1 draft splashes...

A Big 3 at Receiver?

The Eagles have an elite tandem at wide receiver already with stars A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, who combined for 196 receiving yards in the Super Bowl back in February. They are iffy at the No. 3 spot, however, after Quez Watkins regressed in 2022 and had an infamous drop in the Big Game against Kansas City

The Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline has a new rumor tying the Eagles to the draft's best wideout: Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Here's what Pauline had to say about the Birds:

After speaking with more than two dozen people I don’t think there is any doubt Jaxon Smith-Njigba is the first receiver selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s been the top player at the position since my first big board was released back in February. I heard two interesting nuggets on Smith-Njiba this weekend.

First, the Philadelphia Eagles are making a late push on the wideout and doing a lot of work on him in recent days. Second, Smith-Njiba is definitely part of the conversation for the Jets at 13 if the offensive tackles are off the board. I was told outright that the Jets are absolutely considering Smith-Njiba with that pick. Both bits of news surprised me, yet I was able to confirm each of them. [PFN]

A luxury pick? Perhaps, but taking a slot receiver who'd be a star in the making as a rookie would be a better option to make this Eagles offense slump-proof than, say, taking a running back with the 10th pick. When I look back at the Super Bowl and how things could have gone differently for the Eagles, the two things I harp on are how the pass-rush failed to get any pressure (field issues aside) and Watkins' drop. Maybe a receiver better than Watkins, a third-year sixth-round pick, hauls in that pass from Jalen Hurts and everything is completely different in Philadelphia. 

Three wide receivers of this caliber are how you truly make a consistently unstoppable passing attack. 

More Bulldogs to Philly?

In his latest mock draft, NFL media mainstay and NBC Sports columnist Peter King has the Eagles drafting Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith with the 10th selection in this week's draft. Here's what King said about the possibility of that pick

Came very close to giving the Eagles Peter Skoronski here, but two things happened Sunday. A GM who’s always smart when I do this exercise told me he knew the Eagles love Smith. And someone else told me Skoronski’s very likely to play guard, and check out where the Eagles have drafted starting guards, or guards-to-be. Okay. Cam Jurgens, Landon Dickerson, Isaac Seumalo went 51st, 37th and 79th overall, respectively. And then I looked at the ages of the Eagles’ four most prominent ends or edge players: Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat average 29 years, 7 months old as of September. Okay. I talked myself into a 238-pound edge player who runs a 4.39 40-yard dash. [NBC]

An obvious comparison, Smith gives off some Haason Reddick vibes. He'd be a worthy addition to the Eagles' pass-rushing group and give them extra firepower there as they attempt to lead the NFL in sacks yet again. 

The Running Back Dilemma

The Ricky Williams debate for a younger generation of Eagles fans, it has been hotly contested about whether the Eagles should draft star Texas running back Bijan Robinson with the 10th pick. Everything I've seen from this franchise for more than two decades indicates that this type of pick for a running back is completely off the table and believing otherwise is hilarious. Robinson with the 30th pick? Sure! He's not going to be there though. The 10th pick? No way.

Anyway, that chatter isn't going to stop until Robinson is holding up another team's jersey at the podium. A different running back, however, could be appealing to the Eagles late in the first round. ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller had the following to say about the Birds and Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs:

Running back comes up a lot when talking to both team and league sources about the Eagles' draft plans. It might not be Bijan Robinson in the first round, but Philly should look to add to that position's depth chart, despite signing Rashaad Penny to replace Miles Sanders. The Eagles did have a formal meeting with Jahmyr Gibbs (Alabama) at the combine and had Robinson to Philadelphia for an official visit. [ESPN/$]

A transfer from Georgia Tech, Gibbs rushed for 926 yards on 6.1 yards per attempt in 2022 for the Crimson Tide. He's also a threat out of the backfield, as he hauled in 103 passes across three collegiate seasons. He's a multi-faceted playmaker and for those Eagles fans starved for a game-changing running back, taking Gibbs at 30 is much more palatable to me than Robinson at 10. 

Stay tuned for the latest Eagles and rumors ahead of Day 1 of the NFL Draft on Thursday here at PhillyVoice... 

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