2021 NFL mock draft roundup 2.0: A top expert weighs in

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Dave Zangaro
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2021 NFL mock draft roundup 2.0: A top expert weighs in originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles have a new head coach and will have a new coaching staff in place soon.

That means it’s time to get ready for free agency and the draft. Don’t expect much from free agency this year because the Eagles’ cap situation is quite precarious. So let’s get ready for the draft.

The Eagles are projected to have eight picks in the draft, but we’ll find out for sure when the compensatory picks are announced.

One of those picks is No. 6 overall. Here’s the latest mock draft roundup:

NFL Network, Daniel Jeremiah

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

What they said: I believe the Eagles will stick with their current quarterback situation and give the offense a boost with the most polished receiver in the draft class.

My take: In Jeremiah’s initial mock draft, he actually had the Eagles taking cornerback Patrick Surtain from Alabama but after the news that Matt Stafford wants out of Detroit, he changed some things and ended up with the Eagles’ taking Smith. The Lions are a team to watch. Because maybe they sit at No. 7 and take a quarterback — Jeremiah has them taking Justin Fields — but maybe they try to move up and get one. That would be good news for the Eagles as long as they don’t want a QB. If the Eagles are content with their QB situation, then they should be happy to see as many QBs as possible go in the top five.

In Jeremiah’s mock, he has Ja’Marr Chase going at No. 3 to Miami, which leaves Smith for the Eagles at No. 6. It seems like most people are split between Chase and Smith for WR1 in this draft. For me, it’s Chase. But there’s no denying Smith had a tremendous college career.

CBS Sports, Josh Edwards

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

What they said: Philadelphia is about to undergo wholesale changes to the wide receiver room. Devonta Smith is slight in frame but his game is polished. It would be a surprise if he were a total bust. The Eagles are committed to Carson Wentz and, with Jalen Reagor, Wentz now has a few options to target.

My take: Another mock where Chase is gone at No. 3 and the Eagles take the next-best receiver on the board in Smith. I think Eagles fans would mostly be pretty happy about this.

San Diego Union Tribune, Eddie Brown

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

What they said: I imagine the Eagles will release Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson this offseason. I don’t suspect Waddle’s broken ankle will impact his draft stock much. He was off to an incredible start — 25 receptions, 557 yards and four touchdowns in four games — before hurting himself after showing promise as a sophomore as a receiver and return man.

My take: Again, Chase goes at No. 3, but the Eagles leave Smith alone to take his teammate Waddle. This feels like an Eagles pick. They don’t take the popular receiver and instead take a guy who missed the end of the college football season with a broken ankle. In this mock, Smith goes at No. 7 to the Lions. This scenario might be enough to push Eagles fans over the edge, especially if Smith finds early success and Waddle doesn’t.

By the way, Waddle is a good prospect and a fun one. He’s smaller in stature but can line up everywhere, is always in motion and can even line up in the backfield. He’s the type of player that new head coach Nick Sirianni would love, but he might be too similar to Jalen Reagor.

This is a two-round mock and Brown has the Eagles taking Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg at pick No. 37. Yeah, that would be a good pick. The Eagles seem set at OT in 2021 but Lane Johnson is getting older and you can always use more depth on the OL.

CBS Sports, Chris Trapasso

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

What they said: Who knows if Jalen Hurts is the answer at quarterback for the Eagles. They could pick another one here, but I ultimately believe they'll go playmaker to build the offense.

My take: Trapasso mentions the possibility of taking a QB. While I think the Eagles won’t do that, whenever a team with an unsettled future at QB is drafting this high, they at least have to think about it. But Chase here would be a fantastic pick. In this mock, Smith goes at No. 3 to the Dolphins, which leaves Chase for the Eagles.

Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

What they said: The Eagles had all kinds of secondary issues away from veteran Darius Slay in 2020 and need a big shakeup at cornerback to help their defense under a new coach. Surtain, with his pedigree, size and ball-hawking skills, has the potential to be a true shutdown player.

My take: In this mock draft, the top two receivers are already off the board. Smith went to the Jets at No. 2 and Chase went to the Bengals at 5. So the Eagles don’t end up with a wideout and instead go with a very good cornerback from an SEC powerhouse. The weakness at receiver is glaring, but there’s definitely a need at corner. The Eagles simply can’t run back Avonte Maddox at CB2 in 2021 and they don’t really have the money to grab one in free agency. It’s time to use a Day 1 or 2 pick on a corner again and hope they turn out better than Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas. Drafting one in the first round certainly improves those odds.

TheDraftNetwork, Jordan Reid

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

What they said: Eagles fans, take a deep breath. The NFL draft is longer than one round. Not selecting a WR here may be a bit of a surprise, but with the upcoming class being strong throughout the first two days, packaging Surtain II plus a wideout on Day 2 makes a lot of sense for a team that desperately needs help at both positions. The franchise hasn’t selected a defensive back in the first round since 2002 (Lito Sheppard). Surtain II snaps a streak that has almost lasted for two decades.

My take: While it makes some sense to go about it this way, packing a Day 2 receiver with a top corner, it would be a tough sell for Eagles fans … especially with Smith still on the board. But it’s not out of the question either. Smith, by the way, goes to the Giants at No. 11.

NBC Sports Chicago, Glynn Morgan

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

What they said: Since there's no official NFL scouting combine this year, decision makers are going to have to depend on 2019's game footage for players that opted out of this past season's campaign. After viewing Farley's games from 2019, it’s apparent that he's too fast to get past, and too big to go through. Farley is an aggressive defender who isn't fearful of defending receivers closely. He's strong in press coverage and fluid enough to shadow and maintain quality balance when mirroring receivers downfield. He's displayed great awareness over his career with six interceptions and 19 passes defended. The Eagles need his hawkish abilities in their secondary.

My take: This mock draft has Chase going at No. 3. It also has the Eagles passing on Smith (7) and Surtain II (9), but it’s not crazy either. Farley is one of the best corners in this class, but like the mock draft said, you have to go off his 2019 season, which was very good. At 6-2, Farley is the type of corner the Eagles haven’t had as a starter in a while. He’s actually a converted WR who is still an ascending player, which is intriguing given how good he was a couple years ago.

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