NFL Draft 2021: Eagles’ options at defensive end

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Dave Zangaro
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Exploring Eagles’ options at DE throughout the 2021 draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles already traded down from 6 to 12 and still have 11 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.

While they might not make all 11 picks, they will have plenty of options during the three days of the draft, which begins on April 29.

Here’s a reminder of their 11 picks:

1st round: No. 12 (trade with MIA)

2nd round: No. 37 (own pick)

3rd round: No. 70 (own pick)

3rd round: No. 84 (trade with Colts)

4th round: No. 123 (trade with MIA)

5th round: No. 150 (own pick)

6th round: No. 189 (own pick)

6th round: No. 224 (compensatory pick)

6th round: No. 225 (compensatory pick)

7th round: No. 234 (own pick)

7th round: No. 240 (from 49ers as part of Marquise Goodwin trade)

The Eagles will bring back Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat for the 2021 season but none of them are guaranteed long-term solutions and the Eagles are always looking for more pass rushers. This class isn’t super top heavy but there will be plenty of options to get a good pass rusher on Day 2 or 3.

Here are their options:

At No. 12

Kwity Paye, Michigan (6-2, 261): This might seem like a stretch but there’s a decent chance Paye will be the first edge player off the board and possibly even the first defensive player off the board. The Eagles got Brandon Graham from Michigan over a decade ago and that worked out well. Paye didn’t put up wild numbers in college but he’s a very good athlete, as his testing showed, and has the potential to be a very good pass rusher and run-stuffer at the next level.

In the middle rounds

Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest (6-3, 274): Boogie Basham has been getting some first-round buzz but there’s a decent chance he’ll still be available when the Eagles are on the clock at No. 37. Basham had 16 sacks over his last 20 games at Wake Forest. At 274 pounds, Basham already has good NFL size, even to the point where he could play inside at times. He’s technically sound but is still a work in progress. Still, would be a high floor pick.

Quincy Roche, Miami (6-3, 245): Roche began his career at Temple and even had 13 sacks in 13 games for the Owls in 2019 before finishing out his career in South Florida. He was second on the Hurricanes in sacks behind Jaelan Phillips, who might also be an option at 37 if he slips. Roche likely be the third Miami rusher taken but still figures to be a third- or fourth-round pick at worst.

Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh (6-4, 261): If the Eagles are looking for production, Jones has that. He had 17 1/2 sacks and 25 TFLs in his last two college seasons and has the size to translate that production to the next level.

Janarius Robinson, Florida State (6-5, 263): He didn’t have a ton of college production but he certainly has the athletic traits and frame to make it as an NFL pass rusher. He’s a work in progress but has high upside.

Jordan Smith, UAB (6-6, 255): Another guy with tremendous tools and potential. As a JUCO transfer, Smith had 14 1/2 sacks in two years at UAB. Smith was at a JUCO program after getting suspended by Florida because of his alleged involvement in a credit card scandal. So there are some concerns, but if the Eagles feel comfortable with all that, he could end up being a high-ceiling pick.

Late-round sleeper

Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo (6-2, 249): Continuing the long line of great Buffalo pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Steven Means, Koonce was pretty dominant in the MAC with 14 sacks over his last 19 games. A tad undersized, he might be limited as a situational pass rusher. But with a sixth- or seventh-round pick, he has rush upside.

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