NFL Draft 2021: Eagles’ options in latest mock draft roundup

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Dave Zangaro
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Eagles mock draft roundup: Is a new favorite emerging? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

We are just a few days away from the 2021 NFL Draft and after months of rumors and speculation … we still don’t know much.

The draft is always full of surprises and anything can happen.

But there are definitely some common players in mock drafts for the Eagles with the No. 12 pick. Let's take a look:

Peter King, NBC Sports

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

What they said: I think when the Eagles moved from 6 to 12 on March 29 in the trade with Miami, they hoped for three things: their choice of a top receiver, Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, and one of the top two corners in the draft. By this mock, they’re all there. Nothing would surprise me—include a shallow trade-down, say, to New England at 15 if the Patriots are smitten with DeVonta Smith. Horn is my pick here because corner’s a significant need; the Eagles’ best (and priciest) corner, Darius Slay, gave up 77-percent completions last year, per Pro Football Focus, and there’s no other long-term solutions, at least not one who has played to that level, on the roster now. Horn’s a three-year starter in a throwing league, and the book on him is he’s uber-competitive and feisty. Sounds like a Philly guy already.

My take: In King’s mock, he had Patrick Surtain II going to the Cowboys at No. 10, which seems like a very possible scenario. The top receiver left on the board was DeVonta Smith, so presumably King was deciding between Horn, Smith and Slater. Any of those three would be a fine pick. I really like that King pointed out Horn’s competitiveness. Horn is competitive and confident and you can bet if he played Nick Sirianni in rock, paper, scissors, Horn talked trash and if he didn’t win, probably tossed his phone across the room.

Rhett Lewis, NFL.com

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

What they said: The Eagles need some help in the secondary opposite Darius Slay, and with Horn available here, Philly gets one of the elite corners in this class. I gave some serious thought to putting OL Alijah Vera-Tucker in this spot, and it’s possible GM Howie Roseman has a better grade on the USC prospect than Horn, but either choice would help this team.

My take: Pretty similar mock here, with Surtain and Waddle gone before the Eagles’ pick at 12. Smith dropped a few more picks to 16. Getting Horn would be a solid pick and it’s a pretty realistic situation.

Benjamin Solak, The Draft Network

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

What they said: The Eagles have been enamored with Horn for a while, at least to my understanding. It isn’t hard to understand why. New DC Jonathan Gannon has a DB coaching background, and under Matt Eberflus, adhered to a philosophy oriented on hustle, physical play, and quality tacklers. Beyond his delightful press technique and top-shelf athleticism, Horn is a high-effort, high-energy, highly-competitive dude. Gannon’s gonna stand on the table for that guy.

We don’t know for sure if the Eagles will be a man- or zone-heavy team under Gannon—probably a wide mixture of everything—but with a commitment to natural man corner Darius Slay already on the roster, acquiring another press-man player in Horn makes sense for immediate clamps on the outside.

My take: Horn is again the second corner off the board but Solak’s explanation of the fit for Horn in Philly is a good one. I definitely agree about his competitive nature and how much Sirianni will like it. And when it comes to press-man, Horn really stands out. I think Surtain is a safer bet and I’m not worried about him being a bust at all. Horn might not be as safe but he has the potential to be a great player too.

Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

What they said: From all I’ve read and heard, I am not so sure the Eagles will be in on DeVonta Smith given his measurables. On the other side, the vibe with them is that they’re very in on Horn. I think this is an easy bet with no top OT or Waddle on the board.

My take: Fair enough explanation. Surtain and Waddle are both gone. I agree with the thought that if those two players are off the board, Horn would be my pick. And unless some sort of disaster scenario unfolds in front of the Eagles, they’ll be able to get one of them at 12.

Chad Reuter, NFL.com

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

What they said: Another physical corner, Horn solidified his spot in the top dozen picks with an outstanding display of athleticism at his pro day (4.40 40-yard dash, 41.5-inch vertical leap). The Eagles need multiple cornerbacks, and will likely pick two in the first three or four rounds.

My take: This was actually a seven-round mock draft for the NFL, which means Reuter wasn’t able to see the sun for several days. So to make sure his sacrifice doesn’t go unrewarded, here are the Eagles’ other picks from this mock:

2-36: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss

3-70: Paulson Adebo, CB, Standford

3-84: Chauncey Golston, Edge, Iowa

4-123: Bobby Brown III, DT, Texas A&M 

5-150: Zach Davidson, TE, Central Missouri

6-189: Ian Book, QB, Notre Dame

6-224: James Smith, P, Cincinnati

6-225: Deon Jackson, RB, Duke 

7-234: Garret Wallow, LB, TCU

7-240: Matt Farniok, OG, Nebraska

A few thoughts on this haul: Getting Horn and Moore 1-2 is a slam dunk. And the idea of drafting a couple corners early definitely makes sense. I’d be surprised to see the Eagles wait that long to address their OL.

Eric Eager, George Chahrouri, PFF

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

What they said: The Eagles don’t get a chance to grab a wide receiver, but they have needs at basically every position on the field, so getting CB1 isn’t the end of the world. Surtain was targeted 48 times last season and allowed just 273 yards on 21 receptions — not too shabby.

My take: In this scenario, the Eagles are on the board at No. 12 with the top corners available. Dallas has been a popular landing spot for Surtain but in this mock, the Cowboys traded down to 15 so the Patriots could get up to 10 and get their quarterback (Mac Jones). This isn’t a crazy scenario. To me, this would be a no-brainer. If Surtain is there, just turn the card in.

Patrick Walker, CBS Sports

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

What they said: Sorry Giants, but you if take Smith, the Eagles are grabbing Waddle; and that's not a consolation prize. Waddle has often been ranked right next to Smith in terms of NFL potential, so the Eagles can only be thrilled at how the chips have fallen here, landing one of the two 'Bama star receivers after whiffing on a WR1 in last year's draft.

My take: In this mock, Horn, Surtain and Smith are all gone and the Eagles are left with Waddle on the board. This is fine. In fact, I’d rather take Waddle over Smith. That’s not to knock Smith at all but Waddle has so much potential and thinking about his explosion in the Eagles’ new offense is a lot of fun.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

What they said: The Eagles and Cowboys can be in lockstep trying to lock down one side of their pass defenses with a big shutdown type. Philadelphia will like the frame and physicality of Farley in Jonathan Gannon's secondary.

My take: This is an interesting one because the corners come off the board in this order: Surtain, Farley, Newsome, Horn. And Iyer doesn’t have Horn getting drafted until No. 28. I don’t mind going against the groupthink that runs the pre-draft process but I just can’t see this happening. Horn is too good to last this long and there’s no real reason for him to drop. Meanwhile, Farley was a great player a couple years ago but opted out in 2020 and now is getting over that back injury. There’s too much risk to take him at 12.

Ben Volin, Boston Globe

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

What they said: The Eagles have a ton of needs as they start over under Nick Sirianni, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they trade down again. But if they stick at No. 12, they have a big need at receiver, and Smith would be a great fit in the offense as the next DeSean Jackson.

My take: Smith has been a popular pick for the Eagles going back a while. And taking him makes some sense. But I also wouldn’t take him over Horn, which happens here as Horn goes to the Chargers with the next pick.

Jenny Vrentas, SI.com

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

What they said: Big decision here for the Eagles: receiver or cornerback? When they traded down from No. 6 to 12, they made clear they were not taking a QB this year, but knew they’d still be in good position to take one of the top players at their positions of need. If five QBs do in fact go in the top 10, it’s possible the Eagles could get a steal with one of the two Alabama receivers. This would make two straight years for Philly taking a receiver in the first round, but the need is so acute, especially if they want to give Jalen Hurts a fair shake this season.

My take: Another one with the Eagles’ choosing Smith over Horn. It’s not crazy. Probably not what I would do but it would still work.

Peter Schrager, NFL.com

Trade to 15: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

What they said: Philadelphia trades back three spots, picks up another Day 2 pick (No. 46 from the Patriots) and still gets one of the top offensive linemen in the draft. The Eagles have so many picks in the next two drafts that they could be in Best Player Available mode, even if they end up staying at No. 12.

My take: This one wouldn’t be very popular but it could work if the Patriots were willing to move up a few spots to snag Smith, which is what happens here. A Patriots trade up for a non-QB would be a surprise but the Eagles would listen if they felt like the value wasn’t there. And in this mock, Surtain, Horn and Waddle were all off the board. The Eagles definitely have a need at interior OL and it would make sense to address it pretty early in this draft. Will it be in Round 1? It wouldn’t be that shocking. And I think there’s a better chance of it happening than the collection of mock drafts make it seem.

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